AUBURN – Leaders of Auburn’s Sixpence Project told school board members Monday that helping families overcome mental health issues has become a priority in their action plan.
Supervisor Deb Reiman and Home Visitor Diane Hughes presented a snapshot report of Sixpence’s third year in Auburn.
The project is one of 31 across Nebraska and has 14 kids from birth to age three enrolled.
Reiman said the project tracks risk factors for children and, while she expected a high number of poverty issues, participants’ self-reports about mental health issues is alarming.
Reiman: “79 percent of our families qualify for free and reduced lunch, which we anticipate, but 71 percent of our parents had mental health problems, including substance abuse. That was a big red flag for us. If parents can not take care of themselves, how are they going to be able to take care of their children.”
She said Sixpence have collaborated with a therapist at the Auburn Family Health Center and is offering workshops that are open to the community for child care providers, foster parents and anyone interested.
Hughes said Sixpence’s home visits can help break cycles and make a difference children’s lives. Participants reported that 100 percent of Sixpence providers encouraged them to talk more with their child and 80 percent reported learning new parent and child activities.
Hughes: “They are learning various parenting techniques as far as positive discipline. I can give them different ways to talk to their children instead of just, for example, yelling or spanking, so I try to help them see different ways of parenting than they might have grown up with.”
Reiman said one of the new programs is the circle of security, an eight-week parenting course.
Reiman: “The one thing, all of our parents are coming away saying, that they’ve learned from the class that it’s not attention the children are seeking, it’s connection, so they are starting to spread that word to other parents too.”
The Sixpence snapshot indicates that parent and child interactions improved from fall to spring in the areas of relationship building, promoting learning and supporting confidence.