Through out my career I, along with others, have struggled with developing effective after care plans. Every one I knew in the field would say, “a good program is great, but what really counts is aftercare.” When I was directing Boulder Creek Academy, I also was continually confronted with the need to improve communication both within the school and outside. Outside the school, there was a constant need to improve communication with parents as well as referral sources. The search for good aftercare when a child has finished a program, and good communication within programs/schools are two of the most challenging obstacles to successful work with children and parents.
This dual dilemma is what lead me to explore FamilyIQ, an online parent education web portal, and to visit their web site at. FamilyIQ was designed to help parents of children in placement to become more informed and engaged in the learning process. It also serves as a tool for parents to help transition their children back into the home and community.
FamilyIQ is an online interactive self-help web site with content designed to help parents and families become more effective. Users are offered a host of assessments, courses and articles that are designed to create awareness, develop skills, and enhance understanding. Parents can take interesting courses and at the same time, test themselves on subject mastery, thus assuring they reach a competency level. The initial content was designed especially for parents who have a child in a therapeutic boarding school or treatment program, but can also be applicable as a preventative tool.
Treatment centers and therapeutic schools have been challenged with trying to both inform and engage parents in the learning process along with their child. Weekly conference calls, book recommendations or even weekly therapy are common. The FamilyIQ product provides parents with consistent access to a library of courses and information that address family issues with which they may be facing. This component assists the program because the parents are studying material that will be helpful to family functioning and is relevant to their child’s treatment.
According to Brian Fluhr, Director of FamilyIQ, “the FamilyIQ resources are to support what programs are already addressing with their parents. It is a supplement to, and not a replacement of.” The cost of service varies depending on the type of subscription a person or program purchases. A typical parent would pay $20.00 per month subscription fee for unlimited access. Programs can incorporate this as part of their program as well.
A team of professionals writes the content of the parent training modules. For example, the ADHD course was written by David Rabiner, Ph.D., Duke University. A course focusing on seeking to “Change Your Partner” was written by Wally Goddard, Ph.D., Family Life Specialist for the University of Arkansas Extension Service. Family IQ intends to continually develop a library of relevant parental training.
Shari Landes, customer support for FamilyIQ, reports that their survey indicates, “While online education is not for everyone, it is clear that a growing number of parents are seeking this kind of outlet.” It has long been a mystery to me as to why many parents do not take advantage of existing parent training seminars. Parent training books tend to be dry in content and it is also difficult for parents to sort through the varying opinions and thoughts on a topic. Perhaps the interactive nature of FamilyIQ can respond to this issue. FamilyIQ is also creating a parent coaching and mentoring program, which will be offered along with the other services. FamilyIQ is a new resource that can enhance a child’s care while in therapeutic placement and increase the likelihood of success upon their return to their home and community.