PACT aims to strengthen families
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Walk into the PACT office in Decatur and you might hear someone working on how to write a resume. In another office, someone else could be going over lesson plans for any of the program's educational classes. In yet another area, a counselor is working with a new mother, teaching her how to better care for her baby.
Those are just a few of the programs offered through PACT (Parents and Children Together), a county-wide program designed to help families.
"We believe the way to prevent child abuse is to strengthen the family," PACT executive director Tiki Hubbard said.
PACT aims to do that through a variety of programs designed to help the family through the years.
PACT starts with the Newborn program, which places trained volunteers at Decatur General Hospital and Parkway Medical Center to provide information to new parents. PACT also offers three months assistance from a volunteer mentor for new moms. The mentors are there to provide support to the family, as well as inform them of available community services.
There are also special classes for teenage parents and others for child care providers.
As children grow, they will learn the PACT message at school. PACT trains volunteers to go into all Morgan County schools, including the Hartselle City System. Programs are offered to first, third, seventh and 10th grade students and cover child abuse in age appropriate ways.
For families, PACT provides such services as child development programs, job training and emergency and respite care.
PACT has been providing the services for 25 years, mainly supported through community volunteers and donations. But tough financial times have made PACT's work more difficult, Hubbard said. This year, PACT had to stop its Health Families program, which provided up to five years of education for first-time mothers.
Hubbard said funding from state sources has been cut from $700,000 to $478,000. The agency has stayed open, she said, by cutting hours and some staff.
"Last year, we employed 22 people," she said. "Now, we're down to 15. Still, no families have lost services."
And that's a considerable number. Last year PACT served some 8,000 families from throughout Morgan County.
PACT has grown considerably since its beginnings 25 years ago when it was started by a core group of people Hubbard said were "passionate about the prevention of child abuse."
PACT was the first child abuse prevention program in the Southeast, and Hubbard said the founding members were convinced helping families as a whole would lower the rates of child abuse.
"Twenty-five years later, what our board members had a gut feeling about was correct," she said. "We believe the way you prevent child abuse is to strengthen families and offer increased coping skills in times of stress."
There is no income criteria for participating in PACT and all programs are offered free of charge.
A large portion of PACT's budget comes from donations and memberships. PACT receives support from the Alabama Children's Trust Fund, Morgan County United Way, Decatur Assembly, Decatur Charity League and Junior League of Morgan County.
Last year, the city of Hartselle gave PACT $1,000.
A single membership is available for $35 and a family membership for $55. Community builder memberships are available for $250.
For more information on PACT's services, call 355-7252.