UC trains welfare recipients
Researchers at UC are supplying homeless shelters with educational videotapes to share with low-income families in Contra Costa Country. The Welfare Reform Act requires welfare recipients to take training in life skills, including parenting.
“I believe that we can give parents a little break by providing them the opportunity to learn at their own pace, space and convenience,” says Jagjeet Johal, UC Cooperative Extension consumer economist in Contra Costa Country. “They can watch the videos at their leisure and call us if they have questions.”
Although the video viewers don't receive credit to comply with the reform act, the videos prepare them for independent living, says Merlin Wedepohl, executive director of Shelter Inc. Finding a job is the primary goal for most homeless people so the shelter trains them in subjects such as computers. But they also need life skills, Wedepohl explains, skills that many of us learn from our parents — nutrition, money management, shopping, cooking, parenting and conflict resolution. “We provide ongoing training and educational services and Jeet's videos fit right into our programs at no cost,” Wedepohl says.” They provide wonderful training.”
The 10 videos promoting parenting skills were produced by Johal and Dorothy Cudaback, UC Berkeley human relations specialist. They give tips on goal setting, money management, instilling values in children by example, discipline techniques, and how to teach children through play.
The videotapes have been broadcast on cable television 146 times in Contra Costa Country to a potential viewership of 290,785 households per show.
By testing the parents at the homeless shelter before and after they watch the videos, the researchers hope to find out how people learn parenting skills.
In a previous study conducted with 140 low-income parents in Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Solano counties, the participants said they wished to have class discussion, and additional information from the instructor, Johal said.
At the homeless shelters, people can watch in groups or individually, then discuss with the instructor. They can also call Johal if they have questions. She hopes to follow up to see if any behavioral changes result from watching the informative videos.