Parentz At Work Helps Communication During COVID-19
By Dianne Anderson
Pressure is mounting for some quarantined couples now fighting their way through the fourth month of the pandemic, and it’s always the kids that suffer most.
The courts understand.
Couples with children in the process of divorce or separation can rediscover the art of communication with their significant other. They might even learn how to be friends again in the process.
Natalie Rascoe, CEO of the nonprofit Parentz At Work, offers court-approved and mobile co-parenting classes in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties. Her services are also contracted with San Bernardino and Riverside county agencies to help referred parents to access free classes for the sake of the kids.
She said the emotional impact on the kids facing the uncertainty of seeing mom and dad separate is hard. “We go into shared parenting, and how kids are affected when you separate or when the father or the mother are yelling and screaming. Even though the kids may not see it, they feel it,” she said.
Through their current Zoom classes, the program covers various parenting styles. There is a right way and a wrong way.
She developed her court-approved curriculum specifically to guide parents with children through divorce, or separation. Co-parenting classes are provided for couples that are either married, separated, or have children under 18 years old.
Before starting the program, Rascoe worked for Riverside County as an eligibility liaison for nine years with funded programs to help parents with childcare and a 200-family caseload. Later, she was an eligibility supervisor at the San Bernardino County KidsNCare programs, which was defunded several years ago.
She and several other peers were suddenly laid off, providing the motivation to start her own nonprofit that has grown since she began in 2011. Today, she has several grants, along with the referrals from the two counties, allowing her to offer parenting and co-parenting classes free of charge.
Rascoe holds a Bachelors degree in workforce education, and a Master’s Degree in adult education.
Another growing tension lately is that parents were suddenly expected to be teachers since COVID-19. She hears them complain that they are not good teachers, and they’re totally overwhelmed.
She started sending out information on ways parents can take care of themselves.
“Take time for yourself, take a break, work with kids from at home, do activities that don’t require being on the computer,” she said. “We talk about time out, or taking things away. We talk about not hitting the children. The next is communicating with your child.”
When completed, parents will receive a certificate that shows they’ve worked through all stages of parenting. Recently, they’ve also started a program just for fathers.
Rascoe provides classes through San Bernardino CAPTS (Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Services) and the probation department. She receives referrals from DPSS on cases where children have been removed from the home for neglect, domestic violence, or if parents had been doing drugs and not providing safety for the kids.
“If parents are fighting in front of the kids, it’s not a safe environment. Right now, I am getting a lot of domestic violence. I think that has a lot to do with people being locked up together,” she said.
Classes focus on how not to put the kids in the crossfire of arguments and tension. She goes over conflict resolution, effective ways to talk it out with the partner. She said that kids need to know they are loved even though parents are separating.
“What happens to the kids when you’re separated?” she said. “Our classes are for parents that decide that we’re not going to be together but we have kids. We have to be able to be cordial with each other.”
For more information, see www.parentzatwork.org
Or call Natalie Rascoe, (951) 236-7325