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[MAY 1, 2004]  URBANA -- All families face challenges, obstacles and difficulties. Why are some families able to bounce back and recover while others don't? This is the underlying question behind two new projects that have been funded at the University of Illinois through the Cross-Campus Initiative for Promoting Family Resiliency.

The "Relationship Project" will take a program called Parents Interacting With Infants and adapt it to the specific needs and efforts of Crisis Nursery. U of I faculty in the Department of Special Education, the School of Social Work and graduate students will work alongside staff at Crisis Nursery to conduct parent-child groups and home visits with clients. Families who seek help from Crisis Nursery may be dealing with one or more problems, including parental stress, court-related issues, home crises, domestic violence, family mental health and substance abuse.

"The Relationship Project is being developed with special sensitivity to the needs that parents and children experience in the midst of a crisis," said Connie Shapiro, professor of family studies in the Department of Human and Community Development at the U of I and co-chair of the Cross-Campus Initiative for Promoting Family Resiliency. "Utilizing family strengths, Crisis Nursery professionals and UI graduate students will reach out to local families, using what they learn as they work with these families to strengthen and further refine the interventions that form the core of the Relationship Project."

A second project seeks to decrease the isolation of culturally diverse families in the community. Representatives from the College of Nursing, Family and Graduate Housing, and the Department of Human and Community Development at the U of I are partnering with a number of local family and health care agencies with the primary goal being to educate students and health care providers on how to better meet the needs of their multicultural clients.

"Although rich in many resources, Champaign-Urbana is still lacking sufficient health, mental health and parent education services for low-income and underrepresented groups, including international families," said Laurie Kramer, professor of applied family studies in the Department of Human and Community Development and co-chair of the Cross-Campus Initiative for Promoting Family Resiliency. "We want the outreach, research and educational projects that stem from this initiative to represent the best new ideas from a variety of disciplines while also being sensitive to families' cultural background."


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These two projects are the first to be funded as part of this U of I cross-campus initiative. Another opportunity to submit proposals will be available in fall 2004.

The Pampered Chef Family Resiliency Program hosted several events this academic year to support the creation of new multidisciplinary collaborations aimed at supporting local families. These events brought together representatives from more than 25 local social service agencies and schools with faculty and staff from more than 35 U of I academic and service units.

The next event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Levis Faculty Center. A panel discussion will be conducted to discuss the current needs of children and families in Champaign County.  Representatives from VOICES from Illinois Children, Project 18, Success by Six, the U of I School of Social Work, the Champaign County Mental Health Board and United Way of Champaign County will report the results of recent needs assessments and will lead a discussion of ways to better serve families and children in our county.

For more information and a complete listing of the funded projects and cooperating agencies, visit http://www.uiuc.edu/initiatives/.

[University of Illinois news release]

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