Starting A CK Program

The following information is an overview of the basics of starting a Confident Kids program. You will find a complete version of this material in the introductory pages of the Confident Kids Curriculum books. It is also available in booklet form, How to Begin A Support Group For Elementary Age Children, which you may request from the Confident Kids office.


Step #1: Build A Strong Foundation

Determine the Target Audience
Who do you want to reach with your Confident Kids ministry? High stress families in your church? In your community? Both? Single parent families? Families from your Christian School? Children whose parents are in Recovery Groups? All of the above? It is important to be precise about who you are planning to invite to your Confident Kids program.

Recruit Leadership
Successful Confident Kids leaders exhibit the following characteristics:

  • A deep love for children.
  • A concern for hurting children.
  • High degree of responsibility and dependability.
  • Although not required, leaders who have personally dealt with issues related to growing up with a painful childhood tend to have a level of understanding and sensitivity to hurting children that is crucial to the Confident Kids program.
  • Some experience in working with children in group or class settings is helpful, but not necessary.
  • Able to handle children's sensitive issues with empathy and wisdom.

The Leadership Team
Your Confident Kids team will be made up of the following leaders:

1. The Program Administrator. This person is the overseer of the entire program. Ideally, this is a paid staff member or someone with easy access to the administrative resources of the organization (i.e., office equipment, publicity vehicles, scheduling and room allocations, knowledge of potential volunteers, etc.). The responsibilities of the Program Administrator include:

  • Introducing the program to the sponsoring organization.
  • Securing the time and place for the meetings.
  • Recruiting and training the facilitators.
  • Arranging child care for younger siblings.
  • Publicizing the program.
  • Registering families into the program.
  • Securing all needed supplies.
  • Maintaining records.
  • Evaluation and follow-up.

2. Small Group Facilitators. The facilitators work directly with the kids, using the fully detailed Confident Kids curriculum. Each facilitator is assigned a small group of three to five children (four is recommended), and then grouped with two or three other facilitators and their kids to form a room. It is recommended that new programs begin with three facilitators and twelve children. You can add more as you gain experience.

3. Parents' Group Leader. It is helpful if this person has had some experience in teaching or leading parenting groups, but not required since the Confident Kids curriculum contains a fully detailed lesson plan for parents' groups, as well. The responsibilities of the Parents' Group Facilitator include:

  • Maintain a full knowledge of the Confident Kids curriculum.
  • Conduct the Parents' Group, using the Confident Kids Parents' Group Guide.
  • Attend all facilitator trainings and meetings.
  • Be involved in parent conferences and/or referrals, when necessary.


Train the Leaders  
Training of support group leaders generally takes place in three stages:

Stage I: Orientation. The first stage in the training process is a "no-obligation" orientation, to which you can invite anyone who wants to explore serving in a CK group. During this time, you will cover basic information about the program and what will be required of them as facilitators. You can also distribute application forms to those who are interested in pursuing this ministry. The Confident Kids Curriculum books and video training programs all include a sample Facilitator's Application form.

Stage II: Confident Kids leaders need training in the following areas:

  • A complete introduction to the CK curriculum. This includes both a discussion of each unit's content and a complete familiarity with how the curriculum works (best taught taking them through a mock CK group meeting).
  • Small group facilitation. Skills are needed in listening and responding, keeping the group on track, how to recognize behaviors that indicate a need for professional help, and your church or organization's policy for handling sensitive issues (such as procedures for reporting abuse).
  • Classroom management. Skills are needed on how to maintain discipline and control, provide smooth transitions between program segments, and the importance of well-prepared lesson plans.
  • Team work. Everything you do during training sessions should contribute toward developing a team spirit. Plus, facilitators need to learn how to work together to plan and evaluate sessions, discipline consistently, solve problems, and pray.

Stage III: On-the-Job Training. Training does not stop once the sessions begin. Leaders will learn the most by having regular meetings immediately following all sessions. Use this time to de-brief the meeting, problem solve any concerns, plan for the next meeting, and pray together.

Set Policy for Handling Sensitive Issues
Most of the time, sharing in Confident Kids groups is straightforward and predictable. However, from time to time children or parents may reveal matters of a sensitive nature. Decisions about how these matters will be handled must be made before you begin a support group program so you will not be caught off-guard, should the occasion arise in your program. Many churches now have a church wide policy stated in writing for how volunteers are to handle sensitive issues. If your church does NOT have policies set in writing, encourage your church leadership to do so before beginning a Confident Kids program. You can contact the Confident Kids office for more information about handling this vital subject.


Step #2: Recruit Families and Set Up the Groups

Publicize Your Program
Publicize your program in as many of the following ways as seems appropriate. All publicity materials should include the purpose of your program and a clear statement of registration procedures.

  • Announcements in church bulletins and newsletters, school newsletters, etc.
  • Distribution of informational brochures to selected audiences, i.e.; families with elementary age children, single parents, families living within a 5 mile radius of the sponsoring organization, etc.
  • Contact teachers and counselors and invite them to make referrals.
  • Articles and advertisements in your local newspaper(s).

Register Families into the Program
Advance registration is necessary to control the size of the groups, gather information about the family, and be sure the parent understands the commitment that is necessary. Advance registration is handled through a phone interview. Following the phone interview, send a release form to the parents for them to sign and return to you. For legal reasons, it is wise to keep these signed release forms on file for approximately two years. The Confident Kids Curriculum books and video training programs all include a sample phone interview guide sheet and a sample parents' release form.

Set-Up the Children's Groups
In a support group program, how children are grouped and the size of the groups is crucial. In Confident Kids, a "small group" is comprised of one facilitator and no more than four to five children, and the "large group" is no more than three to four small groups in one room. You can have many rooms running at one time, but never place more than sixteen children in a room.
Children are assigned to a small group and remain in that group throughout the eight weeks of a unit. When assigning children to small groups, follow these guidelines:

  • Do not place siblings, or other family members, in the same small group.
  • Age grade the groups as closely as possible.
  • Use same sex groups, as long as doing so does not violate the first two guidelines.

Don't Forget The Parents' Group
As stated earlier, an important part of the Confident Kids program is to involve parents in a parents' group, unless they are involved in another support group or parenting class meeting at the same time. In general, parents are quite willing to attend the parents' group, especially when it is presented to them as an important part of the program. Normally, only one parent group is offered, with all parents meeting together. Also, it is a good idea to provide child care for younger children, since many who come to Confident Kids groups are single parents.

Welcome Everyone to The First Session!
The first meeting is a crucial one. Since most of the children attending will have been enrolled by a parent, the kids will be apprehensive and possibly even resistant. The primary goal of the first meeting is to put children at ease and help them begin bonding to the group. Each of the Confident Kids Curriculum books contains an optional first session, in which all age groups meet together to be introduced to the Confident Kids program. This lesson is important the first time you offer a program in your church, when everyone is new.


Step #3: Wrap Up the Unit

The Closing Program
The session plan for the last meeting in each unit brings everyone together for a closing program and party. Since much relationship building has taken place during the eight weeks of the unit, saying "Good-bye" is important. Be sure any parents who have not been in your parents' group are invited to this session.

Schedule Additional Units
It is very likely that at the end of this 8 week unit your groups will want to continue meeting. By using all five of the Confident Kids Curriculum units, your families can stay with you for as long as forty weeks. Churches that have used Confident Kids for a long period of time simply cycle through all of the units, adding families at the beginning of any unit, as room allows. Start by inviting current parents to enroll their children for the next unit. Then, add new families to fill any spaces left by those who may choose not to return, or are created by the addition of a new facilitator.

A word of caution! Space in the Confident Kids groups is always limited to the number of facilitators you have in your program. Never comprise the four children to one facilitator ratio -- trust us on this one. If more families want to be involved, place them on a waiting list until space opens up.


REMEMBER:

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You can find more information on all of these subjects by reading the Introduction Section in any of the Confident Kids curriculum volumes.