girl-1610955_1280Have you been asked to completed court-ordered parenting classes?

The request often comes from the court, CPS, an attorney, social worker, mediator, even a co-parent. Sometimes the class is required, other times it’s “highly” recommended or encouraged.

Court-ordered parenting classes may be required for a variety of reasons including custody or visitation proceedings, divorce or separation cases, alleged or actual domestic abuse or neglect.  Regardless of why you’ve been asked to take a parenting class, the request often adds to the overload of requirements you’re already experiencing.

The good news is that these classes can help you gain significant insight into your child(ren)’s world. The right class can help you modify your parenting techniques, honing in on your best skills while eliminating ineffective ones.  Parenting classes can help you bring structure back into your home, address co-parenting concerns and behavior issues.

Questions You May Have:

How long will the classes take?
By far the first questions I’m asked when it comes to court-ordered parenting classes is regarding time.  How long does the class take? How many hours is each session. How many weeks does the class run? When does the first session start? How soon will I receive my certificate? Can I complete this class before my next court date?  It’s not that parents don’t care about anything but getting the class over with, it’s simply a matter of practicality. How in the world am I going to fit in this class and manage all the other overwhelming requirements?  The answer varies greatly, depending on why you’re taking these parenting courses, whether or not you must meet a court deadline and what parenting program you choose. The majority of acceptable programs require several weeks of classes (6 to 8 weeks) with sessions running one to two hours each. Obviously, quite a commitment. Some classes can be completed in fewer weeks, but may include several 4 hour or half-day sessions. Sometimes, requirements can be satisfied with a single 2-hour workshop.

What are my choices?
Well, in general you can choose from online courses, ongoing group workshops and one-on-one classes. The guidelines aren’t always clear as to what classes the court system will accept, so  be sure to clarify approval of the class with the judge, arbitrator, attorney or mediator. You will also need to know if the class provides a completion certificate and/or update letters. A reputable program will require that you attend every class on time and that you are an active participant before releasing any certificate.
Visit Essential Parenting Plus Workshop to learn more about Susan’s program.

What are the differences between the courses?
On-line workshops are often on-going, affordable and move at the participant’s pace. However, not all on-line workshops will satisfy the court requirement. Furthermore, you often get what you pay for. Most on-line court-ordered parenting courses are systematic and do not provide personal guidance or local support. (Note: Achieve Life Balance does offer virtual court-ordered programs, a blend of on-line courses and worksheets combined with audio/visual virtual one-on-one sessions.  While this is a popular option, and often acceptable to the courts, county or court approval prior to signing up for the class is highly recommended.)

Group workshops are the most common option.  They’re often quite affordable (you pay a set fee for the entire class or per session, plus a workbook fee.)  These courses typically run on a consistent, ongoing schedule. The course has group lectures and discussions, and often require homework.  These workshops are very popular and the court typically provides a list of local approved courses. So why do I get so much business, despite the large number of these group classes? Because of timing. These classes are often full with waiting lists up to six weeks out.  Furthermore, they run on a set schedule. If you work during the scheduled classes, you might not be able to fit in the class without taking time off.  Worse, if you have a schedule change or emergency that keeps you from attending a single session, you might not receive your certification.

One-on-one private classes. Local private parenting workshops may be difficult to find. Expect a private class to be more expensive–but a good class should be worth the added value of time flexibility, privacy and customized support. Private classes can often be scheduled sooner than a group workshop, meaning you start, and thus complete, your requirement faster.  Although I maintain a busy schedule with Achieve Life Balance, I try to start the class within one week of the first phone call.  It’s also much easier to choose a time that fits into your schedule, not the other way around.  What if you have only two weeks to complete your six to eight-week course? (Yes, this happens a lot!) Sometimes it’s possible for a private instructor to compress the sessions into fewer weeks by increasing the length of each weekly session or completing multiple sessions each week.  Achieve Life Balance classes are personalized, but intense, that means you may be able to progress at a faster pace than you would in any group setting.

Another advantage to private courses, is–well, the privacy! Many of my clients find significant relief in the one-on-one sessions. While clients are often apprehensive they soon recognize the value of personalized interaction.  Not only can clients openly discuss frustrations and concerns, they receive one-on-one support covering very specific issues.  Every situation is personal, every household runs differently, every parent has their own style and every child is unique.

mother-and-infant-1855312_1280What will I learn in a court-ordered parenting class?
Again, the answer varies significantly, depending on the requirements and selected program. Most programs cover parenting techniques and address behavior and discipline, as well as communication. Some classes cover child development (ages and stages) as well as co-parenting. If you’re a new parent, you may be asked to take infant care classes. This is the best time to ask for clarification on what your requirements are.

Achieve Life Balance parenting courses usually begin with a session on stress management. This is not typically found in most parenting courses. However, research shows parental stress not only impacts how you parent, but adds to your child’s own stress. If you’re feeling stressed now your child is feeling it too!  Stress management is such a significant part of my program. I can’t tell you how many times this simple, but effective session, has improved a client’s comfort level.  What else does Achieve Life Balance classes cover? Co-parenting tips, the different parenting styles and how they impact a child’s behavior. You’ll learn the most effective parenting methods and how to create an atmosphere that teaches your child how to make good decisions and problem solve. You’ll learn how to choose effective consequences and discipline more consistently! Your house will run smoother because everyone will know what to expect and when to expect it.  That means less stress for you and your children!  Even more exciting, is that I teach methods that allow you, the parent, to be more readily prepared. This program is not a one-size fits all, however. I teach my parents simple ways to adjust their disciplinary methods to match each unique child and situation.
Essential Parenting Plus Workshop Details

What won’t I get from Achieve Life Balance courses?
Although we touch on the subject, I do not cover in-depth child development (ages and stages). This is not a class on infant care. (Check your local hospital or social services programs for these classes).  I only provide classes to adults (parents and guardians) and do not work directly with children for court-ordered programs.

Is Achieve Life Balance right for me?
If you’re seeking a free or low cost on-line or group workshop, or a government-funded program, the answer is no, although Achieve Life Balance does offer community workshops throughout the year. The best way to determine if I’m the best fit is with a simple phone call. I’m happy to talk directly with you to see if I can meet your personal needs. It will also help you determine how comfortable you’d feel working with me. As noted above, regardless of what class you choose, you’ll want to check with your attorney, judge, mediator or social worker. Sometimes, I’m able to get the answer from your attorney or caseworker for you.

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Consistent Modules Based on Verifiable, Evidence-Based Authoritative Principles:

Essential Parenting Plus consists of 7 evidence-based modules (13 lessons, 17 units) including personal responsibility and self-control; stress management, reduction and resilience; positive parenting techniques and modeling; effective behavior management and discipline; choosing the right consequences; setting boundaries, rules and routines; and more.  View Curriculum Here.

Targeted Support:
As a private course, parents can receive additional support on Essential Parenting Plus module topics where skills are insufficient (ex. personal responsibility, healthy modeling, behavior management). This increases the likelihood parents will complete the course with the necessary skills and confidence to approach parenting on a healthier level. Targeted support can be requested by a judge, social worker, CPS overseer, etc. On the same level, targeted support can be eliminated if the court does not want any variations to the module schedule.

Private One-on-One (or Couple) Sessions:
Private sessions increase active and honest participation.

Convenient Direct-Contact Virtual Sessions:
Sessions are conducted virtually with direct one-on-one communication allowing for more convenient scheduling from home (or anywhere).  Often the first course can be scheduled within a week of the initial request, and can often be scheduled to meet the parent’s work schedule reducing the potential of lost income.  This is not an online course.

Why virtual? Virtual connections enable parents with disabilities, transportation issues, young children, limited resources or long work hours to attend.  In addition, virtual programming allows parents to complete their court-order program without risking exposure to the coronavirus.

High Expectations:
Parents are required to attend consistently, on-time and prepared. Full participation is required and monitored during every session. In addition to the one-on-one sessions, parents are required to complete independent course work (worksheets) that reflect where parents need support and how they’ll implement the parenting tools at home.  These in-depth worksheets must be completed by the parent before each session. These worksheets are used during the session.

Weekly Reports Upon Request:
Need regular updates?  Weekly?  Written or phone updates?  Just let me know and we’ll add reports to the schedule.

Certificate of Completion:
Provided upon completion of the program if all requirements are met.

Length of Course:
Varies slightly based on the client’s progress.
*If targeted support is waived, the modules run on a strict schedule.

Average # of weeks:  6

Average # of session hours: 6 hours of one-on-one; plus 2 hours for independent worksheets

Average total # of hours: 8 hours

 

Instructor and Workshop Creator:

Susan Graham (CFLE), Certified Family Life Educator

 

Questions?  Please contact Susan Graham at (248) 762-1081.

 


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