Home-Based Services for Troubled Children

By Ira M. Schwartz; Philip Auclaire | Go to book overview

4
Parent Support and Education Programs: Their Role in the Continuum of Child and Family Services

Robert Halpern

"No, my friend," said Bacon softly, "...If you people were that worried about the children you would build the day-care center yourself and hire the best professional people to work in it, people with experience. You wouldn't even talk about hiring the people off the streets. What do the people of the streets know about running a day-care center? No, my friend, you're investing in something else. You're investing in steam control." -- Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities

Deliberate intervention to strengthen the ability of parents -- particularly low income parents -- to protect, nurture, and guide their children has a long history in the United States ( Boyer, 1978; Grubb & Lazerson, 1982). Whatever the socially defined problems of children in a particular era, inadequate parenting has been implicated as a causal factor. Historically, the principal thrust of efforts to address problems attributed in whole or part to inadequate parenting has been to supplement or compensate for parental care. But there have always been efforts to strengthen such care as well. Examples include the "moral guidance" provided by the nineteenth-century friendly visitors, the settlement workers' advice and assistance in child-rearing matters, and the family casework of the first child and family service agencies ( Lubove, 1968). In this chapter I examine one of the principal strategies to emerge in the current era to strengthen parenting: parent support and education programs for families with infants and young children. These programs provide guidance, assistance, and encouragement to parents, and

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