The Parent Center Offers Compassionate Support for Caregivers
By Angelinna Veras
Henry Street’s Parent Center is a lifeline for many parents and soon-to-be parents who are dedicated to improving their skills, navigating difficulties, and celebrating the joys of this exciting but complex time.
The Parent Center is open to any caregiver of children age 0 to 18 who is willing to learn about any aspect of childhood and parenting. Some participants come to The Parent Center out of dedication to improving their parenting skills. Others are mandated by the New York City Administration for Children’s Services to complete a 6- or 12-week class in order to better meet the challenges of parenting.
Many of these clients are single mothers with multiple children who need support that they are not receiving elsewhere. The three ACS-mandated classes that The Parent Center offers come with completion certificates that parents can take with them to court to show that they have completed a parenting course. At the beating heart of the center are three team members who spend their days helping families overcome challenges. They work to create a community for parents to lean on and believe that no parent should feel unworthy or insecure when reaching out for support.
Qiqi Liang, a mental health counselor, has been working with Henry Street for more than two years. Her inspiration and motivation for discussing and learning more about parenting are her two children, whom she adores.
Annie Mudick is a licensed social worker with master’s degrees in child development and social work who has been part of the Henry Street team for more than a year. Annie has always been interested in working with kids and families; she was exposed to this career choice by her mother, who is a speech-language pathologist.
A recent participant came to the center to become a better parent and learn how to communicate better with her child’s father. She came in regularly with questions, which the team was happy to answer. They were thrilled to see her grow as a parent and to see her confidence soar with her child. The social workers particularly help break down the stigma that parenting should come easily. Questions such as, ‘How many ounces of milk should I give my child?’ can be embarrassing for some parents, but should instead be seen as a sign of growth, they say.
The Parent Center offers multiple workshops and programs.
Toddler Tuesdays: Parents and their toddlers ages 18 months to three years engage in structured play, learning through music and movement, stories, arts and crafts and more. This is run by Annie and Jana
Parenting Journey: Parents and their children build and improve their nurturing family relationships through increased self-awareness and self-care in this 12-week curriculum-based group. This is run virtually by Annie and Qiqi.
Six-Week Parenting Groups: These are Parenting Discoveries and Parenting Children with Special Needs. In both groups, parents of children and teenagers explore a range of parenting topics, such as healthy development, responsibility, discipline, self-esteem, and more. The latter group looks at these topics through the lens of disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, mood disorders, and various health conditions. Both groups are virtually run by Annie and Qiqi.
Weekly and monthly one-time workshops are offered on a variety of parenting issues: One-time workshops are held at the Parent Center and at other Henry Street program sites, offering education and discussion around a wide variety of issues. Topics include internet safety, effective discipline techniques, self-care and stress management, successful co-parenting, and many more. Jana leads these, with Annie and Qiqi providing one or two a month as well.