The Central Counties Training Coalition has been sponsoring workshops locally for several years, but the one it has planned for Monday and Tuesday on “Building Strong Kids and Strong Communities” could be its largest ever.

“A conservative estimate would be 150 people,” Doak Givan, executive director of the Family Services Center and one of the volunteers with the coalition, said. “We have registrations from 65 to 70 people, then when you add the local folks and others who will register at the door, it could easily top that.”

A major attraction for this workshop is J. Michael Hall, a nationally recognized expert on families and parenting who will offer two programs on Monday.

Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. each day, with the workshops scheduled to open at 9 a.m. All sessions will be held at the Early First Baptist Church, 103 Garmon Dr. Participants may attend either or both days. Cost for one day is $35, or both days for $60.

Hall will speak on “Finding the Strengths in Struggling Families” Monday morning, and “The Strengths of Strong Mothers and Fathers and Why It Matters to Communities” on Monday afternoon.

Tuesday’s sessions will offer participants a variety of topics being led by multiple presenters. They include “Ethics for Professionals” by Ralph Kantor, “Dealing with Self Injurious Behaviors” by Rebecca McMurray, “Positive Impacts of Mentoring” by Michael O’Teeter, “Internet Safety” by Sgt Ernie Rivera of the Texas Attorney General’s office, “Drugs and Kids” by Lynn Beard, “TwoGether in Texas” marriage initiative by Rusty McLen, “Child Support Issues” by Thomas Cruz of the attorney general’s office, “Talking to Your Kids About Sex” by Terri Medlock and “Medicaid 101 and CHiP” by Kevin Orr and Joanne McGraw.

Givan said speakers like Hall and Canter that the coalition is bringing to the workshop are frequent headliners at regional and national conferences, and area professionals interested in their comments would otherwise need to travel great distances to hear them.

“The fees for the workshops can run $125 or more plus the cost of travel,” Givan said. “Having the workshop here allows more people to attend, and those can be staff in addition to the administrators who might be the only ones an agency can afford to send a long distance.”

Von Bates, who is also on the Family Services Center staff, said continuing education units are awarded for this workshop, which helps boost participation.

“All professionals are required to have a minimum of six hours of ethics training each year,” Bates said, “and this will help meet that requirement. It will help all licensed professionals.”

“We wouldn’t be able to do that without our alignment with Howard Payne University,” Givan added.

The coalition usually tries to offer four workshops a year, with perhaps two of them being at no cost, Givan said. But even the ones with a fee are reasonable compared to workshops elsewhere.

“They are usually low cost, but it depends on what the speaker charges,” Givan said. “We have training coalition volunteers who are willing to jump in and do a lot of work on these events. We have a free one planned for December, but the details haven’t been finalized.”

Bates said the combination of recognized expert speakers in the industry combined with presentations by professionals who are involved in directly providing services every day is proving to be a popular combination.

“I think it’s going to be well-received, and anything you can do locally will benefit our economy,” Bates said.

“The topics are all fascinating, too,” Givan said. “There may be some people wishing they could go to two sessions at the same time on Tuesday. I think the one on Internet safety will be of special interest to those dealing with children. It’s of interest to me as an adult. Our belief is, that if you strengthen the family, you strengthen the community.”

Hall is a former special education teacher, gifted and talented teacher and principal for middle and intermediate schools. After realizing he was spending more time raising other people’s children than his own, he left his job as principal and became an advocate for stronger parents and more fathers’ involvement in public education.

He has spoken to more than 10,000 fathers and parents at schools and at regional and national conferences.

Hall has a Bachelor of Science degree in general agriculture and a Master of Education, both from Abilene Christian University. He is now based in the Fort Worth area.