The North Mississippi Exchange Family Center of Oxford is starting a new program to aid families at risk of child abuse and neglect and the public is invited to take part.
“We are so excited to begin the Exchange Parent Aide Program,” said Denise Strub, executive director. “We have been working towards this moment for over three years and it’s now happening.”
Exchange Parent Aide is a home-visitation program and is the evidence-based signature program of the National Exchange Club. A Parent Aide volunteer, with permission, will go into the home and act as a mentor to everyone in the home.
“Parent Aides are trained and supervised,” Strub said. “However, they don’t have to be degreed. A volunteer just needs to be passionate about children growing up in safe, healthy families. They also need to be able to donate at least one hour a week to the program.”
The Center, located at 1558 Skyline Drive, will conduct a training March 16-17 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Training is free and will include lunch and materials. Volunteers must agree to a background check.
The idea is that with the proper guidance a family can break the cycle of child abuse and neglect. Since the pandemic, reports of child abuse and neglect have increased. This is something that was expected as families were isolated and those who make these reports, like doctors and teachers, weren’t present in the daily lives of these children.
“With the Exchange Parent Aide Program, we can make a difference,” said Strub, who stressed abuse and neglect reaches across all demographics. “Abuse and neglect can happen in any family. Most abusive parents grew up without positive role models for good parenting and often have difficulty developing healthy and trusting relationships. This is where the Parent Aide comes in to help.”
According to Strub, Exchange Parent Aide services are family-centered and focus on:
- Parental resilience is developed through teaching problem-solving skills, modeling effective parenting, providing 24/7 support and referrals to services.
- Knowledge of parenting and child development is encouraged and developed through sharing skills and modeling strategies. Individualized help is provided in the home with the children.
- Social connections are developed and fostered through social support, building the individual relationship and connecting the parents to others through group meetings, activities, and referrals.
- Social-emotional competence of children is developed through the strengthening of the nurturing capabilities of the family; interaction of parents with the children is observed and modeling is provided for support the children’s competence.
- Ensuring the safety of the children, including attention to medical, dental, and mental health care needs, as well as safe housing and freedom from child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence.
“If you are interested in becoming a Parent Aide, call 662-502-3228. Once aides have been trained, they will be paired with a family,” Stub said. “If you believe your family could benefit from this program, call the same number. Everything is confidential.”
The North Mississippi Exchange Family Center was established in 1997 by area Exchange Clubs. It serves not only the people of Oxford and Lafayette County but all those in north Mississippi. In addition to the Exchange Parent Aide Program, the center offers a program for pregnant teens and teen parents, parenting classes, and awareness and education workshops. The center is also the home of the Oxford Diaper Bank, which is open from noon-6 p.m. on Tuesdays.