Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting
Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting


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HES Extension

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Building Strong Families


Connecting for Children

Connecting for Baby



Kim Allen, Ph.D., MFT
Director, Center on
Adolescent Sexuality,
Pregnancy and Parenting


Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting

Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting

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Connecting for Children

Connecting for Children is a collaboration between Central Missouri Community Action Head Start and University of Missouri Extension to help families that are Head Start-eligible build healthy parenting relationships. Funding for the program was provided by a Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families grant.

Participants must meet the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Pregnant or have a child under school age

  • Single or in a non-violent relationship

  • Live in one of the following counties: Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, or Osage

  • Income-eligible for Head Start (130% of poverty level)

  • English or Spanish speaking

  • Participation is voluntary

The program includes all-expense paid Singles’ or Couples’ retreats at a local hotel. Couples’ Retreats are facilitated by couples trained in Love’s Cradle, a curriculum developed by Mary Ortwein and Bernard Guerney. Couples learn healthy communication skills to help make their relationships stronger. Singles’ Retreats are facilitated by two individuals who are trained in both Love’s Cradle and P.I.C.K. – How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk(ette), a curriculum developed by John Van Epp. Singles’ Retreats are designed to help participants build skills to make good choices about future relationships.

The program also includes Relationship Workshops that may be held during the week or on weekends. When held on Saturdays, 4 topics are covered over three Saturdays. Workshop topics include: getting to know oneself, having fun together, couple communication, conflict management, healthy relationships, positive discipline, managing money, finding work, complex family relationships, handling anger, and dealing with depression and mental health issues.

Couples that attend the first Retreat and participate in at least 8 of the 12 workshop topics are also eligible to attend a follow-up all-expense paid Retreat where they learn additional relationship skills.

Each participant is given a $25 gift card for every 8 hours of participation, as well as cash reimbursements for child care and travel expenses.


The Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting is part of University of Missouri’s College of Human Environmental Sciences (HES) Extension and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

We receive grant funding from MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, MO Department of Social Services and the US Department of Health and Human Services.



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