Northampton Press

Friday, May 29, 2020

Project Child meeting to show film about 'Learning to Care'

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 by DEB BOYLAN Special to The Press in Focus

A child doesn't arrive with an instruction manual. Parents can become overwhelmed with the responsibilities involved in caring for their children. Other factors such as separation or divorce in a family can cause additional parenting stress.

Child abuse can be physical, mental and verbal in addition to not meeting the basic needs of the child.

Project Child Lehigh Valley is an innovative program that focuses on preventing child abuse through education and awareness. Project Child's mission is rooted in educating parents and children alike by providing outreach in order to prevent child abuse from occurring.

Project Child Lehigh Valley holds its annual meeting, 8:30 a.m. Nov. 8, Room 605, Fowler Family Southside Center, 511 E. Third St., Bethlehem. The event is free and open to the public.

A film about Project Child's "Learning to Care" program will be shown.

The nine-minute film produced by Ara Barlieb and Pamela Wallace of Barlieb Wallace Productions Ltd includes interviews with county officials and board members and staff of Project Child Lehigh Valley.

"Five years ago, the [Lehigh] County decided to set aside a certain amount of money specific for prevention programs with the hope that if we would fund some of those prevention programs in the community we would have an opportunity to keep families and children out of the child welfare system," said Pamela J. Buehrle, of the Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth Services, in the film.

"Prevention truly means that the work we are doing is occurring way, way, way before there is ever a problem," said Rochelle Freedman, Program Coordinator, Project Child.

As detailed in the film, Project Child provides parenting education courses which stress the importance of positive interaction between parents and their children. The classes, which are held on a regular basis, seek to educate parents in calm methods of discipline and dealing with stressful situations.

"Learning to Care" places facilitators in classrooms in order to help children understand getting their needs met and communication. "Teachers and administrators have all been amazed at the impact that this program has had on classrooms," Freedman said.

Weekly classroom visits are held. Once a month, a caretaker and infant are brought into the classroom so that children can learn what a healthy interaction between parent and baby looks like. The children interact with the baby and learn empathy and nurturing skills at an early age. It is the hope of Project Child that the children will carry these skills throughout their lives and break the cycle of child abuse.

"Learning to Care," the only one of its kind in the Lehigh Valley, has been funded for the past three years by Lehigh County.

"Child abuse prevention should be the hallmark of any society that has compassion," said Freedman.