Catoosa County Family Collaborative is hosting free parenting classes, offering participants not only information on how they can be better parents but also cold, hard cash. The seven-session, group-based program will be held at the Catoosa Learning Center Thursdays beginning March 1 from 5:30-8 p.m. each week. Child care and dinner will be provided.
The organizers are also offering every participant who completes the course a $30 Walmart gift card to encourage parents to take the class, which is part of an effort to reduce the number of teenagers abusing prescription drugs such as opioids.
Taught by a licensed and experienced teacher, the class will educate parents on different drugs, including what they look like, how to identify signs of abuse and ways they can help keep their children away from them, according to William Mathew, Catoosa County Family Collaborative project coordinator. It will also cover parenting topics such as how to discipline, manage behavior, praise, criticize and implement family time.
Mathew said Catoosa County was chosen by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability to be a location for the class because of the county's problem with so-called "pill mills," or pain clinics where doctors write an excessive number of perscriptions for painkillers that are medically unnecessary in order to turn a quick profit.
Pill mills are on the decline, according to Mathew, but the risk of children abusing prescription drugs is still eminent.
"Hopefully, what we are doing will help the kids from getting their hands on these drugs," he said. "These drugs are very harmful."
According to Mathew, class participants include grandparents who are raising their grandchildren and taking the class to refresh their parenting skills. There is also a parent taking the class for a second time to stay abreast of new information.
"It's an ever-changing world out there," Mathew said. " It's always good to be on top of it."
Parents who have taken the class have said that it was very helpful, that it caused them to see things differently and that they were able to catch things they didn't notice before, Mathew said.
The Catoosa Learning Center is at 36 Muscogee Trail in Ringgold. For more information call 706-935-5018.
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