There are many joys when it comes to parenthood, but there are struggles, too. Between paying the bills and seeing to all of the errands, the added stress of a baby, especially for new parents, can be overwhelming.
But many Oklahoma families have found an ally in Parent Promise.
The nonprofit organization's executive director, Billie Brown, recently talked about their mission to educate and aid families while working to prevent child abuse.
Q: How did Parent Promise begin in Oklahoma?
A: In 1988, we were founded by the Exchange Club, which is a service organization. The prevention of child abuse and neglect is their mission. They joined forces with Prevent Child Abuse Oklahoma in 2001. The center is accredited by the Exchange Club Foundation, and then we are also chartered by Prevent Child Abuse America.
Q: What does your work look like?
A: We kind of wear two hats. Our mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, and we do that by providing home visitation services. We provide a family support worker to work with young mothers. We are a provider also for the state Health Department. We have a grant with them that we send the home visitation program with the Healthy Families America model, and we also have a parent aid program. We do one other teenage pregnancy prevention program called “Baby Think It Over.” Those are our main programs.
Q: Whom do you help?
A: Mainly we help young mothers from 29 weeks of pregnancy up. The child can stay in the program for five years, so our family support worker can work with the mother for five years. What they do is they go into the house, they teach them parenting skills. They help them put a family plan together and help them find resources in the community, because a lot of them need other resources. We provide over 1,000 home visits a year to families.
Q: Why are these services so critical to your mission?
A: Being a parent is difficult, and most of the young mothers we work with really lack family support. Many times we provide and help them with services they currently don't have.
Q: How can people help?
A: There are a lot of ways that people could participate with child abuse prevention.
We are a nonprofit, so we do depend on fundraising. We do accept baby items, diapers, to provide to our mothers. For this year, what we're looking forward (to) mainly is getting advocates.
Each April, advocates participate in our child abuse prevention date at the state Capitol, and that's going to be April 8.
Q: What else is on the horizon?
A: Our fundraiser for April is going to be our Casual 4 Kids program, where we sell T-shirts, and we get businesses involved in buying a T-shirt so the company can pick (a casual day).
We work with some schools to draw the design, and we have a lot of schools that participate. The teachers pick a Friday and they dress casual for a day at work.