An ambitious program to keep children off drugs by bolstering family bonds is gearing up in Lawrence.
Volunteer teachers for Kansas Family Initiative, the first statewide program targeted at families and drug abuse, have been trained, and additional training sessions have been scheduled, a project coordinator said.
The initiative is sponsored by various government and private agencies, including the Governor's Office of Drug Abuse Programs, the Kansas Board of Education, Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and the Ewing and Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Leslea Rickabaugh, a prevention consultant with the East Central Kansas Regional Prevention Center in Ottawa, said the initiative is a five-year program run by the state and coordinated by the state's 12 regional prevention centers. Under the program, volunteers are trained to present five two-hour classes to parents.
"This is the biggest program I've come across in the state," she said.
Rickabaugh said 15 teachers have been trained for the east central region, which includes Lynn, Coffey, Anderson, Osage, Franklin and Douglas counties.
RICKABAUGH SAID a training class was held in April in Lawrence, but poor turnout led administrators to regroup and "get the groundwork laid."
Now, two sessions are scheduled. From Sept. 15 through Sept. 17, Douglas County Community Corrections and Court Services employees will undergo a private training session. A public session has been scheduled tentatively in mid-October. Details about that session were unavailable.
Rickabaugh said anyone may sign up for training, which is provided in three-day sessions by the state. To enroll, she said, participants may call her Ottawa office at 1-242-7100.
Rickabaugh said the state has been training teachers since December, when the initiative was begun. Some areas have held parenting classes, although none has been scheduled in the east central region.
She said classes would be set up by prevention centers through community groups and are aimed at all parents, not just those whose children are involved in drugs or are at risk.
"WE WANT to get it so that classes are continual. We'll have training in Coffey, Franklin and Douglas counties, plus Wellsville and Eudora, by the end of the year," she said.
Rickabaugh explained that there are four curricula for parents. The first is titled "Preparation for Drug-Free Years" and comprises these sessions: an information class about drug abuse; how to develop clear family positions on alcohol and other drugs; teaching children to say no; anger control; and strengthening family ties.
Other curricula are designed to strengthen parenting skills of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and American Indians.
A LOCAL volunteer teacher, Laura Farha, community facilitator for Women's Transitional Care Services, said she was recruited for the program by a staff member at the DCCCA Center, a substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment facility.
"One of my co-workers and I attended the training," Farha said. "I learned quite a bit; I learned some pretty good skills."
Farha said volunteers are asked to teach two parenting programs for the community. However, she said, she wants her involvement to go beyond that.
"We're committed to do . . . two trainings, then after that what we want to do is offer it to the women here, too," she said.