Teresa is the Prevention Coordinator of First Step in
the Baltimore, Maryland, area, and a longtime Active Parenting
leader and trainer. She took some time out of her busy schedule
to share some secrets to her success.
What is First Step?
First Step is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that originated
in 1979 as a community-based organization providing services
to the community. Today those services include substance abuse
treatment services, youth employment training, educational services,
parenting programs, prevention programs and community outreach.
A recent First Step Family
Night attracted 100 participantsincluding 45 fathers. Here
Teresa poses with basketballs set spinning by the evenings
guest, former Harlem Globetrotter Spencer Spinny
How do you go about providing parenting classes?
Through numerous collaborative partnerships with Baltimore County
Schools, Government, Police, Human Services, Juvenile Justice
and the Local Management Board. First Step schedules (at area
school sites) then posts and announces upcoming quarterly programs
available to the area communities. Space is donated by area school
facilities to reduce the expense to families. Funds are sought
and obtained through grant applications. These steps are vital
in reducing the overall expense to parents
per individual and $40 per couple for the entire 6-week program!
The program is limited to a capacity of 20 participants (the
maximum class size has been 24 participants) through early registration
(with payment in advance). The program is implemented using transparencies,
videos and a facilitator to provide an effective group program
servicing numerous participants simultaneously. Individual, personal
interaction time is allocated 30 minutes before and after the
class. In addition, snacks are provided, although we ask participants
to bring their own beverages.
About how many classes do you offer annually?
Currently we average six classes annually
of Teens and Active Parenting Now classes
3 and 3, or 4 and 2,
or 2 and 4. The actual classes provided
are defined by the need as reported by area families. However,
a change we recently made is to offer the same class at two different
locations to permit parents to jump from one class to the other
based on their busy calendars. This has benefited us in retaining
attendance since parents can attend on another evening when there
is a schedule conflict.
What is your background
how did you get into the parenting
I am a Certified Prevention Professional working with youth in
the community to develop the protective factors and refusal skills
necessary for youth to refrain from or postpone initial experimentation
with drugs. Frustrated by hearing stories from youth about their
home environment, I switched my focus to hire more staff to work
with them. I then turned my own efforts to assisting parents
through parenting classes. Without positive parent support and
involvement, our best youth prevention efforts seemed futile.
I am glad to say it is working to support our youth, their families
and our communities and schools!
How have you overcome funding challenges?
We have been challenged with budget deficits. However, we had
strong vision from the beginning to provide parenting classes
in affluent communities as well as low-income communities. Our
belief was that ALL families will benefit from our parenting
and parents in affluent neighborhoods have direct
and indirect affiliations with area politicians, judges and attorneys
involved with family and juvenile behavioral problems. We believed
that their familiarity with our parenting programs could increase
support, referral, donations and funding for our programs. This
vision has helped us to continue to provide parenting programs
to all communities in our area.
Are you noticing any trends in parent problems?
Several areas of concern have been addressed recently. Extensive
school homework, eating disorders, substance abuse/experimentation
earlier and more intensely, oral sexual activity, social youth
trends (tattooing, body piercing, ear tubes, co-ed sleepovers),
parenting peer pressure between adults (parents wanting to fit
in with their peers), bullying, discussing the effects of pornography
with adolescents today, discussion of daily time schedules and
the hectic effect on the family, and the importance of active
verbal communication with in the family weekly.
Not long ago, I experienced my first AP class (Teens)
with more men than women in the group. At the completion of the
course, I had eight fathers and seven mothers. As the facilitator,
I was challenged to provide more factual numbers than previously.
This group of fathers wanted to be able to support their parenting
with statistics and solid information when parenting their youth.
It was wonderful to get the fathers perspectives
will help me change the program to continue to encourage fathers
in the process.
Any interesting stories from recent classes?
Nope, sorry we have a strict policy of Whats discussed
in this group
stays in this group. That means me,
How do you get the word out about your classes?
Through parents word of mouth, collaborative partnerships
within our region, but also through flyers, school newsletters,
our HELPS Coalition website, and always posted on the
AP website! The important aspect is to post the schedule early
so parents can save the dates in their calendars! By early summer,
we have announced our upcoming fall classes.
Youre a trainer too, right? Do you often hold Leader Training Workshops?
Absolutely! We provide LTWs twice a year (fall & spring)
for several reasons:
- First Step cant reach all the families in our region
- By providing ongoing, current training, our staff and area
associate professionals have access to less expensive training,
current training, and networking opportunities annually
- We believe in the effectiveness of this program and want
to encourage others to attend the LTWs. We offer them the opportunity
to attend any of our parenting classes to observe the process
in person. We have found that this step begins to reduce the
fears associated with the first class jitters and
supports them to offer their first class!
Reprinted from Leader magazine.
Copyright 2005 by Active Parenting Publishers, Inc.