What do parents want? To raise children who grow into healthy, happy, caring and confident adults.
In a culture where an overload of social and economic pressures is bearing down on them, both parents and the many professionals who work with children and families find their work challenging.
At the 4th annual Strengthening Families Conference, a virtual event sponsored by Tumwater-based Family Education and Support Services (FESS), on Nov. 3, the many adults who work with children and youth can learn about the latest strategies to support them.
“This is a great opportunity for many families and for those who work with them to communicate with each other, share ideas and make new contacts,” said FESS Executive Director Shelly Willis.
Keynoting the conference will be two nationally recognized speakers: Ana Homayoun, academic advisor and early career development expert, and Mac Bledsoe, founder and president of the Parenting With Dignity Program.
A recent guest on ABC’s “Good Morning, America,” Homayoun is founder of Silicon Valley-based Green Ivy Educational Consulting and Luminaria Learning Solutions. Her work with tweens, teens and their parents has led to her authoring four books, including, “Erasing the Finish Line: The New Blueprint for Success Beyond Grades and College Admission.” The book advocates for a new approach from the restrictive measures used to prepare students for the “finish line” – landing successfully at college. She focuses instead on giving students a framework of skills for lifelong success – such as planning and multi-tasking, building close connections with others, being adaptable in the face of setbacks and expanding perspectives.
Bledsoe, a former teacher and coach, is also an author. Father of former pro football quarterback Drew Bledsoe, he wrote “Parenting With Dignity” and is founder of the program by the same name. The program is built on effective strategies for raising responsible, independent children by teaching parents and caregivers to rethink their approach to discipline, punishment and empowerment.
Homayoun and Bledsoe will join other presenters in providing the latest cutting-edge, evidence-based resources, best practices and ideas to improve the health and well-being of children, youth and families.
The Strengthening Families Conference was created for individuals and human services organizations whose work or advocacy centers around children and families, including those in education, child welfare and advocacy, medicine, mental health, law enforcement, law and juvenile justice. Parents, foster parents and kinship caregivers, along with members of service organizations and daycare providers, also are encouraged to attend, as is anyone interested in the health and well-being of children, youth and families.
FESS Program Director Scott Hanauer said the value of having parents, caregivers and professionals with varied backgrounds talking to each other is highly important, especially in a post-Covid world where “extraordinary stressors” have been observed in both parents and children. Their collaboration sends the message “they must care about me,” to children, he said.
The day will begin with a pre-conference bonus training from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), a virtual suicide prevention program taught by Hanauer and FESS Education Director Jody Smetak. This short, effective QPR training is spreading across the United States and to countries beyond our borders. It is free to attendees.
The conference is $50 per person, $450 per organization (up to 10 attendees) before October 13. After that date, costs are $65 and $600, respectively. Continuing education credits in several disciplines are available.
To register or for more information, go to the Strengthening Families Conference webpage on the FESS website – or call FESS, 360-754-7629.
FESS is a non-profit organization launched in 2000 with the mission of inspiring healthy child development by providing quality, evidence-based family education and support services that help build resilience. It is guided by the belief that strong families begin at home, and that by supporting adults in raising healthy children, families are strengthened. FESS also strives to create a thriving community. As part of fulfilling its mission, it provides trainings to “frontline” social service providers, teachers and all community members who influence the health and well-being of children. Serving Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Pierce counties, FESS helped more than 8,500 individuals last year.