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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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.

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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

 

 

KSBY promotes Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety

Every year Center for Family Strengthening instructs over 4,000 Preschool, Kindergarten, 2nd grade and Special Needs students in San Luis Obispo County with the Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety program. Educating children at a young age about personal boundaries and safety is key in preventing sexual abuse. 

View a recent news story on Mary Thielsher, Kidz Toolbox instructor who has made it her mission to help empower children and their families to be safe and learn responsible boundaries. 

KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

The Kidz Toolbox qualified educators teach assertiveness skills and model how to ask for help if they have a problem.  Studies show that these are key skills lacking in children at risk for abuse. The lessons varies according to the grade level, and the skills targeted for practice are developmentally appropriate. At all grade levels, children have opportunities for skill practice and transfer of learning. 

Kidz Tool Box for Personal Safety lessons are free of charge to all schools and community groups. Learn more at http://cfsslo.org/programs/kidz-tool-box/.

 

Promotores Collaborative – Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

“Promotores Collaborative” may just have our Latino Community on a faster track of assimilation into our San Luis Obispo community.

Latinos in our community continue to face tremendous challenges: language, cultural and educational barriers, access to good paying jobs and now, the constant fear of deportation.

“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, is rapidly changing our Spanish-speaking Community 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.

What is Promotores Collaborative?

Center for Family Strengthening
, a nonprofit organization, is “centered home” for Promotores Collaborative recruiting and training Promotores volunteers to reach into the Latino neighborhoods. They recruit, organize and train networks of Spanish-speaking volunteers who introduce Latinos to highly 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.

Access to Good Nutrition

Overcoming food shortage or food insecurity is a major obstacle for many families living in poverty in the Latino Community. Rosa drives 45 miles per day to access the proper nutrition to feed her family. The gasoline costs for this 45-mile drive places a major burden on Rosa’s meager household income.

Promotores Collaborative has launched a major initiative with the San Luis Obispo Food Bank to bring healthy, fresh food to Latinos. Now Rosa can get fresh vegetables and produce from a local distribution center close to her home. Promotores advocates have educated Rosa about proper food preparation and have helped her understand and value the importance of proper nutrition for her and her children. Rosa’s kids delight in eating fresh fruit and vegetables. Promotores and the San Luis Obispo Food Bank make culturally-appropriate food and nutritional education available for women like Rosa.

Emotional and Mental Health

Promotores Collaborative helped organize the Oceano Support Group made up of Latino mothers to foster emotional and mental health support in their families. Mothers come together to discuss topics that meet their immediate needs. Mothers share their concerns regarding relationships, communications with their children, discipline, depression, anxiety, chronic diseases, and health concerns.

Attending moms may be referred to other agencies when there’s a need for special assistance. Maria suffered from an abusive husband. Through the help of the Oceano Support Group, Maria learned that she and her three children were victims of domestic abuse. Promotores referred Maria to the Women’s Shelter where she received the help she needed to live independently and to support and nurture her children. With the emotional support of the Promotores and her peers, Maria took action needed to end the domestic violence.

Through Promotores, sponsored groups like the Oceano Support Group Moms rediscover themselves, learn their value, improve their self-esteem and enhance their well-being all of which impact families in a positive way.

Mental Health Interpretation Services

Yolanda’s 15-year-old daughter seemed very depressed. Her grades in school were suffering, and she lost interest in her friends. One of the Promotores suggested Yolanda take her daughter to a counselor at a local mental health clinic. Yolanda felt extremely uncomfortable going to the clinic. She did not speak English well and felt the stigma attached to mental health problems. The Promotores Volunteer accompanied Yolanda and her daughter to the clinic. (Select Promotores volunteers have been specifically trained to translate and explain mental health conditions to the Spanish-speaking community.) The Promotores worked with Yolanda, calming her fears and giving her a better understanding of how to help her daughter through the guidance of the Counselor at the clinic.

One-on-One-Parenting Counseling

Promotores Volunteers work with mothers and fathers who are struggling with the challenges of parenthood. When appropriate they refer them to Center for Family Strengthening’s Parent Connection for a one-on-one Spanish-speaking parent coach.

The parent coach encourages assimilation and giving back to the community. The Parent Coach may emphasize the need to speak English as a way to understand and respect the culture of the United States. Speaking English is also a primary tool for effective parenting. Without English, many parents fail to understand the world their children inhabit. Ana, a client, sought out parent coaching at a time when she barely spoke English. With support and encouragement, she enrolled in an ESL class. Now, just a few years later, Ana can work, pay her taxes and has successfully enrolled in John Hancock College. Her ambition is to work as a paralegal. 

Promotores Collaborative Works

The Promotores Collaborative approach is effective and is helping the Latino Community assimilate into the Amercian culture. Promotores are sensitive to their neighbor’s’ struggles and challenges because they themselves have overcome similar experiences. Their neighbors trust them. The volunteers are well-trained in listening and empowering their neighbors with a path to access services and resources of SLO County. The volunteers immerse themselves in engaging the Latino community with a positive can-do spirit that is infectious and transforms people’s lives. Promotores bring a voice and the path to positive, healthy change and assimilation into the larger San Luis Obispo community.

Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia, Coordinator, Promotores Collaborative and Ximena Ames, Parent Coach, Parent Connection, contributed to this article.

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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. To become a Promotores Volunteer call Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia at 805 720-6091.

CFS receives $50,000 gift from Mindbody Inc. Employee

Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition benefits from this magnanimous gift.

Mom with babyThe Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition receives a $50,000 gift from an employee at Mindbody. The Employee (who wishes to remain anonymous) expresses a deep commitment to creating awareness of the long-term intrinsic benefits of breastfeeding for the infant. The purpose of the gift is to expand breastfeeding programs, education, and resources and to support and encourage families in their breastfeeding journey.

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 the likelihood of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

Impact of Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition

Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition programs have already achieved high positive impact on our Community. Our 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.

This generous gift provides additional resources to the Coalition to expand its programs in several areas. One of these is educational outreach conferences such as “Breastfeeding the Premature Infant” featuring Dr. Paula Meier, which will take place on May 19, 2017. Educational conferences of this caliber are signature events for healthcare professionals in San Luis Obispo County and throughout California.

Up to 300 healthcare professional are expected to attend the May 19 conference, including physicians, advanced practice healthcare providers, community educators, advocates and supporters of breastfeeding.    

Center for Family Strengthening provides non-profit fiscal management services, disbursement of payments to the lactation consultants, and with the Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition, tracks breastfeeding rates, outcomes and completion of reports.  

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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 the Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition: The Cental 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

 

Mary Thielscher Honored as January’s Hands-on Hero.

As the Lead Educator for Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety, Mary personifies the first of the ten Children’s Bill of Rights.

 

First 5 San Luis Obispo County honors Mary Thielscher as January’s Hands-on Hero, a year-long tribute to individuals in our Community who are making a difference in the lives of children and their families.  Hands-on Heroes is a special recognition of dedicated individuals who believe in and support the Children’s Bill of Rights, an achievable vision that our children grow up with healthy minds, bodies, and spirits that enable them to maximize their potential.

Mary Thielscher, as the Lead Educator for Center for Family Strengthening Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety, personifies the first of the ten Children’s Bill of Rights.  In the past 12 years, Mary has taught 50,000 local children self-protection skills and how to ask for help if they have a problem.  Mary works with several grade levels at developmentally appropriate stages and provides the children opportunities to learn and implement practical skills they need to keep themselves safe.   

Mary also teaches prevention of alcohol and substance use during pregnancy through the Center for Family Strengthening Beginnings-Prenatal Substance Use education curriculum. Mary has taught more than 5,000 high school and college students the cognitive deficits and behavioral problems individuals suffer resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs, which may last an entire lifetime.  

Mary is also involved with “Get on the Bus,” a program that brings children and their caregivers to visit their mothers and fathers in prison, and supports building those important relationships.  

We are thrilled to honor Mary as January’s Hands on Hero for the Number 1 Children’s Bill of Rights,” said Lisa Fraser, Executive Director for Center for Family Strengthening. “Mary’s compassion and dedication to helping children keep safe and healthy are exceptional.  Mary is a true champion for our kids.”  

About #1  Children’s Bill of Rights:  As the children and youth of San Luis Obispo County, may we each live in a stable, comfortable home surrounded by parents, family and other caring adults who nurture us throughout childhood.  For a complete list of Children’s Bill of Rights, please visit first5slo.org.   

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.

Staff

Michele Gordon Johnson

Michele Gordon Johnson is a parent educator and coach with Parent Connection, a web-based resource center that delivers parenting classes, parent coaching, and parenting support services in SLO County.

Parent Connection was established in 2008, with funding from the Mental Health Services Act (Prevention and Early Intervention). Michele provided leadership for the program’s design, development, and community outreach, bringing over thirty years of experience advocating for and working with families to the project. Michele continues to strengthen the delivery of services, through professional trainings for local family advocates, family educators, and family support staff.  

Michele has been teaching Early Childhood Studies and Family Studies courses including: Infant & Toddler Development, Child Development, and Parenting for Cuesta College, Allan Hancock College and Cal Poly for more than 20 years. Additionally, Michele is a certified Parent Educator in the following programs: Active Parenting, Positive Discipline, Parent Project and the Nurturing Parenting Program.

Prior to teaching the adult learner, Michele taught preschool for 12 years. Michele is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned her Master’s Degrees in Education—with an emphasis in Early Childhood Studies—at Sonoma State.
Currently, Michele teaches parenting classes for families of young children (specializing in birth to age 5) and provides parent coaching. She lives in San Luis Obispo, where she and her husband, a teacher at San Luis Obispo High School, raised two children.

 

Lynn Lindley
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Lynn is the Fiscal Manager for Center for Family Strengthening. She’s brings 25 years of accounting experience with her, as well as a wealth of nonprofit experience. Lynn’s affinity for accounting began in one of her first jobs as a bank teller, and developed into work as aerospace industry accountant, a controller for Direct Relief International, and later as Finance Manager for Girls Inc. in Santa Barbara, CA.

Lynn graduated cum laude from Missouri Southern State with a B.S.B.A in Accounting. And received a Non-profit Financial Management Certification from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She serves on the Board of Directors for ALPHA Pregnancy & Parenting Support. Her thoughtful, balanced, attention to detail is a valued and much-needed support to all who work with and know Lynn. 

Recently she and her husband Richard spent 20 months traveling around Costa Rica and enjoying the beaches, bugs and culture. Now they enjoy the scenery in Cambria where they live with their rescue dog, Delilah.

Dan Cano

Dan Cano-410San Luis Obispo County Public Health Dept.

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