Program will help children of divorce – QNS.com

Program will help children of divorce

Divorce is painful for the adults who have made the decision to dissolve their marriage, but for the children involved, it is always traumatic.
In an effort to lessen the impact on children who feel &#8220divided” between parents and in some cases &#8220abandoned,” New York State has developed the Parent Education Awareness Program to empower parents to foster a healthy adjustment to a divorce.
In 2001, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye announced the program in her Judiciary address to improve the quality of court outcomes involving children of divorce - an initiative to institutionalize parent education around the state.
Developed by 19 multi-disciplinary professionals in pediatric medicine, child psychiatry, family life, social work, domestic violence, and other fields the program was implemented in various sites across the state, beginning in 2003. Thus far, there are 53 programs in over 64 sites in 52 counties.
Kimberly A. Johnson, Program Administrative Coordinator MSW of the Community Mediation Services, Inc. in Jamaica says there are two parts to the program; training is provided in awareness and legal education.
At the Queens mediation center, social workers and psychologists educate parents in classes of 10 to 25 people in parental awareness. Parents role-play and watch a video of children of divorce confessing the pain of seeing their parents separate. For those parents who are in volatile relationships, suggestions are given on how to communicate with each other without enraging the other. Co-parents do not take the same class.
The legal portion of the program explains the litigation process, the financial and emotional costs of divorce and the importance of timely child support payments.
In addition, during this portion of the program, parents will learn an array of options regarding domestic violence, substance abuse, and other challenges. For those parents involved in a civil relationship the program presents mediation as an alternative to litigation to decide custodial fate. Since the mediation process is usually longer, there is more time to decide what is in the best interest of the child, a decision that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
According to Johnson, divorce can cause children to regress, reversing toilet training in very young children and causing promiscuity in teenagers. She points out that the parents often neglect to put the children first, focusing instead on themselves.
This program is designed to make sure the interests of children come first. As of now, Supreme Court judges and family court referees can order parents to participate in a Parent Education and Awareness Program.
Susan Pollet, Counsel and Director of New York State Parent Education, a former law guardian and prosecutor of child abuse and neglect cases, says that in her review program parents often say, &#8220That they wish we had this earlier.” She says the program has had an extraordinary impact. Pollet is committed to spreading the program as fast as she can.

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