America’s moviegoers are flocking to Shazam, the DC Comics production about Billy Batson, a 14-year-old boy who lives with a group of children in foster care. The film has received great reviews – not only for the movie’s action and humor, but for the positive message the film promotes about foster families.
In so many ways, foster families are real-life superheroes. Being a foster parent (or, as they are called in California, a resource parent) requires love, dedication and skills. But while love and dedication are inherent parts of a potential foster parent’s character, how does one prove they have the skills?
Shortly after joining UC Davis Health last year to lead parenting skills workshops, Chavarin started getting questions about where parents could get training in child passenger safety, water safety and infant-safe sleeping.
California requires resource parents to be certified in those skills, but too often it means parents have to scramble across the region in search of classes, missing work and still not getting all the right certificates.
So Chavarin approached UC Davis trauma prevention coordinator Christy Adams and community education specialist Cathy Morris, with an idea: provide all the trainings parents are asking for as part of a one-stop-shop for resource families. The trainings would be after hours so parents wouldn’t need to miss work, and they would be free.
Together, they decided to offer the training once a month.
It took some time to pull together all the necessary information, create the new classes and get approval from the right government agencies. But they launched the new class at the start of 2019.
In January, three families were certified.
In February, it grew to nine.
In March, there were 14 families.
Earlier this month, Chavarin provided the training to 20 families in English and another 15 families in Spanish. Lately, he’s attended national conferences, helping to spread the word about how UC Davis Health supports the state’s resource family program.
Chavarin reflects on his work with the good humor you might expect in a superhero movie.
“We’re a mini but mighty team,” Chavarin said.