UMN Extension Center for Family Development Provides Varied Programming

University of Minnesota Extension

By Sara Croymans, Extension Educator, Family Resiliency

January 2021

Below I have highlighted a few programs from the UMN Extension Center for Family Development. Information about additional Family Development educational offerings can be found on our Family News feed online.

Sign up to receive text messages supporting parents and caregivers

Parenting can be stressful during the best of times. Throw in a pandemic, uncertainty in school and work schedules, financial worries and civil unrest, parenting can be overwhelming. We know that you’ve got this, and we want to support you during this time.

The University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Family Development is offering a free text messaging program that supports parents and caregivers of children birth to 18 years of age, called U Got This.

We invite parents and caregivers to sign up to receive two text messages a week throughout the school year on topics of health and nutrition, developmental affirmations, parenting and school engagement, mental health and well-being and financial capability. These text messages are designed to support you and your family as you are faced with making many and varied daily parenting decisions. You can choose to receive messages in English or Spanish.

Sign up to receive U Got This text messages. This program is free, but be aware some fees may apply depending on your cellphone service provider.

Disaster and hazard readiness webinar series

I’m excited to announce the 2021 Military Family Readiness Academy (MFRA) series, Disaster and Hazard Readiness in Action. As a continuation of the 2020 Academy series, we will build on the basic concepts of disaster and hazard management, including impacts and responses, planning, collaboration, and mitigation.  

Through eight online learning sessions, this series will prepare service providers to support the readiness and wellbeing of military families (and all families) in disaster and hazard preparedness in areas such as caregiving, children and family needs, nutrition, and finances. Dialogue will be a central component of this series—lessons learned, resources, and insights will be shared across panelists and speakers, and participants are encouraged to contribute as much as possible. UMN Extension Educator Sara Croymans will co-facilitate the February 10th Financial Preparedness in Disaster Preparedness session with Sarah McNelis from FEMA. 

Continuing education credits will be available throughout the series. Please visit our homepage to learn more about each session and the credits offered.  Join us for this entire series and bring your unique experiences dealing with disasters and emergencies to the discussion.  Your perspective will help others as they face similar challenges.

The MFRA series is provided by the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN), a collaborative project between the Department of Defense and Cooperative Extension. The University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development provides leadership for the MFLN Family Transitions concentration area.

Extension educators help MCTC staff teach personal finance to students

Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC) students often encounter significant financial challenges. In particular, students from low-income backgrounds learn lessons about money as their families navigate crises of poverty, a lack of financial resources and financial emergencies. These situations teach students strategies for surviving poverty, but they do not equip students to be financially secure and manage money in a way that will help build a solid future. Many college students are making big money decisions on their own for the first time and personal financial literacy education helps inform their choices and set them up for success.

MCTC approached UMN Extension Center for Family Development for assistance with personal finance professional development for their staff. To help build the capacity of the college’s Trio Starting Point staff, a team of Extension educators provided a five part train the trainer series on the Dollar Works 2 curriculum. Session topics included: making money decisions, building money management skills, managing income and bank accounts, understanding credit and debt, and targeting money issues.

“I learned a lot, and incorporating stories is important to make sure we are using both oral & print communication. Also, the ‘I’ statements and helping to clarify values is vital in our communication with students so it was good to review how this might work,” said one participant.  Another remarked, “I Learned to consider the grief cycle when working with students in financial crisis. I will work on using ‘I’ statements when communicating with students in financial literacy work.”

When asked to describe how they plan to use or implement the materials with their clients/students, participants identified: advising sessions with individual students, workshops with topics and multiple students, and classroom with groups of students. As one participant stated, “One of our goals is to teach financial literacy to our students. I will refer to the Dollar Works materials to assist students with financial topics relevant to their specific financial situations.”

The Dollar Works 2 curriculum is currently being updated with an anticipated release date of summer 2021.

This article was written by Sara Croymans, MEd, AFC, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, Family Resiliency. She can be reached at [email protected] or 320-226-6052.