MODELS OF PARENT ACTION GROUPSAn extensive survey, including a search of the Internet, available literature and consultation with people involved with parent action groups all over the United States identified many parent action groups/organizations which focus solely on parenting and substance abuse prevention. These parent action groups, usually organized by parents for parents, tend to fit into one of the following models:
Parent Peer Groups are centered around the friendship circle of a group of young people. They can be very informal groups of 2 or 3 parents which meet periodically at a member's house to discuss parenting issues, or larger groups which meet to share concerns and discuss solutions. This group of parents usually agree among themselves on curfews, party rules and behavior expectations for their young people.
Some of the national parent action groups, such as National Families In Action (NFIA) and National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth (which later became known as National Family Partnership), actually began as parent peer groups meeting around kitchen tables to discuss what they could do about the growing level of drug use among their young people. .
Parent Classroom/School Groups are made up of parents of young people who attend the same school or are in the same classroom at school. This type of group focuses on the education of parents and/or children which attend a particular school and typically meets at the school in the evenings or other times agreed upon by the group. This type of group can be particularly effective in agreeing on curfews, acceptable party behavior and supervision and chaperoning strategies.
Many parent classroom groups work for change in school and school district policies regarding extra-curricular activities and may even agree on the style of clothing to be worn to school by their young people. Some very structured groups have organized the schools through home rooms so that every parent is reached with information. Others have become involved in working directly with the schools on codes, guidelines and policies.
PTA's are examples of this type of group. The National Congress of Parents and Teachers (PTA), has begun a substance abuse prevention program and may be reached for assistance in organizing this type of parent group.
National Congress of Parents and Teachers (PTA)Most National PTA programs relate to involving parents and families in child education. Partnership with corporate sponsors produced a substance abuse prevention parenting program. GTE Corporation and National PTA collaborated on a "kit" entitled "Common Sense: Strategies for Raising Alcohol and Drug Free Children," which is distributed by National PTA.
Parent Neighborhood Groups may meet in homes, schools, churches or other neighborhood facilities and are usually started by parents wanting to make changes in the neighborhood in which they live. They may deal with issues such as how near to school campuses alcohol or tobacco billboards should be allowed, identifying safe houses for children who may need somewhere to go in an emergency, or agreeing to "watch out" for neighborhood children.
Many parent neighborhood groups work with their local police departments, setting up neighborhood watch groups to increase security. Some groups have actually worked to close down local crack houses and to reclaim their neighborhoods to make them safe for their children.
Families have been reached through informal coffee meetings or door-to-door solicitation as well as neighborhood get-togethers such as ball games, cook-outs, etc. This group also has the advantage of involving senior citizens living in the area.
Parent Support Groups are made up of parents who are having difficulty with their young people. Many parents find reinforcement and support in meeting and working with other parents who are experiencing the same problems. Such groups may be informally structured or may be organized through local mental health or hospital programs.
There are several national support groups which began as local groups, and expanded as more and more people benefitted from involvement with them. The following are national support organizations which have local affiliates throughout the country.
Al-Anon/AlateenThis is a program of recovery based on Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts of Service adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It is self-supporting through members and group contributions and the sale of Al-Anon literature. Meetings are free, anonymous and confidential. This group's primary purpose is to help families/friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of problem drinking. For meeting sites and times, see the yellow pages under "Alcoholism."
ToughLove InternationalToughLove is a non-profit organization whose goal is to stop destructive behavior in families and communities through cost-effective, community-based, self-help groups. It is funded by memberships, group registrations, sales of materials, workshops, contributions, grants and fund raising programs. ToughLove International strives to: establish at least one parent support group and one Kids Program in every school district, promote a positive, realistic image of parents and young people and to help adolescents become responsible adults.
Community-Wide Parent Action Groups are organizations addressing several different community areas such as parent and school education, legislation, drug paraphernalia availability and court watching. In some areas, several established community parent groups have joined together to form a Community Parent Coalition.
Adolescent tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug abuse is a problem which is dealt with most successfully when all facets of the community are willing to address it. Entire community involvement is a powerful way to change the environment in which young people mature.
Cobb Community Parents in ActionThis grassroots organization partners with community children's hospitals, school systems and local businesses to provide a variety of services and information. They publish a monthly newsletter entitled "Family Matters," hold community forums and a leadership institute to help parent peers offer other parents support.
Parents Empowered to Save Teens (PEST)PEST offers Parent to Parent training where the parents learn to take charge and responsibility in the raising of their children. They also offer dances for youth and after-Prom parties.
PRIDE of St. TammanyFocuses offering various parenting workshops that deal with issues such as:
United Neighbors Against DrugsUnited Neighbors Against Drugs runs informal parenting classes, including information on disciplining children in a non-violent manner. Their focus is helping Hispano/Latino parents adjust to the non-Latino mainstream community.
Wadsworth Concerned Neighbors Against DrugsThe focus of this community group is to give families anti-drug alternative activities. It also works with kids to keep them in school and better their academic achievement.
Washington Township Municipal AllianceThe Alliance focuses on creating a drug-free community safe from violent crime They support a local youth-run coffee shop where young people can listen to music, talk, exhibit their art, hold workshops or just "hang out."
Grandparent Groups are growing in number as grandparents are taking a more active role in raising their grandchildren. It is estimated that nearly 4 million children live in a household headed by a grandparent and for over 1.5 million of these children no parent is present; the grandparent assumes the role of primary care giver. Censes Bureau information indicates that grandparent-headed families cross all socioeconomic and ethnic groups. Many face legal and social problems.
There are some national organizations which are developing programs specifically for grandparents and the public in general.
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)AARP established a Grandparent Information Center in 1993 to serve as a national resource center for grandparent-headed families to:
Grandparents Reaching Out (GRO)GRO is a non-profit support group for grandparents and other caregivers who are raising their grandchildren. One of its target groups are grandparents denied visitation and those fighting for custody of their grandchildren. Through emotional support, educating policy makers, conducting workshops, sponsoring annual seminars and designing service and referral programs to meet specific social needs, GRO helps grandparents with the difficulties they encounter in a parenting or non-parenting role. It has affiliate chapters which hold monthly meetings and feature guest speakers who focus on issues and problems impacting on the lives of grandparents and their grandchildren. It also offers a newsletter, named "New Horizons," which informs and educates the membership about the issues of grandparenting.
Fatherhood Groups are also growing in number, with over 2,000 grassroots groups alone. These groups have organized in response to the growing numbers of fathers wanting to be more effective in helping raise their children.
The National Center for Fathering 10200 W. 75th StreetThe National Center for Fathering was founded in 1990 by Dr. Ken Canfield in response to the dramatic trend toward fatherlessness in America. It is establishing partnerships with local organizations throughout the country to provide ongoing support to local fathers and offers a curriculum to address the challenges faced by African American fathers.
The Fatherhood ProjectThe Fatherhood Project was founded in 1981 by Dr. James A. Levine. This is a national research and education project that is examining the future of fatherhood and developing ways to support men's involvement in child rearing. Its books, films, consultation, seminars and training all present practical strategies to support fathers in their parenting role.
The National Fatherhood InitiativeFounded in 1994, this initiative seeks to encourage fathers to invest the time, commitment and responsibility good fathering requires. It is working to provide the resources and impetus needed to re-establish fatherhood as a national priority by convening national and local meetings, developing State and city fatherhood campaigns, developing and disseminating products that promote fatherhood skill building and conducting research into attitudes about fatherhood and the factors that facilitate or impede responsible fatherhood.
Single-Parent Groups are organizations which deal with issues specific to single parent families, such as legal, social and spiritual concerns and the problems associated with being divorced, never-married, or separated parents.
Parents Without Partners International, Inc. (PWP)PWP is a not-for-profit, membership organization focusing on social, educational and issues-advocacy needs of single parents worldwide. It offers the opportunity to interact with other single parents facing the unique challenges of single-parenting today. PWP sponsors an annual convention, access to group insurance programs, purchasing discounts, scholarship programs and access to an interactive web site where singe parents can freely meet other single parent members.
Parent Coalitions are groups of parent action groups working collaboratively on issues of common interest, such as policy and legislative advocacy and the prevention of substance abuse among young people. (See the "Coalitions" section of this guide for examples of parent coalitions.)