There’s a saying that it “takes a village to raise a child.” One would be hard-pressed to find someone who knows that to be true more than Gatha Green, Parent Education Director at the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana.

Green’s role is to provide parent education to Region 8 in an effort to reduce incidents of child abuse and neglect. Referrals for this critical service come from other social service agencies, judges, the Department of Children and Family Services, lawyers, and child development centers. Parenting information is also presented at or local churches, libraries and schools.

In one of the nation’s poorest regions, Green is setting a foundation to raise awareness about parenting education for everyone, not just those who are less fortunate.

According to Green, parenting education is a stigmatized service because it implies that those it serves are unable to understand, implement or sustain proper parenting techniques. Green looks to reverse that stigma, and wants all parents to know that there is something to be learned by every parent, no matter their economic or social circumstance.

“When parents learn to prioritize and consider their wellbeing, children can be successful. We tend to target the at-risk group because of poverty, however, many poor children are successful because of nurturing parents, who in spite of being impoverished maintained a stable, organized, and consistent environment,” she said.

Working with local partners United Health Care and the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund, Green is helping young parents by educating them from the start of pregnancy, through child rearing, with healthy pregnancy and parenting courses.

The Monroe native has a history of working with well-known nonprofits including the Wellspring, United Way, the Salvation Army and Healthy Start. During a five year span from 2002-2007, Green made 15 trips to Washington, D.C., to seek resources and funding to improve infant mortality rates in north Louisiana.

After living in New York and Chicago, Green finds her place back in northeastern Louisiana, following her call to service.

“My impoverished beginning in life was rich with the intangible luxuries,” she says. “There is nothing that I truly wished for other than to have an opportunity to gain knowledge. Along the way the environment that I lived in groomed me for the mission of social work.”

Green travels across northeast Louisiana providing parenting services at the Children’s Coalition’s headquarters in Monroe and at various partner sites.

The Jus4Me program helps teen mothers prepare for motherhood through school-based parenting classes. Students within the program have gained essential knowledge from Green.

“Working with Ms. Green has really helped me because I’ve learned a lot about what I need to know about parenting,” said Joh’nesha Gatson. “The sessions show me that being a teen and a parent is not easy but can be done.”

Results like Gatson’s keep Green positive and upbeat about the services she provides.

“Parenting is a mission to me so it is at the heart of everything that I do for our community. My greatest strength as a parenting educator is providing a nurturing, empathic approach to sharing information. I also believe in the dignity and worth of every human being. When a situation or concern is presented I can focus on the parent’s strengths,” Green said.

Her educational background and certifications are impressive and allow her to provide various services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work/sociology and a master’s degree in human services with a specialization in social and community services.

Green’s certifications are used to curb abusive and neglectful parenting practices; provide seminars on how to raise a confident, resilient child; help parents target common childhood behaviors; and even help minority populations with specific and unique cultural parenting issues.

With all of her success, Green covets not the awards or accolades, but the results she sees in her classes.

“I have not received any great awards, but what I have earned is the privilege to serve many families—including my own—and that has been the greatest reward.”

Those interested in gaining knowledge and skills about parenting may call 323-8775 for more information.