What if we knew how to create healthy families, improve health, build thriving communities and reduce problems like child abuse, neglect, substance abuse, obesity, and even cancer? Wouldn’t we do those things?
What if you heard that we already know what we need to do in order to create thriving families and communities? That what it takes is available at an incredible cost-savings for our community, compared to doing nothing? Wouldn’t you want to take advantage and urge our policy-makers to adopt these programs and make them available to all families?
This is the crossroad where we find ourselves in the realm of parenting education.
The benefit of parenting education has been proven time and time again to prevent child abuse and neglect, support and strengthen families, and build communities. Numerous studies have shown that, for every dollar invested in early childhood programs, we can expect to save between $4 to $17 by improving school retention and reducing rates of teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and dependence on social service.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
We will hear about sobering and often horrifying stories in the news about how rough it is for many families. But child abuse and neglect is something we can prevent.
The Center for the Study of Social Policy lists “protective factors” that help turn around at-risk families. The five factors to develop are parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and social and emotional competence of children.
There are programs right here in Lane County that support parents to increase their protective factors.
When we concentrate on promoting those factors, the risks drop and children are safer.
For example, if we provide and promote positive social connections for families and supply them with appropriate parenting skills and knowledge of child development, we help families create a network that works to build resilience and support in times of need. A resilient family can weather the ups and downs that are a part of daily life, navigate tough times and model for their children how to effectively plot paths to success.
Our community is rich with excellent resources to support families in this way. Primary prevention programs, like Parenting Now!’s First Three Years programs, LaneKids, Triple P, Healthy Families, and the Family Resource Centers help give families skills that allow them to start off on the right foot and create a thriving family environment. Enrichment programs like Lane County’s library systems and community recreation programs allow families to explore their children’s interests and options and create family bonds. And if parents are struggling, programs like Parenting Now!’s Make Parenting A Pleasure, the Relief Nurseries, EC CARES, and more, can give parents and children what they need to bounce back.
We have the knowledge and skills to build our community in a way that creates happy, healthy, functioning adults. Let’s support our policymakers to help make sure that every family in our community can access parenting education by providing funding and support to those programs that can make the difference.
This article appeared in the April 15, 2019 edition of the Register-Guard.
Lynne Swartz is the Executive Director for Parenting Now!, a nonprofit offering groups and workshops so that all children are raised by nurturing, skilled parents. Contact Parenting Now! atwww.parentingnow.org, on social media and at 541-484-5316.