Evidence-Based Parenting Classes Reach Families Who Can Benefit Most

“My mom is different now": @GetINChicago funds parenting skills classes in high-risk neighborhoods Tweet This

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“My mom is different, and now we do more things together.”

Across Chicago, parents of high-risk youth are building their parenting skills—and words like these show just how great that improvement feels for their children.

B-PROUD and Parenting Fundamentals are evidence-based parenting programs, built around effective approaches to improve skills for parents of high-risk youth. Through support from Get IN Chicago, a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to address issues related to community violence, these programs are available to families in diverse neighborhoods throughout the city.

In November 2015, Get IN Chicago announced a second year of funding for the parent leadership program to three organizations: Family Focus, Metropolitan Family Services and Youth Guidance.

With this renewed support, the organizations have expanded their effort to reach families who can most benefit from extra support. Staff increased outreach at local schools and community locations; hosted sessions after work hours and on the weekends; and made new partnerships with youth programs, food pantries and social service providers.

By the end of April, they had already engaged 250 parents in Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Roseland and West Englewood.

Dushunda Henderson, left, leads a B-PROUD parent leadership class at Chicago Youth Centers. In addition to CYC’s South Shore classes, three other agencies offer the evidence-based parenting program in Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Roseland and West Englewood.

The B-PROUD and Parenting Fundamentals curricula form the heart of the program, but each organization also offers additional special events, workshops and supportive services. For example, one organization also enrolled a number of parents in GED, job training and financial literacy classes and helped place graduates in jobs.

But each program shares common goals: graduating at least 80% of participating parents; increasing positive parenting knowledge; and building skills in child development, nonviolent discipline, communication and problem solving.

“At first I was hesitant and ignored your calls to schedule a one-on-one,” said one parent who participated in the program through Metropolitan Family Services. “Now I have a better relationship with my 16-year-old daughter; we are enjoying each other and communicating. Parenting Fundamentals is the best thing that has happened to me!”

Another parent in the program at Family Focus explained, “I realized that if my children will achieve in life, I need to understand them, be there for them. I also learned that my children’s future depends on the environment I will provide them at home.”

A parenting skills teacher talks to group of adults in a classroom at Chicago Youth Centers
A class of graduates from Metropolitan Family Services’ Parenting Fundamentals program. The initiative’s goal is to graduate at least 80% of participating parents, increasing their skills in child development, nonviolent discipline, communication and problem solving.

For program leaders, the impact has been been clear to see.

“During a particularly challenging parent/teacher conference, one of our parents expressed feeling empowered to advocate for herself and her family—and noted that she felt more connected to the school community,” reported a staff member at Youth Guidance.

A fourth organization, Chicago Youth Centers, finished its first year of providing the B-PROUD program to the South Shore community in May. Parents spent the year practicing how to foster social-emotional learning at home with their children, handle conflict effectively, balance love with discipline and foster ongoing, cooperative communication.

“I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed these parenting workshops these past few weeks,” a participant at Chicago Youth Centers shared. “I am going to be sad when these weeks are up, because I am applying everything that we are discussing.”

Adapted from a story originally appearing in the Get IN Chicago newsletter. Learn more and sign up to receive updates in their online newsletter archive.