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|November 8, 2010
Director of Communications
Bristol County Probate & Family Court Probation Department
Offers Life Lessons This Fall
Bristol County Probate and Family
Probation Officer Edward Woods
This Fall, Fairhaven High School students are receiving a lesson in reality thanks to the Bristol County Probate & Family Court Probation Department.
“Life 101: A Lesson in Reality” is an hour and a half interactive presentation designed by Bristol County Probate & Family Court Probation Officer Edward Woods who wanted to reach out to young people who are becoming parents before they are old enough and who are dealing with domestic violence issues such as restraining orders. This course, created by former Probation Officer Victor Melendez and Woods, was first introduced two years ago.
“As a Probate & Family Court Probation Officer, I was becoming concerned about the level of cases regarding children who at the age of 15, 16, and 17 were having children. They didn’t understand the complexity and the expense associated with having children. I wanted to reach out and address the needs of what could be our next wave of litigants,” said Woods. “I want to get to them when they are freshman and sophomores. I want them to know that the decisions they make now are decisions that they are going to have to live with for the rest of their lives.”
Acting Chief Probation Officer Carl Cruz said of the course, “It is important for our Court and Probation Department to take the lead on this issue as we are seeing more and more teenage unwed parents and families in our court. This course offers a hands-on approach for these young people.”
Fairhaven High School Health teacher Jennifer Polochick said the course Woods offers gives her students “a look at the reality of becoming a teenage parent.”
“I believe the course is very effective. It gives the students a real world view of how the choices they make can impact their lives,” Polochick said.
Students who attend Life 101 learn about the Probate & Family Court and the resources offered through probation. Among the topics emphasized in the session are paternity, divorce, guardianship, custody, child support, and restraining orders.
Also as part of the seminar, Woods introduces “Financial Reality,” which demonstrates to teens the amount of child support a parent, earning minimum wage, must pay. For example, a person who works 40 hours a week, $9 an hour, would earn a gross income of $360. Twenty-eight percent or $80 per week is what this individual would pay for child support. After taxes, the weekly pay is $220.
“This is the reality you face if you have children,” Woods warns. “The court is here to ensure that each and every child is financially supported.”
Woods said the purpose of this course is to educate young people about the Probate & Family Court Probation Department.
“I want this to be informative and educational. I want them to get the message that we are here to help. If you need help, you don’t have to be embarrassed,” Woods said. “I want to get teens to think.”
“Life 101” is also slated to take place at Bedford High School and then at Durfee High School in Fall River next semester. Woods said he is also willing to bring the course to any high school in the Commonwealth.