By Roz Kohls
DASSEL, MN A Love and Logic class for Dassel parents, who finished a six-week session Nov. 20, has shown it works.
Meeker County commissioners were told about the parenting class Nov. 18, and how eight groups of Love and Logic, totaling 71 people, have been meeting throughout the county. Love and Logic classes help parents and professionals raise responsible kids.
County Social Services Director Clark Gustafson said Love and Logic works. Half of the children whose parents are involved county wide are in Meeker County’s social services’ caseload. County social workers have a chance to observe those children, and Love and Logic techniques have shown to be successful, he said.
The Dassel Love and Logic class had 33 participants, and was in the Dassel-Cokato High School choir room. Rebecca Warpula of DC’s Early Childhood Family Education provided child care for the parents attending the two-hour sessions. DC’s Parent Teacher Association provided a light meal.
Facilitators were Tina Schenk, Tonya Hastings, Sarah Day and Amy Brustuen.
Participants pay $10 each for a workbook. Otherwise, the class is free. Social Services Supervisor Pat Thomas said she is hoping the Love and Logic sessions can be funded through a child abuse prevention grant.
Not only has the program shown to be successful with children in the social services caseload, it also works with the facilitators’ children, Gustafson said.
“Love and Logic is a common sense approach that provides educators and parents easy-to-learn skills that create respect, responsibility and good decision-making in youth,” according to the Love and Logic Institute information packet.
Love and Logic has two rules. First, adults set limits without anger, lectures, threats or repeated warnings.
“When we describe what we will do or allow, that’s setting a limit. When we tell a child what he/she should or shouldn’t do, that’s a possible fight,” according to the institute.
The second rule is when children cause problems, adults hand these problems back in loving ways.
“We hand the problem back by replacing anger and lectures with a strong dose of empathy followed by the logical consequence,” according to the institute.
The classes are divided by age groups, early childhood, ages 7 to 12, teens, and educators and other professionals.
For example, a guide to help kids solve their problems lists a five-step method:
• provide a strong dose of empathy and listen.
• ask “What do you think you are going to do?”
• when they shrug their shoulders, ask, “Would you like to hear what some other kids try?”
• give them two or three possible solutions. After each, ask, “How will that work for you?”
• allow them to learn from the happy or sad consequences of their choice.
The class teaches one-liners that parents and teachers can use to avoid getting hooked into arguments with children, guidelines for helping with homework, tips for getting household chores done, tips for taking the mayhem out of mornings, and enforceable statements.
The county paid $1,000 to train six social workers to be facilitators. However, none of the facilitators get paid for what they do or for the training. They receive comp time, instead, Thomas said.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• allowed the social services department to advertise for another part-time office support person.
• approved a first-ever contract with Hutchinson Community Hospital for $1,369 a day for 72-hour holds of mentally ill patients. This is $400 a day more than what the Willmar Treatment Center charges the county, but the Hutchinson hospital does much business with Meeker County, Gustafson said.
• agreed to hire two more social workers by June 1, 2009 to manage cases of mentally ill people. PrimeWest will be paying for the two extra employees.
The county will have a significant increase is handling cases for people with dual diagnosis, significant physical illness, head trauma, behavioral problems, and high use of hospitals and emergency rooms. PrimeWest sent a list of 47 people in this category, complex case management. The county is currently handling nine of these cases.
McLeod County will have 70 similar cases, and Renville County will have 32, Thomas said.
Another program for the less seriously mentally ill begins July 1, but social workers don’t know how many cases they will have. There are 738 children in Meeker County already served by PrimeWest. The state estimates that 11 percent of the population has mental health issues, so Thomas calculates there will be at least 73 children in the program. There’s no way to guess how many adults they will have, she added.
• approved a county burial for $1,850. This brings the number of county burials this year to 15, a record number for one year, Gustafson said.
• listened to a report from Gustafson about the Minnesota Social Services Association delegate assembly. The group opposes any cuts in state or federal funds for social service programs, and lobbies to reinstate funds already cut, Gustafson said.