Engaged and Empowered Parents
Parents are children’s first and most influential teachers. Positive, nurturing relationships with parents protect and expand children’s brain development, improving their self-confidence, motivation to learn and ability to control impulses. As babies become toddlers and then progress to pre-school and school age, positive parent communication with child care providers and teachers further accelerates early childhood learning, helping set children on a course to realize their academic potential.
Conversely, poverty and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – such as domestic violence, neglect, and exposure to substance abuse – create conditions that can diminish young children’s brain development and acquisition of critical foundational skills and knowledge. In Tennessee, 35% of children live at or near poverty and 25% have experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). To overcome negative conditions, parents and children need resources such as mental health and health care, coaching and support to optimize parent-child interactions, and high quality early learning opportunities that provide strong partnerships with teachers and caregivers in those settings.
The good news is, there are proven program models for preventing and/or mitigating the negative impact of disadvantaged conditions, and promoting positive partnerships between parents and teachers that help children achieve their potential.
Our priorities for parent engagement and empowerment:
- Expand evidenced-based home visiting programs to provide early parenting support for families in need;
- Encourage parent-teacher partnerships in child care and elementary schools to boost children’s early learning and academic success; and
- Expand birth to third grade school-community partnerships that connect families in need to critical resources and services.