Although the concept is flexible and adaptable to being launched by various community groups, maximum potential for the model is best ascertained by a multi-agency/business partnership. Sustainability should be built in from the beginning. Most likely resources for ongoing availability of the centers will be the businesses that will reap the long term benefits of the investment in health from the beginning: the hospitals, HMOs and health-focused retail stores like a store that draws parents and children and would benefit from the placement of a center in their business (e.g. Target). This model, though requiring more initial groundwork at the community level, assures a stronger funding base, and integration and
acceptance of the resource by existing professionals and organizations.
Key to success is that long before coaches are hired, local implementers will develop an infrastructure for communicating with other community professionals who will receive referrals from the Parenting Institute. Such professionals will include pediatricians, obstetricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, domestic violence and substance abuse counselors, insurers, and an array of public and private agencies.
A strong public relations and marketing plan will be essential to launching the Institute in each community. The use of the Adverse Childhood Experience Scale through a community-wide poll to assess and illuminate the level of stress and trauma in the community is strongly suggested. This is a way of having community members across all races, incomes and educational backgrounds recognize the universal reality of adverse experiences and fosters a concrete sense of “we’re all in this together”. It is also a new way of viewing the roots of physical health in emotional health. Involvement of the media in the process and reporting of the results will be crucial in paving the way for the Centers.
Staff at the local level will minimally include two to several coaches, a resource and referral professional who will connect parents with additional services and maintain strong relationships with families and other community resources that augment their work within the Center. A skilled hospitality/welcoming front office staff person responsible for scheduling, greeting and maintaining client records. The quality of parents experience in the Center will have everything to do with the emotional intelligence and warmth of the staff: what they believe about other people and how they treat them. The Institute will deliberately work with communities to recruit coaches who meet this criteria. Capacities for empathy, humor and genuine pleasure in their work are crucial. Coaching staff are hired with a background in family systems and attachment theory. The Parenting Institute will further train them in best practices from across the world, including the neurobiology of emotional development, the role of trauma in development, and the recognition of early signs of emotional pathology.
Future goals for the Parenting Institute include participation in the development of a new educational path for the training of prevention-focused practitioners, working with other organizations to create a federal financial incentive for parents to participate in ongoing parenting enhancement, and participating in research which would validate for insurers the efficacy of a preventive approach to children’s mental health.
Copyright 2015 The Parenting Institute