WORK PRODUCTS:

PEOPLE & ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED ON THE TEAM: Community Volunteers and Advocates, Children’s Home Society of NC, Cone Health Center for Children, Cone Health Pediatric Teaching, Greensboro Housing Authority, Guilford County Health Department, March of Dimes, Parents as Teachers Guilford County, YWCA High Point

COMMUNITY PROBLEM: Not all families have parenting education that would help them prepare their child for kindergarten.

CHALLENGE GOAL: Understand best practices in parenting education, what’s available today and what gaps exist in Guilford County.

READY/READY FRAMEWORK ELEMENT ADDRESSED: SUPPORTED FAMILIES > Sufficient Quality Supports Available for Families > All new parents connected to parenting supports

PERSPECTIVES ENGAGED: 

  • Surveyed and consulted with 25 agencies/organizations that provide parenting education services to learn about what resources are currently available and where gaps exist;
  • Asked parents in the Family Action Learning Team and a Centering Pregnancy® class for feedback about what topics they need to prepare children for school success; and
  • Asked health care providers about their experiences in the field related to parenting education.

ACTIONS TAKEN & ASSOCIATED BEST PRACTICES:

Defined the local problem: 

  • Defined parenting education according to the National Parenting Education Network framework (DOC) and developed a vision for Guilford County in which parenting education is embedded in every touch point, i.e. OB/GYN appointments, pediatrician appointments, early education/preschool settings, etc.
  • Reviewed available local data about kindergarten readiness and parenting education, i.e. feedback from family meetings, Family Action Learning Team (ALT).
  • Learned about parenting education resources available outside of Guilford County to gain better understanding of what’s happening nationally

Assessed fit and capacity of local efforts: 

  • Identified 25 programs with parenting education focus or components.
  • Identified key questions the team wanted to understand about local programs: who is served/not served, how families get connected, content focus, where services are located and how often provided, if programs are evidence-based/evidence-informed, what measures are used to assess whether services are meeting needs for school readiness, etc.
  • Team members surveyed agencies/organizations and made inquiries to get as much data as possible.
  • Analyzed data, identified assets and gaps and started making recommendations for next steps.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

Parenting education assets: Many parenting education resources are available. Across all demographics, desire expressed by Guilford County parents to be “better parents” and to help children succeed.

Parenting education gaps:

  1. Cultural norm that parenting is an individual responsibility instead of community priority.
  2. Parenting education not fully embedded into the system, i.e. available where families already are.
  3. Current services don’t always match what parents say they want/need and what’s currently available, i.e., “real-time” parenting advice/support.
  4. Not all families get connected (some by choice, families who speak languages other than English and Spanish).
  5. Difficult to make and track referrals (labor intensive, waiting lists, general knowledge of what’s available, communication among agencies, etc.)

SIGNIFICANT WINS: 

  1. Vision for parenting education in which high-quality information and assistance is embedded throughout the system, i.e. when/where families need it.
  2. Previous/current systems building work around parenting education has made it easier to collect data and to get responses.

RECOMMENDATIONS: 

  1. Convene ongoing Work Group to develop and implement strategies to support the vision for parenting education resources embedded in the system. The team would evaluate optimal community approach that aligns with Guilford County’s parenting education vision, determine where services might overlap, what should be expanded and where, how referrals are made, tracking progress, what might be scaled/implemented to achieve better outcomes.
  2. Work to change mindsets to normalize and de-stigmatize parenting education since all families, regardless of education, socioeconomic status, etc. say they need help with parenting.
  3. Educate families, service providers and medical professionals about available parenting education resources and keep resource guide updated. (Note: OB/GYN and pediatricians are key audiences to focus on, since they are most trusted sources of information for families.)
  4. Increase use of (and support for) the Family Connects program (formerly known as the Universal Newborn Home Visiting Program), a home visiting program offered to all new mothers. Make this a “gateway” to parenting supports AND support the program so it functions at peak utilization. (Note: Today, 75% of new mothers receive a visit within 13 days of birth. Review disaggregated data, build pipeline for all future parenting education connections (in-person, by-phone connections, Skype, etc.)
  5. Create more “real-time” opportunities for parents to gather, lead, learn and share experiences (social media, Circle of Parents groups)
  6. Conduct public awareness campaign about the role community plays in supporting parents/families in preparing children for kindergarten and that parenting resources are available to help.