PARENT SUPPORT PROGRAM TRAINING - P. 2 of 7
Lesson 1 - The Support Parent Program
LESSON 1 - THE SUPPORT PARENT PROGRAM
How the Parent Support Program Works
In the Parent Support Program, the connections between parents seeking support and Parent Volunteers are one-to-one, and the matches are made carefully so the support is personalized. Clients are matched with caring, trained Parent Volunteers who listen, provide support and assist families in finding information and resources they need.
Who are Parent Volunteers?
Parent Volunteers are experienced parents, who provide support to other parents facing a difficult situation. The situation could be a parent dealing with the uncertainty of new parenthood, going through divorce or a toddler having problems in day care/nursery school.
Another parent can provide support in ways that no one else can, even caring family members. Parent Volunteers share their experiences and help provide resources and support to other families. They are peer counselors - the key element of a Parent Support program.
As a Parent Volunteer, your greatest gift will come from sharing your own story and listening to the stories of others. You will be contacted by phone when we have a potential Client for you to support. Thanks!
Characteristics of Parent Volunteers
There are certain qualities Parent Volunteers have which make them effective. They:
Take time to be involved in the Parent Support Program. Must make a time commitment of at least 3 months
Accept people with different values and lifestyles than their own
View all parents and children as valuable people
Listen carefully to the concerns of others without feeling overwhelmed
Share information without giving advice or making decisions for others
Show good advocacy skills when necessary
Ask for help from professionals when needed
Parent Matching Process
Here at Guiding Parents, clients seeking support are matched with Parent Volunteers based on information provided by each individual in the Match Form.
When possible, the Support Program Coordinator matches the Client with a Parent Volunteer who first and foremost has experience or interest in the specific issue or concern of the client. The Program Coordinator also tries to match based on similar personal characteristics such as personality, language and similar attitudes and expectations for their children.
Parent Volunteer Worksheet should be filled in after any contact and follow-up activities with clients and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The worksheet will assist you while you support the parent, take notes and follow up with Guiding Parents. Please use one for each family you support.
The success of the match depends on the reliability of the Parent Volunteer, which depends on two components:
A sense of sameness between the parents, their children and their situations – The most important and distinguishing feature in a match to clients
Timely responsiveness to a parent seeking support and easy accessibility are essential to the effectiveness of the Guiding Parents match and the Parent Support program’s success
During initial follow-up activities, the Support Program Coordinator will call both the client and Parent Volunteer 2 days, 2 weeks, 6 weeks and again 3 months after the match. The purposes of the check-ins are primarily to:
Ensure the match has occurred
Ensure multiple contacts are occurring
See if a rematch is necessary
Answer any questions and provide additional information/new resources to either parent, if needed
If the client was referred to Guiding Parents from an agency or community organization, the Program Coordinator will follow-up with the referral source too by thanking them and informing them of the outcome of the match.
How do you as a Parent Volunteer benefit from this experience?
Giving back to a family in need
Rewards of easing confusion, loneliness even pain
Sharing ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’
How do clients benefit from this experience?
The support parents receive increases their acceptance of their situation and sense of being able to cope
Parents find support from another parent to be helpful. The support is unique and may not come from another source