Parenting support and mortgage help discussed at council meeting

Monica McFarland of Darlington County Head Start discussed the Parent Café family strengthening program at the Jan. 9 meeting of the Darlington County Coordinating Council.

Monica McFarland of Darlington County Head Start discussed the Parent Café family strengthening program at the Jan. 9 meeting of the Darlington County Coordinating Council.

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Darlington County Coordinating Council convened a meeting Jan. 9 at Medford Nursing Center in Darlington, and members heard presentations on subjects ranging from parenting support groups to federal aid for mortgage holders injured by the housing crisis.

Monica McFarland of Darlington County Head Start spoke to the group about the Parent Café, a peer-to-peer group that offers parents a free five-week course packed with edifying information and open conversation about the challenges of raising children. Each session of the Parent Café is led by a trained facilitator, and the program is sponsored by the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

The program model focuses on five factors, including building resilience, learning how to accept and provide social and concrete support, and building emotional competence (the ability to express one’s inner feelings) and social competence (the ability to take others’ perspectives into account and learn from past experiences),
The Parent Café model also aims to provide parents with knowledge of child development, allowing them to better craft activities and learning experiences for their child’s optimal mental growth.

“A parent is their child’s first teacher, and should remain their best teacher throughout life,” said McFarland.
McFarland said the Parent Café is open to any parent wishing to learn and/or offer their perspective, and anyone interested should call facilitator Tameka Philips at (803) 605-9849.

Cliff McBride of South Carolina Legal Services reminded council members to speak to their clients about a program offering relief to homeowners who may be struggling with their mortgage payments. SC Help is a federally funded program designed to save financially strapped homeowners from foreclosure.

McBride said SC Help received $295 million in federal money three years ago, and the program is supposed to continue through 2017.

“The program is basically free money for those people who have a hardship,” said McBride, listing job loss, income reduction, medical problems, and loss of a spouse among the qualifying hardships.

SC Help has five different programs that help people modify their mortgages, lower their loan payments, pay a lump sum to get caught up on late payments, facilitate short sales on homes they wish to leave, or fund relocation to a new residence.

McBride said the SC Help program is open to anyone suffering a mortgage hardship, regardless of income level. He said that while it might seem too good to be true, it is a legitimate avenue to mortgage relief and he encouraged people to investigate the program and take advantage of this help while it is available.

“We do not want to send this money back to the federal government a year and a half from now… we know there are people who need it,” said McBride.

For more information on this program, visit

Darlington County Coordinating Council is comprised of representatives from a wide array of human service organizations, including medical facilities, government, employment agencies, charities, and family support foundations. To learn more about the DCCC, visit their website at

Author: Jana Pye

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