CAPA helps moms, dads become better parents

Parenting can be tough. Kids throw tantrums, and they constantly test boundaries. And parents don't always react in the most appropriate ways. Sometimes they yell, sometimes they hit.

The local nonprofit Child Abuse Prevention Association wants parents to know there are better ways to discipline children. For the past 20 years, CAPA has offered help for struggling moms and dads through its parenting classes. The Positive Parenting Program, also known as "Triple P," is an eight-week rotating curriculum that aims to prevent child abuse by teaching parents how to recognize children's misbehavior and deal with it appropriately.

"Not everyone comes from a background where they've learned to be a good parent," CAPA executive director Susan Cato said. "So when you have a child, it can be very scary because as badly as you want to be a good parent, if you don't know exactly how to do that, then it's just very difficult."

To help those parents be their best, CAPA offers classes from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays at the CAPA office in Port Royal. The group also offers classes for inmates at Beaufort County Detention Center and soon will teach classes from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Children's Center in Bluffton.

CAPA's adolescent pregnancy prevention and outreach specialist April Fletcher-Clark said the Children's Center approached CAPA about hosting the classes, and CAPA thought it was a good opportunity to expand its services to more people. For the past year, classes were held at the Bluffton nonprofit organization Community First.

While some parents are required by the courts to take parenting classes, others choose to take the classes to work on a specific behavior problem a child is having or simply to be better parents.

"We'd love for every parent to go through it," Cato said about the parenting program.

Class facilitator Angela Childers said she enjoys seeing how happy the families are after taking the course. She hopes the classes help parents gain a better love and understanding for their children and that they realize that "we're not perfect parents. We don't always make the right decisions, but we can take the decisions that we make and make them right."

CAPA charges $25 a person for the eight-session parenting program. Child care will be provided at the Bluffton location, but not at the Port Royal site. Parents can join at any point in the program. After completing the course, participants are encouraged to join a parent support group called P.S. We Love You, which meets from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month at CAPA.


Today's economy has taken a toll on CAPA. The organization found out this summer it wouldn't be receiving a $75,000 state grant it had hoped to use for outreach programs, such as its teen pregnancy prevention program.

"We're re-evaluating our strategic approach to programs and how we can maintain outreach services," Cato said. "It's very, very vital that we are able to have the prevention programs."

Cato said CAPA's Open Arms Shelter, which offers a temporary home to children from birth to age 21, normally cares for about seven children a day. But over the past two months the shelter has taken in 10 or 15 children a day.

"We are seeing an increased need for services," she said. "At the same time finances are really strapped."

To help the organization maintain its services, The Exchange Club of Beaufort will host its 23rd annual Auction and Party on Saturday. Cato said 90 percent of the net proceeds of the auction will go to CAPA, while the other 10 percent will stay with the Exchange Club for local projects.

"It's definitely a way that people can come out and support CAPA," Cato said.