Local support group aims at supporting parents with special needs

By Olivia Willoughby

A local support group aims to help parents with special needs.

ParentsWithPromise (PWP), 810 South Fourth St., is dedicated to supporting parents with special needs and helping them in court cases in which they may have their parental rights terminated, said director Denice Mock. These special needs include developmental disabilities and trouble with cognitive understanding.

“It’s not because they don’t care about their children,” she said. “It’s because they don’t understand the social concerns and safety implications.”

In order to prevent children from being taken away due to unintentional neglect and cognitive misunderstandings from their parents, Mock said PWP works with the parents to help them understand how to take proper care of their children.

Prior to PWP, Mock said she assisted families facing these issues and risks. Despite this, she said she did not get enough time to fully help them.

“I spent a number of years through agencies and it’s very sad and frustrating as a counselor because we can’t take the time we need to help them on a continuing basis,” Mock said.

Mock also said there are only three states that have support services that cater to parents with special needs. Those states include California, Iowa and Wisconsin. PWP to DeKalb makes it the first support in Illinois, Mock said.

“It’s a huge frustration that there are no services willing to teach them or willing to address what their specific needs are,” Mock said.

Mock’s daughter, Lauren, also said the lack of this kind of service can be disappointing.

“I think because it’s so unique and special needs are not met, it’s definitely a disappointment from a holistic perspective,” Lauren Mock said. “I think this is definitely a unique service that can be offered for DeKalb and Illinois in general. We see the benefit to work in a community where there hasn’t been a service provided to this specific population.”

PWP executive assistant Asheli Mann said services usually focus on children with special needs, not parents. After PWP’s opening March 29, she said she hopes for the better treatment of parents who are at risk of losing their children.

“We hope there will be less court systems and trauma in that area,” she said.

Mann also said PWP will use video cameras during their parenting classes to help parents understand any problems they are having but might not notice during the class.

“With the cameras, parents can go back and understand what they’re doing wrong,” she said. “Instead of sitting in a group of 40 other adults, it’s on a more personal level.”

The cameras may catch certain types of behaviors counselors think the parents should change or work on, Mock said. With this personal guidance, Mock said they will be able to understand and correct their mistakes in order to become better parents.

Mann said PWP has the capacity to serve more than 100 clients and hope to bring down the number of parents who are losing their children due to cognitive misunderstandings.

“Every parent has the potential to turn into promise,” Mann said. “Bringing this to DeKalb will help there to be less children being taken away because parents will get the education they need to take care of them.”