A new program launched by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will offer local families free marriage and parenting resources.
The program, known as Strengthening Families of the Brazos Valley, will provide informational workshops and courses.
The program is staffed by 10 professionals, many of whom are former social workers. It caters to anyone over 18 in Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Madison and Robertson counties. SFBV was established this year by a grant from Texas Health and Human Services and offers guidance on marriage and relationships, successful parenting, finance and money management and adverse childhood experiences.
"Our workshops are normally eight hours long, free of charge, and we provide a free lunch and child care," said Joe McGinty, marketing coordinator for the program.
The "healthy relationships" portion of the program, known as Prevention and Relationship Enhancement, focuses on marriage and relationships and provides effective ways for couples to communicate and solve problems when conflicts arise. The parenting portion, known as the Strengthening Families Program, focuses on discipline tactics and stress management. With family financial management, or Wi$eUp, families can learn financial awareness and money math, gaining an understanding of credit and budgeting, as well as retirement planning. Adverse Childhood Experiences guides parents with children or teens who have gone through a traumatic incident such as sexual assault, divorce, neglect or death of a loved one.
McGinty clarified the program is not a form of one-on-one counseling, but rather an educational resource, although SFBV coordinators partner with various organizations and nonprofits in the area and are able to make recommendations for those in need of help.
"We are trying to phase and address people's problems before they occur, and provide resources for those people to maintain that," McGinty said.
Workshops and classes take place across the counties SFBV caters to. Representatives often can be found at health fairs and back-to-school events. Some workshops already have taken place in Burleson and Madison counties since the start of the summer, with more events planned for Brazos County and other areas in the near future.
McGinty explained that when AgriLife first initiated the program, a major goal was to serve the public with dignity. While resources already exist for families going through struggles, many people don't want to be labeled as low-income, in need, troubled or identified based on a particular issue such as drug abuse.
"You can never have enough preventative counseling and drug prevention programs," McGinty said. "But there is a need for this type of thing without a stigma attached."
SFBV is offered free for families in any financial situation who are looking for guidance, McGinty explained. The program also partners with numerous local churches, school districts, health centers, treatment centers and nonprofits that can provide additional resources for participants.
To learn more about upcoming events or tools offered through SFBV, visit families.tamu.edu or call Laurie Naumann at 979-862-1915. McGinty noted that those interested should be aware that the PREP marriage workshop scheduled for Saturday in Bryan has been canceled.