Posted: Apr 26, 2022 8:00 AM
DANBURY – Whether locals want to be better parents or are facing family challenges, the St Joseph Parenting Center in Danbury is available to Newtown residents and others in the area.
While the center opened the Danbury site, 46 Stone Street at the Sacred Heart Parish Center, in February this year, it has also had a site in Stamford since 2009.
Its mission is to strengthen families and break the cycle of child abuse and neglect. And Maureen Decker, head of volunteers at St Joseph Parenting Centre, said recently that volunteers and support are always sought after by those willing to help.
Decker explained that some parents who attend the center are referred by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) while others come to learn. Families receive a case manager and each parent has an intake meeting with the center’s social worker to ensure the classes will be helpful and appropriate.
Programs offered at the center include a general parenting program for all parents; a program for dads, “to help dads understand their crucial role as fathers”; and a Women’s Support Circle, “a mother support group offered in partnership with The Rowan Circle,” according to its website, sjpcenter.org. Classes are offered in English and Spanish. All classes are free and open to all parents of children under 13.
Decker explained that the general parenting program is offered once a week for 28 weeks. It covers a range of topics, including anger management, behavior and discipline, communication, the effect of media on children, and child health and first aid. It has a “complete curriculum” and there is a set lesson objective for each class. The dad program is an 11-week program that also meets once a week.
At each meeting, a meal is served to provide a sense of encouragement, she said. Sometimes restaurants in the area donate food for meals, and other times venues or groups, such as a Bible study group at St. Rose de Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, provide meals. .
With the opening of the Danbury site, the center now provides its services in Bethel, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Brookfield, New Milford and Danbury.
“We’re definitely making a connection in Newtown,” Decker said, “and trying to do the same in every town.”
Decker said it was helpful to have information about the center out there so people could learn about and benefit from the programs.
All classes are taught by volunteer facilitators who have expertise in the field, Decker said. The center gives the lesson and the volunteers enrich the lessons with their own experience and expertise.
Ways to support
Along with volunteer support, the Saint Joseph Parenting Center hosts fundraising events, such as its 13th Annual Benefit Breakfast, which was scheduled for Tuesday, April 26. Jimmy Greene, Grammy-nominated musician and former Sandy Hook resident, was the scheduled keynote speaker. More information about the event is available by emailing Decker at [email protected]
“I know kids are the future and we need to help their parents support them,” Decker said. “And we can do that through parenting education.”
Anyone interested in volunteering and supporting the center can also contact Decker via email, [email protected]
Decker said she knows the center helps families break the cycle of abuse and neglect. And she hopes “word will spread about this valuable resource that is available to parents.”
Decker also hopes that “anyone who would benefit from parenting education will feel confident coming to us for it.”
Education Editor Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at [email protected]
The St Joseph Parenting Center opened its location in Danbury with a grand opening event on February 2.
The St Joseph Parenting Center is located at 46 Stone Street at the Sacred Heart Parish Center in Danbury.