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Dr. Arlene Andrews, Professor Emeritas, USC School of Social Work Lisa Potts Kirchner, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, FamilyCorps

Dec 24, 2015



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  • Dr. Arlene Andrews, Professor Emeritas, USC School of Social Work Lisa Potts Kirchner, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, FamilyCorps
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  • Parent mutual support Involves voluntary parent-to-parent interaction Is peer-to-peer Is reciprocal Is nonjudgmental Occurs in diverse ways (groups, one-on-one, electronically, other ways)
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  • Self help Social support Natural helping networks Trained parent helping needy parent Parent education or skills development
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  • Can be learned Requires facilitation at first, by trained peer leaders
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  • Formal family services may help parents cope, learn, heal, nurture, and manage in many ways; But when formal parenting programs are done and gone Parental mutual support and self-help are all there is. How do we best strengthen families capacity to help themselves and one another?
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  • The value of parent mutual support has solid theoretical grounding, e.g.: social ecology and systems theory, cultural sensitivity, family strengthening, social learning, self-determination and empowerment, and reciprocity and collective efficacy. Source: Andrews, AB. (2014). Addressing Child Maltreatment through Mutual Support and Self-Help Among Parents. In Korbin, J., & Krugman, R. (Eds.) (pp. 411-429). Handbook of child maltreatment. NY: Springer.
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  • Social environment: Individual, family, community, organizations, policies Chronosystem: Time people change, mature needs & assets change Systems change, adapt, positively and negatively parts of the system, ie., various parents in it, are changing together Mutual support helps parents adapt positively
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  • Parents learn to be parents within their various cultures Historically, parents highly value mutual support within their culture, particularly when they have faced oppression
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  • Mutual support does not assume a parent has deficits and needs improvement Mutual support acknowledges risk but focuses on assets Parent mutual support becomes an asset, available when the parent needs it not as confined to schedules and limited interactions as formal services Higher levels of parental support are associated with lower levels of parental stress, ineffective parenting, and child difficulties (McConnell et al. 2011). With support, families are stronger.
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  • Parents still report, when they interact with service workers, they are often excluded or treated as objects in need of correction. They feel an imbalance of power between service worker and parent. Parents report the mutual support relationship is a safe place to share pain or distress without fear of sanctions. They find hope, acceptance, and belonging (Davidson et al. 1999, Hogan et al. 2002).
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  • Social learning theory predicts and research confirms people learn from one another and become open to new ideas. When parent learn in the context of mutual support, they are more likely to retain new knowledge and practice new skills (Dunst et al. 1994).
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  • Peer mutual support among parents often leads to personal transformation development of advocacy and empowerment skills. (Kurtz, 1990) Parents who help one another report the benefits of mutual aid they feel joy in sharing, faith in strengths, courage to accept and stay in the mess and chaos of mutual aid, and curiosity to seek and understand diverse views and feelings. [Steinberg, 1997; 2010]
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  • Parental mutual support groups (distinct from professionally- led parent support groups or training) can reduce child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency (Polinsky et al. 2010, Nelson et al. 2001) and, for parents in the child welfare system, promote self-esteem, confidence, less reliance on services, fewer child placements, and agency savings (Budde & Schene 2004, Cameron 2002, Cameron & Birnie-Lefcovitch 2000, Thompson 1995).
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  • Parent leaders who support one another and participate in service system system governance leads to enhanced client commitment, program relevance, and positive child and family outcomes (Andrews et al. 2003, Buck et al. 2004, Cunningham et al. 1999, McAllister & Walsh 2004, Taub et al. 2001, Resendez et al. 2000).
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  • Formal parent leader training is necessary but rarely sufficient to produce effective parent leaders. Trained parent leaders who sustain their leadership are likely to have engaged, mutually supportive relationships with one another ( Polinsky 2007).
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  • The professionals might ask: Will you help me understand how you and your friends and family support one another? How may I partner with you to strengthen your support?
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  • ONLY EVIDENCE BASED PARENT SUPPORT GROUP PROGRAM MODEL IN THE COUNTRY Evidenced based to measurably strengthen a caregivers protective factors,decrease the likelihood of future child maltreatment, and reduce impact of adverse childhood experiences Since 1979, Parents who participate in a PA program, regardless of whatever other services were being provided, were much more likely to have their problems resolved than clients who did not participate Cohn, 1979, P.495
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  • Started in 1969 by a courageous and tenacious mother, Jolly K. with Leonard Leiber, Social Worker Child in foster care Frustrated with traditional therapy Developed mutual support and shared leadership model Testified in Congress about her personal journey Inspired millions all around the world Launched a worldwide Network Interviewed in the LA Times, Life Magazine, 60 Minutes and Nightline Original Parent Leader
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  • Recognize the value and expertise of Parent Leaders Advocate and model shared leadership between parents, agencies and policy makers to ensure evidence-based results that benefit families Advance an innovative conceptual framework and ambitious research agenda on Parent Leadership and Shared Leadership that promote the strengthening of families and communities
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  • National Parent Helpline ( 1-855-427-2736) Training and Certification of Parents to participate at governance, management and service delivery level within the system of care State Parent Leadership Team/ National Parent Leadership Team formed from Parent Group Leaders in Groups Shared Leadership in Action for Agencies/Organizations Jolly K. Awards State Parent Leadership Month in February Stand with Families Campaign preserving the family voice advocacy campaign in August of 2015
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  • The 2007 National Outcome Study of Parents Anonymous conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice. Reduced Child Maltreatment Outcomes Reduced Risk Factors Increased Protective Factors
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  • Reduced Child Maltreatment Outcomes 73% of Parents Decreased Their Parenting Distress 65% of Parents Decreased Their Parent Rigidity 56% of Parents Reduced Use of Psychological Aggression Towards Their Children For Parents Who Reported Using Physical Aggression, 83% Stopped Physically Abusing Their Children
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  • Increased Protective Factors 67% of Parents Improved Their Quality of Life For Parents Starting Out Needing Improvement: 90% Improved in Emotional and Instrumental Support 88% Improved in Parenting Sense of Competence 84% Improved in General Social Support 69% Improved in Use of Non-Violent Discipline Tactics 67%Improved in Family Functioning
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  • Reduced Risk Factors 86% of the High Stressed Parents Reduced Their Parental Stress 71% of Parents Reduced Their Life Stressors 40% of Parents Reduced Any Form of Domestic Violence 32% of Parents Reduced Their Drug/Alcohol Use
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  • Baseline of Survey: Due to the time frame involved, participants were surveyed if they met the following criteria: Participant was a SCDSS referred adult attendee within Charleston County Participant attended a minimum of 6 weeks of Parents Anonymous Parenting Support At least 12 months time had passed since Participants first group meeting attended Of the 85 adults who attended a PA Group within Charleston County over the past 12 months, 46 of those adults met all three criteria above. Of the 46 meeting criteria, 37 attendees were located and surveys were completed (80% relevant population surveyed).
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  • Of the 37, 35 (94.5%) reported that the facilitator for Parents Anonymous navigated them to services that they addressed voluntarily, and included : Mental health (19 Participants) Legal assistance (31 Participants) Wrap around services (26 Participants) Triple P (17 Participants) Concrete Needs met, such as food bank or clothing (25 Participants)
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  • Of the 37 surveyed, 16 (43%) had an Open DSS case when they first attended and their children were already removed from the home when first attended. Of the 16, reunification of children into their home occurred in 15 ( 94% ) out of
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