A Class in Domestic Tranquility

June 1st, 2009  |  by  |  Published in Features, May 2009, Multimedia  |  6 Comments

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Diane and Mikel Gilliland say children Hilinaʻi and Kuʻi “usually drag us here.” Fun activities help lessons sink in, like the four R’s recited by Kuʻi: resourceful, respect, responsive, responsibility

It is Friday evening, and families come together for dinner. Parents and their children share a meal. Afterward, toddlers, youths, teens and adults spend time with their peers, playing games and talking story.

But this isn’t your usual pau hana gathering. The families are taking part in FETCH, the Family Education Training Center of Hawaiʻi. Each participant, from youngest to eldest, is learning new, more effective ways to relate to their loved ones and create a positive family environment.

FETCH is the brainchild of Professor of Family Resources Mary Martini and her collaborator, James Deutch, a licensed clinical social worker who lectures in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Students in CTAHR classes participate in the program, dishing out dinner and assisting with activities. Community volunteers are also involved. Their participation holds down costs, allowing program clients to receive a valuable service at an affordable cost while the university students experience family counseling firsthand and learn by serving the community.

FETCH is unique in its coordinated approach to family learning, the organizers say. Each week the parents and children tackle identical concepts—such as respect, cooperation, communication, conflict resolution and problem solving—through age-appropriate curricula.

Parents attend sessions led by the volunteer licensed professionals. The children join one of four age-based groups, where they are guided through the week’s lessons by students enrolled in Family Resources 425, Supervised Training in the Helping Skills. Other Mānoa students sit in on client sessions and help set up and break down the classrooms.

Several graduate students from UH Mānoa and Chaminade University have completed master’s-level internships with FETCH.

FETCH has served more than 300 families in its first five years. More than 90 percent of surveyed participants report that they are very satisfied and would recommend FETCH to their friends and relatives.

The program produces statistically significant improvement in 20 problem areas familiar to many parents, including mealtime, bedtime, tantrums, chores, getting out the door in the morning and fighting in the car.

For additional information or to register for the 12-week program, visit the FETCH website.

FETCH is funded through grants from the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and a federal Serve and Learn Grant through the Hawaiʻi Pacific Islands Campus Compact.

Editor’s note: Adapted from the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources 2008 Impact Report: Diversifying, Sustaining, Strengthening.

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  1. Gay Leah Barfield, Ph.D.,Lic. MFT says:

    June 2nd, 2009at 10:44 pm(#)

    Aloha – this sounds like a wonderful and needed program! I will be looking forward to reading more about it in coming weeks.
    I teach one course a semester in the MA program in Counseling Psych at UHH, on Carl Rogers and the Person-Centered Approach, and on Group Process, as I worked as a colleague of Carl Rogers for many years around the world. I hope that you will be inviting MFTs to join with you as volunteers and as interns for their hours. One of our recent graduate students will be moving over to Honolulu soon,and I hope she will contact you when I tell her of this program. With all good wishes…gay barfield

  2. Jane Phillips says:

    June 6th, 2009at 5:04 pm(#)

    Absolutely delighted to see FETCH and the 4 R’s (resourcefulness, respect, responsibility and responsiveness) alive and very well in Hawaii. Originally based on Alfred Adler’s concepts, Hale O’Ulu and Our Lady of Sorrows School were two institutions that incorporated these concepts in the 1970′s and 1980′s. I don’t know if they still are operating this way but they assisted many parents and children lead more enjoyable and effective lives. The Journal of Individual Education, with Genevieve Painter, PhD as one of its authors, was the touchstone for those of us who were involved in HOU and Our Lady of Sorrows. Aloha and Congratulations.

  3. Larry Holbrook says:

    June 7th, 2009at 9:58 pm(#)

    I have been attending this class since Spring of 2004. I have seen hundreds of families learn the basic skills we all need as parents. All of these families end up understanding the principles of a democratic society starting with families in which they live. This course can lead directly to a reduction in domestic violence by simply recognizing the equal participation of every member of our families. In this day and time, a course like this is an imperative. Attending FETCH will calm your family life and allow you a glimpse of a future that we can offer to our children and be proud of. Larry Holbrook.

  4. RoxAnne Lawson says:

    June 26th, 2009at 6:21 am(#)

    I am an older returning student. I took classes and received guidance from Genivieve Painter and Sally Vernon in the 70′s. Our family grew in positive ways from the experience. I did go to fetch classes and attended a children the Challenge study group at the Suzanna Wesley Center with Pat Lopez. I went on to lead C/C study groups.

    I was thinking of Genivieve Painter recently and googled her. I last visited her in her apt on Kapiolani near the Ala Wai. I wonder if her son Bruce still practices? Did any of you have contact with her?

    I am interested in exploring possibilities with you folks. My vision is to offer Peace Education classes (experintially teaching social skills) K-12, plus a parenting and teacher training courses component. This goal is something that would require many individuals to teach/learn. My philosophy is based on Adlerian Psy ie firm and kind, democratic parenting skills

    I have taught Peace Education on the Waianae Coast using experiential activities to teach conflict resolution. We lost funding due to budget cuts in 1998. Since that time I went back to school and got a 3 year maximum scholarship with Long Island University Friends World Program/a study abroad BA program. I graduated 5 years ago and I am currently looking at a masters program at Portland State in Peace Studies/Conflict Resolution. My BA is in interdisciplinary Studies area of Concentration Peace and Cultural Studies. I was able to document 8 years of work in the schools on the Waianae coast, further curriculum development, and get certified to teach Redirecting for a cooperative Classroom and Redirecting Children’s behavior.

    I have never done the funding piece, my concentration has been on development and application. I would like to learn how to do the funding piece. The director of our program took care of interfacing with the teachers and principals of the schools. We were paid the equivalent of a substitute teacher.

    I grew up in Hawaii and have lived on the Big Island since 1997. For the past 11 years I have worked for The Institute for Family Enrichment(Tiffe)as a Skills Trainer working one on one with student who have autism teaching social skills and enhancing academic learning and I am a puppeteer and tour puppet shows at libraries etc.

    I look forward to hearing from you regarding FETCH and collaborating on some projects. Sincerely, RoxAnne Lawson

  5. A concerned parent says:

    July 5th, 2010at 11:20 am(#)

    Bravo, what a great program!

    This program deals with some of the core issues of our students and their familes.

    In many cases for a child to live healthy and productive life, they must first learn to cope and grow beyond much of the “dysfunction” at home.

    This can positively affect many generations to come.

  6. Brain John says:

    April 13th, 2011at 11:03 am(#)

    I have to say it’s a great program. This can help improve relationships within family members. Hope it can make a great success.