MCH Family Outreach brings caregivers from the community together for a time of support and connection during Caregiver Empowerment groups. Groups can consist of parents, grandparents, relatives or fictive kinship caregivers and are led by an MCH team member.
The groups are intended to provide support to all caregivers in their roles by enhancing their knowledge, helping them to cultivate new skills, providing them with access to community resources, and providing a space where they can receive support and encouragement from peers. Topics discussed in these groups include financial issues, legal matters, children’s behavior, self-care, advocacy, and family bonding.
MCH Family Outreach in Waco currently facilitates a Caregiver Empowerment Group for Spanish-speaking families. The group has been running for more than a year and meets twice a month.
“We started the group because we felt Spanish-speaking moms in our community could benefit from having a space where they could build friendship and share experiences about parenting and other topics,” said Ana Chatham, case manager in the Waco office. “Late last year an agency here in town that used to serve Spanish-speaking families closed down, and we thought we could help fill in the gap for a space such as this.”
Chatham leads the group along with fellow case manager Sara Beth Stoltzfus. They recently hosted a gathering where the participants brought their children together to play, sing holiday songs in Spanish, and shared a potluck lunch. The suggestion of the party came from the participants themselves and provided an additional opportunity for bonding. They also suggested topics that have been discussed during group meetings such as sibling rivalry, online safety, communication, and how to increase their family’s connection.
“Our main role is to provide the space and some structure, but the richness of the experience really comes from each woman opening up and sharing of themselves,” Chatham said. “As we asked the participants to reflect on what has been most impactful to them, several of them mentioned how they experience our time together as self-care, an opportunity to pause, even if it’s just for an hour every couple of weeks, and think about how they are going about both their parenting role as well as other areas of their life.”
Other examples of groups include a monthly group for adoptive parents in Waco, a long-standing group in Corpus Christi that has separate spaces for caregivers and children, and a group in a maternity home in Bryan for homeless women. Caregiver Empowerment Groups are open to any caregiver in the community, regardless of whether or not that caregiver is a client of MCH. Attendance is free of charge and all MCH Family Outreach offices across Texas and New Mexico are able to facilitate these groups. If you are interested in joining a Caregiver Empowerment Group, please visit MCH.org, click on the “Locations” tab, and contact the nearest MCH Family Outreach office.