Monday, May 17, 1999

Family center finds a home

Agency aims to stop child abuse, neglect

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        EDGEWOOD — After a two-year search, the Family Nurturing Center of Kentucky is moving to a more visible location in Florence that will double the size of its crowded offices and allow the agency to provide more programs aimed at stopping child abuse and neglect.

        “We've been looking for the perfect location for a long time, and now we think we've found it,” said Jane Herms, the center's executive director. “Even if we continue to expand as we've been doing, our new building will accommodate us.”

Former Star Bank
        By June 30, the center will move from its current space in the Heritage International Professional Center to newly remodeled quarters at the corner of Dixie Highway and Industrial Road in Florence.

        Originally planned for this weekend, the move was delayed about six weeks to enable volunteers to finish converting the former Star Bank into a supervised visitation room, intake counseling rooms, play therapy rooms, an observation room, and meeting rooms and office space, Ms. Herms said.

        “Because folks are donating their time and services, it's taken us a little longer to pull it together,” she said. “We're still about $20,000 short of our goal (on the renovation), but we've been very fortunate on the number of people who've stepped forward and donated labor, or supplies or cash.”

        The move will help the 20-year-old nonprofit social service center reach out to even more clients in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties, as well as add new ones in Pendleton and Grant counties, Ms. Herms said.

        Last year, the center's nine full-time staff, 25 part-time employees and 200 volunteers provided 40,000 hours of service to 15,000 Tristate children and adults.

        While half of the people the center helps are referred by the court system or other agencies, many, such as Michelle Diesterhaft, seek out the center's services on their own.

        Frustrated at her inability to discipline her young daughters, the 35-year-old Erlanger housewife took a parenting course at the Family Nurturing Center last year.

        “It's changed our lives for the better,” said Ms. Diesterhaft, whose husband, Mark, also took the 18-week course. “Our kids are happier, and so are we.”

        Ms. Diesterhaft said she signed up for the class, which offers a variety of child-rearing strategies and monthly followups, because she didn't know where else to turn.

        “Every job I've ever had, you get continual training,” she said. “But nobody does that for parenting. Before I took the parenting course, I constantly felt like I was being tested, and I just wasn't handling it well. I didn't want my kids to grow up thinking you get spanked for everything.”

        Now Ms. Diesterhaft says it's not unusual for her to receive praise for her daughters' behavior, or the way she successfully handles difficult situations in public places.

        And that, says Ms. Herms, is what the agency is all about.

        “There's no one size fits all response when it comes to raising children,” Ms. Herms said. “We're there to support families and meet their individual needs.”


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