• June 2006
  • Vol. 7, No. 5

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Balancing Employment and Parenting

A comprehensive prevention program targeted at low-income parents and their young children helped parents increase their parenting skills and improve their chances of finding and maintaining employment. The Balancing Employment and Parenting (BEAP) project was developed by the Center for Child Protection and Family Support and conducted in a Washington, DC, neighborhood that had a high rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases, as well as high levels of poverty, unemployment, and enrollment in TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). The premise of BEAP was that reducing parenting stress and increasing service use and support would reduce the risk of child maltreatment. TANF recipients with young children enrolled in Head Start or similar preschool programs were targeted for participation.

There were four major components to the BEAP project:

  • Parenting education classes, based on a culturally competent curriculum known as "Riding the Parenthood Wave," which addressed parenting skills as well as stress management, substance abuse, and employment
  • An interactive primary prevention program for preschoolers that included structured learning opportunities to promote safety, coping skills, and self-esteem
  • Strengthening the capacity of the welfare reform system and childcare providers to identify the factors that contribute to child maltreatment
  • A process and outcome evaluation

While the evaluation is ongoing, preliminary data from 230 parents who participated identified increases in:

  • Parents' knowledge regarding parenting skills, substance abuse, child abuse, childhood development, dealing with children's behavior problems, and talking and playing with their children
  • Seeking services
  • Finding and maintaining employment
  • Overcoming feelings of apathy

In addition to parent gains in skills, childcare staff at Head Start and other programs learned to apply many of the techniques they learned through the BEAP project and, in so doing, became role models for parents. They were also able to reinforce the skills that parents were learning in the parent education sessions.

For more information about how the BEAP project was able to impact families and those who provide services to them, contact:

Joyce Thomas
The Center for Child Protection and Family Support
714 G Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

The Balancing Employment and Parenting project was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant 90-CO-1696, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Field-Initiated Demonstration Projects Advancing the State of the Art in the Child Abuse and Neglect Field. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau Grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from official Children's Bureau site visits.

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