Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Be to the Parent: A Statewide Discussion

Julie, Help Me Grow's Program Manager
Last Tuesday I stood before a room full of people at Discovery Gateway in Salt Lake. It was a day I'd been looking forward to for almost ten months, and I was excited! Help Me Grow had news to share (click here if you'd like to learn more). But, much more importantly, we held a discussion that was the true purpose of the day.

I had no idea where this discussion would take us, but I knew that we, as community providers, desperately needed the answers and emotion that would come out of it. My excitement multiplied knowing that similar groups were having the same discussion across the state. All of us with one goal: to understand how we can better support the parents and children of Utah.

For me the greatest take-home message from the Salt Lake discussion was one that seemed to encompass many of the others I'll share below. I learned that I need to be to parents what I want them to be to their children. The simplicity of this message is what makes it so profound. Anything I do in my work is something I should hope that parents could use to help their children--be it respect, communication, building relationships, etc.

Even with this take-home message, other common and important themes emerged from the various discussions statewide. This wasn't too surprising since the focus was what parents and providers have and should do together to support the betterment of young children. The common themes included:
  • Parents are the experts of their children and providers need to respect their position.
  • Building genuine and trusting relationships between parents and service providers is vital to accomplish anything.
  • We need to recognize and support parents' strengths.
  • Providers should meet parents where they're at by seeking to understand their situations and helping from there.
  • Open communication between the providers and parents will help both sides to know where the other stands and the plan to move forward.
  • Providers and parents use moments to teach one another and model appropriate actions.
  • Parents need support from other parents and useful community resources.
  • Areas where providers saw a need for change included: increased collaboration between service providers, a need to show we value parents (in policies/laws or how services are offered), and improvements in many of the areas already listed, like communication, building relationships and providing support/resources.
The final call in our discussion was for all to individually consider what they can change, be it in their work or personal lives, to improve. And so I challenge you to the same. What is it you can do to support parents and children more in your community? We all have something to give.

Kali, Community Liaison 


  1. Many thanks for all that you do in our community!

    1. Thank you, Julia! We love serving with the community to make it a better place for our little ones.