A group of six parents sat together in this small Delta town recently and shared one common goal: Improving the lives of their children through stronger families, and, ultimately, creating a better community in which to make those successes a reality.
“How can we find programs to help us as parents locate the help we need for our kids?” asked one of the participants in a series of focus groups being held by the Delta Health Alliance (DHA) and its Deer Creek Promise Community (DCPC). “We need to create an environment that’s more inclusive.”
Her comments were among many offered by the parents at the first of eight focus group sessions in Hollandale, Arcola and Leland. Many of these parents share the challenges that come with having children with learning disabilities. And so the mission of the focus groups was to collect information that will be used to provide the assistance that is most beneficial to them and their families.
Overseen by Dr. Deborah Moore of DHA, the groups examined issues ranging from how best to nurture the parent while nurturing the child to ensuring that children’s growth occurs academically as well as within a child’s personal life.
Questions asked of the parents included:
- How comfortable are you with your current participation with the DCPC?
- How would you describe the future you envision for the children of the DCPC?
- What resources does your child need to realize the vision that you have for your child?
- What programs and services are already in your community that the DCPC could support?
“I’d like to see these children grow academically and socially and be able to better communicate my vision for my child,” said one of the parents at the focus group. “He sees now what his mother wants for him.”
The Hollandale focus group was comprised of parents who are participating in DHA’s LINKS program (Linking Individuals, Neighborhoods and Kids to Services). Now in its fifth year of service, LINKS has recently transitioned from the Indianola Promise Community to the DCPC.
In total, LINKS works with more than 200 families in Leland, Indianola and Hollandale in a community-based program that’s helping children become better students and adults to become better parents. LINKS “associates” enter the homes of DCPC families to help ensure they’re linked to the best programs for them, individually, and as a family. associates explore how students are performing in school, working with parents and schools to provide the best paths for success.
The focus groups were also geared toward the young people of the DCPC in separate panels of girls and boys. Some of the questions asked of those students included:
- How would you describe changes in your community since the DCPC project began?
- What do you envision for your future in the next five years?
- Thinking about your future, what obstacles do you face right now that would prevent you from achieving the future you have described?
Aundrea Prince, one of DHA focus group leaders, told the parents that goal of the panels was to collect information that could be used to assist entire families as they maneuvered through the challenges that parents and children face individually and as a unit. Parents, she said, are discovering that they are not alone in the problems they face.
“I always had this feeling that I was the only one who felt this way,” one parent told the group. “It’s so good to know that I’m not alone. Just being here, able to discuss all of these issues, makes me feel that I can overcome many of these obstacles.”
One parent asked about the feasibility of establishing a parent’s resource center that would benefit the entire community. Another said that more mentoring programs for parents would be helpful.
“I can say that because of the LINKS program, I see changes in my parenting, and I see changes in my child’s behavior,” said one of the focus group parents. “Just being here to talk about all these things is such a benefit to us. It’s the kind of thing that really helps in how we go about our every day lives.”