Parents Empowering Parents (PEP): A Community-Based Approach to Parenting Support and Education

Ishma Rizvi, “Parents Empowering Parents (PEP): A Community-Based Approach to Parenting Support and Education”
Mentors: Paul Florsheim and Salaam Shaheedah, Public Health
Oral Presentation Block 2

Child maltreatment (CM) is strongly associated with poverty primarily because economically disadvantaged (ED) parents have fewer resources to help them meet the challenges of parenthood. The Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) project is designed to address this association between neighborhood poverty and child maltreatment reports to the Milwaukee Division of Child Protective Services (MKE DCPS) by engaging ED families in parenting activities through neighborhood outreach. The long-term goal of PEP is to demonstrate the efficacy of a prevention-oriented approach, which includes (a) facilitating the development of parent support networks; and (b) increasing access to evidence-based parenting education services for families in disadvantaged neighborhoods. PEP outreach staff invite parents to participate in a survey and engage in a conversation intended to normalize parenting education and support. Parents are told about local parenting programs and services and asked if they’d like follow-up information about these programs/services. We are evaluating PEP using a quasi-experimental design that involves expanding the reach of parenting services over a period of 5 years, engaging with new communities each year. We anticipate that each year “engaged” neighborhoods will have fewer CM reports than “pre-engaged” neighborhoods, after controlling for prior levels of CM reporting in both engaged and pre-engaged neighborhoods. Preliminary findings using correlational analyses will be provided. Results focus on the associations between (a) current parent stress, (b) self-reported family functioning, and (c) interest in parent education/support programming. These findings will be discussed with regard to ongoing efforts to connect disadvantaged and stressed families with parenting support/educational services. This presentation addresses (1) the rationale for a community-based, prevention-oriented approach to parent support, and (2) the PEP process for reaching families who also face significant barriers to seeking parenting services.