Every Parent is a Leader

Every Parent is a Leader

February is Parent Leadership Month! Parent leadership helps families to focus on and grow from their strengths, which fosters healthy children and strong communities. Circle of Parents groups are places where caregivers can support each other and where every parent’s leadership skills can shine.

This month, Illuminate will be diving into how every parent is a leader in their community, and how Circle of Parents nurtures leadership skills so caregivers can be their best selves for their families. Join us!

Parent leadership looks different for everyone.

There are many ways caregivers can show up as leaders in Circle of Parents groups. While some might be leaders by texting other participants to check in, see if they need any support, and encourage them to attend that day’s meeting, others may take the lead in setting up the space for the meeting, or by taking attendance. Although all of these actions are different, each is essential to the functioning of the group, and are important ways in which caregivers show up as leaders.

The most important part of parent leadership is being present. When you think of the word leader, titles like president, manager, or even facilitator might come to mind. But, to be a leader, all a caregiver needs to do is be consistent in how they show up for their family and community. Every caregiver is a leader in their own important and irreplaceable way.

To the caregivers out there: Think about the first time that another parent came to you for advice. You listening to that person’s struggles was you being a leader!

Parent leadership builds the Five Protective Factors.

There are Five Protective Factors that help families to thrive by providing a buffer against risk factors associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Parent leadership skills that caregivers learn in Circle of Parents® groups help to build the Five Protective Factors, strengthening families and improving outcomes for children.

The Five Protective Factors Are:

  • Parental Resilience

  • Social Connections

  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

  • Concrete Support in Times of Need

  • Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Social Connections

Parent leaders in Circle of Parents groups reach out to each other if someone misses a group, and even schedule coffee chats if other caregivers are in need of the extra support. These social connections help to limit isolation that caregivers often feel, which reduces stress.

Parental Resilience

Caregivers in Circle of Parents groups listen and show empathy when other participants share their struggles. They also celebrate each other’s successes and build connections by asking them about their lives outside of parenting, like hobbies and interests. This culture offers a space where caregivers know they can share openly and receive the support, advice, and connection they need in return.

Concrete Support in Times of Need

Circle of Parents participants show up for each other in any way that is needed. For example, caregivers often share knowledge of community resources or offer to accompany another parent to an appointment. These simple yet impactful acts help to bridge the gaps in support in caregivers’ lives. When caregivers are able to access the resources or services that their families need, barriers are dismantled and stress is reduced.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

While there may not be a manual for being a caregiver, learning about parenting and how children develop is critical in building the Five Protective Factors. Parent leaders support each other by offering encouraging suggestions during potty training, by attending classes together to learn about topics like teens and cell phones, or sharing their knowledge on a certain stage of child development.

Social and Emotional Competence of Children

In Circle of Parents groups, caregivers learn to normalize sharing their feelings and emotions and how to model clear communication. Caregivers also learn about new and healthy ways to interact with their children, like how to increase their bond by letting their child lead an activity.

Every parent brings unique leadership skills to the table– let’s celebrate them all!

Parents show up as leaders for their families and communities every day. Whether it be by sharing advice with another parent, offering to help out by bringing over dinner on a hectic day, or just by being present and open to connection, all caregivers are essential leaders. During Parent Leadership Month, and throughout the year, we celebrate caregivers across Colorado.

There’s a Circle of Parents group for everyone.

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Building Connections and Breaking Down Barriers for Parents in Recovery

Building Connections and Breaking Down Barriers for Parents in Recovery

September is National Recovery Month and this week we are shining a spotlight on one of Illuminate’s most impactful programs: Circle of Parents

Circle of Parents groups are led by parents for parents and provide a free, confidential, non-judgemental space where caregivers can discuss the successes and challenges of raising children. 

In addition to general Circle of Parents groups, there are specialty groups offered across Colorado– including Circles for parents in recovery. 

Recently, we had the chance to speak with Circle of Parents Program Manager Toni Miner about Circle of Parents in Recovery and how she has seen it impact participants’ lives. Let’s talk about what we learned!

Social Connections are Essential to Recovery

 

The purpose of Circle of Parents in Recovery groups is to break down barriers and reduce shame for parents recovering from substance use disorders. Building community and social connections are critical components of recovery, and Circle of Parents provides a space where parents can do just that. 

Group discussions center around recovery and breaking down the associated stigma. Parents with substance use disorders face unique challenges, and Circle of Parents in Recovery groups give parents the hope that they might not find in other spaces.

Circle groups talk about the importance of social connections, how long (or if) group members have been sober, and the challenges specific to parenting with a substance use disorder. Toni explained how helpful it is for parents to discuss challenges with people who have been in similar situations and can relate to their experiences. That way parents don’t feel judged, but instead are building the connections that are so important to recovery.

Lived Experience is an Invaluable Resource

Group members are able to support each other at every stage of their recovery and parenting journeys. Toni has known group members for several years who are now able to encourage new members who are struggling with the beginning stages of recovery.

Some parents first join Circle of Parents when their children have been removed from the home. Toni has seen many of these parents progress so far in their recovery and parenting journeys that they can now share their story with new members who are dealing with similar situations and serve as examples of why not to give up.

The caregivers in Circle of Parents in Recovery groups are the experts on recovery resources in Colorado. Group members are able to recommend community resources for anything another parent might need, from sober living resources to detox support.

“The parents who come to these groups are the resource kings and queens.”

– Toni Miner, Circle of Parents Program Manager

Parents don’t need to be in active recovery to join a Circle. All caregivers are welcomed with open arms regardless of whether or not they are in recovery. Toni explained that parents in her group would rather a parent who is dealing with substance use join the group and receive the support they need than to see them turned away.

The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

When parents have the connections that are necessary for recovery, they are able to reach their full potential. By coming to Circle of Parents in Recovery meetings, Toni has seen parents gain self-esteem, start to believe in themselves, and become leaders in their families and communities. Parents truly become strong advocates for themselves and their children. 

Circle of Parents in Recovery groups have become genuine communities for parents where they can build relationships with their peers and extend and nurture friendships outside of meetings. Toni has even seen how the group members’ children connect with each other and are excited to play together each week. 

Toni’s favorite part about facilitating Circle of Parents in Recovery groups is watching members grow as individuals and as parents.

“I see parents gain self-esteem and really start to believe in themselves and become leaders in their own families and communities.”

– Toni Miner, Circle of Parents Program Manager

There is a Circle of Parents group for everyone.

Choose from Spanish-Speaking, Fatherhood, Parents in Recovery, Parents of Children with Special Needs, General Parenting groups, and more. 

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Prevention Partnership Spotlight: Colorado State University Kappa Delta Phi Epsilon Chapter

Prevention Partnership Spotlight: Colorado State University Kappa Delta Phi Epsilon Chapter

Summer can be hard for parents. If you’ve taken care of a child, you might know that it can take a lot of energy and ideas to keep up with them. When kids are out of school for the summer, this can increase the load on parents and caregivers, especially if they aren’t able to find or afford child care or summer camps.

One of the ways that Illuminate Colorado strengthens parents and caregivers is by supporting Circle of Parents® groups across Colorado to provide a safe, supportive, confidential, non-judgmental environment where parents can openly discuss their successes and challenges.

Recently, thanks to our relationship with Kappa Delta, Illuminate Colorado was able to provide another tangible way to support Circle of Parents groups across the state–packing summer survival kits.

On April 16, fifteen Kappa Delta sisters from the Phi Epsilon Chapter at Colorado State University volunteered to help Illuminate staff pack summer survival kits for Circle of Parents families. They packed 200 bags in just half an hour!

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Our History with Kappa Delta

Prevent Child Abuse America has been a national philanthropy supported by thousands of Kappa Delta sisters for over 41 years. As the Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, Illuminate Colorado often partners with our local Kappa Delta collegiate and alumni chapters.

To date, Kappa Delta has raised over $33 million through collegiate and alumnae Shamrock events across the country for the prevention of child abuse and to build a better world and community where children can grow up confidently in safe and thriving communities.

The kits included items for both caregivers and kids. Caregivers can use items like a journal and pen or affirmation cards to practice their own self-care, but the kits also have fun items for kids to use during the summer, like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and coloring supplies.

Now that the kits are packed, they will be distributed to Circle of Parents groups across the state. These kits will provide tangible support for families during a time that can be challenging for parents and caregivers. Thank you to the Phi Epsilon Chapter for helping us strengthen families in Colorado!

Before, During, and After!

Volunteer with Illuminate


?

Join our list of volunteers and we’ll let you know when opportunities are available.

Email Mike Robbins at mrobbins@illuminatecolorado.org to be added to the list.

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Recognizing Outstanding Parent Leads During Parent Leadership Month

Recognizing Outstanding Parent Leads During Parent Leadership Month

Earlier this month, Illuminate kicked off Parent Leadership Month by talking about what parent leadership is, and why parent leaders are integral to strong communities. This week, we look to recognize outstanding Parent Leads from Circle of Parents groups across Colorado. Join us!

All too often, parents feel inadequate or unsure of themselves as leaders in their family and community.

That is why it is so important to recognize when parents make strides to grow their leadership skills, which is no small feat. This year, for the first time, Circle of Parents is recognizing outstanding Parent Leads from groups throughout Colorado. These Parent Leads, nominated by group facilitators, have consistently contributed to their group, displayed strong boundaries, provided support to the functioning of their group, and built strong and supportive relationships with other group members. These parents not only contribute to the amazing communities that Circle of Parents groups are known for, but also help other parents to build their leadership skills, leading to stronger families and stronger communities. 

Meet the Parent Leads Being Recognized this Year:

Dawn Heller

Jeffco and Statewide Circle of Parents Groups

Allie Bettin Ruvalcaba

Family & Intercultural Resource Center Circle of Parents

Amanda O’Connor

Piñon Project Circle of Parents

Jim Biggs

Piñon Project Circle of Parents

Lupita Cardoza

Sister Carmen Circle of Parents

Heidi Rondon

Statewide Circle of Parents

Heidi Ayammel

Shiloh House Circle of Parents

Want to Learn More About Becoming A Parent Lead?

Contact Toni Miner

Circle of Parents Program Manager

tminer@illuminatecolorado.org

Interested in Joining A Group?

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Parent Leadership: Strong Families, Strong Communities, Healthy Children 

Parent Leadership: Strong Families, Strong Communities, Healthy Children 

February is Parent Leadership Month! Parent leadership is a critical way for families to build upon their strengths, which leads to strong communities and healthy children. Circle of Parents groups–support groups that provide a community where caregivers support each other–are places where parent leaders shine. 

This month, Illuminate will be diving into why parent leaders are integral to strong communities, how parents can grow into leadership roles, and the importance of recognizing and celebrating the work of parent leaders. Join us!

What is a Parent Leader?

Being a leader can look different for every parent. Toni Miner, Circle of Parents program manager at Illuminate Colorado, explained that parent leaders might start out by volunteering at their child’s school, joining a parent-teacher association, or providing support to other parents. Parents who take on leadership roles within a Circle of Parents group, referred to as Parent Leads, take on the responsibility of helping to lead the group and facilitate a productive and supportive discussion. Parent Leads have lived experiences and perspectives that allow them not only to authentically relate to their peers, but also to provide structure and support to group discussions.

Meet Toni

Circle of Parents Program Manager

Becoming a Parent Lead

Every parent’s journey in becoming a leader for their family and community looks different, and we should honor the experiences of parents who come from all backgrounds. Parents who are on their journey to becoming a Parent Lead for their Circle of Parents group, Miner said, might contribute by being the timekeeper for meetings, greeting other parents as they arrive, contributing to group meals, or helping to clean up after meetings. Any and all acts of giving time and partnership help to build important parent leadership skills. 

When identifying potential Parent Leads, Miner explained that she supports parents in being open to learning, as well as understanding how to maintain healthy boundaries and relationships with other group members. These are important skills in being a Parent Lead because they play an essential role in setting the foundation for how the group is run.

After building their leadership skills, parents can become official Parent Leads by completing a facilitator training, where they learn about relationships based on equality and respect, what it means to practice shared leadership in a Circle of Parents setting, and how the program model utilizes the five protective factors of child maltreatment prevention. 

Learn more about the Circle of Parents model and the five protective factors here.

Parent Leads are integral to the Circle of Parents model.

They are peers of those in their group, support others in developing leadership skills within their families and communities, and contribute an authentic voice to group discussions. The work of Parent Leads helps to strengthen Colorado families and communities, resulting in brighter childhoods for all children. This month, we place a special emphasis on and celebrate their contributions. 

Interested in recognizing the parent leaders in your community?

Check out the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance’s resources for requesting, supporting, or accepting a proclamation of February as Parent Leadership Month.

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“We need to get every parent involved in this.”

“We need to get every parent involved in this.”

Judge Meinster Speaks to the Effectiveness of Circle of Parents

We recently had the chance to speak with Judge Ann Meinster of Jefferson County, a major proponent of and advocate for the Circle of Parents program. Judge Meinster presides over the Family Integrated Treatment (FIT) court, a voluntary track that families can opt into when involved in the child welfare system. Having witnessed time and time again how peer support is critical to parents’ wellbeing, Judge Meinster often refers families to Circle of Parents. 

Circle of Parents provides a friendly, supportive community led by parents and other caregivers. Participants are invited to share support, tips or advice in a safe space with those in their communities. The Circle of Parents model is evidence-informed and has been shown to improve resiliency in children by increasing the protective factors in their environment. 

There are several types of Circle of Parents groups, including those specifically for fathers, parents of children with special healthcare needs, and Spanish-speaking parents. Judge Meinster explained to us that through her work she sees the benefits of the Parents in Recovery group most often. 

The goal of her court, Judge Meinster told us, is to provide wrap-around support to families in order to reunify children with their parents or ensure children can remain in the home. Judge Meinster– and increasingly more professionals in her field– know that peer support is critical to achieving this goal. Specifically, parents need ongoing community support focused around substance use. What’s special about the Parents in Recovery groups is that not only are parents able to bond over their experiences in recovery, but they can also connect over the shared struggles of being a parent, and often of being involved in the child welfare system. That is a perspective that no one else has– and it is critical to long-term sobriety. 

“It’s not just people in recovery…it’s also parents who are involved in the child welfare system…that’s an additional bond that parents form…you can’t overstate the effectiveness of that.”

– Judge Meinster

Judge Meinster will sometimes pop into a Circle of Parents meeting to both reconnect with parents she’s had in her courtroom and see some new faces. She told us that the scene is truly inspirational: parents connecting, sharing, and supporting each other. Even the parents who have been attending group meetings for over five years are not only just supporting others but are also still talking about the struggles they currently face– the model of good recovery.  

“They trust each other and they trust Toni [the facilitator]…It really is the most successful program I’ve seen that a court has been able to refer to.”

– Judge Meinster

Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, which is why Illuminate Colorado supports over 40 Circle of Parents groups in 12 counties across the state. To learn more about Circle of Parents, or find the group that’s best for you, visit CircleOfParentsCO.org.  

Find Your Circle Today!

Check out our interactive map to get connected with a group!

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