|Bradenton…Manatee Glens and the Safe Children Coalition are recruiting volunteer parent aides to coach and mentor families struggling with raising children. These volunteers receive training and guidance and then commit to spending from one or two hours a week with a family. The parent aides visit the homes, actively engage the parents and help them develop basic life and family skills.
“Watching the parents grow into their role is awesome,” said Rachel Smith, who along with her husband, Gary, is a parent aide. “It really is a team effort with the coalition. We’re treated like we belong in the whole group with social workers and case mangers. They pay attention to what we say, and use it to help the families.”
“We are able to gain a trust because we are there as volunteers, not as someone who will report on them or get them in trouble,” explained Gary. “We’re more there to say, ‘have you tried this? This worked for us.’ They are not afraid to tell us things.” The Smiths raised six children and step-children and draw on that experience.
The parent aides focus on child safety and health care, problem solving skills, parenting skills and social support. Through coaching and mentoring the aides help parents recognize what may have led to their problem(s). “We help them with skills many people take for granted such as budgeting, managing household duties, learning how to socialize and finding necessary services. Many of the parents just don’t know where to turn when they need help,” stated Manatee Glens/Safe Children Coalition Director of Child Welfare, Stefanie Babb, MPA.
“I was truly humbled by this experience. I came home to find myself in another world after every visit. But I realized that home that I just left meant just as much to that family as my home means to me,” said parent aide Fritz Potter. “If that family found peace and joy for just a few minutes because I was there, I accomplished the purpose of being a parent aide.”
“You’re not there to fix their problems. You’re there to give them the tools so that they fix it. You can’t fix it for them, because they have to learn,” added Rachel.
The parent aide applicants are at least 21 years old, high school graduates or a GED and supply their own transportation. For safety’s sake, volunteers must also pass background checks. All parent aides receive professional supervision and support and agree to visit the family once or twice per week. Call Joli Beaney or Amanda Gerber at 941-721-7670, ext. 200 for information.
For reporters who want more information about Manatee Glens, or to schedule an interview with Mary Ruiz, President/CEO, call 941- 782-4320 or e-mail Sondra.email@example.com or visit www.manateeglens.org.
Manatee Glens is the specialty hospital and outpatient practice
treating mental health and addictions in youth, adults and seniors.