Helping Young Families Cope CARROLL COUNTY

February 26, 1993

One of the most challenging activities in life is raising children, yet there is very little instruction or assistance available to most of us. The opening of the Carroll County Family Service Center in the Barrel House in Westminster should go a long way toward helping young parents in the county overcome some of the difficulties they may be experiencing.

The Family Center was established to serve parents, particularly those who dropped out of high school and had children while they were still teen-agers. Many of these parents are struggling with the stresses of growing up, earning a living, maintaining a household and finding time for a spouse, not to mention parenting. The program's goal is to help these young people obtain the skills so they can become self-sufficient adults and effective mothers and fathers.

When parents can't cope, the victims are usually their children. These kids suffer from neglect and abuse that can scar them for life. They don't do well in school, and they often end up repeating the same pattern as their parents. Instruction, counseling and support can help break the destructive cycle. The Family Center can't remove life's stresses; rather, it teaches parents skills necessary to navigate in the world.

Funded primarily through a state grant administered by Friends of the Family, a non-profit organization, Carroll's Family Center joins a state network of 14 similar facilities.

It also receives grants from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that pay for counselors and workers who visit families in their homes. Social agencies refer parents to the center or parents can refer themselves.

A number of services are offered at the center, ranging from instruction for people interested in obtaining their high school equivalency certificates to parenting courses. The center offers transportation as well as day care for parents who are participating in its programs. And best of all, particularly for cash-strapped families, its courses and services are free.

Even though the center has been operating since the fall in temporary space and since last month in its permanent space, more than 170 people are already making use of it, demonstrating the need for this center here.

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