A Toolbox Built With Skills

Staying home with young children can be daunting for any parent, but low-income caregivers and single mothers also may lack the skills and resources to provide important nurturing to their families.

Childcare often is provided through an informal network of relatives, friends and neighbors who may have little training or education in child development.

And while the concept of raising children among close-knit groups has advantages, officials at Fort Worth’s Camp Fire USA First Texas Council also recognized a need.

Calling the effort “Kith and Kin,” or friend and family, Camp Fire began in 2006 offering free parent training classes on early childhood topics like behavior issues, nutrition, safety, growth and development and school readiness. The group also works with families in their homes to create safe environments where kids can flourish and learn.

“It’s hard enough to raise kids for those who have the resources, but for those who don’t, it can feel impossible,” said Lyn Lucas, vice president of the group’s work family division. “In general, people do the best they can. But we can give them more tools for their toolbox.”

The goal is to teach caregivers how bonding with children keeps cognitive growth on track for school.

The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation awarded $5,000 grants to Camp Fire in the Fall 2007 and Fall 2011 for the Kith and Kin Program. Since the Arlington program began, 271 informal child care providers have participated.

Lucas said the program also helps provide training for qualified informal child care providers who want to qualify to become state registered.

She said educating caregivers about how to better themselves strengthens the whole community.

“We’re seeing increased confidence and self-esteem in these families,” Lucas said. “And they’re raising children who will grow into adults who had that nurturing experience. It builds upon itself.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *