HELP for Kids - Exchange Club Parenting Skills Center

Stamford, Connecticut, USA


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The mission of the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of Southern CT, Inc. DBA: HELP for Kids - Parenting Skills Center is to stop the cycle of child abuse by providing education and support services to families in Fairfield County that strengthen the parenting and life skills of the parents/caregivers designed to improve the health, wellbeing and safety of the children.

What We Do

The Agency provides education and support services to families in Fairfield County to improve the health, wellbeing and safety of the children. The programs improve the stabilization of the family by ensuring that the home environment is safe, that the family's basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing have been met, and that the family has knowledge of and access to community support and programs they need. Contributing factors such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, joblessness and substance abuse lead to the rise in the incidence of child abuse and neglect. When a child lives in an environment with abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction it can subject them to a level of stress that can become toxic to their developing brains and bodies. Prolonged levels of toxic stress can disrupt brain development, increase the risk of future health problems like heart disease, mental illness, and it can have a longitudinal impact on the health and well-being of the child.

The foundation of our services is understanding that human behavior is multi-dimensional, both positive and negative life events impact and influence behaviors. Using ACES information and current research in neuroscience, the programs focus on helping individuals to broaden and build upon their strengths, replacing old violent habits with new strength-based strategies. Science shows us this creates new neuro pathways and once the new habits are practiced for the duration of the program, the new habits are sustainable. Habits are not broken, rather they are transformed. Every level of the agency is trained in strength-based approach to services.

The Need for our program is evident in national and state statistics:
* One out of every 25 children has been physically, or emotionally abused by the time he/she reaches adulthood,
* Over 40,000 cases of child abuse in Connecticut are reported to the Department of Children and Family Services every year,
* An estimated 24.7 million children (33%) live absent their biological father. Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a disease, "fatherlessness" would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.
* The impact of fatherlessness can be seen in our homes, schools, hospitals, and prisons. In short, fatherlessness is associated with almost every societal ill facing our country's children. Nationwide statistics show that children in fatherless homes are 279% more likely to carry guns and deal drugs, and they are 48% more likely to live in poverty.
* About 10% of childbirths in CT are premature, 7.5% low birthweight, and about 8.5% of infants have developmental delay due to various parental risk factors.

Our programs utilize multiple evidence-based models and curriculum to best serve the multi-cultural population and the diverse needs. The evidenced-based National Exchange Club (NEC) home visiting model is family centered, focusing on child safety, medical, dental and mental health needs, education and safe housing. Teaching parenting skills that ensure the safety and well- being of children and their families.
The National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) 24/7 Dad is an evidence-based curriculum used to develop pro-fathering knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Program is built on the basis that fathers can be nurturers, and for men, nurturing is a learned skill, and other skills such as working with mom and proper child discipline. The approach of the NFI is to identify fathers who have had limited contact with their children due to alienation, abandonment, incarceration, or lack of confidence in caring for a child.
The new additional model to be initiated in 2021 - Healthy Families America (HFA). The purpose of HFA is to support new parents beginning prenatally or at the time their babies are born and, for families facing greater challenges, to offer ongoing home visiting services until the child is age three (up to age 5 if needed). The HFA model is based upon twelve research-based critical elements and is committed to demonstrating consistent service implementation and quality. A broad range of studies show that when parents participate in HFA, children are healthier, experience fewer adverse childhood events, and demonstrate long-term improvements in school performance. HFA participation is correlated with healthier birth rates, lower complications, and reductions in child neglect and abuse.


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