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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
HomeNewsLocal governmentDOJ Holds Ceremony for First Parenting Program for the Haitian Community

DOJ Holds Ceremony for First Parenting Program for the Haitian Community

The V.I. Department of Justice held a graduation ceremony for over 50 Haitian program participants was held on Oct. 30 at Living Word Family Ministries in Smith Bay. (Submitted photo)

V.I. Attorney General Denise George has announced the completion of a pilot 12-week parenting class for the Haitian community initiated by the Access and Visitation Program (AVP) of the V.I. Department of Justice (DOJ) Paternity and Child Support Division (PCSD). A graduation ceremony for over 50 program participants was held on Oct. 30 at Living Word Family Ministries in Smith Bay.

The pilot class was designed to help create healthy parental relationships to improve the safety and well-being of children by teaching effective ways to co-parent and increase fathers’ involvement in raising their children.

Furthering its commitment to fund services that aim to meet the needs of all families in the community, AVP initiated the pilot program to cover topics that are similar to those currently offered in the ongoing parent classes, including the Mother’s Matter and Fatherhood Buzz workshops. The AVP team partnered with the First Haitian Baptist Church of St. Thomas to offer the 12-week virtual classes held from 7-8:30 p.m., on Mondays, Aug. 8 to Oct. 24.

“We would like to thank the parents and everyone who contributed to the success of this valuable parenting class. Strong families are the foundation of a strong community.

Parenting programs like this go a long way in building good character, values, resilience and life skills that prevent harmful behavior among our youths well into adulthood,” said AG George.

Pictured from left (back) Sharon Jackson-McDonald, Access Visitation Administrator; AG Denise George, V.I. Attorney General; First Lady Carmine Pierre Saurel; Pastor of the First Haitian Baptist Church of St. Thomas Saul Francois Saurel (Submitted photo)

“The AVP Team is overwhelmed by the success and outcome of the parenting class and the partnership of the First Haitian Baptist Church of St. Thomas. Thanks to Mrs. Sandra Garcon, facilitator, founder, CEO, motivational teacher and coach, who did a fantastic job with the parents. We are pleased to report that there is now a demand requesting more parenting services by the participants and other Haitian parents to sign up for classes in Creole,” said Sharon Jackson-McDonald, Access Visitation administrator.

The topics covered include:

  1. Setting the atmosphere for effective co-parenting
  2. Understanding power and control within relationships
  3. The mother’s role in promoting a healthy father-child relationship
  4. The cost of dad’s absent
  5. The emotionally healthy mother/father
  6. Conflict resolution and developing mutual respect
  7. Setting mutual disciplines and structures
  8. Identifying each other’s communication styles and love languages
  9. Quality time with Dad/Mom
  10. Keeping children physically and emotionally safe

During the ceremony, some of the parents shared their testimony with the assistance of translator and facilitator Sandra Garcon.

“Thanks to Sandra Garcon for educating us in our language and thanks to the DOJ for facilitating this super program that gives us an outlet,” said Enide Michel, mother of five. “I have learned many things that will benefit me, my family and a program I am presently involved in working with children.”

Haitian students of the Access and Visitation Program at the graduation ceremony (Submitted photo)

Father of five, Renold Mothe, also shared the same sentiments. “Thanks to everyone who coordinated this for the parents. This program has taught me how to live better with my family, wife, children, friends, co-workers and even enemies. I am a better parent, and my relationships have strengthened because of the classes offered,” said Mothe.

Remarks during the ceremony were given by Attorney General Denise George, DOJ Chief Deputy AG Carol Thomas-Jacobs, and Director of DOJ’s Paternity and Child Support Terrance D. Joseph, Sen. Milton Potter, executive director of the Family Resource Center Anya Stewart, President of Sandra Garcon Degerville Ministries LLC Sandra Garcon, and Pastor of the First Haitian Baptist Church of St. Thomas Saul Francois Saurel.

The AVP is a federally funded program under Title IV Section D of the Social Security Act. Each year, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OSCE) provides mandatory grant funding to states and territories to operate the Access and Visitation Program. The program aims to fund services that help noncustodial parents spend more time with their children and strengthen parental and family relationships.

For more information on the initiative, call the Access and Visitation Program, DOJ Paternity and Child Support Division at 775-3070 on St. Thomas or at 778-5958 on St. Croix. Individuals can also email the team at viaccess@vi.gov

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