Exchange Club Center
for the Prevention of Child Abuse
The staff and volunteers of the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse understand that being a parent can be stressful. They stand at the ready to share information and experiences in a non-judgmental way with parents who are at risk of abusing or neglecting their children.
The Exchange Club adopted the prevention of child abuse as a national project during its annual convention in 1979, establishing the National Exchange Club Foundation for the Prevention of Child Abuse.
Locally, seven Butte County Exchange Clubs and the Corning Exchange Club cosponsor the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of Northern California, Inc., which operates as a program of the Parent Education Network. The Exchange Club Center is also a member agency of the United Way.
Since 1987, the Exchange Club Center has provided a voluntary in-home parent-aide program to assist parents who are highly stressed or feel ill equipped to meet the demands of parenting, and who are not receiving parenting support from other agencies in the community.
The Exchange Club Center added additional services in 1989, including offering parenting conferences and classes, professional training, referral and community awareness presentations.
Today, though, the Parents Plus program is the cornerstone of the Exchange Club Center. Parents Plus family support workers visit the homes of the participating families each week to share ideas on communication, discipline, self-esteem and relationships.
Many of the program participants are self-referred. Perhaps they’ve been involved with the county’s Children’s Services division in the past and don’t want to be involved in the system again but still feel they need some help.
The Parents Plus program is open to families with children 12 years of age and younger. Parents with substance-abuse or mental-health issues must be in a treatment program or under the care of a counselor.
The family support workers are trained professionals who help families get back on their feet and minimize the chaos that’s causing stress. But, as professionals, they must follow professional guidelines and maintain a little distance. It’s not the support worker’s job to be a friend.
That’s where trained parent mentors come in. Mentors take on a different role with wider boundaries. In addition to offering support, they can offer friendship.
Barbara Elam, Exchange Club Center coordinator, is always looking for a new mentors to work with the Parents Plus program. Mentors are asked to volunteer one to three hours a week for a year. Mentors receive individualized training that includes “shadowing” a family support worker during home visits.
Elam said volunteering as a parent mentor can be very rewarding.
“The part that’s really gratifying to me, and I think that maybe drives other people, is that relationship that you build, that trusting relationship that comes from seeing someone on a regular basis and talking about real life,” she explained.
In addition to needing more volunteers, Elam would love to have an additional family support worker on staff to help handle the caseload.
“We do have a waiting list of about 13 [families] right now, which is a lot,” Elam explained. “But what that shows you is that there’s a need. There’s a great need to have some more funding come into this program right now.”
The Exchange Club Center’s major annual fundraiser is the Golf Fore Kids golf tournament, now in its fifth year. This year’s event is scheduled for Monday, June 25, at Canyon Oaks Country Club. The tournament format is a best-ball scramble. The entry fee of $95 per person includes greens fees, cart, range balls, lunch, dinner and prizes. Golfers can register as an individual or as a foursome. Sponsorship opportunities ranging from $100 to $1000 are still available as well. For more information, contact the Exchange Club Center office.