Utahns who want to improve their parenting skills or get practical answers to family problems will have an opportunity Sept. 17 at the Utah Conference on Strengthening the Family.

Participants of the conference, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cottonwood High School (5715 S. 13th East), will be able to choose from a number of workshops and lectures.Keynote speaker is Abigail Van Buren, "Dear Abby" to the 8 million who read her in newspapers across the country. Richard and Linda Eyre, experts on children and families, will be guest speakers.

Utah First Lady Colleen Ban-gerter conceived the conference as a way to help the state's families improve their parenting and communication skills as well as to prevent family-threatening problems like child abuse and neglect, and substance abuse.

Workshop topics include: how to improve discipline and structure, helping children do better in school, improving parent-child relationships, reducing family stress, family economics, strengthening communications, preventing substance abuse, family mental health, creating quality time with dad, the single-parent challenge, survival skills for parents of teenagers, family councils, reunions and marriage enrichment.

Workshops will be led by doctors, educators, social workers, therapists, authors and experts from around the country.

Pre-registration is encouraged. The fee is $10 for the first family member and $5 for each additional member up to $20. The fee covers conference costs and lunch. To register, send checks payable to the Governor's Office, State Capitol, Salt Lake City, UT 84114.

A limited number of scholarships are available for those who find it financially difficult to attend the conference. To find out about scholarships, call Utah Issues, 521-2035.