10:04 AM

Community Impact: Family Ties

Formed in 1989, Family TIES of Gainesville works to break the cycle of abuse and neglect in families through parenting and intervention programs that teach adults how to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children.

“We serve families who wish to improve their parenting skills as well as families who are incarcerated or mandated by Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) or the court system,” said Executive Director Dee Dee Mize. “We had one case where a mom’s children were taken from her. The husband was in a drug cartel and had abused their daughter for five years. The mother had been sexually abused as a child, was married at 14 and divorced at 16.”

Such circumstances can seem impossible to overcome, but through family counseling, individual counseling, parenting classes and one-on-one parenting instruction, Family TIES can help turn things around.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” Mize said. “Sometimes it takes a village to raise an adult, too.”

Parenting classes at Family TIES focus on communication skills, bonding and teaching what a healthy relationship is, not just with children but with partners as well, according to Mize.

“We work on discipline options, teaching parents about time out, taking away toys or privileges,” she said. “We do classes on social media, on proper ways of listening and responding to children, and on dealing with substance abuse issues that lead to neglect.”

Parenting 101 classes are for soon-to-be parents or caregivers for those with children ages 0 to 18.

“We work with families on how to encourage their kids,” said Mize, pointing out statistics that reveal that in a typical day the average adolescent hears 432 negative statements versus 32 positive. “So, they really need more positive reinforcement.”

Programs are offered for teenagers whose parents are enrolled at Family TIES and include a teen group that helps adolescents with coping skills, self-esteem and how to deal with bullying. Parenting classes for Spanish speaking parents are offered, and one-on-one parenting classes are available to families in crisis.

Family TIES of Gainesville works with close to 2,000 families yearly, according to Mize who says parenting classes typically take about six months to complete.

“We try to be methodical as we proceed — and patient,” Mize said.

Family TIES serves Banks, Barrow, Franklin, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson and Lumpkin counties. A recent $15,000 grant from the Jackson EMC Foundation helps support parenting classes.


Photo: Executive Director Dee Dee Mize chats with clients during a parenting class for Family TIES of Gainesville.