Program will examine family relationships

Thursday, January 17, 2008 | 8:34 p.m. CST; updated 5:25 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — A new program for low-income families who want to learn better relationship skills will begin next month.

Central Missouri Community Action and MU Extension hope to reach 500 couples and individuals in the next five years through a program called Connecting for Children. The program will offer both one-day and weekend retreats along with weekly sessions.

“The programs will help parents to focus on developing the skills they need to have healthy relationships that will ultimately benefit their children,” said Kim Allen, human development specialist for MU Extension. She added that children with parents in “low-conflict relationships with high positive interaction” are more likely to do better in school and less likely to engage in risky behavior.

The program will begin Feb. 9-10 with a weekend retreat for couples. Project manager Robyn Larkin Higgins said there will also be weekend retreats for single parents in the future. The retreats are open to five to 10 participants and will be held every three to four weeks at local hotels. All expenses are covered and participation incentives are available to cover unforeseen costs of attending, such as gas money.

Connecting for Children is made possible by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy Marriage Grant.

To qualify for the program, you must be:

- In a non-violent relationship

- 18 or older

- Pregnant or with a child age 5 or younger

- Income-eligible for Head Start, a national program that provides educational and other services to low-income families.

Those interested in Connecting for Children can call Higgins at 443-8706, extension 292, or Allen at 884-0644.

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