Year 3 Results: Morningside Parent Engagement Collaborative
In 2016-2017, the Morningside Parent Engagement Collaborative (PEC) partnered with four agencies (United Community Centers in partnership with AVANCE, the Parenting Center, Concilio, and New Day) to provide parent engagement services to families and their children age 0-5 in Fort Worth’s Morningside neighborhood.
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 parenting strategies during children’s developmentally critical years from birth to age 5.
In its third year, the PEC served 174 parents and 291 children. Notably, PEC parents demonstrated their highest attendance rate yet, at 72%, up from 67% in 2015-2016 and 57% in 2014-2015. The parents also reported increased levels of confidence in their parenting abilities and more involvement in the children’s education.
This year, the PEC administered three different focus groups (42 parents total) to learn about parents’ outlook on the program and garner feedback on the PEC’s role in the community. The parents unanimously reported that increasing opportunities for parent interaction within the community and continuing outreach to new parents would prove beneficial to the success of the program. Parents also communicated their desire to help bridge cultural and language gaps within the community, and to help increase communication between parents and teachers in order to build stronger school relationships.
Year-Three Partners and Programs
The four PEC partners and programs in year three included the following:
- AVANCE Inc., partnered with United Community Centers to implement their Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) at Bethlehem Community Center and at Carroll Peak Elementary School. The program provided 32 weekly sessions 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 that focused on developmentally appropriate learning activities.
- The Concilio also continued their previous years partnership with Morningside Children’s Partnership (MCP) to provide their Parents as Leaders Program (PAL) program in the MCP facility at Carroll Peak Elementary School. PAL is a research-based curriculum offered in 30 weekly sessions designed to help parents support their children’s learning at home. The program aligned the parents’ sessions with the younger children (not yet in school) sessions so that parents were able to practice what they learned at home. Finally, the Concilio families participated in educational field trips during the year.
- The Parenting Center partnered with the Briscoe, Morningside and Van Zandt Guinn Elementary Schools to provide three, four-week series of Nurturing Parents classes to the parents. The classes were developed for parents with children ranging from birth to five years old and were then separated into three different levels, each level focusing on something different. The Bronze level concentrated on parenting issues for children of all ages and was for parents new to the program. The Silver level focused on behavioral management and was parents who had participated in prior years. The Gold level was centered around emotional and family relationship issues, and was open to all parents.
- New Day Services, with its Fatherhood: EFFECT program (Educating Fathers for Empowering Children Tomorrow), is a new partner agency for the PEC program and started this year working with the fathers in Morningside. The EFFECT program is focused on strengthening the father’s role as a parent, co-parent and provider and is offered in thirteen 2-1/2 hour sessions. Topics include the importance of the father in the family, nurturing skills, alternatives to corporal punishment and activities they can share with their children. The fathers were recruited from a variety of partners including Child Protective Services, Tarrant County Family Law Center, the Juvenile Justice Center, Catholic Charities, MHMR Early Childhood Family First Programs and other organizations working to support fatherhood in Tarrant County.
Goals & Objectives
In 2016-2017, the PEC aimed to reach 200 families and accomplish the following goals:
- Introduce New Day, a program aimed at reaching the fathers of Morningside and creating confidence in their fraternal role.
- Increase the parent’s involvement in the community by offering more activities that engage them with other families.
- Create deeper connections between the schools and parents that help keep the two parties aligned throughout the year.
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 3 Results
Below is a chart of the results from the PEC’s third year of programming.
The following additional information gathered about PEC participants in year three helped the PEC to continue tailoring services to meet these unique families’ needs:
- Two-thirds of participants (63%) are between the ages of 26 and 40.
- Over one-half (56%) report household incomes of less than $18,000.00.
- Less than half (40%) own their own home.
- Over two-thirds (71%) live with a spouse/partner.
- About two-thirds (65.5%) have lived in their neighborhood for four or more years.
- Less than one-fifth of the participants (18%) are male.
Parent Focus Groups
The PEC hosted parent focus groups for the second consecutive year, as they provide invaluable insight regarding program highlights, current challenges and obstacles, and opportunities moving forward. The PEC leadership team organized three parent focus groups, two conducted in English (at Briscoe Elementary and another for New Day fathers at Carroll Peak Elementary) and one in Spanish (at Bethlehem Community Center). This year, a total of 42 parents (30 females and 12 males) participated in the different focus groups – a significant increase from the 20 that participated in the previous year.
Key takeaways from the parent focus groups included the following:
- Parents desire to feel connected to their community. Parents felt they were most connected when they got along with and had relationships with others in their neighborhood. They would welcome more neighborhood gatherings that would enable those relationships to thrive.
- Parents want help overcoming cultural barriers. The parents shared that one reason for experiencing disconnect between other parents was because they did not know how to handle language and cultural barriers. A suggestion was made to create sessions for the parents that specifically focus on addressing diversity of opinions and backgrounds.
- Lack of communication between parents and teachers. Parents suggested that both the teachers and parents have great opportunities for improvement when communicating with one another and that teachers perhaps should have the opportunity for further training to help address this issue. Parents suggested that the schools find other ways to engage with parents other than singularly school-led programs.
- Programs specifically designed for the role of the father. The fathers of the New Day program stated that having more specific sessions focused on community issues (e.g., safety, crime, housing) and how the issues impacted their paternal role would prove beneficial for them.
- More outreach to new parents. As in the past years, the parents desire more outreach to those in the community who may not know about the PEC programs. They also agree that offering more programs would help to recruit additional participants throughout the community.
Conclusion and Looking Ahead
Based on the research and parental feedback completed over a three-year period, the benefits of the PEC programs in the Morningside area have proved advantageous for the families they serve.
Reflecting on the information gathered from surveys and parent conversations this past year, the PEC anticipates making the following changes to its programming in 2018:
- Expanded Outreach: The PEC will continue to make efforts to reach more parents (specifically those with children in FWISD in Pre-K) and create more opportunities for parents to be involved in the programs offered.
- Parent-Child Engagement: The PEC will create more resources for helping parents become more involved in their children’s education, especially during the time when children are transitioning from home into school.
- Connections with Teachers: Greater effort will be put forth by the PEC to engage teachers from the local schools in meetings with the parents to discuss school-related issues and concerns, as well as goal-setting for the children.
We appreciate the opportunity to garner and distill feedback from our participants so that we may continue to improve our processes, programs, and approach. We look forward to our continued partnership with the PEC agencies, the participating families in Morningside, as well as the Rainwater Charitable Foundation and the Morris Foundation in this effort.
For more information, please contact Ximena Antunez de Mayolo at the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.