Do gangs become families for young people? Parenting workshop to help

In keeping with its desire to strengthen families and promote healthy family life, the Department of Social Development and Family Services has officially launched its parenting workshops for 2022.

The event took place Monday at the Mt Hope/Mt Lambert Community Center.

Through the Ministry’s Parenting Unit of the National Family Services Division (NFSD), four virtual workshops will be held in conjunction with three community workshops. These workshops will give parents, caregivers and guardians the tools to better understand the challenges of parenting.

In delivering the keynote address, Minister of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS), Donna Cox, announced details of the virtual workshops rollout, which include:

1 Parenthood for men

2 Co-parenting

3 Parenting and family violence

4 Parents in the know

Providing further context, Minister Cox said the sessions will target communities deemed critical by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). Areas include St Joseph, Chaguanas and La Romaine. The sessions will be held after the virtual workshops in September.

According to Minister Cox: “When we look at what is happening within families in Trinidad and Tobago, there is cause for concern. There are reports of parents physically and sexually abusing their children. Some abandon and neglect them, leaving them to take care of themselves. We have heard of cases where parents no longer provide their children’s basic needs for food, shelter and clothing, but where gang leaders take on these parental roles”.

Minister Cox further noted that part of reorienting children’s behavior is resetting the parental GPS system, which is the primary focus of these parenting workshops.

“These workshops aim to equip parents with the parenting skills and knowledge necessary to meet the unique needs of their child. We encourage parents to look at the SPICES: spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional and social needs of their child or children,” the minister added.

During the event, participants from previous workshops gave testimonials of how the program had a positive impact on their parenting styles.

Also in attendance were Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob; MSDFS Permanent Secretary Sheila Seecharan; Deputy Permanent Secretary of the MSDFS Jasmine Pascal; President of the San Juan Businessmen’s Association Jason Roach; and the Deputy Director of the National Division of Family Services, Kathleen Sarkar.

The Acting CoP commended the ministry for this initiative and explained the importance of modeling positive behaviors to set a good example for children.

Birth parents, intended parents, step-parents, foster parents, caregivers, guardians or anyone else interested in registering for parenting workshops should contact the Department’s Parenting Unit at [email protected] or call 623-2608 ext. 6702, 6704, 6705 and 6711.