Parent University is a parent-training curriculum that increases responsive parenting and developmental knowledge through parent/child interaction and didactic parent group. We are working with families with children from birth to age 3 and have served 150 families in the past seven years. Parent University consists of three main components:
- Family-style breakfast served by Parent University staff and volunteers
- Parent/child play interaction such as circle time, dialogic reading, and child-centered play
- Parent education through various community partners, e.g., attachment, development, asthma, home safety, safe sleep, etc.
As each family graduates from Parent University, they are encouraged to enroll their child in Early Head Start or Head Start, as appropriate. Additional resources may be recommended depending on each family’s situation. A few parents have asked to return to subsequent cycles as a volunteer or parent mentor. In our Spring, 2017 cycle, four Parent University graduates are co-leading or volunteering. Two of those parents were provided with specialized training and are working with Ms. Liggett-Creel on early childhood programming for caregivers residing in and professionals working in the Promise Heights area. Other program outcomes include:
- Participants who attended the Parent University Program showed a significant increase in responsive parenting behaviors between baseline and post-test.
- Fewer parents reported feeling they needed more help with their child, feeling stressed, feeling depressed and/or feeling little pleasure in things after attending the Parent University Program.
- 24% of parents changed from clinical status to non-clinical status between the pre and post-test.
- There was no significant change between post-test and follow-up, indicating that the change in responsive parenting behaviors was maintained three months after the program ended.
We’re so pleased to hear from parents that the Parent University curriculum is meeting their needs. One graduate told us,
“Sometimes walking in a door is just walking in a door. Other times walking in a door changes your life. That is what Parent University has done for us…it has changed our life.”
Another graduate from Parent University heard traumatizing news during one of the sessions. She came back the next week and said that as horrible as it was to hear the news she was glad that she found out with her Parent University family.
Parent University II
Parent University has expanded to provide intervention for parents of four and five year olds. This program is also held in the community and utilizes the Chicago Parent Program curriculum to address topics such as: child-centered time, routines, and challenging behavior, and managing stress. We are gearing up for our third cohort in May 2017.
Britney Pitts, LGSW