Service providers can foster a more trusting relationship when they approach parents as the experts on their own children, listen openly to their concerns and perspectives, and seek solutions with them (rather than provide solutions to them). Parents engaged in this way are more likely to invite and welcome providers' support in evaluating needs, developing goals, and identifying effective ways to strengthen the family and provide care for children. Service providers can also promote self-confidence and empower parents to take a leadership role in their communities and the agencies with which they are involved.
Use the following resources to learn more about parent engagement and leadership, including State and local examples.
Circle of Parents®
A collaboration of Prevent Child Abuse America and the National Family Support Roundtable, Circle of Parents provides training and technical assistance around parent leadership and resources on parent involvement.
Be Strong Families
Describes the principles of Parent Cafés, events where parents and caregivers come together to share the challenges and rewards of raising a family, and offers several resources to create and support cafés.
Offers a free online community for parents to talk about ways to develop and expand their leadership skills and opportunities. The network also provides resources to community members and policymakers who currently work with or are interested in working with parent leaders in shared leadership.
Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
Describes parent partner programs reviewed and rated by the Clearinghouse for their effectiveness engaging parents in meeting their safety, permanency, and well-being goals.
Partnering With Parents
National Alliance of Children's Trust & Prevention Funds
Teaches how to build and sustain effective parent partnerships and explains the stages of relationship development. It also outlines ways parents and contribute to a program, ways and the benefits of linking with organizations in the community, and more.
The Power of the Parent's Voice
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau (2018)
Provides guidance for agencies on identifying ways to engage parents and involve them across the system as well as lessons learned from practitioners.
What Are the Key Elements for Sustaining, Expanding, and Spreading Parent Partner Programs?
Casey Family Programs (2020)
Offers suggestions for ways to sustain and expand parent partner programs from staff members of seven different parent partner programs across the country. Their suggestions deal with aligning the priorities and values of agency leadership, creating a culture of parent engagement and voice, supporting parent partners, improving culturally responsive programming, implementing evidence and communication, sustaining funding, and more.
Leadership Training for Parents
Minnesota Head Start Association (MHSA)
Offers annual training opportunities for parents across the State, including civic leadership and how the Minnesota Legislature works. Parent participants also have the opportunity to serve on the MHSA Board of Directors, giving them further opportunity to affect change.
Parent Leadership in Special Education
Provides resources on how parent leadership, including questions parent leaders should ask, how to partner with a child's school, and how to serve as a representative in state and local groups. It also provides a way to contact parents through the State of Minnesota.