Katy Cares operates to lift up single parents and give them the skills to manage their households and ensure their children have a high quality of life, said Dawid Pieterse, president of the local …
Katy Cares operates to lift up single parents and give them the skills to manage their households and ensure their children have a high quality of life, said Dawid Pieterse, president of the local nonprofit. Pieterse, who holds a doctorate in theology, explained that the group focuses on parenting education and counseling for single parents who have faced physical abuse or other traumas.
“(Katy Cares) started off as a nonprofit, providing housing and trauma-informed counseling services for single mothers, specifically,” Pieterse said. “We have moved to providing trauma-informed counseling through three different programs … where we approach the family holistically.”
Those programs – dubbed Ready, Set, Go!, Grow Through Life and Safari Adventures – assist family members of all age groups deal with the challenges single-parent households face, Pieterse said.
The Ready, Set, Go! program is directed toward single parents, both mothers and fathers, who are facing the daunting task of raising children on their own. There is no cost to enroll in the eight-module program. Participants learn parenting skills that help them balance between the need for discipline and compassion for their children by establishing routines and boundaries that help both the parent and their children become successful. Each class is six people that, in essence, form a support group, Pieterse said. While they cover the program materials over a year to 18 months, they also support one another in job hunting, babysitting and other ways that any other group of friends would.
“The weekly group sessions are three hours, then they each have at least an hour or two of individual counseling,” Pieterse said.
In the Grow Through Life program, teens aged 11-15 learn skills to cope with living in a situation where their parents no longer live together and one may be absent entirely, Pieterse said. The program helps them gain perspective on the situation, develop communication and basic life skills and make an overall smoother transition from adolescence into adulthood.
To round out the holistic approach, Pieterse said Katy Cares has partnered with Attack Poverty to create the Safari Adventures program for elementary-age children. Similar to Grow Through Life, this program focuses on helping participants learn communication skills. Additionally, the program helps them understand self-worth, how to handle difficult social situations, and how to use their emotions in a healthy manner.
“What we say is we’re trying to holistically approach this family and work with every member in the family with the same principles so that they can grow (and) develop to the next level, being a single-parent-led family and overcoming the trauma and the challenges,” Pieterse said.
This new three-tier service model is expected to help Katy Cares reach more families in need of assistance, Pieterse said. Rather than providing housing and by expanding training, the program will be able to impact about 120 families a year rather than the 30-40 families under the old model. That efficiency will help the nonprofit, which is dependent upon the community’s donations, have more reach and do more overall, he said.
Pieterse said more than 5,000 single parents are in the Katy area with an estimated 12,000 in dysfunctional domestic situations. Providing tools and resources for single parents and victims of abuse is the main goal of the program.
Amy, a Katy Cares client whose last name is not used in order to protect her privacy, said the Katy Cares program has been incredibly useful to her and her family.
“It’s nice to have a group of other women that are in the same position in life that I am in trying to accomplish the same goals with their kids,” Amy said. “It’s really nice to know you’re not alone – like, really nice to know that. It’s given me the tools to know how to parent my boys on my own.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the woman in the accompanying photo. That information has been corrected in the caption above.
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