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Free Parenting Classes for Families of all Shapes and Sizes

Project Self-Sufficiency will offer free parenting workshops for parents of children of all ages beginning in late January.  Participants will learn about the different stages of physical and emotional development during childhood, as well as techniques for positive discipline and improved communication.  The sessions are free and open to the public; childcare will be provided.   All classes run from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  The agency is located at 127 Mill Street in Newton.  Pre-registration is required.


Parenting classes at Project Self-Sufficiency use a variety of education materials designed to nurture and promote strong families.  The family-centered Nurturing Parenting Programs® developed by Dr. Stephen Bavolek teach age-specific parenting skills – from prenatal through the teen years -- and the programs include a separate curriculum for parents and for children.  Additional curriculum will feature a combination of STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) and “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk.”

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“In addition to conveying information about becoming a better parent, the parenting workshops offered at Project Self-Sufficiency seek to provide a community of support to struggling mothers and fathers,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “The ultimate goals are to enhance the knowledge, ability, and confidence of parents by teaching positive parenting skills, encouraging a healthy lifestyle, empowering women, and creating a lasting network of support.  Many participating parents have complex and interrelated needs, and Project Self-Sufficiency is uniquely positioned to incorporate case management, counseling, home visits, group support, legal assistance, family activities, and assistance with economic self-sufficiency services if they are warranted.”




Parenting courses will be offered for families with varying parental situations and children of all ages.  Participants can select from a wide range of classes tailored to meet their specific family situation. 


Classes which will be offered on Thursdays, January 30th – April 17th, include Nurturing Fathers and Mothers in Recovery from Substance Abuse.


Parents of Adolescents are invited to attend classes on Mondays, February 3rd – April 28th.


Parents of infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children and parents of school-aged children are invited to attend classes on Tuesdays, February 4th – April 22nd.


Classes for expectant parents will be offered on Wednesdays, February 5th – April 9th.


Deborah Berry-Toon notes that the curriculum is supplemented by small group discussion for adults along with play groups for children which reinforce the weekly lesson plans. “A great number of parents would like to meet others in similar situations.  These parenting classes offer a group dynamic where families can share experiences and learn from others.  The curriculum is delivered in a means that allows participants to share life experiences and learn new skills.”


Parenting class facilitator Carol Nass notes that the unique combination of education and support is the reason why the classes are so effective.  “These classes bring time-tested research and education to the table and allow participants to draw from their own experiences.  Everybody is a member of some family system, so all of these diverse perspectives, opinions, and cultural backgrounds bring a lot of great discussion.  Participants come for a variety of reasons, but all of them say that they want to be the best parent that they can be.  People support each other and it’s a wonderful experience.”


Katie Theesfeld facilitates classes targeted towards the parents of infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children.  Improving communication between parents and their children helps to reduce the stress in the families she teaches.  “Parenting children can be stressful and difficult but it can be very empowering if you have support.  The curriculum is very broad so we can tailor the course to the needs of the parents in the class.  We are building and practicing life skills and learning new communication patterns.  Teaching parents to use their children’s independence productively makes a big difference in their lives.  Managing the stress of parenting can help you feel successful in other areas of your life as well.”


Project Self-Sufficiency is a private non-profit community-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of low-income families residing in northwestern New Jersey.  The agency’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of holistic, respectful, and comprehensive services enabling low-income single parents, teen parents, two-parent families, and displaced homemakers to achieve personal and economic self-sufficiency, family stability, and to improve their lives and the lives of their children.  Since 1986 Project Self-Sufficiency has served more than 19,500 families, including more than 30,000 children. 


To register for the free parenting workshops, to discuss your parenting needs, or to find out more about other programs and services available at Project Self-Sufficiency, call 973-940-3500, or visit

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