Strong Families Program Building a Community of Better Parents - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Strong Families Program Building a Community of Better Parents

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YAKIMA, Wash. - One local program has been helping parents for years to develop better communication skills and learn from each other to build stronger families.

The Strong Families series of classes is based at Children's Village, the site provides the flexibility needed for the parents who take part in the program.

Derek Cantrell is a single father in Yakima who had trouble getting his 19-month daughter Aliya to listen to the word "No," so he took the advice of his lawyer and enrolled in Strong Families.

"I was happy having my daughter but I was kind of stressed out," he said. "When I started coming here, the stress just left."

Jim Pinnell is one of the instructors for the program and had Cantrell in his class.  He says more fathers are looking to get outside help than in the earlier years of Strong Families.

"Single fathers have not been exposed to this kind of material and they really enjoy hearing about and giving it a try," Pinnell said.

The program is completely free and classes are offered in English and Spanish on various parenting issues.  Each class is made up of 13 sessions and meets twice a week.

Instructors say a key part of the class is getting parents to learn from each other.

"I think the most important thing that we do in strong families is that the parents get to share their experiences with each other in every class period," he said.

Classes are at night and free childcare is provided.  The program has completed 130 classes and helped thousands of parents in 10 years.

Program Coordinator Gretchen Waschke says Strong Families would not be where it is today without the combined help of local organizations.

"It's a wonderful community resource and without community partners we couldn't do this," she said.

Cantrell's advice to other single parents is to give Strong Families a chance.

"I would suggest trying," said Cantrell. "If after someone started they decided they weren't going to be able to do it, at least they tried."

To learn more about the program including how you can enroll, call (509)575-4858 or visit .