The Parenting Place offers wealth of helpful services to community

COUNTY — Ben Franklin is credited with coining the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Gloria Morris, director of The Parenting Place, home of Prevent Child Abuse Pickens County, would agree whole-heartedly.
Every day we try to prevent illness by consistently washing our hands throughout the day; we prevent major automotive problems by performing routine oil changes and fluid maintenance in our cars; we prevent damage to our financial and credit history by predictably paying our bills on time each month.
Prevent Child Abuse Pickens County (PCAPC) is a non-profit organization that has been serving Pickens County since 1991. Affiliated with The Children’s Trust, Prevent Child Abuse South Carolina and Prevent Child Abuse America, the programs at PCAPC stress prevention as the primary key to ending child abuse.
According to Morris, in the state of South Carolina, Pickens County ranks as the third highest county for cases of child neglect and abuse related to poverty.
“Abuse prevention is possible, and it is simple, but people have to be taught parenting skills,” said Morris. “As a community, we have to care about people and treat them with respect. It is that simple.”
Research shows that prevention programs (specifically home visitation) are successful in promoting positive parenting practices, ensuring school readiness, improving family health, and increasing self-sufficiency. By meeting these needs, the Parenting Place is working toward reducing the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.
Prevention is key. PCAPC takes a holistic approach to child neglect and abuse prevention by focusing on families of every context, and through community outreach programs to ensure that everyone understands their role in the protection of children.
Anyone can attend Family Life Skills classes through the Parenting Place. These classes are designed to address the multitude of issues and stress families cope with on a daily basis: financial stability, responsibility, job skills, education, conflict resolution, discipline, empathetic parenting and so on.
Parenting does not come with a How-To manual. Most people parent based on the experiences they had as children. They practice what they know and what they have experienced. If they were beat with belts as children, and they have never learned alternative forms of discipline or punishment, how would they be expected to behave differently as parents?
“We like to get involved with parents in the prenatal stages and help them for as long as they need us,” said Morris. “We stress the importance of meeting children’s most basic of needs when they are infants. For instance, when a baby cries, that baby needs to know that someone is going to respond to his or her needs.
“Without that sense of safety and security, we learn to be fearful. When we operate in fear, we do not function the way we should and we do not develop to our full potential,” said Morris. “We try to teach people to be present in their role as parents.”
Family Life Skills is a 12-hour program (a total of six two-hour meetings) geared toward parents, foster parents, relatives and others who care for children. They teach parenting techniques that help reduce the stress of parenting.
The CODES Program (Creating Opportunities to Develop Economic Success) teaches parents how to develop a plan of financial security for their families. In partnership with Tri-County, this program encourages education so that parents can secure jobs that will offer a living wage as opposed to struggling week-to-week.
“We offer practical skills that teach people how to look for a job, interview for a job and then maintain a job,” said Morris. “These are skills that not everyone has.”
Morris’ agency is also hands-on with families in the provision of at-home visitation with families. Again, not everyone in the Pickens County community has access to transportation, so PCAPC brings the programs to them.
“Being able to visit with families in their homes offers them a level of caring, of dignity and compassion,” said Morris, “that might be lacking in their lives.”
At the very core, says Morris, people, especially teen moms and women who have been involved in domestic violence situations, need to feel a sense of worth and competence; they need to believe in themselves and their abilities.
“There are so many people with broken spirits,” said Morris. “We need to respect each and every person — to show them compassion and to have empathy for their situations and circumstances.”
WINGS (Women in Need of Guidance & Support) Visitation Services, a free program for women who are survivors of child abuse or domestic violence, has been serving women and children in Pickens County for the past 17 years. PCAPC staff works with women to help them overcome obstacles and raise their children in a healthier, loving environment.
The Parenting Place and Prevent Child Abuse Pickens County offers incredible programs and services in the Pickens County community. Doing so requires the generosity of the community. In addition to their programming, PCAPC also helps children and families in need through donations of clothing, food and other household needs.
“We help with diapers, wipes, formula, cleaning products, food, clothing, lamps, birthday presents,” said Morris. “What we cannot use, we pass along to partner agencies — like the United Way, for example — who can utilize what we can’t.”
With school starting in the next few weeks, PCAPC is greatly in need of clothing for children from infants to 6-7 years in age, as well as a variety of school supplies.
Items like non-perishable food, infant formula, diapers and wipes are always in high demand. These are expensive items that people in the community need but cannot always afford. Not being able to afford to meet the basic needs of children adds a great deal of stress to parents.
For more information on the programs and services at The Parenting Place, to volunteer time or donations of any kind, call (864) 898-5583 or send an e-mail to Donations can also be delivered to their physical address at 1899 Gentry Memorial Highway between Easley and Pickens.