Friday, May 19, 2017

Jeremy's Journey

When Jeremy first came to Families First his only coping mechanism was extreme anger and violence. Every time he became overwhelmed or agitated he would exploded violently, punching holes through walls, causing major destruction to everything in sight. Unfortunately for Jeremy he was never taught how to deal with his anger, and only projected what he had learned while growing up. Luckily for him Families First was there to help. After quite some time and extensive therapy and treatment provided at the Families First Treatment Center, Jeremy began to exhibit improved behavior. It wasn’t until Jeremy faced an overwhelming public moment that we knew how much he had truly changed for the better. During, what was supposed to be a fun afternoon shopping, Jeremy was faced with a tough situation that he would have normally acted out in a violent manner. Instead he remained cool calm and collected, processed his anger and overcame the situation. We are happy to report that Jeremy now lives in a happy adoptive home and continues to make strides in his progress.


For more information about Families First's Children's Treatment Center please visit our website.

For parenting tips, parenting resources, or support call the Families First Support Line at 877-695-7996 OR 866-527-3264 for Spanish-speaking parents. You can also e-mail SupportLine@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The topics and suggestions in my Families First Circle of Parents® group have helped me significantly in becoming a better person and in learning how to treat my daughter in our daily exchanges. I'm in a Spanish speaking group at Families First. I am learning how to educate my daughters each day. Since I have attended the Tuesday night parent group, my life with my family is more beautiful because there is more communication between me and my daughters. I have two daughters aged 14 and 10 years. It is not easy being a parent, but thanks to this group, I am learning new tools on how to be a better mother and about dealing effectively with them at their respective ages. We also learn much more when sharing our parenting experiences of other group members. I came to this group experiencing problems with my daughter’s behavior and have gradually begun to find solutions that have helped modify her behavior in very positive ways.
– Circulo de Padres® group participant


For more information about Families First's Circle of Parents® program please visit our website.

For parenting tips, parenting resources, or support call the Families First Support Line at
877-695-7996 OR 866-527-3264 for Spanish-speaking parents. You can also e-mail SupportLine@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Turning to Families First for Strength

Megan’s heart is in the right place. She has been legal guardian and adoptive mother to a twelve year old boy since he was two, and this boy is the son of a child Megan fostered years ago. The foster daughter had seen her share of troubles as she began using drugs when she was still a teen and ultimately was reduced to living on the streets. The little boy did not bond to his biological mother or to Megan in his early years and was subsequently diagnosed with attachment disorder.

Megan chose to attend Families First Circle of Parents® groups in the hope of finding the support she needed. She also wanted some guidance to help reinforce her parenting style. Megan now provides a firm, consistent and loving environment for this child and relies heavily on the group as a trusted gathering of parents who allow her to vent her frustrations and find companionship and support from the group as a whole.


For more information about Families First's Circle of Parents® program please visit our website.

For parenting tips, parenting resources, or support call the Families First Support Line at
877-695-7996 OR 866-527-3264 for Spanish-speaking parents. You can also e-mail SupportLine@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Comments provided by
non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Charlene's Circle of Support

Charlene began attending our Circle of Parents® about 8 months ago. She is single, has two children and one has a very serious disease. This mom, just a short two years ago, packed up and left a very abuse relationship. She has been on her own to raise her young children since. The youngest has a rare disease and as has been in and out of the hospital many times. Charlene almost lost custody of her kids because of having to work and not being able to care appropriately for them.

Recently, her little one was hospitalized again and Charlene was beside herself. Unsure how to care for her other child and be at the hospital with her little one, the Circle of Parents® members came. They took turns helping her. One mom came and when Charlene woke up, she was embarrassed she had been sleeping while this mom came by to visit. The mom said to her, “Oh no, you needed the sleep, I watched over your little one. You need rest and I am perfectly fine to sit here so that you can get it.” The mom felt such relief, this group of people she hadn’t even met 8 months ago, had now become a very big support system. She exclaimed at the next group meeting, “I completely understand now why so many of you are “lifers”, I will be sticking around for a long time.”

For more information about Families First's Circle of Parents® program please visit our website.

For parenting tips, parenting resources, or support call the Families First Support Line at
877-695-7996 OR 866-527-3264 for Spanish-speaking parents. You can also e-mail SupportLine@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Giving Katie's Parents Hope

Parents of six week old Katie, a little girl suffering from challenging physical limitations, found themselves overwhelmed with what they were facing. The mere identification of the disability afflicting their baby was enough to send the frantic parents into a panic. It wasn’t until the family turned to the early intervention services offered by Parents as Teachers, a program of Families First, that Katie began to respond well to treatment.

Families First made it possible for Katie’s parents to be given access to adaptive tools they can use to effectively manage Katie’s disability. The little girl is now thriving in a preschool program. Katie’s parents are now so fully engaged in the scheduled home visits, they report that they look forward to subsequent visits with enthusiasm.


For more information about Families First's
Parents as Teachers program please visit our website.

For parenting tips, parenting resources, or support call the Families First Support Line at
877-695-7996 OR 866-527-3264 for Spanish-speaking parents. You can also e-mail SupportLine@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Comments provided by
non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Things Our Family Did to Get by When I Lost My Job

Author: Jannette Matula, Mother of Two & Former Families First Volunteer

In August 2015, my boss came into my office to tell me my position was being eliminated effective immediately, and to please pack up my desk. I turned in my laptop, my keys and badge, and was escorted out of the office an hour later.

While I knew I would eventually find another job, I also knew it would take weeks, possibly months. And my next job would not likely pay as well as this one. Yikes!

While everyone’s financial realities are unique, the impact of abruptly losing an income is often the same for everyone – traumatic and scary. Will we be able to pay our bills? Will we be able to provide food for our family? Will we be able to pay our rent or mortgage?

Here are the things my family did to adjust to our new financial situation…

We came up with a game plan. First, my husband and I sat down to discuss our new budget and find ways to either eliminate or reduce all non-essential spending. This included eating out at restaurants, ordering in delivery (pizza, Chinese, etc.), going to the movies, and other things. We started evaluating every purchase….is this something we NEED (food on the table, gas in the car, electricity)? Or something we WANT (a new pair of shoes, the latest electronic gadget, a Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks)? Can I do this myself (fix the light switch, repair the washing machine, etc.) without having to pay someone else to do it?

We looked at ways to simplify. It sounds counter-intuitive, but when you have less money to spend on “stuff” and “extras”, it is easier to focus on basic human needs. These can be boiled down to simply: food, water, shelter, safety, love. There are a lot of articles and blogs that have great tips for how to simplify in many aspects of life. Here are a few I like:

Becoming Minimalist - http://www.becomingminimalist.com/the-10-most-important-things-to-simplify-in-your-life/

10 Simple Strategies - http://www.moneytalksnews.com/10-simple-strategies-simplify-your-life/

Mr. Money Mustache - http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/

We involved the whole family. Once the initial shock, anger and sadness started to fade, I decided to turn my situation into a teachable moment. How we adults respond to life pulling the rug out from under us sets an example for how our children will respond to similar disappointments in their lives. It was important for me to let my kids know we needed to make some changes, while also reassuring them that we would be fine. I also let them know that we are in this together as a family, and here are some ways they could help: do some extra (age appropriate) chores around the house (http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/chores-for-children), not ask for treats and extras, think of fun things we could do that do not require spending money (http://www.kiplinger.com/article/saving/T065-C011-S001-50-free-or-cheap-things-to-do-with-kids.html)

Ask for help. It is easy to let pride get in the way of caring for ourselves and being honest with others about hard times we are facing. I told my neighbors and parents of my kids’ friends what was going on. I asked those closest to us if they could watch my toddler if I had a job interview I had to drive to. I asked for clothing hand-me-downs for my kids. Any time I did have to make a non-standard expenditure (car repair, utility repair, etc.) I asked what discounts were available. 9 times out of 10, I was offered 5-10% off!

On December 23, about 4 months later, I accepted a new job paying much less than what I had been earning before. In the meantime, many of the changes my family had made while I was out of work became engrained into our lifestyle – our new, more minimalist reality. I still ask for discounts when making non-standard purchases, we still go to “kids eat free” nights at restaurants when we want to have dinner out as a family, and I still gratefully accept clothing hand-me-downs for my kids.

I have been “downsized” 3 times in 24 years of being in the workforce, which has taught me the importance of being prepared for it – emotionally and financially. My goal for myself and my children is financial security, and I believe most of us share this goal. With that in mind, I leave you with this list of values which I found in an article about a recent survey. The survey reveals these values as having likely contributed to the foundation of success for the wealthiest people in our society:

• Failure is not a bad thing.
• Some things are more important than money.
• Be a disciplined saver and an opportunistic buyer.
• Patience is a virtue.
• Be generous to those in need.
• Marriage is a life-long partnership.

Here is a link to the full article http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/want-your-kids-to-become-financially-secure-adults-parents-of-todays-wealthy-did.html

Parents, if you are between jobs and need support or advice, please call Families First at 877-695-7996. We are here to help!


For more great parenting tips, parenting resources, suggestions or support call the Families First Support Line at 877-695-7996 OR 866-527-3264 for Spanish-speaking parents. You can also e-mail SupportLine@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sadi's Story

Sadi was an introverted child who struggled in group settings and would often isolate herself, running away from the Families First Children’s Group and escaping the room altogether. She seemed to prefer sitting alone on a couch situated outside the room and she refused to participate in any activity, instead turning to her own game or toy. Sadi would often act out and yell, sometimes using profanity that made those around her most uncomfortable. She also resorted to striking other children. Families First team members spent many hours working with Sadi. Lately, she has been calmer, choosing to use her “indoor voice” and to participate in activities chosen by the group. She now seems to understand that even though the group may choose to do something she doesn’t want to do, everyone can all still have fun doing things together. To date, Sadi has participated in making Rice Krispies treats and has learned the names of all the children in her group. When she doesn’t know their name, she does not hesitate to ask them. She is also learning the names of all the group leaders and addresses them by name. Sadi is an engaged and happy child!

The provision of the Children’s Group is one of the most important components of the Family Support Services Program. Without the availability of this program (in the form of a Children’s Group), many parents would not be able to attend Circle of Parents® support group meetings or Parent Education classes provided by Families First. By working with the children while the parents are also receiving education and support, parent support groups and classes become a more positive experience for the whole family. The Children’s Group is more than maintenance level babysitting. It is assessing the needs of the children then developing and implementing activities to meet those needs. These activities are flexible and involve much individualized attention on the part of the Children’s Group Leader. The Children’s Group also provides a wide array of activities that promote positive social emotional development, community building, and a system of support.

Circle of Parents® national support group model offers free meetings for anyone in a parenting role.
· Parents lead the groups with the help of a trained facilitator.
· Parents decide the topics, lead the discussion and are involved in the decision making.

Circle of Parents® encourages the development of parents’ leadership skills—not just as parents and group leaders, but in all aspects of their lives.


For more information on Families First programs and services, parenting tips, and information on local resources please scroll down or click through our blog archive to the left to see our previous posts, visit our website at www.familiesfirstcolorado.org or call us at 877-695-7996.

Cherished Holiday Memories

The holidays are a time for family and reflection. Here at Families First we have so many wonderful memories to look back on and be thankful for, and we wanted to share some of our stories with you.


A young man who was in our Children’s Center 10 years ago contacted us recently. He is heading off to the Marine Corp and has adjusted quite well in his adoptive home. When he came to us, he had been adopted and the adoptive parents had physically abused him. He was not a trusting young boy. He had undergone major breaches of trust. He now is doing well and a very stable and happy young man, building a life of his own.

Families First CHILDREN’S RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CENTER
offers a safe, nurturing and homelike environment for boys and girls, ages three to twelve, who have been abused or neglected and whose resulting behavioral problems make living in a family setting impossible. We provide an intensive wrap around treatment program to prepare the children for life with a forever family.


For more information on Families First programs and services, parenting tips, and information on local resources please scroll down or click through our blog archive to the left to see our previous posts, visit our website at www.familiesfirstcolorado.org or call us at 877-695-7996.

Janey's Story


Three year old Janey was a child caught between two parents who seemed unable to agree on the best approach to disciplining her. Not only did the disagreements cause trouble in the relationship between young Janey and her parents, but mounting resentments in daily exchanges between Janey’s mother and father were inevitable and painful. Parents as Teachers Home Visitation Parent Educator, worked patiently with the parents, sharing with them the latest research indicating that physical forms of discipline are not always effective, and in some cases psychologically damaging to children. She shared several disciplinary techniques that have been proven to be more effective than physical punishment. At first, Janey’s father opposed what he saw as “being soft” on his child. But a breakthrough came one day when Janey’s father had a dramatic change of heart: he was reconsidering the use of spanking because he saw his little girl playing with her dolls and mimicking the use of spanking to “discipline” the dolls. Witnessing this behavior in his small daughter saddened and shamed him, impacting him greatly. Janey’s father also realized that, in the final analysis, alternative forms of discipline shared by the PAT Parent Educator of Families First were more effective than those he had chosen.

Parents as Teachers (PAT) is a national affiliate certified, voluntary home visitation
program that works with families with children prenatal through kindergarten.


Referrals can be made prenatal to four years old. The program is designed to keep children in the program for 2+ years. They graduate upon completing kindergarten. Services are available in English and Spanish. PAT serves seven metro counties (Adams, some Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson - many other counties in the state have their own PAT programs).

PAT home visits address:
Parent-child interactions
Perform family well-being checks
Domestic violence screenings
Protective factor screenings
Developmental screenings:hearing, vision, and general health; parent/child interaction; gross motor skills; fine motor skills; social skills & development; emotional skills & development


For more information on Families First programs and services, parenting tips, and information on local resources please scroll down or click through our blog archive on the upper, right side of the screen to see our previous posts, visit our website at www.familiesfirstcolorado.org or call us at 877-695-7996.

Monday, October 3, 2016

CONSISTENCY, THE CEMENT.

Author: Fred Buschhoff
Retired Elementary School Teacher
Current Families First Educator of Constructive Parenting Class
Author of "The Constructive Parent"

Parents want what is best for their children, to grow up healthy and happy and successful. But getting kids on the right track and keeping them there can be very difficult and often frustrating. Throughout my years of teaching in the Denver Public Schools and working with Families First I have seen many approaches to discipline. What works for one set of parents may not necessarily be correct for a different family. Even within the family, one parent often approaches discipline differently than the other. You will hear many different ideas about what you should be doing from your friends and relatives. Some will tell you that you are too easy with your kids, that they are being spoiled. Others will tell you that you are too strict, that your kids aren’t getting chances to make their own decisions. Listen. Think. Digest. Then settle into the style that suits you, that you are comfortable with. And once you do, maintain it.

The problem is not whether you should be strict or more relaxed with your expectations. Children who are raised in homes with tight rules, who are required to do their homework as soon as they come home from school, who have bedtimes set by their parents and schedules for meals, and who must use respectful speech, can grow up to be productive and happy adults. On the other hand, children who can do their homework when they want, but before the TV or Gameboy goes on, who help set the schedule for meals, and who can talk casually with their parents ,using their own words, can also grow up to be happy and productive adults. How tightly you run your family is your decision. You and your spouse or partner should discuss these matters and find a style that is comfortable for you as parents. But then, as much as you can, be consistent.

Children who grow up in homes where the rules and expectations remain generally the same, where the boundaries are predictable, feel secure. They, like any kids, will test the rules occasionally. But when they find that they can’t change things with misbehaviors, they will get back on track. Dramatic problems occur, however, when rules, expectations and consequences become unpredictable.

I know that you are not robots who can always react the same way. You have emotions and moods that affect how you deal with your family. That is normal. But it will help your children if the expectations you have set remain in a predictable range. Consistently, the children who had the most problems in class, who didn’t focus on reading, math or learning in general, and who used all their energies to test the rules and break the fences, came from homes where the rules changed greatly depending on the parents’ moods. They also had many problems making and keeping friends.

So, please do your children, and yourselves a favor. Find and maintain a style that suits you. And stick with it.


For more great parenting tips, parenting resources, suggestions or support call the Families First Support Line at 877-695-7996 OR 866-527-3264 for Spanish-speaking parents. You can also e-mail SupportLine@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.