As the number of single parent homes in the U.S. continues to rise, COMPACT Family Services is developing an online curriculum for women facing unplanned pregnancies as well as for single parents.
COMPACT is the nationally accredited family services agency of the Assemblies of God. The ministry operates programs that help kids with disabilities, train congregants to assist vulnerable children and families, place kids in foster care and for adoption, train foster parents, and operate a maternity home and living centers for children.
Based in Hot Springs, Arkansas, COMPACT opened a second location in Missouri in 2017 to expand its ministry. Missouri Programs Director Ashley B. Grant, 31, says the agency hopes to minister on a more national scale.
“Putting our curriculum and our program in a digital and accessible format is one way to start doing that,” Grant says.
The course comes out of its Highlands Adoption and Maternity Services, a maternity home offering prenatal care and parental training to minors. Girls can choose to follow the adoption track of the program, or the new parent course.
The maternity home formerly served females ages 13-30. But Arkansas state law changed to permit assistance to either minors or adults, not both groups. Highlands recognized a greater need for minors.
In recent years, Arkansas started to allow Highlands only private placements or placements through the state’s foster care. This change further diminished Highland’s referrals, and the agency’s acceptance is restricted to girls who meet a certain criteria.
Because the ministry isn’t able to serve as many as before, COMPACT is taking all of its content from the new parent curriculum and putting it online for people across the country. The course will be available as a free download app called Highlands Connect, with a desktop version on the Highlands website.
The class will feature videos, PowerPoints, and a self-guiding workbook. While available for individuals, the course also will include a leader’s guide for pastors, small groups, or pregnancy care centers.
“As the product of a single mom, I can say this curriculum is a game changer,” says Assemblies of God General Superintendent Doug Clay, whose father died when he was 9 years old. “It is loaded with principles that will assist moms in launching their children into the awareness of their calling.”
The 12-week course has four units of three lessons each. Unit one focuses on self-care and finding identity. The second element teaches women to help kids navigate change, learn about what causes trauma, and how to protect children from that trauma. The third guides women to set personal, spiritual, and career goals that are simple and doable. Participants learn about God’s goals for their lives, accountability, and planning for the unexpected. The final unit teaches practical parenting skills such as setting boundaries, feeding kids healthy meals, and keeping kids safe.
The Highlands Maternity app will launch on Feb. 1. COMPACT hopes to spread the news of the app to church leaders as a resource.
“We would love to see churches use this training to be able to come alongside vulnerable children and families to really make a difference, know what the need is, and meet that need appropriately,” says Grant.