Did you know that in 2016, Oklahoma was ranked 37th in the nation by Kids Count for child wellbeing? Also, in 2015, Oklahoma had more than 15,000 substantiated cases of child neglect and abuse, and 57 children died as a result of neglect or abuse.
We obviously have a lot of work ahead of us to turn these statistics around. Children in Oklahoma deserve a great childhood, and it is up to all of us to help make that a reality.
At Parent Promise, we have been working with families for nearly 30 years to help them as they make the changes they need to provide a safe, loving and nurturing home for their children. The heart of our program is to provide parent support and education to families that may struggle with meeting the basic needs of their children due to financial stress, a lack of support systems and other factors that may cause stress in the home. These stressors can lead to child neglect, which can then lead to child abuse. We help stop that cycle.
What does a neglect and abuse prevention program look like?
Our families invite Parent Promise into their homes so we can coach them on effective parenting practices, basic child safety and health care and the developmental stages of child growth. Our trained Parent Educators provide families with developmental games and activities so that they can play with their children.
We provide information on child behavior management, family goal setting, home safety, and school readiness. Most importantly, we teach them how to be their child’s first teacher during those critical first years of brain development so that their children enter school on grade level and ready to learn.
Our families are referred to us by social workers, clinics or other community agencies, and they often are referred to us by their friends or family members who have worked with us in the past. Our Parent Educators are able to provide two specific evidence-based models for clients with children from birth to five years of age and also parents with older children through age 12. Our Parent Educators act as mentors and provide intensive support, information, and modeling of effective parenting, all in the home of the family.
How do our efforts prevent neglect and abuse?
Our programs are strength-based and use the whole-family approach. When Parent Promise begins working with a family, we monitor their progression regularly. We observe their inter-family relationships and support systems, the ability to meet basic needs, education and employment, health and medical care, and the physical and emotional development of the children. This information can help us provide the best support to our families and help them continue on the path to reach their goals.
Most of our families have been with us between three to 18 months; however, we have worked with some families for several years. We see the most impact in reduced maternal stress and increased confidence in their ability to parent properly. Our families have given Parent Promise a 99 percent satisfaction rating.
Families who have recently received our services include: a single mother who, with our help, was able to complete her GED, enroll at a local technology center, and earn a certificate in medical records and billing; a mother who has been able to break a long cycle of abusive relationships and has shown determination to provide a stable and nurturing home environment for her children; and a mother who is actively using the books and resources her Parent Educator supplies – items she would not otherwise be able to afford — to interact with her baby and track her child’s developmental progress.
These are just a few ways our Parent Education and Support Programs are helping put families on the road to parental success and self-sufficiency.