Prevention Plus: Parent circles

Since 2005, a year in which several teens died tragically from substance-related causes, the Ridgefield Community Coalitions Against Substance Abuse (RCCASA), co-chaired by our first selectman and schools superintendent, has sponsored parent education programs aimed at helping parents foster positive socio-emotional development in their kids and minimizing risky behavior.

The first such program, for parents of fifth-graders, focused on the risks associated with adolescence and on substance abuse prevention. Over time RCCASA has expanded its offerings and now offers “circles” at three transition points — kindergarten, fifth grade and eighth grade — in which parents can discuss development issues associated with each stage with small groups of their peers, facilitated by a mental health professional. A circle for high school parents will be piloted in spring 2018.

Kindergarten, or K-Circles, emphasize building resilience and a growth mindset*; Fifth-Grade Circles address the challenge of simultaneously juggling the need to maintain boundaries with the need to maintain a positive relationship with one’s teen and Eighth-Grade Circles address specific issues such substance abuse, social media concerns and preparation for intimate relationships.

A new group of kindergarten circles will be kicking off this month, with the next group of fifth- and eighth-grade circles following in the winter and spring, respectively.  For more information or to register for a kindergarten circle, contact Doug Barile,, program coordinator.

For more information about RCCASA visit the page on the town website:

Doug Barile is a licensed marriage and family therapist who lives and practices in Ridgefield and coordinates the Parent Circle Programs for RCCASA.

*Copyright by Carol Dweck, Mindset, 2006