Year Two Results: Morningside Parent Engagement Collaborative
In its second year (2015-16), the Morningside Parent Engagement Collaborative (PEC) continued its partnership with four agencies (United Community Centers in partnership with AVANCE, the Parenting Center, Concilio, and Camp Fire First Texas) to provide parent engagement services to families and their children age 0-5 in the Morningside neighborhood of Fort Worth.
The PEC was started in 2014 by The Morris Foundation, The Rainwater Charitable Foundation, and The Miles Foundation to help low-income families develop critical skills, enhance their knowledge, and build confidence in parent engagement strategies during children’s developmentally critical years from birth to age 5.
Each agency designed and implemented unique programs focusing on different parent populations. While each developed their own implementation strategies and program activities, they all shared the common goals of bolstering the quality of parenting skills and parent-child interactions, as well as promoting school readiness for those children in the programs.
In its second year, the PEC served 198 parents and over 350 children. During this year, PEC parents demonstrated higher attendance rates (67% regular attendance) than the prior year (57% regular attendance). Parents also reported increased levels of confidence in their parenting abilities and a greater connection to their community following participation in PEC programming.
In addition, the PEC conducted two mid-year parent focus groups (one in English and one in Spanish) designed to garner parent feedback about the implementation of the parenting programs. The parents’ candid feedback highlighted areas of success (e.g., parents enjoyed participating in learning activities together with their children), as well as ideas for enhancing programming and participation (e.g., attracting more parents by expanding PEC outreach to recreation centers, churches, and shopping centers).
Year-Two Partners and Programs
The specific year-two PEC partners and programs included the following:
- AVANCE Inc., partnered with United Community Centers to implement their Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) at Bethlehem Community Center. The program provided 150 hours of classroom education for the parents, focusing on their role as their child’s first teacher. While the parents attended the classes, their children participated in a research-based early child development program focused on developmentally appropriate learning activities.
- The Concilio partnered with the Morningside Children’s Partnership (MCP) to provide their Parents as Leaders Program (PAL) program in the MCP facility at Carroll Peak Elementary School. Parents attended 30 weekday sessions designed to help them support their children’s learning at home, particularly in the area of early literacy. The program also included literacy-focused early education activities for the younger children (not yet in school) of the parent participants. The Concilio also offered four Saturday programs for fathers who could not attend the weekday sessions and fields trips to Tarrant County College and the Fort Worth Zoo for all family members.
- The Parenting Center provided thirteen series of sixteen-hour Parenting That Wins programs at partner locations in and around the Morningside neighborhood. Parenting That Wins utilizes the Nurturing Parenting (NP) curriculum designed to help parents in their efforts to nurture their children and support early learning. Each partnering organization provided developmentally appropriate childcare during the sessions led by staff trained in the NP philosophy.
- Camp Fire First Texas partnered with Like My Own, a Morningside neighborhood child care center, to offer parent/child playgroups and bi-monthly Parent Nights for families to have dinner, hear a guest speaker and discuss parent/child topics such as early learning and Conscious Discipline.
Goals & Objectives
In 2015-2016, the PEC aimed to reach 200 families and accomplish the following goals:
- Increase parents’ confidence and ability to support children’s development and learning at home.
- Increase parents’ connections to resources in the community, particularly in relation to child, family and education issues.
- Encourage parent participants to take a lead in community parent engagement efforts.
- Increase collaboration among community agencies in their efforts to meet parent engagement needs in the community.
The PEC’s long-term objectives are to 1) increase parents’ engagement in their children’s education, and 2) positively impact children’s school readiness and academic success.
Year 2 Results
Below is a snapshot of results from the PEC’s second year of programming.
The PEC agencies collected additional demographic information in 2015-2016 revealing the following more detailed information about the participants. This information will help the agencies tailor their programs to meet the unique needs of specific parent populations going forward.
- Two-thirds of participants (66.3%) are between the ages of 26 and 40.
- Over one-half (56%) report household incomes of less than $18,000.00.
- Less than half (41%) own their own home.
- Almost one-half (45.2%) started their families at 19 years of age or younger.
- Approximately one-third (33.7%) are single, separated or divorced.
- Over one-third stay (37.4%) at home with their children.
- Another one-third (34%) report responsibilities outside the home (job or school).
Parent Focus Groups
The mid-year parent focus groups provided invaluable insight regarding program highlights, current challenges and obstacles, and opportunities moving forward. The PEC leadership team organized two parent focus groups, one conducted in English and one in Spanish. A total of 20 parents participated in the focus groups – eleven in the Spanish session and nine in the English session.
Key takeaways from the parent focus groups included the following:
- Parents want to learn by engaging in activities with their children. Parents in the focus groups emphasized their desire to participate in activities with their children, whether building a toy together, learning how to read with their child, or experiencing a new place.
- Parents appreciate professional expertise in key areas. Parents noted the benefits of “lectures” from guest speakers on certain topics, including child development, anger management and discipline, personal finances, and healthy relationship building.
- Parents are already looking ahead. Even with children age 0-5 in the home, PEC parents expressed an interest in learning about issues affecting older children, such as dealing with school challenges, bullies, and stress. They also wanted tips on helping their children graduate and go to college.
- Programs specifically targeted to fathers are important. Parents noted the value in having fathers as a part of the PEC programming and engaged in the schools. Sports activities were suggested as a great way to bring families together and engage dads in the program.
- Program scheduling impacts attendance. Many parents agreed that Thursday night programs interfered with their children’s school and weeknight bedtime schedules. They suggested Friday night programming as an alternative, which they said could likely attract more working parents.
- A multi-faceted approach is needed to reach more parents. PEC parents were willing to recruit others to participate, but they need the tools to do so. Suggestions included flyers with parent testimonials, a short online video, advertising at local churches or school fairs, t-shirts, or hosting a social event.
Conclusion and Looking Ahead
The year-two PEC parent survey results, coupled with the parent focus group feedback, suggested that PEC programming continues to provide a plethora of benefits to participating Morningside families.
Reflecting on lessons learned and parent feedback in the second year of this initiative, the PEC anticipates making the following changes to its programming in 2017:
- Father Engagement: The PEC is enlisting a new partner agency in 2017, NewDay Services, which will provide programming specifically targeted to fathers.
- Advanced Curricula: Agencies will be offering programs and activities that will build on earlier programs, enabling parents from prior years to continue their involvement and stay engaged with other families who are working to support their children’s education.
- School Relationship: The third-year evaluation will include a focus on parents’ perceptions of support from their children’s schools and/or child care centers.
With consistent guidance from parent participants and the community as a whole, the PEC continues to evolve its approach. We look forward to our continued partnership with the PEC agencies and participating families in Morningside. Thank you to the Rainwater Charitable Foundation and the Morris Foundation for their ongoing collaboration and contributions to this effort.
For more information, contact Jay McCall, Director of Programs at The Miles Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.