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Clayton Extension Office offering free parental services

Photo by Jeylin White                               
Amanda Broci, 17, (left) with her 11-month-old, Neveah, and Yamika Givens, 18, with her 18-month-old, Blake. The teen moms attended Thursday’s “Pamper Party,” hosted by the Clayton County Extension office.

Photo by Jeylin White Amanda Broci, 17, (left) with her 11-month-old, Neveah, and Yamika Givens, 18, with her 18-month-old, Blake. The teen moms attended Thursday’s “Pamper Party,” hosted by the Clayton County Extension office.

Officials with the Clayton County Extension office in Jonesboro have made it a priority to assist teen parents raising their infant children. On Thursday evening, at First Presbyterian Church in Jonesboro, 14 teen parents attended a “Pamper Party” where they were introduced to a program called “Parents as Teachers.” As a special treat, the teens were also able to enjoy a little pampering, food, fun, and free giveaways.

Kim Sebert, executive director with the Clayton County Extension Office, said the “Parents as Teachers (PAT), Born to Learn” curriculum is an evidence-based home visiting program to improve the outcomes of parents — and their children between the ages of 0 and 3 years — who are at risk for developmental problems.

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Photo by Jeylin White Alvin Scott, 25, holds his daughter Madison, 8 months, tightly in his arms. The proud father attended Thursday’s “Pamper Party,” hosted by the Clayton County Extension office. The event was to introduce young parents to a program called “Parents as Teachers.”

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Photo by Jeylin White Easter baskets were given away to young parents who attended Thursday’s “Pamper Party,” hosted by the Clayton County Extension office.

“Our overall program is the ABC’s of parenting,” said Sebert. “We have been doing this [program] since 1993.”

She said their program targets parents 21 years of age and under. “We decided to use this program because we really needed something that was heavy on [child] development.”

PAT program is being supported through a partnership between the Clayton County Board of Health and the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, which is funding the program, said Sebert.

Amanda Broci, 17, and Yamika Givens, 18, attended Thursday’s event. Both are receiving their education from the Perry Learning Center in Jonesboro, and they’re parents. Broci and Givens said they had never heard of the program and found out about it from a flyer hanging in the daycare center at the Perry Center.

“I came to the event to learn how I can provide a better life for my child,” said Givens.

“You could always use the extra information and help, if it’s something that will help improve my skills as a parent,” said Broci.

Representing fathers — and the only guy at the event — was 25-year-old Alvin Scott. Scott said this is not the first time he has attended other classes for parents older than 21 offered through the extension office. In fact, his mother, Shanita Connally, is one of the parent educators for the PAT program.

“My mom has been very helpful when it comes to me learning the information I need to become a better father,” said Scott. “Right now, I have to be both mom and dad to my daughter.”

Scott’s daughter, Madison, is 8 months old. He said because of the classes he has attended, he learned that fighting in front of a child is not healthy. “I do not fight or argue in front of my daughter because I learned that children can feel that,” he said. “Because of the classes, my daughter is a happy baby.”

When asked why these classes are so vital, Sebert gave an example. She said during one of her home visits, a teenage girl was not connecting with her child, therefore the child’s developmental skills were delayed. Sebert said she role played with the teen mother and her child, and showed her the proper way to interact with her infant.

“Once she saw how the child responded to her, it was like the light went off and she got it,” said Sebert. “She understood she is that baby’s first teacher.”

During the meeting, a demonstration showed the young parents what a home visit is like. Sebert said the program would start with eight home visits, each lasting about an hour, and some group activities.

“We want to make sure the child is developmentally on track,” she said. “If the family is healthy, the baby is healthy.”

Event sponsors included: Empire Beauty School, in Morrow; Janice Gober with Mary Kay Cosmetics; James Covington; Discovery Chiropractic; Dana’s Cupcakes; Clementine the Clown; and Chick-fil-A, of Morrow.