Parent Leadership A Civic Strategy for Children and Community • Child health, learning and safety outcomes need significant improvement. • Parents are marginalized as a constituency for children and as a resource for child program and policy decisions. Bolster the skills and voice of parents as an authentic constituency for children. The Parent Leadership Training Institute of the Connecticut Commission on Children To enable parents to become leading advocates for children. Parent leadership is the capacity for parents to interact within civic society with purpose and positive outcomes for children. The cornerstones of PLTI are respect, validation and a belief that when the tools of democracy are understood, parents will actively enter civic life. Retreat to develop group and define mission ↓ 8-10 weeks on parent leadership with focus on voice, difference, values and problem definition ↓ 8-10 weeks on how change occurs for children including best practice, data analysis and model policy ↓ A community project to practice the learning within a community context ↓ Graduation at a local civic setting or State Capitol ↓ Alumni projects and trainings Understanding personal history & impact on leadership Using benchmarks & outcome measures Thriving & working with diversity Assessing & defining problems – thinking critically Using the media & public speaking Forming useful coalitions & building community Working with & engaging the opposition The functions of the family Becoming familiar with city, state & federal laws Understanding policy & municipal budgets Help parent become the leaders they would like to be for children. Expand the capacity of parents as change agents for children. Teach parents the tenets of democracy and their rights to use the civic process optimally. Develop communities of parents that support one another in skills development and parent action. “Sometimes we feel that we are not heard because we are ‘just parents.’” – Parent “I wanted to learn as many leadership skills as I could and help my community at the same time.” – Parent Develop communities of parents within child-focused institutions such as early care and education, schools, and Title V programs. Facilitate parents’ capacity to offer input into community efforts on the school, neighborhood, regional and state level. Facilitate systems change for parental involvement with increased utilization of parents in policy and process decisions. “PLTI helped me realize that I had the information to share with my community, but not the right language.” – Parent “I learned that the power of one person can make a difference.” – Parent • Community matters. • Relationships are basic to change. • Parents lead children. • Intergenerational environments offer tutelage, spirit and natural mentorship for children. • Diversity strengthens collective action. • Both fathers and mothers are necessary to change. • Parents are consumers and should be pivotal leaders in child and family policy. • Democracy is the bridge linking the public, parents and cultures. • Expectation brings response. • Dignity is the backdrop to parent involvement for children. • Parents are a large and ignored constituency, ready to act on behalf of children and families. • Parents provide invaluable insights about family needs and preferences. • Parents can broaden public support through their informal and formal networks. • Research shows that parent engagement improves school performance and community safety and reduces healthcare costs. • Influence public policy decisions • Present the consumer voice • Assure that programs work • Spread the word about goals and outcomes • Mobilize communities • Bring diverse sectors together for children “I want to learn more about kids and how I can organize a group that organizes people. I want to get more people involved.” – Parent There is a critical gap between parental desire to effect change and civic capacity. – What are the crucial variables to parent leadership success? – What leads parent empowerment to be enduring? And – What are the significant processes to bring in parents interested in child outcomes? • Knowing that each parent’s involvement matters • Feeling supported, respected and acknowledged • Assuring diversity among participants, facilitators and speakers • Receiving hands-on training and family supports such as dinner and child care • Holding trainings that can be applied to a variety of settings and policies • Acknowledging efforts and inspiring next steps • Developing realistic and attainable expectations and goals • Creating a safe space where parents feel comfortable and truly valued • Looking at progress at every step of engagement • Developing authentic parent ownership in the change process • Create both horizontal and vertical strategies An informed and active citizenry Benchmark 1: knowledge and interest Benchmark 2: participation and commitment Political order based on social equality and protection of individual rights. Benchmark 3: social and economic equality and opportunity Benchmark 4: tolerance and diversity Political order based on community and individual values and needs. Benchmark 5: our “commonwealth” Health 19% Other 28% Safety 13% Health Safety Education 40% Education Other Race of Participating Parent Leaders Mixed 6% Other 2% Asian/Pacific Islander 3% White 31% Native American 4% Hispanic/Latino 31% Black/African American 24% PLTI’s participating parent leaders in 2012-13 were racially diverse with nearly one-third Hispanic/Latino (31%), White (31%), or Black/African American (24%). Income Level of Participating Parent Leaders $85,000+ 16% Less than $20,000 24% $60,000 to $84,999 12% $40,000 to $59,999 19% $20,000 to $39,999 29% Twenty-nine percent of PLTI’s participating parent leaders in 2012-2013 reported a total household income of $20,000 to $39,999, and almost a quarter (24%) reported a household income less than $20,000. Knowledge of State and Local Government 100% 95% 93% 89% 90% 87% 87% Percent of Parent Leaders 80% 70% 60% 50% 46% 45% 48% 37% 40% 30% 20% 18% 10% 0% Do you know how state government budgets are made? Do you know how state laws are made? Do you know who your local representative for city government is? Pre-Survey Do you know who your elected representative for the State House of Representatives is? Do you know who your representative for the State Senate is? Post-Survey Before the training, fewer than half of PLTI parent leaders in 2012-2013 understood how state government budgets or laws are made, or who served as their local or state congressional leaders. After PLTI, 89% to 95% of them had knowledge of these processes or individuals. For example, only 37% understood how state laws are made before the training, compared with 95% after completing the training. Level of Skills or Frequency of Activities 1=I don't know what this is; 2=I don't know how; 3=Never; 4=Yearly; 5=Monthly; 6=Weekly; 7=Daily Skills and Activities 6.00 5.00 4.00 4.03 5.24 5.06 5.05 4.12 4.09 5.02 3.89 4.83 3.78 4.51 3.52 3.00 2.00 1.00 0.00 Advocating for an issue Community organizing Consensus building skills Assessing strengths and Developing projects or Using outcome data to or public policy assets in your community programs to address determine if a program or needs in your community project achieved what it started out to do Pre-Survey Post-Survey Before the PLTI training, parent leaders indicated they rarely (from “never” to “yearly”) advocated for an issue or public policy, engaged in community organizing activities, used consensus building skills, assessed strengths and assets in their community, developed projects or programs to address community needs, or used outcome data to determine whether a program was successful. After completing the training, parent leaders showed an increase in their use of skills and participation in these activities to “monthly” or nearly “monthly.” Civic Literacy and Empowerment Level of Civic Literacy and Empowerment 1=None of the time;2=Some of the time; 3=Most of the time; 4=All of the time 4 3.28 3 3.01 2.80 2.16 2.11 2.93 2.21 2.77 2.53 2.17 1.86 2 1.53 1 0 I know what to do when problems arise in my community. I get in touch with my I understand how public I understand how service I make sure I have regular I am able to get elected officials when policy affects my systems for communities involvement with people information to help me important legislation or community. are organized. who are providing better understand my ordinances affecting my services in my community. community are pending. community. Pre-Survey Post-Survey Before PLTI training, parent leaders indicated limited involvement with people who provide services or with elected officials about important legislation, and limited understanding of how service systems are organized in their community, how public policy affects their community, or how to obtain useful information to understand their community. After completing the training, parent leaders showed an increase in their understanding and involvement with community services and elected officials to “most of the time” or nearly “most of the time.” Participation in Civic Activity 100% 88% 90% 79% Percent of Parent Leaders 80% 73% 70% 60% 64% 55% 61% 53% 53% 53% 50% 40% 34% 34% 27% 30% 20% 10% 0% Attended a town council, board Spoke or made a presentation at Used the media or social media Contacted an elected official at Circulated or signed a petition to of selectmen, school board, or a town council, board of (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to the local, state or federal gather support for a civic issue other community meetings selectmen, school board, or express a viewpoint government of importance to you other community meeting Pre-Survey Engaged in other civic or community activities Post-Survey Before PLTI training, fewer than half of the parent leaders had presented at community meetings, contacted local officials or circulated a petition for an important civic issue. After completing PLTI, at least half reported engaging in these activities. 1. Family civics is not a single action by a single agency, but a framework to assure the parent voice as a diverse and critical constituency for children. 2. Parents can be taught the civic skills to lead deeply and gracefully, and to impact change for children and youth. Parents can be very strong assets and family policy partners. 3. We are a nation based on service rather than civics. We service the family and neglect to partner in a shared strategy, for improvements in child health, safety and learning.. 4. Though we rely on the customer in market choices and trends, we do not rely on the customer in child policy. 5. Once parents have the skills to improve contexts and to partner for children, they become a strong consumer voice for equity, quality and access and a true gauge for what works. 6. Parents are able and willing to cross race and class boundaries for improved child outcomes. 7. It is as important to teach agencies how to work with parents as partners as it is to assure that parents have a civic toolkit for child policy. 8. Family policy, with the family behind it, offers depth and public accountability.