Family Strengthening Education & Parenting Education
Stepping Stones utilizes an evidence-based family skills training program both for high-risk and general population families that is recognized both nationally and internationally. Parents and youth attend weekly skills classes together, learning parenting skills and youth life and refusal skills. There are separate class trainings for parents and youth the first hour, followed by a joint family practice sessions the second hour.
Sessions include all the critical core components of effective evidence-based parenting programs (CDC, 2008) including: parent and child practice time in the family sessions learning positive interactions, communication, and effective discipline.
The parenting sessions review appropriate developmental expectations, teach parents to interact positively with children (such as showing enthusiasm and attention for good behavior and letting the child take the lead in play activities, increasing attention and praise for positive children’s behaviors, positive family communication including active listening and reducing criticism and sarcasm, family meetings to improve order and organization, and effective and consistent and effective discipline including reasonable and logical consequences and time-outs.
The children/youth skills training content includes communication skills to improve parents, peers, and teacher relationships, hopes and dreams, resilience skills, problems solving, peer resistance, feeling identification, dealing with criticism, anger management and coping skills.
Family sessions allow the parents and children to practice what they learned in their individual sessions in experiential exercises. This is also a time for the group leaders to coach and encourage family members for improvements in parent/child interactions. The major skills to learn are: Child’s Game or, for Teens, Our Time, similar to therapeutic child play where the parent allows the child to determine the play activity, complimenting the good, effective communication, Family Meetings, making family rules, and Positive Discipline. Sessions also include group practice in problem solving and anger management. Home practice assignments of these skills improve generalization of new behaviors at home.
Stepping Stones utilizes an evidence-based curriculum that contains 80 parenting skill lessons for families that meets their specific needs. Competency-based instruction helps parents learn the basic skills of being a nurturing parent, a proven evidenced based program. Instructional lessons run 60 to 90 minutes and can be taught in group-based programs, individual-based programs, or a combination of group and individual-based.
The curriculum includes built in assessment tools to assess parenting beliefs, knowledge and skills. Measuring the impact of the program with pre, post and process assessment tools. The plan promotes a partnership between parents and professionals to work together in creating a parenting program that meets the specific needs of the family. Parents need to demonstrate competence in the Core Lessons that form the foundation of the program. Increase parental commitment in attending and participating in learning Nurturing Parenting beliefs, knowledge and skills.
Children are able to attend separate group sessions that meet concurrently with the parents. The Lesson Guide for Children provides lessons that are complimentary to the parents. Depending on the age of the child, home based classes engage parents and child in attachment activities.