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Joseph P. Healey Endowment Fund

Melodie Wenz-Gross, Ph.D. (KidSteps II Co-PI), was awarded a $2,500 grant through the Joseph P. Healey Endowment Fund for a project entitled: Parent-School Partnerships: Building and strengthening parent involvement in children’s learning. The overarching goal of this one-year project is to develop strategies to assist preschool teachers in engaging parents as part of the overall Second Step Early Learning curriculum currently being implemented in Head Start and community child care programs that serve low income children throughout Worcester County as part of a randomized control trial funded by the US Dept. of Education (IES Grant # R305A120556, Carole Upshur, PI). We will conduct 6 semi-structured 60-90 minute parent meetings (2 meetings at each of 3 sites) with the following goals:

1) Present relevant findings using simple language about the importance of parenting in developing socio-emotional and executive functioning skills,

2) Translate concepts in the school curriculum into activities that parents can do at home with their children when, for instance, their child is beginning to misbehave or has to wait (i.e., brain games, belly breathing), and provide information on language and strategies children are learning in the classroom so that there is consistency for the child,

3) At the end of these meetings, the parents and their children will practice Second Step activities together, so that they have hands on tools and strategies they can use at home.

Dinner (e.g., pizza and salad) will be provided for both adults and children.  Babysitting for the first (didactic) part of the group will also be provided, as well as transportation for any families who need it.  We will work with each site to determine dates and times that might work best for their families to come to a meeting, as well as effective outreach strategies (e.g., flyers, phone calls).  Parents will fill out feedback forms after each session which will guide refinement of materials and procedures.  Dissemination of materials (slides, handouts, etc.) and training of teachers to conduct parent meetings will be provided at the end of the school year.