KidsMatter – Helping parishes support families in need

Thursday August 31st 2023

The Church of Ireland Board for Ministry with Children and Families is partnering with KidsMatter to bring its parenting programme to parishes.

With thanks to the Priorities Fund, 11 parishes – one from each diocese – can be enabled to access KidsMatter facilitator training and support, so they can run the programme for families in their local community. Whilst all parents need support, the KidsMatter programme has been created specifically to be effective and accessible for families who have low incomes and limited support networks.  

There are two programmes: KidsMatter and BabiesMatter. Each parish taking part in the training can decide which programme best suits their current ministry with local families. The facilitator training will take place online over four days and ideally each church will put forward two people to take part. These facilitators will then run the programme at least twice during the following year.

As this is a peer-led programme, those taking part as facilitators do not need to have any previous experience of delivering training, there are no flip charts or PowerPoints in sight! The programme is designed to be accessible to those with limited literacy skills, so it is more conversation and relationship-based rather than ‘school-style’ teaching. The programme itself has six sessions with a taster session at the start and an additional booster session a month after completion. 

With a rise in children under 15 being referred for mental health problems and fast dwindling resources to meet the need – particularly in the area of early intervention and especially for those children raised in financial adversity – it is increasingly vital that the Church find ways to support parents and carers in communities. Through the KidsMatter programme, churches will offer useful parenting tools for families to grab hold of and stay alongside them as they grapple with those tools, offering genuine community and relationship. 

Sarah Fretwell in Mount Merrion Church (Down and Dromore) has completed her facilitator training and is currently running the pilot scheme to help encourage future parishes to run the programme.

She said: “KidsMatter has impacted the relationships with local families, as I think they recognise that I care for their own well-being and families’ well-being and not just providing a weekly tots’ group for their children. I think this programme is essential for our local community, as it gives an opportunity to build small groups of parents that can help and support one another. 

“The course material is beautifully laid out and evidence-informed which has given me confidence in delivering it. I would say, ‘You need to do Kids Matter!’ The programme is easy to follow and provides lots of personal reflection.  It gives parents a space to feel heard and to work through things in a supportive environment.” 

For further information, you can view the video HERE.

If you feel that this programme would be of particular benefit to your parish, then we ask you to complete the expression of interest form which can be accessed via this LINK.

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