Many communities outside of Boston are eager to host the Power of Parenting program. We’ve started our regional expansion in the City of Chelsea—and our first program had record-breaking attendance.
Not only did we take an important step into a new community, but it was one of our most successful Power of Parenting programs yet, graduating 19 out of 20 parents.
In partnership with the Chelsea-Revere Family Network and the Chelsea Community Connections Coalition, we ran the 12-session Power of Parenting program, which includes 7 evidence-informed parenting education workshops, 3 Parent Café discussion sessions, and so much more. The Chelsea-Revere Family Network, which is funded through The Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) grant provided by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, hosted the program on site. Prior to this, a few residents of Chelsea had joined the Power of Parenting program in the neighboring community of East Boston, and there were many more Chelsea families who were interested but unable to travel that far.
Offered to Spanish-speaking parents of children between the ages of 3 to 8 years old, the program was extremely well received within the community. Odette Escobar, one of Families First’s Parent Ambassadors and a prior graduate from the East Boston program, recruited 35 parents. This was one of the highest numbers of parents ever recruited for a single program and resulted in a wait list.
“We set Odette up in my office, and it wasn’t more than a week and her list was overflowing,” said Cara. “This was a huge eye-opener that we needed a program like this in our community.”
The program engaged 20 parents and impacted an estimated 42 children in the Chelsea community. Over 90% of participating families reported more parental resilience and an increase in their ability to manage stress when faced with parenting challenges. “I had a beautiful experience during which I learned a lot about myself and about the other parents,” said one program participant.
A father named Mynor [pictured right] spoke about how the program had transformed his perspective as a parent and his relationship with his children, saying:
“Before, with work and the daily stress of life, I left my kids kind of forgotten. As a father, I thought my role was just to make money, take it home, and that will solve it all… but in this program, I discovered that’s not true. I learned a lot from everyone in this program: how to listen to my children, how to appreciate them, and how to work with my partner as well. I have learned to give them guidance for a good path. And my relationship with my children has changed a lot, lot, lot!”
Mariana Figueroa Murphy, the Parenting Educator and facilitator of the program, described the strong bond that formed within the group: “The way they built this sense of community was amazing. It was truly spending time with friends every week.”
At the culmination of the program, the participants initiated a potluck to celebrate their unique backgrounds by bringing their favorite foods from the areas in Latin America where their families originated. Children sang songs that they learned while their parents were attending program sessions, and families smiled as they received their certificates of completion. Damali Vidot, a Counselor at Large for the City of Chelsea, attended the graduation to show her personal appreciation stated that they are highly likely to recommend the program.
This program made Families First history. Beyond reporting the highest graduation rate that we’ve seen in the Power of Parenting program to date, five parents had perfect attendance, and 100% of parents reported that they are highly likely to recommend the program. “I think the comfort level of the language capacity was huge,” said Cara. “It was a major barrier breakdown for community members.”
As a longstanding provider of services in the area, Cara explained, “This is one of the first programs of its type open to the community.” And from the high participation, it is evident that programs like this are both appreciated and needed in the area. Next year, Families First plans to expand the number of programs offered in the City of Chelsea, engaging even more parents and benefiting even more children during the important early years of life.