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Parenting Education Week May 20-26 casts spotlight on effective parenting

National problems of childhood obesity and school readiness – and how effective parenting can play a role in overcoming these issues – is lending new urgency this year in Oregon to Oregon Parenting Education Week, which takes place May 20-26.

As a kickoff for the week, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a proclamation on Friday, May 11, in the Ceremonial Office at the Capitol.

Oregon State University’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, which has taken a leadership role in parenting education in Oregon, will hold a series of events as part of Oregon Parenting Education Week. They include:

  • Monday, May 21, 3 p.m.: “Making the Link Between Parenting and Policy: Understanding the Impact of Parenting on Early Childhood Outcomes,” a presentation by Rebecca Parlakian of the Washington, D.C.-based Zero to Three.
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2 p.m.: A panel discussion on parenting education in Oregon
  • Friday, May 25, noon: “Measuring and Predicting Healthy Development in Young Children,” an analysis by Megan McClelland, associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

All presentations will take place at the Hallie Ford Center on campus and will be streamed live on the research center’s Website.

“Parenting skills are learned, and always have been,” said Denise Rennekamp, parenting education program coordinator for the Hallie Ford Center. “In the past perhaps those skills were gained from a family and extended community network. But today as people are more separated by distance, and parents have to work more, the ability to learn those skills and obtain that knowledge can be a struggle.”

Rennekamp says effective parenting education programs have been linked with decreased rates of child abuse and neglect, better physical, cognitive and emotional development in children, and increased parental knowledge of child development and parenting skills. A list of resources is available at the Hallie Ford Center’s online resources for healthy children and families

Kathy Barber, a parenting education specialist with Pathways to Positive Parenting, an organization that offers parenting classes and workshops in Coos and Curry counties, said with limited resources and many demands, the skills and resources that researchers at the Hallie Ford Center offer have proven invaluable.

“OSU provides a solid foundation upon which to stand as we extend ourselves and dream big about what is possible to achieve for children and families,” she said. “It is a secure feeling to know that if there is a problem to be solved, or a need to be met regarding data, curricula, online reporting issues or conference content that I can get the help or resources I might need by calling any of the OSU team.”

Through the 12-county Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative, the Hallie Ford Center has taken a leadership role in evaluating the effectiveness of nonprofit programs that offer help to parents. The collaborative provides grants to nonprofit organizations to build systems, coordinate services, and provide programs for parenting education.

The collaborative is a partnership with The Ford Family Foundation, OSU, the Meyer Memorial Trust, The Collins Foundation and The Oregon Community Foundation.

Annual grants of $80,000 to $90,000 support regional parenting education “hubs.” The 12 hubs are in: Wallowa/Baker, Deschutes/Crook/Jefferson, Douglas, Linn/Benton, Hood River/Wasco and Coos/Curry, Columbia/Clatsop, Lincoln, Polk, Umatilla/Morrow, Lane and Siskiyou County, California. More information is available at Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative Hubs