Parents Forever program to be offered locally

WORTHINGTON -- Several years after a Parents Forever class was first offered in Nobles County, the program is returning with the intent of being offered biannually.

WORTHINGTON -- Several years after a Parents Forever class was first offered in Nobles County, the program is returning with the intent of being offered biannually.

The curriculum was originally designed for parents who are going through a divorce, although it is open now to parents who have never married who are dealing with custodial issues. The nine-hour course, designed by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, covers the impact of divorce on parents and children, money issues in divorce, legal issues and the pathways to a new life.

"(Parents Forever) is designed to help the experience be more positive for the children and the parents who are going through a divorce," said Sharon Johnson, director of the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, one of the partners sponsoring the program in the community.

The classes will begin in April and are offered in both English and Spanish. The English class will be from 6 to 9 p.m. April 15, 17 and 22; while the Spanish class will be from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 2, 9, 16 and 23. All of the classes will be offered in Room 106 of the former West Elementary School, 117 11th Ave. Trained social workers Carrie Adams and Pilar Hartshorn will serve as facilitators for the classes. Guest speakers will also be brought in for certain segments of the program.

Johnson said the divorce rate continues to escalate, and its impact on children is affecting them not only at home, but also in school.


"(The program) is designed to avoid putting children in situations where their loyalty to one or the other parent is threatened," Johnson said. "We also want the parents to learn more effective approaches to parenting. We want to prepare parents for the adjustment of being a single parent and to encourage parents to foster a positive relationship between the child and the non-residential parent."

Parents Forever classes are offered in 65 counties in Minnesota, and the results have been positive for those who have attended them.

Johnson said 75 percent of attendees reported they had made changes to avoid conflict with the other parent in front of the children; 42.5 percent reported handling their anger with the other parent by talking it out; and 65.8 percent reported being able to cooperate better with the other parent about the children.

"The court can order families to attend an education program like this," Johnson said, adding that the state requires divorce education training to encompass at least eight hours of class time. "Others will choose to attend to make the process as smooth as possible."

Joining the Nobles County Integration Collaborative and U of M Extension in the presentation of Parents Forever is District 518 Community Education. The Southwest Minnesota Crisis Center and court administrator's office are also involved.

Child care will be provided.

The Parents Forever program is open to everyone, including those outside Nobles County or Minnesota. For more information or to sign up, call the Nobles County Integration Collaborative at 376-3300. There is a fee for the course, which covers the cost of materials.

"We're hopeful it's a positive program in the community," Johnson said.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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