Providing Effective Parenting Classes Takes A Community

In 2011 David Vance, then working for the Southern Oregon Goodwill, attended training to conduct parenting classes using Parenting Now!'s Make Parenting A Pleasure curriculum. Vance, who now works with Ackley Counseling and Employment Services as a Certified Employment Support Professional counseling people with disabilities, has spent much of his adult life working with challenged populations.

Now, five years later, Vance has teamed up with Bo Alderton, a specialist working with the Family Support and Connections program at the Southern Oregon Education Service District, to conduct Make Parenting A Pleasure classes in rural Josephine County. While sponsors and locations for the parenting classes have varied, Vance and his teaching colleagues have had continuous support from a host of community organizations to ensure that the classes continue.

A wide range of community organizations refer parent participants to the Make Parenting A Pleasure classes. They include literacy groups, mental health services, drug and alcohol prevention groups, the Department of Human Services, and others who understand that inadequate or abusive parenting often are at the core of the difficulties their clients face. Moreover, these groups acknowledge that breaking the cycle of parenting stress is a critical part of their core missions.

In addition to recruiting participants, supporting organizations help bring together what can sometimes best be described as “touch and go” funding for the classes. For example, recently the Josephine County Local Alcohol and Drug Planning Committee provided a $2,500 grant. Vance and Alderton do not charge for their services and more often than not the venue is donated as well. But funding for the meals served at the beginning of each class, childcare, parent workbooks, and other related costs are always a challenge.

While both Vance and Alderton primarily work with stressed families such as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients, the Make Parenting A Pleasure classes attract participants from all social stratas. Recently a pediatrician attended the course and commented on how much she learned from the course and group interaction. Vance likes the ease of use and quality of information found in the Make Parenting A Pleasure curriculum. “Returning parents always find new information; they find value,” Vance reports. 

“It starts and ends with curriculum,” Vance asserts. “Make Parenting A Pleasure covers all aspects of parenting, especially parental self care. This is their class and we look to send them home with the tools and awareness of the need for self care. All of our parents love their children and want to be better parents.” With an 80-100% participant retention rate from first to last class session, Vance and Alderton are clearly doing parenting education right. And their Josephine County, Oregon community is also playing its role in supporting the needs of today's parents.