Parent Leadership is a strengths-based approach grounded in the belief that parents are the most knowledgeable about their families and communities. Parent leaders provide valuable insight into programs and community efforts that benefit all children and families. Parent leadership is meaningful when parents and staff throughout the organization work together as partners to make decisions about programs, policies, and practices that affect families and communities, and share responsibility, expertise, accountability, and leadership.
For families, the benefits include opportunities to give input in the programs and services they receive, increasing their sense of personal achievement and providing a model of leadership for their family and other families. For practitioners, the benefits are also significant. Parent – Practitioner collaboration can improve relationships between families and providers as well improve efforts to recruit and retain program Participants
When parents see themselves as stakeholders, and when organizations and practitioners create opportunities to collaborate with parents and families, many benefits are possible. Partnering with parents promotes mutually beneficial relationships between families and the family strengthening field
When parents see that agencies are serious about inviting them into leadership positions, they and their families benefit in many ways. Active participation in policy and program development, advocacy, and decision-making builds knowledge and skills that are transferable to other professional and personal areas of life. It can:
Parent involvement, awareness, and acceptance of responsibility begin when a parent enters a program and evolves over time. By recognizing a parent’s leadership skills and collaborating with them, the organization builds capacity while helping to strengthen the parent as an individual and improves outcomes for the family and children.
Successful partnerships that strive for parent and practitioner collaboration on the local, state and federal levels promote a positive self-concept that helps parents:
Collaboration between families and agencies is extremely beneficial for programs and program staff by:
As parents and practitioners build trusting relationships in respectful and inclusive environments, parents expand their leadership capabilities beyond themselves and their own families and become partners with the programs in which they are involved. Inclusion and integration of their “parent voice” becomes a strategy for enhancing program effectiveness.
Organizations and staff who work directly with parents and families in the community will find that sharing leadership with parents can:
Engaging parents in leadership activities can help organizations: