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University receives $4.8 million to help ‘strengthen families’

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A program geared toward strengthening relationships and families will soon be enhanced and modified in the wake of Texas State being granted $4.8 million from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration.

The Strengthening Relationships/Strengthening Families program has been offered at the university since January 2007 and is intended to help adolescent parents improve relationships.

“Raising a 3 year old girl is hard,” said Elizabeth Turrubiates, San Jacinto Community College freshman who plans to transfer to Texas State next spring. “Being a teenage mom, constantly getting judged and trying to get her education doesn’t make it easier.”

Turrubiates has been a single mom since her sophomore year in high school and has struggled to be a full-time student and mother. She is excited Texas State offers the SR/SF program and is considering taking part in it.

Facilitators plan to hold sessions for communication and resolution skills, as well as managing and sharing parental duties from two evidence-based curricula, said Michelle Toews, program facilitator and associate dean for research in the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University.

Turrubiates hopes teen parents who attend the sessions will learn better parenting skills and be able to connect with people facing the same struggles.

“I believe that if my high school offered such a program, I would probably have had a better understanding of what to expect as a teen mom,” Turrubiates said.

In addition to the sessions, SF/SR will help adolescent parents find beneficial recourses and incentives, said Norma Perez, program administer and assistant professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The Pregnancy, Education and Parenting program is offered in eight high schools across Central Texas. Teen parents are eligible to enroll in the SF/SR program.

“I was a part of writing up our application for this new round of funding,” Perez said. “Last year, I was able to support the program as Dr. Toews finished her last three-year grant award.”

This year will be Perez’s first year administrating the program. However, she is not new to the area of focus. She has a history of conducting and publishing research on adolescent adjustment and teen parenting at Arizona State University.

The SF/SR program offers eight internships to Texas State students interested in teaching the sessions every semester, Perez said.