University of Pittsburgh
May 4, 2000



Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, May 5 -- Where can parents find mentors or tutors for their young children? How can one get assistance with a landlord dispute, or help in dealing with the stress of poverty?

For many Allegheny County residents, the answers are found at one of the 28 Family Support Centers, whose staff members are trained by the University of Pittsburgh's Office of Child Development. Those centers, and the concept behind them, are the focus of the sixth annual Family Support Conference on Monday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Sheraton Station Square. The event is for parents, neighborhood leaders, social service professionals, child care workers, foundation representatives, and elected officials. Cost of the conference is $40 per person. To register, or for more information, call 412-624-7425.

This year's conference theme is community building—local residents strengthening their neighborhoods by identifying their challenges and opportunities, and joining forces to help solve those problems, using community resources. As the families learn how to help themselves, they contribute to the community, improving the quality of life for themselves and others.

Conference keynote speaker John P. Kretzmann is co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute, a research project of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. He will address the conference at 9:30 a.m. on "How to Strengthen Our Communities From Within." Kretzmann has helped to develop community-oriented public policy at the national, state, and local levels. He works with community-building leaders across North America to conduct research, produce materials, and otherwise support community-based efforts to rediscover local resources and mobilize citizens to help solve problems.

Allegheny County Chief Executive James C. Roddey will address the conference at noon on "Healthy Families and Healthy Communities: Plans for the Future." Throughout the afternoon, conference participants may attend any of 30 workshops, on topics ranging from "The Impact of Violence on Children" to "Community Church Initiatives."

In addition to the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development and School of Social Work, other conference sponsors include the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, the City of Pittsburgh, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.