Ariz. non-profit of­fers fam­i­lies home sup­port

Agency fo­cuses on strength­en­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion

The Arizona Republic - - COMMUNITIES - CAN­DACE MCPHILLIPS

This sum­mer, 16 Ari­zona non-prof­its shared $425,000 in grants from the “It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child” spe­cialty li­cense plate pro­gram.

The li­cense-plate pro­gram was started in 1999 as a joint ef­fort be­tween The Ari­zona Repub­lic/az cen­tral.com, the Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice of Youth, Faith and Fam­ily and the Ari­zona Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion. Since then, more than $9 mil­lion has been distributed to agen­cies work­ing to pre­vent child abuse and ne­glect.

The li­cense plates are $25, $17 of which goes to the agen­cies. Get your plate at ser­viceari­zona .com.

This se­ries takes a closer look at the work be­ing done by the non­prof­its. Fea­tured to­day: Par­ent Aid.

Help­ing fam­i­lies thrive

Par­ent Aid, Tuc­son Grant amount: $7,500. 520-798-3304, parentaid. org.

As a sin­gle mother of two boys, ages 8 and 11, Arelis Ve­lasquez wanted to make sure she could con­tinue to com­mu­ni­cate with her sons at their level as they grew older.

“I had fears that my kids would be in­flu­enced by oth­ers and think, for ex­am­ple, that do­ing drugs is ap­pro­pri­ate, or make de­ci­sions that might harm them­selves or oth­ers,” she said.

Ve­lasquez, from Tuc­son, wanted to have con­ver­sa­tions about top­ics like this, but she wasn’t sure where to start. So, she asked for help from a school of­fi­cial and was re­ferred to Par­ent Aid.

Par­ent Aid, lo­cated in Tuc­son, pro­vides pro­grams to strengthen fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing in-home vis­its, as well as free classes and work­shops for fam­i­lies. The non­profit has been around for 26 years, but tran­si­tioned to in-home sup­port for par- ents about 10 years ago when they re­al­ized how dif­fer­ent fam­ily sit­u­a­tions could be.

The Ve­lasquez fam­ily has been re­ceiv­ing home vis­its for about six months. Fre­quency of vis­its vary from fam­ily to fam­ily. Ve­lasquez said that in her case, vis­its were ini­tially once a week with just her and the fam­ily sup­port spe­cial­ist, but changed to twice a week with the whole fam­ily. The fam­ily spe­cial­ist first ob­served to see how Ve­lasquez was im­ple­ment­ing dis­ci­pline meth­ods but later started sug­gest­ing new meth­ods and pro­vid­ing ad­vice.

“My dis­ci­pline was dif­fer­ent and the pro­gram has helped me see things in a dif­fer­ent way,” she said. “Be­cause I have changed my meth­ods of dis­ci­pline, my boys’ be­hav­ior has im­proved.”

For ex­am­ple, in­stead of pun­ish­ing or sham­ing her boys when they do some­thing wrong, Ve­lasquez said she ex­plains why their be­hav­ior was wrong which helps to pre­vent things from hap­pen­ing in the fu­ture. She said this is im­por­tant to build their self-es­teem.

Par­ent Aid’s manag­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Ni­cole Perez, said the agency rec­og­nizes the need to sup­port fam­i­lies.

Through the grant pro­vided by the “It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child” li­cense-plate sales, the agency is able to of­fer one-time work­shops fo­cus­ing on ev­ery­thing from dis­ci­pline and rou­tine to sleep habits.

Work­shops at the agency fo­cus on many dif­fer­ent ar­eas, help­ing with fam­ily en­rich­ment and touch­ing on top­ics such as de­vel­op­ment, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, bond­ing, be­hav­ior man­age­ment and self­care.

The “It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child” grant pro­gram is pri­mar­ily funded by the sale of the spe­cialty li­cense plate. Get yours at ser­viceari­zona.org. Ad­di­tional funds are pro­vided by the BHHS Le­gacy Foun­da­tion, Nina Ma­son Pul­liam Char­i­ta­ble Trust, The Vir­ginia G. Piper Char­i­ta­ble Trust and the Val­ley of the Sun United Way.

SUB­MIT­TED BY ARELIS VE­LASQUEZ

Arelis Ve­lasquez smiles with her sons, Robert and Jorge.

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