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Organization aims to break child abuse cycle through parenting education
Turlock Family Network pic2
Lasandra Dodero plays with her sons, Hunter (left) and Ryan (center) at the Turlock Family Network. Dodero said connecting with other families is one reason she attends parenting classes offered by the network. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

The Turlock Family Network has two new classes that will begin soon.

·         An eight-week parenting class with be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays through the Turlock Adult School for those working on a high school diploma. Pregnant or new parents attending any high school, alternative school or independent study program in the Turlock Unified School District can receive five credits toward graduation upon passing the class.

The class will be held at the Turlock Salvation Army, 893 Lander Ave., Room 101. There will be on-site child care and refreshments. For more information on registering for this class, call 667-0643.

·         A parenting class for Spanish-speaking mothers will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Fridays, beginning Jan. 21 at the Turlock Salvation Army, 893 Lander Ave. There will be free on-site child care, refreshments and weekly incentives. Call Briseida or Karla at 668-3363 for more information.


The Turlock Family Network is a volunteer organization that receives all its funding from private donors. The network is currently seeking parent mentors. Those looking to make a difference in a young person’s life, or to make a donation to the Turlock Family Network, can contact Beverly Spielman at 668-3363 for more information.

It can be scary for a high school student to find out she or he is going to be a parent. Besides the impact that becoming a parent will have on a teen’s plans for their future, many realize they know nothing about taking care of an infant or raising a child.

Some young expectant mothers and fathers are lucky enough to have a supportive family that is more than willing to help them through the ups and downs of pregnancy, birth and parenting. But then there are those who do not have a supportive family to ease them into parenthood.

That is where the Turlock Family Network comes in.

The Turlock Family Network, a private nonprofit agency, works with young expectant and new parents giving them the skills they need to become successful parents throughout their lives.

“Our goal is to break the abuse cycle,” said Beverly Spielman, Turlock Family Network director.

The network provides parenting skills through a variety of programs including prenatal classes, weekly parenting classes and an in-home mentoring program.

In the prenatal class, expectant parents learn basic skills such as feeding and diapering, as well as how to communicate with an infant. The parenting and mentoring programs expand on those skills with instruction on child development, anger and stress management and money management. Parents also receive support and advice.

“Twenty-five percent of teen parents still live at home and have support,” Spielman said. “But 75 percent live with a boyfriend or aunt and don’t have a lot of support. Those moms who are set up like that usually have to drop out of school due to the burden of taking care of a household.

“They do get a lot of support and nurturing when they come to our classes,” she said.

Eight years ago, when Lasandra Dodero first began attending parenting classes at the Turlock Family Network, she was looking for help on how to deal with her step-son’s behavioral problems. She has continued to take classes to receive advice on raising not only her step-son, Dalis, now 10, but also her sons, Ryan, 5, and Hunter, 3.

“These parenting classes really help me,” she said. “It really helps when there are other families dealing with similar situations.”

Spielman said the Turlock Family Network also sees a lot of young parents who are dealing with addiction.

“A good number of moms and dads who come into our classes are fighting addictions, usually meth,” she said. “Years ago, there were more addiction programs to help families in Turlock, but cuts made a year ago took the programs away from Turlock.”

These parents need all the support they can get, according to Spielman, because they can’t focus on their child or meet their child’s needs while fighting their addictions alone.

Stephanie King-Relaford learned of the Turlock Family Network and its parenting classes when Spielman gave a presentation to her sober living program. She decided to attend the parenting classes, “to get a better understanding of the kids’ needs and how I could better meet their needs.”

King-Relaford, the mother of two girls — Nayeli, 3, and Lilliana, 8 months— said one of the most useful things she learned in class was how to give her toddler choices.

“You give them choices to empower them,” she said.

Turlock Family Network Board Chair and Turlock Unified School Board trustee Eileen Hamilton has been an advocate for educating young parents for over 20 years. She started out teaching a teen parenting class at Turlock High School in 1990. Then, in 1998, she became a founding volunteer for the Turlock Family Network helping to expand the opportunities for parenting education in the community.

“We need to make sure these young ladies and men become successful in their careers,” Hamilton said. “Number one, they need to complete their education.”

She went on to say, “Parenting is the most important job in our life, but parenting is not something we receive a lot of instruction on.”

Hamilton will continue to volunteer her services teaching parenting classes and mentoring young people because she is reminded often of the impact helping others can have.

Six years ago, Hamilton received a phone call from one of her first parenting students.

“You gave me hope when no one else did,” the woman said to Hamilton. The student went on to tell of her successful marriage and her daughter’s upcoming graduation from high school.

Hamilton said that was one of many incidents that have happened over the years when a former student relayed how much the parenting classes impacted their life.

“That’s what keeps us going,” Spielman said.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.