Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. The center partners with family support organizations in San Luis Obispo County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority.

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  • Give Children Affected by Trauma a Chance to Thrive

    Martha's Place Gives Children who Suffer from Prenatal Substance Exposure and Early Childhood Trauma a Chance to Thrive and to Reach their Full Potential. A research study known as the… Read more…

  • Promotores Collaborative Program Successes!

        The County of San Luis Obispo Preventive Health Grant sponsors the professional coordination services required for a high functioning Promotores Collaborative. Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) provides leadership development and… Read more…

  • CFS Promotes Staff Member

    Center for Family Strengthening promotes Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia to Director of Promotores Collaborative. “We are thrilled with Erica’s accomplishments in driving the growth and success of Promotores Collaborative,” said Lisa Fraser,… Read more…

  • CFS Welcomes New Program Coordinator

    Gwendolyn Garcia has joined Center for Family Strengthening as Program Coordinator for CFS’ major programs: Parent Connection, Kidz Tool Box for personal safety, Promotores Collaborative, Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition and… Read more…

  • CFS moves to new location

    Center for Family Strengthening has moved its corporate headquarters to 3480 South Higuera, Suite 100, San Luis Obispo. Affiliate agency ALPHA Pregnancy and Parenting Support is also moving its corporate… Read more…

Give Children Affected by Trauma a Chance to Thrive

Martha’s Place Gives Children who Suffer from Prenatal Substance Exposure and Early Childhood Trauma a Chance to Thrive and to Reach their Full Potential.

A research study known as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs) shows that traumatic experiences in childhood including divorce, domestic violence, abuse and neglect are associated with a greater rate of negative health outcomes later in life, including drug addiction, mental illness, chronic health conditions and even early death. (See the ACEs Study by Kaiser Permanente.) The term “complex trauma” may be used to describe both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events as well as the long-term effects of this exposure.

In addition to children who have experienced trauma, infants who have been prenatally exposed to alcohol and/or other substances are also vulnerable to experiencing challenges over the course of their life. In 2003, the Public Health Assessment Survey conducted by Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County reported that there were significantly higher incidences of substance abuse among pregnant women on the Central Coast compared to national average:42% screened positive for drug use; 18% of mothers reported smoking during pregnancy; 35% endorsed using alcohol at some point in their pregnancy. We know that use of these substances impacts the development of the fetus and poses health and developmental threats to the child. Due to these findings, it was deemed to be critical in our community to assess these exposed infants as early as birth and provide targeted early intervention treatment up to five years of age to mediate negative health outcomes to the fullest extent possible. 

In 2007, Shirley Bianchi, retired 2nd District Supervisor, along with other SLO County Community Leaders took action and founded Martha’s Place, an assessment and treatment center for children birth to five. Martha’s Place is a San Luis Obispo County Health Agency program where Mental Health and Public Health are integrated to provide services for children birth to five. Martha’sPlace provides expert, multidisciplinary assessment of infants and young children who exhibit extreme behavioral concerns, developmental delays, and known prenatal substance exposure.

Martha’s Place was named in honor of Martha Johnston great-granddaughter of Shirley Bianchi, whose life, though tragically short, exemplifies both the damage alcohol and drugs can have on children as well as the amazing resiliency of youth when help is provided. We know that brain development is extremely vulnerable during the first five years of life; and therefore it is crucial that children be evaluated medically, developmentally, socially and emotionally beginning as early as possible to identify any areas of concern and address these concerns before they become more challenging and solidified issues.

Martha’s Place is devoted to helping children in our community to reach their full potential, to be loved, to be emotionally well developed and to enter school ready and able to learn. Martha’s Place helps give our most vulnerable young children a voice and a safe, stable environment in which to thrive. It is crucial that Martha’s Place continue to serve children who have this very critical need.

The clinical staff at Martha’s Place including pediatricians, mental health therapists and public health nurses receive specialized training on detecting signs of trauma in infants and toddlers and are knowledgeable in the wide-range of resources in our community dedicated to supporting children and their families. Dr. Nisha Abdul Cader, conducts the specialized pediatric exams at Martha’s Place. She is also the Medical Director for the Suspected Abuse Response Team and serves as the supervising physician at the Juvenile Service Center for the County of San Luis Obispo. As a medical student and pediatric resident at Harbor-UCLA, Dr. Abdul Cader co-founded the UMMA Community Clinic in South Central Los Angeles and is Board Certified in General and Child Abuse Pediatrics. Dr. Abdul Cader frequently lectures locally and throughout the state on prenatal substance exposure evaluation and treatment, as well as on topics concerning child maltreatment.

Today Martha’s Place provides developmentally appropriate, evidence-based services to over 300 children each year. The clinic follows the SART Model of treatment—Screening, Assessment, Referral and Treatment—created by Dr. Ira Chasnoff in Chicago. 

Developmental Screening ideally takes place in the community setting, such as by a family’s primary pediatric provider or in a preschool program. At Martha’s Place, screening tools include Ages and Stages Questionnaires and Child Behavior Checklists, through CHADIS, a web-based diagnostic, management, and tracking tool designed to assist professionals in efficiently addressing parents’ concerns about their child’s behavior and development. There are also screening tools for sensory processing differences, such as hypersensitivity to sound, touch, or taste, that can be caused by prenatal substance exposure and early childhood trauma.

In the Assessment phase, the state of the child’s physical and mental health is determined during the intake process. The mental health assessment includes: a comprehensive psycho-social history, observation conducted by a therapist and a child/adolescent needs and strengths (CANS) assessment. The specialized pediatric assessment includes: an in-depth review of the child’s medical history; caregiver interview; a physical growth and development evaluation; and, observations of physical and behavioral signs/symptoms of fetal alcohol/drug exposure and complex trauma.

Following these assessments, the family is provided with referrals to support their child’s identified needs. Referrals include additional specialized medical assessments, such as neurology or hearing evaluations, developmental services, parenting groups, and special education local plan area (SELPA) to advocate for services and accommodations through the school district. Community-based organizations, such as Family Resource Centers, often provide additional services to help families meet their basic needs such as housing, food, transportation and clothing that may be impacting the family’s ability to fully participate in services.

Finally, treatment recommendations are provided to the family, which may include: individual play therapy to process trauma, family therapy to develop secure attachments with caregivers, occupational therapy, and on occasion, medication management. This treatment can be provided at Martha’s Place, by contracted providers in the community or at other County behavioral health clinics closer to the family’s home.

The Role of Attachment in a Child’s Development

Attachment is the deep and enduring connection that is established between a child and caregiver in the first several years of life. This relationship profoundly influences every aspect of a child’s development. A child who has experienced a disrupted attachment/trauma can present with anger, temper tantrums, aggressive behavior, anxiety, withdrawn behavior, sleep and/or eating problems. Their development can be delayed in language, coordination, balance, sensory responsiveness, cognitive functioning and they may have difficulties in processing new information. They also often exhibit poor social and emotional skills and have challenges in reading social cues. Frequently, there is a strong need for control and low self-esteem.

The focus of the team at Martha’s Place is to improve the child’s ability to attach in a healthy way with caregivers—a secure attachment relationship is the primary protective factor in minimizing the negative effects of trauma on the child.

Healthy attachment includes learning basic trust and reciprocity, the child exploring their environment with feelings of safety and security and the ability to co-regulate impulses and emotions. Healthy attachment creates the formation of identity-including a sense of competency, self-worth, and a balance between autonomy and dependency. Importantly, it provides the child the opportunity to form a prosocial moral framework including empathy, compassion, and conscience. It generates a core belief system and provides a defense against stress and trauma.

Martha’s Place Success in Children recovering from Trauma in San Luis Obispo County

Martha’s Place has seen significant positive changes in the lives of children who have been prenatally exposed to substances and/or trauma. Outcome data from 2017 compiled at Martha’s Place indicates that the children served experience a significant reduction in aggressive behaviors as well as improvements in attachment and in sleep. Two families who received services at Martha’s Place agreed to share their experiences:

“When my family was considering moving out of the area, the number one reason we stayed was because of Martha’s Place and the key services it provided our child. Our son is a totally different child since beginning treatment at Martha’s Place. He no longer exhibits continuous meltdowns and his mood has evened out. Medication with therapy has allowed him to be able to engage more appropriately and benefit from interventions”.

“We have received services at Martha’s Place for 3 years and are so pleased with the great progress the therapist achieved with our daughter in helping to alleviate her anxiety and prepare her for elementary school. The therapist, and other experienced professionals, provided guidance to the entire family with parenting skills and support.  The pediatrician is a valuable ally throughout our daughter’s treatment program and the rest of the staff at Martha’s Place are excellent. We cherish each and every visit.”

For many families, Martha’s Place is the most important organization within the community providing mental health services that would otherwise be inaccessible or cost prohibitive.  

Model of Care Partners Oversight Committee of Martha’s Place (MoCPOC)

MoCPOC, chaired by Mary Bianchi, Aunt of Martha Johnston, seeks to leverage community resources in an open format that informs all partners on the current needs of Martha’s Place and to stimulates ideas, discussion and solutions to ensure children’s needs are being met through the System of Care. MoCPOC is made up of representatives from agencies and individuals including: Center for Family Strengthening, SLO County Child Welfare Services, SLO County Health Agency, SELPA, Community Action Partnership of SLO County, and County Supervisor Bruce Gibson.

MoCPOC’s Vision is for the community of San Luis Obispo to ensure all children will receive any interventions, treatment and support they may need to reach their highest level of growth and development; live safely in their homes, succeed in school, have meaningful friendships, grow up healthy, and become resilient citizens of our community.

A special message from Mary Bianchi:

Martha’s Place was named in honor of my niece, Martha Johnston, whose tragically short life exemplifies the damage alcohol and drugs can have on the very young. My family was inspired to take action so other young children could have a better chance to heal from the trauma of abuse and neglect. Martha’s Place helps our family deal with the pain and grief of losing our Martha.
 
My mom, Shirley Bianchi, is a founding member of Martha’s Place. I am honored to follow in her footsteps and serve on the Model of Care Oversight Partners Committee of Martha’s Place (MoCPOC) and the Center for Family Strengthening Board of Directors.  
 
I serve because I am devoted to improving resources dedicated to serve children birth to five years of age suffering with severe developmental delays and behavioral challenges due to prenatal substance exposure and/or early childhood trauma. For these children and their families, particularly those with financial challenges, Martha’s Place is the portal to mental health services they need in San Luis Obispo County. Please join me in providing young children affected by trauma a chance to grow, learn, and thrive. 

Please contribute to the Friends of Martha’s Place Fund. Contact Center for Family Strengthening at 805 543-6216 or support@cfsslo.org for more information. All contributions are tax deductible.

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Martha’s Place Assessment and Treatment Team Includes:

Program Supervisor: Katie Cohen, LMFT, PsyD

Mental Health Therapists: Casey Roos, LMFT, Jill Anderson, LMFT, Rachel McSpadden-Tarver, LMFT, RPTS

Public Health Nurses: Laura Ottrando, RN, and Betty Wighton, RN

Pediatricians: Nisha Abdul Cader, MD, and Christy Mulkerin, MD

Health Information Technician: Michelle Archer

Reception/Administrative Assistant: Elizabeth Schmidt

Elizabeth Family Advocate: Marivel Flores

Public Health Administrative Assistant: Mary Teresi

Promotores Collaborative Program Successes!

 
 
The County of San Luis Obispo Preventive Health Grant sponsors the professional coordination services required for a high functioning Promotores Collaborative. Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) provides leadership development and community outreach opportunities so Promotores can grow their capacity to connect Latino neighbors with community resources.

We are so pleased to share the accomplishments of the Promotores Collaborative of San Luis Obispo County during the past year.

  • Trained Promotores provided over 360 hours at food bank distribution sites around SLO County promoting self-sufficiency in meeting food needs.  This project is in collaboration with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County through a USDA Community Food Project Grant.
  • 29 Home Visits were conducted for families with special needs children by Promotores who serve as bilingual coaches/mentors trained to help families understand the multiple resources available. In 2017, the San Luis Obispo County Promotores Collaborative joined Parents Helping Parents to help families improve access to services provided by the Tri-County Regional Center.
  • Certified Promotores Mental Health Interpreters served a total of 181 families receiving County Mental Health Services. The Latino Mental Health Enhancement Collaborative compliments the contract Promotores has with the County of San Luis Obispo BehavioralHealth Dept. through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA).

 

Latina Action Day in Sacramento. 6 Promotoras attended this conference in May 2018 and learned about new public policy issues. This one-day conference is designed to facilitate dialogue between corporate and community Latina leaders and elected officials on public policy effecting the Latinos in California.
 
 
Parent Leadership Convening. 10 Promotores participated in this event recognizing Parent Leaders for their dedication to strong communities held in partnership with San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties in February 2018.
 

CFS and The LINK: Working Together To Do More for the Community

Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) and The LINK Family Resource Center now work closely together to provide enhanced community services and resources to improve life for overburdened families. This collaboration creates an integrated service system that is accessible and responsive to the needs of our SLO County Community. Both organizations utilize an evidence-based approach and programs that produce highly positive results.

Lisa Fraser serves as the Executive Director of both organizations, making this integration of enhanced services possible and highly cost effective. Administrative and financial responsibilities are combined to be more effective while reducing the overhead of both organizations. Each organization continues to operate with its Board of Directors providing continuity of purpose.

The LINK Family Resource Center is the first line of community-based response to children and their families in need as identified by our public schools. The LINK contracts with schools and the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education to provide trained Family Advocates. Through providing access to resources and helping navigate systems the Advocates ensure families get what they need to raise healthy, thriving children. Link Family Advocates understand the developmental needs of young people and the resources children need to succeed in school.

The LINK Family Advocates access Center for Family Strengthening’s broad base of support programs, Parent ConnectionKidz Toolbox for Personal Safety,Promotores Collaborative of San Luis Obispo CountyDental Care for Kids, and Postpartum Depression Support Services to connect families to these effective resources. 

Staff from CFS and The LINK receive ongoing specialized training provided by Strategies 2.0, an initiative funded by the California Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP). OCAP selected Center for Family Strengthening to facilitate the Southern California Learning Community. The LINK Family Advocates, CFS staff and many family serving professionals benefit from the Learning Community network that shares best practices, develops leadership capacity and enhances collaborative approaches for creating healthy families and communities. 

CFS and The Link share in the common core language of strengthening families and build protective factors that lead to family health and well-being. Both organizations practice a strengths-based approach, which reinforces parenting skills, increases knowledge of child development stages, and ultimately protects children from neglect and maltreatment behaviors.

Meet Yesenia, a Nurse Family Partnership success story

Nurse Family Partnership provides first-time moms with support and mentoring

Meet Yesenia, a very smart but also very shy girl who graduated from high school at age sixteen. Pregnant at age nineteen, Yesenia was still very shy and had not yet acquired important life skills critical to becoming a good mom. The turning point for Yesenia to become a loving, successful mom would be her enrollment into the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) of San Luis Obispo County.The NFP is a national evidence-based nurse home visitation program that provides first-time moms and their families with emotional, practical support and mentoring throughout their pregnancy and until their baby reaches two years of age. The Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) is the Advisory Board to NFP.

Yesenia, son Noah and NFP nurse Nancy Goldsmith, PHN

Community Health Centers (CHC) of San Luis Obispo County suggested that Yesenia enroll in the NFP program. Being less than seven months pregnant, Yesenia qualified for the program. Nurse Nancy Goldsmith, PHN became her home visiting nurse. I sat in observation of Yesenia and Nancy during one of their home visits so I might learn more about the NFP program, what it meant to Yesenia and how it helped change her life in learning how to be a good mom.

Yesenia suffered from depression before and after the birth of her son Noah. Noah had jaundice and respiratory distress at birth and needed to stay in the Sierra Vista Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for one week before coming home. Yesenia was very fearful about bringing Noah home. Nancy had been working with Yesenia before Noah’s birth and was there during this difficult time to provide her the critical guidance and emotional support she needed.

With Nancy’s help, Yesenia learned that Noah would quickly pick up what she is feeling and that it is so important to develop a healthy personal outlook herself to assure the well-being of her baby. Yesenia describes Nancy’s help during this time as simply amazing and is certain that her and Noah’s life would be very much different without the help of an NFP nurse.

Yesenia said that Nancy changed everything for her. She wanted to be a good mom and believes Nancy helped her to learn what it takes to care for Noah as well for her family. Nancy visited Yesenia bi-monthly, initially providing support during her pregnancy. After birth, Nancy provided guidance and introduced important life skills that created a healthy environment for mother and son. As Noah grew, Nancy taught Yesenia about childhood development and what to expect at different stages in Noah’s life as well as ways to encourage his development.

The day I was there, Nancy was preparing Yesenia for Noah’s next stage, toilet training. Nancy explains that a child will let you know when he’s ready to learn to use the toilet and the most important thing you can do is to be patient, commit to the time it will take and be relaxed. All of this will help the child relax. A mom who is stressed during toilet training can delay the child’s success. To help prepare Noah for toilet training, Yesenia learned to change Noah’s diaper only in the bathroom; she taught Noah about what wet and dry feels like, and to put a potty-chair in the bathroom. As a result of this preparation, Yesenia learned that Noah wasn’t quite ready. She now knows what’s ahead and is committed to the process when Noah is ready.

Through the NFP program, Yesenia has learned to communicate better with her partner; sharing her feelings with him and standing up for herself. As a result, her relationship with her partner has improved immensely. Both her partner and Yesenia agreed to avoid having arguments in front of their son. Her partner is more supportive of Yesenia’s independence. Yesenia is now setting and achieving personal goals. She has started college and is taking classes in childhood development. She is devoted to creating a healthy, happy and safe environment for Noah and her family.

Yesenia’s loving and confident care for Noah was overwhelmingly apparent during the visit. Even as Yesenia is conversing with those present, she is attentive to what Noah is doing and anticipates what he might get into that would cause him harm. She is patient with him, consistently shows him love, teaches him as they play together, and is constantly talking to and guiding him. Yesenia fills Noah’s day with outside walks, playtime and loving conversation and care. She is a confident, wonderful mother and has set her sights on having a healthy and thriving lifestyle for herself and her baby. All of this joy and high expectations by Yesenia for herself, Noah and her family was encouraged and supported by Nancy Goldsmith and Nurse-Family Partnerships.

The Nurse-Family Partnership Program in San Luis Obispo County has demonstrated phenomenal results. Positive outcomes for the moms are higher than in other health managed programs. Ninety-percent of the women who start the program complete the entire program. Seventeen-percent of the women in the program without a high school diploma or GED returned to school by 12 months postpartum. Seventy-seven percent of clients are working within 24 months.

The NFP is making possible positive outcomes for the babies that are phenomenal: 92.4-percent of the babies reach full term, 93.1-percent are born at a healthy weight, and 96.7-percent of the babies receive breast milk.

The County of San Luis Obispo offers two programs that provide families with nurse visits to improve child and family health.

  • Early Support helps at-risk families such as teen parents, or those in need of parenting guidance, and those affected by abuse, homelessness, mother/baby exposure to tobacco, alcohol or other drugs and children with medical needs.
  • Nurse-Family Partnerships helps low-income, first-time moms who are less than seven months (28 weeks) pregnant by providing mentoring, emotional and practical support throughout their pregnancy and after birth until babies reach two years of age.

Center for Family Strengthening is the Community Advisory Board to NFP. Cherie M. Fields RN, BSN, PHN is the Field Nursing Program Manager for both programs and can be reached at (805) 788-2063.

In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, to protect children from abuse and neglect, and to ensure that strong families are a community priority. To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening visit the website or call (805) 543-6216.

The Success of Nurse-Family Partnership


SLO County’s Amazing Hero-Nurses for First-Time Moms

The Nurse-Family Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (NFP), is a tremendously successful maternal and childhood health programs for low-income first-time mothers. As a national evidence-based program, it provides first-time moms with mentoring, emotional and practical support throughout their pregnancy and until their babies reach two years of age. The Center for Family Strengthening is the community advisory board to NFP. The program has a big reason to celebrate, thanks to five dedicated and compassionate nurses: Melissa Lovett-Adair, Jamie Peterson, Nancy Goldsmith, Nakia Wheeler and Carol Martin (the supervisor). Each has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and has earned a Certificate in Public Health. Public health training includes a myriad of tools: medical care, social work, parenting skills, coping skills, confidence-building, safety, family dynamics, and career and dietary training. Some nurses have also earned a Master’s Degree in Nursing, Public Health or other related fields like Psychology or Sociology. All have also spent several years in a hospital working with patients.

Nancy Goldsmith, Jamie Peterson, Carol Martin, Melissa Lovett-Adair, Nakia Wheeler, & Cherie Fields

The nurses become “true life coaches” and a consistent force in the lives of the mothers. They draw from their highly technical training as well as their life challenges including motherhood, facing adversity and building resilience in their own lives. They win their client’s trust by being non-judgmental, showing warmth and compassion, and being forthright and honest. Since the nurses don’t know what to expect when they first enter a home, each must assess the situation and use the palette of all their training and education as well as their life experience to help these new mothers.

First-time mothers are referred to the program through WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), their doctor, obstetricians, pediatricians, hospitals, community clinics, or they can directly contact the Nurse-Family Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (NFP). The only program requirements are low-income and first pregnancy before 28 weeks. The nurses each work with a caseload of 25 Moms, scheduling in-home consultations either weekly or bi-weekly based on the needs of the mother. Consultations are customized to achieve the goal of maintaining a healthy pregnancy and also achieving the mother’s aspirations and goals for her baby and their future life.

Peterson said, “All moms when experiencing their first pregnancy are at a unique and critical developmental stage in their life. The biological changes brought about by pregnancy, present the mom-to-be with a unique recognition and emotional understanding and acceptance that she is being given an opportunity for a fresh start, an exciting opportunity to create a wonderful change in her life and her baby’s life. Every mom-to-be wants a better life for their child than they had for themselves.”

“Many moms do not have a good support system,” said Wheeler. “We support them by listening, establishing a relationship based on trust, and helping them achieve their goals. I often hear moms say ‘I want better for my children’; as public health nurses, we can help them decide what ‘better’ looks like and how to get there.”

Most of the mothers coming into the program range in age from 14–40. Some have other risk factors including intimate partner violence or substance abuse. Some have low self-esteem and lack parenting skills and knowledge of child development. A few may be homeless. Some have bachelor’s degrees while others are still in high school. No one characteristic defines them or applies to all. What is amazing is that these mothers can sense and grasp that they are at a point in life where with the guidance of their nurse, they can truly build a much better life. Nearly 96% succeed in bringing a healthy baby and better life into our community.

Working as a public health nurse with mothers in their home is very different than working in the controlled environment of a hospital. As Peterson put it, “You are alone out there and need to be comfortable in your skin with the right attitude. To be invited in and invited back you need to earn the mom’s respect.”

All progress to goals is acknowledged and celebrated. For example, with Peterson’s help, one 19-year-old mother burdened with low self-esteem and dependent on a controlling partner, managed to rethink her choices and leave her partner. The mother researched opening her own business and today has her own taco restaurant. Another mother, who achieved an engineering degree in Mexico, came to the United States with her husband and could not find work. She did not speak English. She has the determination to support her family and created income by cooking for migrant farm workers.

Positive outcomes are higher than in other health managed programs. Ninety percent of the women who start the program complete the entire program. Seventeen percent of the women in the program without a high school diploma or GED returned to school by 12 months postpartum. Seventy-seven percent of clients are working at 24 months. Positive outcomes for the babies are phenomenal: 92.4 percent of the babies reach full term, 93.1 percent are born at a healthy weight, and 96.7 percent of the babies receive breast milk.

Each nurse in the program has a unique view about the benefits of the program.

Goldsmith believes having a child is an amazing gift and it is an incredible blessing to have the opportunity as a parent to guide, encourage and love your child. Guidance from an NFP nurse provides a valuable opportunity to change negative behaviors and break cycles. It gives parents positive alternatives for encouraging and promoting their child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Goldsmith supports and recognizes the value of preventative health care and also emphasizes that self-care is a very vital and important aspect of parenting. She sees the work as an NFP home visitor as a very challenging, comprehensive and rewarding aspect of nursing. She is very touched to hear from and see clients that have graduated from the program who are thriving and accomplishing much.

Peterson and Wheeler agree that the career is both challenging and extremely rewarding. They are thrilled to see their clients make progress.

Martin adds that the nurses give mothers hope that they can succeed and always looks for something positive in mothers’ interactions with their babies. Martin provides positive feedback and encourages them to talk and play with their baby as much possible. Martin is delighted when she runs into her clients years later and finds that mothers and children are doing so well.

Lovett-Adair focuses on bringing out the best in clients and celebrating their strengths and teaches mothers to manage a child’s behavior in a loving, healthy way. “It’s about empowering moms to learn ways to take care of themselves. The NFP career is a great opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives. You never forget them. It’s a privilege to support women making changes in their lives.”

All the NFP nurses agree it would be wonderful to have this program for all first-time mothers. NFP nurses are truly hero-nurses for SLO county first-time mothers.

San Luis Obispo County is currently hiring nurses for other departments. For more information about NFP visit the program website.

 

Parent Connection Symposium

Noted Child and Family Therapist, Ron Huxley, LMFT Speaks at Parent Connection Symposium on September 22, 2017.

Understanding Generational Patterns of Parenting

Ron Huxley, noted child and family therapist, speaker and blogger, provides expert insight on the impact of trauma on caregiver/ child relationships as guest lecturer for Center for Family Strengthening Parent Connection Symposium. Parent Connection has partnered with San Luis Coastal Unified Adult School District to provide all Parent Support Professionals a one-day symposium on September 22, 2017, from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. All Parent Support Professionals are urged to attend. Registration is $55.00 for the one-day session or $85.00 with CEU Certificate with five continuing education contact hours, approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval # 886759765-8295). Morning coffee and lunch are included. The symposium will be held at the San Luis Coastal Adult School, Room J2, 1500 Lizzie Street, San Luis Obispo. Register at www.sloparents.org.

The symposium provides an in depth view of the challenges present in generational patterns of parenting.

  • The transmission of trauma from one generation to another
  • Adult Attachment challenges
  • The lifecycle of parenting
  • The importance of addressing survival needs and immediate crisis before addressing sensitive, underlying trauma and unexplored issues

Huxley will discuss building healthy communications, modeling characteristics of self-aware adults and provide concrete tools and strategies to build confidence to restore hope for parents/caregivers.

Lisa Fraser, Executive Director of Center for Family Strengthening, said, “I am thrilled a child and family therapist of Ron Huxley’s caliber with a long, successful track record of helping families in need of hope and restoration in San Luis Obispo County has agreed to keynote our Symposium. Huxley’s presentation exemplifies the strength of our symposiums and what they signify for the education of our County’s professionals working with parents and caregivers of children of any age.”

About Parent Connection of San Luis Obispo County

Parent Connection is made possible with funds provided by the Mental Health Services Act (Prevention and Early Intervention) and by the Center for Family Strengthening, a non-profit community organization.   To learn more go to http://sloparents.org.

About Center for Family Strengthening (CFS)

In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, to protect children from abuse and neglect, and to ensure that strong families are a community priority. To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call 805 543-6216.

About Ron Huxley

Ron Huxley is a dynamic and innovative educator. He travels internationally training parents and professionals on how to find more freedom and joy in their lives. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, in private practice, on the Central Coast of California, the USA with almost three decades of experience.

Ron blogs on trauma-informed care and inner healing at RonHuxley.com and he is the author of the book “Love and Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting,” 101 Parenting Tools: Building the Family of Your Dreams” and the Ebook “Living Abundantly.” He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows as an expert in the field of mental health and trauma-informed care.

CFS Promotes Staff Member

Center for Family Strengthening promotes Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia to Director of Promotores Collaborative. “We are thrilled with Erica’s accomplishments in driving the growth and success of Promotores Collaborative,” said Lisa Fraser, Executive Director of Center for Family Strengthening. “Her leadership, planning, and execution of “Promotores Collaborative” are having a transformational impact on our Spanish-speaking Community.”

Ruvalcaba-Heredia is a graduate of the University of Santa Barbara and earned her Master’s Degree in Spanish and BA in Spanish and Latino and Iberian Studies. She holds a PhEd in Organizational Leadership from the University of Laverne.

Promotores Collaborative,” of San Luis Obispo County is an emerging prevention and health education model that works for the Latino community with neighbor-to-neighbor outreach activities. This promising and novel program, introduced by Center for Family Strengthening (CFS), is rapidly changing our Spanish-speaking Community from within to achieve greater and greater success. Organized and trained volunteer Latinos within the neighborhood are providing a path for other Latinos in the neighborhood to thrive.

Promotores volunteers reach into the Latino neighborhoods to recruit, organize and train networks of Spanish-speaking volunteers who introduce Latinos to important beneficial services to build healthy communities. Through Promotores, the Latino Community, neighborhood by neighborhood, is learning essential life skills. Promotores provides Latinos access to healthy foods, nutritional education, emotional support, access to mental health resources such as substance abuse and domestic violence programs, medical and dental care access, and programs tailored to child development, effective parenting and education.

About Center for Family Strengthening (formerly SLO-CAP): In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority. To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call (805) 543-6216.

CFS Welcomes New Program Coordinator

Gwendolyn Garcia has joined Center for Family Strengthening as Program Coordinator for CFS’ major programs: Parent Connection, Kidz Tool Box for personal safety, Promotores Collaborative, Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition and Postpartum Depression Support Services.

Garcia graduated from California Polytechnic University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Child Development and a minor in Psychology and also holds an Associate Degree in Early Child Development and Behavioral Sciences.

Impressively, while completing her studies at Cal Poly, she received training through Active Parenting and Positive Discipline. She worked as an“early childhood educator” at Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, served as Assistant Director at the Shepard Christian Preschool and was a co-teacher working with pre-schoolers at the County Office of Education in Paso Robles and Shandon.

We are thrilled to have Gwen as an addition to our team,” said Lisa Fraser, Executive Director of Center for Family Strengthening. “Gwen’s education, experience, her enthusiasm in working with preschoolers and her ability to create supportive environments for children and families substantially enhance our efforts in strengthening families and preventing abuse and neglect in children.

Center for Family Strengthening is a SLO-based non-profit agency dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect through by building stronger families and supporting them with a myriad of programs.

Through its Parent Connection, Center for Family Strengthening offers parenting skills classes and coaching skills, and manages the Postpartum Depression Support Line and support services. Through Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety, CFS teaches child protective and safety skills. CFS’ Beginnings program offers prenatal substance use awareness. CFS also educates the San Luis Obispo Community at large about child abuse reporting laws. Promotores Collaborative is a volunteer team of Spanish-speaking members who connect to families in need. CFS works with Public Health Programs to make dental care accessible to the thousands of children in this San Luis Obispo County who do not qualify for Medical. The Central Coast Breast Feeding Coalition brings together a collaborative team of breastfeeding advocates to network, share resources, accomplish projects and provide breastfeeding education based on current research and best practice. To provide families high-quality services and opportunities to thrive, CFS also partners with 14 county-wide Family Resource Centers.

About Center for Family Strengthening (formerly SLO-CAP): In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority. To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call (805) 543-6216.

CFS moves to new location

Center for Family Strengthening has moved its corporate headquarters to 3480 South Higuera, Suite 100, San Luis Obispo. Affiliate agency ALPHA Pregnancy and Parenting Support is also moving its corporate headquarters and will co-locate with Center for Family Strengthening.

We’re pleased to share corporate offices with ALPHA,” said Lisa Fraser, executive director of Center for Family Strengthening. “We’re able to provide additional services to ALPHA’s Clients when needed and share in administrative expenses where possible.”

Center for Family Strengthening is an SLO-based non-profit agency dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect through by building stronger families and supporting them with a myriad of programs.

Through its Parent Connection, Center for Family Strengthening offers parenting skills classes and coaching skills, and manages the Postpartum Depression Support Line and support services. Through Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety, CFS teaches child protective and safety skills. CFS’ Beginnings program offers prenatal substance use awareness. CFS also educates the San Luis Obispo Community at large about child abuse reporting laws. Promotores Collaborative is a volunteer team of Spanish-speaking members who connect to families in need. CFS works with Public Health Programs to make dental care accessible to the thousands of children in this San Luis Obispo County who do not qualify for Medical. The Central Coast Breast Feeding Coalition brings together a collaborative team of breastfeeding advocates to network, share resources, accomplish projects and provide breastfeeding education based on current research and best practice. To provide families high-quality services and opportunities to thrive, CFS also partners with 14 county-wide Family Resource Centers.

Ron Huxley, Family Healer and Therapeutic Parent Coach, featured guest speaker at the recent Child Abuse Prevention Academy at Cuesta College, described how abusive emotional childhood experiences could so negatively affect a young child resulting in underdeveloped social and emotional skills as well as negative impacts on our society as a whole.

According to experts, child abuse is preventable by strengthening families and fostering the healthy development of children. Working with the Community, CFS prevents child abuse by offering programs that make systemic changes in lives of families. A community that cares about early childhood development, parental support, and maternal mental health will foster nurturing families and healthy children.

Child abuse and neglect are found in families across the social and economic spectrum. Social isolation, financial stress, poverty, substance abuse, and domestic violence are all factors that can lead to adults abusing children.

About Center for Family Strengthening (formerly SLO-CAP)

In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority.

To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call (805) 543-6216.

About Alpha Pregnancy and Parenting Support

Alpha provides support, practical assistance during pregnancy through a child’s second year, and education on pregnancy and early parenting throughout San Luis Obispo County.

To donate or learn more about Alpha Pregnancy and Parenting Support go to www.sloalpha.org or call (805) 541-3367

Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition Symposium

Renowned Dr. Paula Meier Speaks at Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition Symposium May 19.  

Researcher, Professor, and Author Dr. Paula Meier Ph.D., RN, FAAN
speaks on Breastfeeding the Premature Infant: Bridging the Gap from Hospital to Home.
 

Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition will hold a day-long educational conference on May 19, 2017, at the Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach. The conference features the renowned research, professor, speaker and author Dr. Paula Meier. The subject of Dr. Meier’s presentation is Breastfeeding the Premature Infant: Bridging the Gap from Hospital to Home.

Leslie Mehigan, President of the Coast Breastfeeding Coalition, said, “We are thrilled that an expert of Dr. Meier’s caliber with a long, successful track record working as a practitioner and researcher in the area of human milk, lactation and breastfeeding for premature infants will keynote our Symposium. This Education conference is a signature event for health professionals throughout California.”

Up to 150 healthcare professionals are expected to attend the May 19 conference, including physicians, advanced practice healthcare providers, lactation consultants, community educators, advocates and supporters of breastfeeding.   To register for the conference go to  http://www.centralcoastbreastfeeding.com/

Dr. Paula MeierAbout Dr. Meier: 

Dr. Meier is Director for Clinical Research and Lactation in the neonatal intensive care unit at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and is a professor of Women, Children and Family Nursing as well as a professor of Pediatrics. Dr. Meier serves as a member of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation and of the Health Advisory Council for La Leche League International. She has conducted numerous externally-funded research and demonstration projects and currently, serves as the principal investigator for a 5-year, $2.76 million, NIH-funded study, “Health Outcomes and Cost of Human Milk Feedings for Very Low Birth Weight Infants.” Dr. Meier has published over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts.

Impact of Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition

Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition programs have achieved high positive impact on our San Luis Obispo County Community. SLO County is now ranked fourth in California for exclusive breastfeeding at hospital discharge, up five ratings from ninth place last year. Eighty-eight percent of all babies born at a hospital in SLO County were exclusively breastfed.

Sierra Vista Hospital just announced the attainment of their “Baby Friendly” Certification. With this certification, all three hospitals that provide maternity services in the San Luis Obispo County are now “Baby Friendly” certified. French Hospital Medical Center was the first to attain this certification and was quickly followed by Twin Cities Community Hospital.

The “Baby Friendly” initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

Importance of Breast Milk

Breast milk is not only nourishment but is also medicine for infants. It contains antibodies, disease-fighting stem cells, anti-virus, anti-allergy, anti-parasitic, and anti-cancer properties that provide both short and long-term protection. Breast milk contains growth factors, enzymes, hormones, probiotics and other nutrients that help infants to grow and to develop optimally. Breastfeeding provides benefits to the mother with increased bonding with baby, better healing post-delivery, less incidence of postpartum depression, and decreased likelihood of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

Center for Family Strengthening provides non-profit fiscal management services for the Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition.  

About Center for Family Strengthening (formerly SLO-CAP):
In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority. To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call 805 543-6216.

CCBC Logo Lockup-vert_color

About the Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition:
The Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition brings together a collaborative team of breastfeeding advocates to network, share resources, accomplish projects, and provide breastfeeding education based on current research and best practice. Our members include private, hospital-based and county lactation consultants, as well as lactation educators and experienced breastfeeding mothers with a passion for helping others with breastfeeding. www.centralcoastbreastfeeding.com

 

 

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