Project HOPES Parents Celebrate Graduation

Banner image caption: Moms from the Project HOPES parenting education program celebrate graduation with BCFS-Abilene. Graduates left to right, Staci Clark, Judy Wright, Kristin Harriger, Zamantha Looper, Autumn Cosper, Alexis Jarrett, Janet Hopkins, Ashley Howard (graduates not shown: Shameika Johnson, Crystal Rodriguez)

Photo: Mother with her two daughters

ABILENE, TX – The first group of parents from Project HOPES, a parenting education program operated by BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene, recently celebrated graduation from the intensive, 18-week program. At an intimate ceremony held at the Center for Contemporary Arts on January 24, ten parents graduated in front of their families and close friends. The commencement event included diplomas, a catered dinner and graduation gifts for the graduates.

Project HOPES provides training, support and resources to families with young children 0-5 years of age to overcome any obstacles they might be facing. The program aims to prevent child abuse and neglect by providing parenting education, home visitation, case management, crisis intervention and counseling.

While they were enrolled in Project HOPES, BCFS-Abilene Parent Educators visited each family in their home once a week for one hour, for 18 weeks. The in-home classes enable the parent educator to evaluate the home for hazards and help eliminate them.

“The home-based classes give us an opportunity to see the parents at home with their children,” explains Kelly Davis, a Parent Educator. “That model also eliminates any transportation issues for families because we go to them.”

The graduates were eager to share why they found the program helpful, citing specific ways that the curriculum has improved their parenting skills and home environments.

“It has helped me with my son’s behavior and taught me things that I didn’t know before,” said graduate Shumieka Johnson. “I’ve learned to play with him more, and we’ve gotten closer as I’ve gotten to know him better.”

“The temper tantrums have stopped,” said Judy Wright. “It is so much nicer now. It has changed my attitude toward discipline issues.”

Graduates Zamantha Looper and Janet Hopkins said they appreciated what they learned regarding their children’s health, and how to determine when a child’s illness can be handled at home versus a more serious issue that might call for a trip to the doctor’s office.

“I recommend it for all single moms,” said graduate Alexis Jarrett of Project HOPES, “because I know it can be scary raising a child…Beforehand I was not able to determine what do with my 5 year old’s behavior issues. Now I pre-plan and give her choices. We set up times for crafts, playtime and alone time. I always go back to the ‘safety module.’’

“The program has worked very well for us,” said mom Kristin Harriger, who cares for a one year old baby. “I learned a couple of sleeping procedures for babies that I didn’t know about, being that the recommendations have changed over time.”

Graduates wore bright blue caps and gowns to incorporate the color of the national child abuse awareness and prevention campaign. Once each graduate received her diploma, families joined in for photo opportunities and enjoyed a catered meal. BCFS-Abilene presented the graduates with gifts in the form of household items like bedding or cookware.

Another 15 local parents are already enrolled in Project HOPES with BCFS-Abilene, expected to graduate in the fall of 2017. BCFS-Abilene currently has openings in the classes, so families interested in enrolling can call (325) 692-0033 for details.

In addition to Project HOPES, BCFS-Abilene operates another parenting education program called Fatherhood EFFECT, and provides case management, employment connections and education assistance to youth from the foster care system and youth struggling with other challenges.

Project HOPES is a grant program funded by the Prevention and Early Intervention Division. For information about BCFS-Abilene, visit or call (325) 692-0033.

BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.