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A 12-Week Course in Domestic Tranquility

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 12/31/2008 More stories >>

Girls cooking

Nicole Mau, Char Tovey, and Malia Soque learn how to have fun and contribute to family well-being by helping with meal preparation.

On a Friday evening, families come together for dinner. Parents and their children share a meal. Afterward, toddlers, youths, teens, and adults spend time with their peers, playing games and talking story. But this isn’t your usual pau hana gathering. The families are taking part in FETCH, the Family Education Training Center of Hawai‘i, and each participant, from the youngest to the eldest, is learning new, more effective ways to relate to their loved ones.

FETCH is the brainchild of Family Resources professor Mary Martini and her collaborator James Deutch, a licensed clinical social worker who lectures in the college. The program’s clients receive a valuable service at an affordable cost while university students experience family counseling firsthand and learn by serving the community.

FETCH is unique in its coordinated approach to family learning. Each week the parents and children tackle identical concepts—such as respect, cooperation, communication, conflict resolution, and problem solving—through age-appropriate curricula. The parents attend sessions led by licensed professionals who volunteer their time, while the children, in four age-based groups, are guided through the week’s lessons by students enrolled in Family Resources 425, Supervised Training in the Helping Skills. Additional Manoa students sit in on client sessions and assist by setting up and breaking down the classrooms and serving the dinner. Several graduate students from UH-Manoa and Chaminade University have completed master’s-level internships with FETCH.

FETCH has served more than 300 families in its first five years. More than 90 percent of surveyed participants report that they are very satisfied and would recommend FETCH to their friends and relatives. The program produces statistically significant improvement in 20 problem areas familiar to many parents, including mealtime, bedtime, tantrums, chores, getting out the door in the morning, and fighting in the car. FETCH volunteers from CTAHR and the community have created a remarkable learning experience for parents, children, and students. For additional information or to register for the 12-week program, visit