The Building Families program provides families with an in-home service designed to equip parents and guardians with the tools they need to teach their children appropriate behaviors and improve their overall communication and functioning as a family. A mastered level family specialist works alongside families to develop parenting plans that are centered around each family’s unique experience and goals. Often, parents want to do the best that they can for their children, but parenting is never easy. Sometimes, all it takes to transform a family is the helping hand of someone who can recognize and build upon the strengths a family already has with new skills and evidence-based techniques.

Sometimes, all it takes to transform a family is the helping hand of someone who can recognize and build upon the strengths a family already has with new skills and evidence-based techniques.

A helping hand made all the difference for Manny and Marty, a couple excited for their journey as grandparents who were also tasked with raising two of their grandchildren, Alyssa and Joseph.

At the end of Joseph’s first-grade year, he began experiencing anxiety at school. He would tell his grandparents that the other kids were bothering him and the teacher wouldn’t listen to him. When he started the second grade, Joseph’s difficulties in school only escalated. He refused to go, often resorting to violent behavior—pushing furniture, throwing objects, screaming forcefully—to avoid attending. Meetings with the school seemed to offer no solutions.

Marty and Manny were lost. Joseph’s anger was spiraling out of control and becoming a threat to the safety of their family. They loved him and wanted more than anything to be able to help him. Then, someone referred them to the Building Families program at Thornwell, and they were immediately encouraged. A family specialist, Elizabeth, could work with their whole family, and she would meet them exactly where they were, in their home where Joseph felt the most comfortable.

Marty and grandchildren alongside Thornwell Family Specialist, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth began to visit their home twice a week. Other counselors and teachers had never been able to engage Joseph in a way that made him want to participate in activities and exercises, but Elizabeth connected with Joseph almost instantly. He looked forward to her visits, and he joined the rest of his family in playing games, completing activities, and establishing family rules. She taught Marty and Manny how to help Joseph control his anger, and gradually, he started to listen respectfully, follow instructions, and even help around the house.

While they were involved in the Building Families program, Joseph was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This left Marty and Manny with a whole new set of questions about the best options available for Joseph’s education. Thankfully, they were not alone. Elizabeth attended every meeting that every school had about Joseph’s education plan. With her help, Joseph was placed at a new school that was more equipped to meet his individual needs. Now, he’s not just attending school; he’s looking forward to it!

Manny says that God used Building Families to restore hope and joy to his family. That’s what the program hopes to do. Only 39% of dads and 51% of moms feel as though they’re doing a good job as a parent. Building Families has the power to change that. With your support, we can continue to give parents the assistance they need to be confident, good moms and dads. With your support, we can continue to give children the type of families they deserve.

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