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Giving Thanks for a Strong Partnership: Parenting Journey and ABCD Head Start & Children’s Services

Parenting Journey

By Kate Pace, MSW, Family and Community Engagement Coordinator at ABCD Head Start & Children’s Services

ABCD Head Start & Children’s Services has been grateful for the opportunity to partner with Parenting Journey for many years. We have sent over 45 staff members to be trained as facilitators and we now offer PJ groups at all ABCD Head Start program sites in Boston, Malden and Everett.

Staff who have been trained as facilitators reported that the training increased their skills in a variety of areas necessary for their work supporting children and families. Anneisha Thompson, Family & Community Engagement Supervisor at Early Head Start Dorchester, has been facilitating groups for over 3 years:  “I thoroughlyenjoy the times together with parents helping to facilitate their ‘journey’. The camaraderie that results from the twelve weeks spent together, showing and giving affection and accolades to each other, to see their growth is phenomenal. From these sessions parents feel validated, empowered, energized and are better positioned to take on the task of parenting.”

From 2014 to today, ABCD Head Start has offered over 30 Parenting Journey groups in six languages – English, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Haitian Creole. Over 250 Early Head Start and Head Start families have participated in Parenting Journey I groups.  Parents have had an overwhelmingly positive response to Parenting Journey.

A recent graduate shared their thoughts on the Parenting Journey: “Since I joined this Parenting Journey group, I feel more relaxed.  I am a new immigrant, came to this country from China.  Every day I would bring my children toschool, and then I’d go home and sleep. I do not have any recreation. Because I am new in this country I do not know my way around, cannot speak English. I feel hopeless and feel like a handicap person, could not go anywhere.  I so regretted to come to this country. I joined this training, and have an opportunity to meet new friends. We exchange ideas about parenting, we become very close to each other, and we support each other.  We learned to communicate in positive ways and, at the same time, we learn how to communicate with our children and to be a good parent.  While taking care my children, I also learn how to take care myself. It helps me to relax and in a better mood.”

ABCD Head Start is excited to expand our Parenting Journey program in the coming years. This year our agency sent 8 staff members to be trained to become Parenting Journey II facilitators so that we can continue to support parents and caregivers in our programs. Parenting Journey has been committed to producing bilingual support materials – curriculum, parent workbooks, and other items necessary for group facilitation – which have opened many doors to ensuring that our programming can reach as many parents as possible.

In September 2016, ABCD Head Start & Children’s Services will partner with Parenting Journey in a new and exciting research study focused on measuring the impact of the program. We will hold groups at our ABCD sites co-facilitated by an ABCD staff member and a Parenting Journey staff member. We are thrilled to support the phenomenal work of Parenting Journey as they grow their agency and increase the evidence base for the curriculum!