(Hackensack, NJ) – May 16, 2013 – Several Bergen County families recently graduated from the Strengthening Families Program, facilitated by The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources, a program of Children’s Aid and Family Services. They were joined in celebrating the occasion by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle.

The 14-week program helps parents learn more effective parenting skills and enhances communication within families. Research indicates that kids who communicate regularly with their parents about their daily activities are 67 percent less likely to be involved in substance abuse than children who have little or no communication (2000 PDFNJ Middle School Study on Substance Use).

“There are a lot of frightening things going on today and parents are understandably concerned,” says Ellen Elias, Vice President, Addiction Services, Children’s Aid and Family Services and Director, The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources. “They ask us, ‘how do we keep our kids safe?’ Strengthening Families is one of the programs we offer that helps do just that. We know that children of parents that communicate with them and build a sense of camaraderie together show a greater resiliency. One of the key messages of this program is family is important, spend time with them.”

“As a parent, I know how critical it is to be able to talk to our children and more importantly, for them feel comfortable talking to us,” says Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle. “I truly commend the families who participated in the program and The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources for all of their hard work.”

Gladys Ojeda of Lodi is a single working mother with four children, ages 11 years – 10 months. Between working full time, maintaining her home and caring for her family, she was feeling overwhelmed and becoming impatient with her children. “I loved the program,” she says. “I learned skills that really helped me, such as how to properly assess a situation that could become tense, change the tone of my voice toward my children to get them to listen and how to keep calm and cool. It’s all about positive parenting.”

Families are encouraged to gather weekly for a family meeting, where they talk about their feelings, problems and concerns. “I talk to my mom now more than I ever have,” says Elijah, who is 12 years old and attended Strengthening Families with his mother, Takiyah Walters. A single mother, Takiyah was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated after working and attending school full-time, and felt that she and Elijah weren’t communicating well. “The program gave me a lot of helpful ideas to be a better parent,” says Takiyah, who lives in Bogota. “If Elijah does something wrong and it’s small, I let it go. If he does something right, I praise him.”

Martha Robles of Bogota joined the program after her daughter, Britney, was bullied. “I learned my weaknesses and strengths as a parent and ways to help me be a better parent,” she says. “Britney and I began having dinner together regularly and we talk more. We’re closer than glue now.”

About Strengthening Families

Strengthening Families is a comprehensive, 14-session, family skills training designed to develop and strengthen parents’ confidence in their ability to supervise, support and communicate with their children. Each two and a half hour session includes family meal time, separate group meetings for parents and children, and large group interaction among all family members participating in the program. For more information on the program, please contact The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources at 201-488-8680 or visit www.tcadr.org

About The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources

The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources provides community and school-based education programs about alcohol and drug abuse and advocates for responsive prevention and treatment services. The Center’s offices are located in Hackensack and its services are available throughout Bergen County.

About Children’s Aid and Family Services

Children’s Aid and Family Services is one of the leading nonprofit human services organizations serving northern New Jersey. The agency is fully accredited and has served the community for more than 110 years. Its mission is to preserve, protect and, when needed, provide families. Motivated by compassion for vulnerable children, young adults, frail elderly and their families, it provides high-quality and innovative services that meet their social, educational and emotional needs. For more information on Children’s Aid and Family Services and to learn more about volunteer opportunities, call 201.261.2800 or visit www.cafsnj.org.

For more information:
Liz Mason (201) 261-2800 lmason@cafsnj.org
Sheila Riccardi (201) 261-2800 sriccardi@cafsnj.org

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