How Do We Help Parents Make Lasting Change? The Westside Community House (WSCH) Wrap for Success program is designed to facilitate and increase social activity and support among parents who partake in West Side Community House’s parenting classes. Social support is thought to be an important mechanism for maintaining lasting change. WSCH has created additional classes specifically oriented towards increasing communication and fostering of relationships among WSCH members. In addition, they offer monthly groups where graduates of the parenting classes, as well as community members, can partake in activities with their families (e.g., movie nights) or learn more about helpful topics such as housing, finances, and navigating the court system.
Researchers in the Department of Psychological Sciences, including Associate Professor of Psychology, Arin Connell, and Graduate Student in Psychology, Hannah McKillop, have helped WSCH evaluate what their program has added to their pre-existing curriculum for parents. Preliminary results suggest that parents who partake in the class:
- Experience significantly less stressful life events over time
- Experience less depression symptoms over time
- Gain positive parenting skills (e.g., regular praise) and tend to reduce use of less helpful parenting behaviors (e.g., inconsistent discipline, poor monitoring)
- And perhaps most importantly… parents become significantly more satisfied with their social support! While the number of people in parents’ social support networks appears to decrease over the course of their participation, parents indicate that they are much more satisfied with the social support they do receive over time.
Parents were overwhelmingly positive about participation in the class at West Side Community House: 18 out of 20 parents said they would recommend the class to other parents.
When asked whether they were likely to change their parenting behaviors as a result of participation with WSCH or not, parents overwhelmingly stated that they thought they would.