Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Strengths-Based Parenting Intervention with Low-Income African American Families

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Strengths-Based Parenting Intervention with Low-Income African American Families

Article excerpt

With the propensity of African American children at higher risk for academic success due to their disproportionate rate of school discipline problems compared to their peers, school counselors are challenged to provide culturally and developmental& responsive services for this population. This article provides a brief rationale for the use of a family-oriented, strengths-based approach when working with African Americans and explores the effect of "child parent relationship training" on children's behavior and parent-child relationship stress.

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The most recent Surgeon General's report on the status of children's mental health brought the nation's attention to the critical need for preventative services for children, especially for racial and ethnic minority, families living in poverty, (U.S. Public Health Service, 2000). The report noted the important role of schools in meeting this need, with an emphasis on effective research supporting culturally and developmentally responsive services that involved families. The President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (2003) reiterated the need to provide early responsive services to underserved racial and ethnic minority populations in settings characterized with fewer mental health related stigmas, such as schools.

With the recent U.S. Census Bureau (2008) press release projecting racial minorities as the numerical majority in 2042, with more than half identified as children, school counselors are challenged to respond proactively to an increasingly diverse population of students to ensure equip' and promote academic success. Nowhere is this challenge greater than in the growing number of preschool programs in public schools, such as Head Start, designed to provide early intervention for children considered at risk for school achievement. African American children, in particular, appear to be at higher risk for academic and personal struggles due to their disproportionate rate of school discipline problems compared to their peers (National Center for Educational Statistics, [NCES], 2003). Galassi, Griffin, and Akos (2008) advocated for counseling services targeted at preschool populations to address the growth in early education programs, and they proposed expanding school counselor training to include working with this increasingly diverse population of young children. Strength-based school counseling services that involve families have been suggested as a strategy for promoting academic success for children of color by fostering positive parent-child relationships and empowering parents and children (Bryan & Henry, 2008).

In alignment with the ASCA National Model[R] (American School Counselor Association, 2005), school counselors are faced with the challenging task to provide evidence supporting the effectiveness of counseling interventions they use. A review of articles published in Professional School Counseling revealed no controlled outcome studies targeting effective school-based practices for young African American children. This exploratory study serves as a starting point to examine the effectiveness of a developmentally and culturally responsive play counseling-based intervention, "child parent relationship training," for low-income African American parents and children within the school setting. This article provides a brief rationale for the use of a family-oriented, strengths based approach when working with this population and explores the effect of child parent relationship training on children's behavior and parent-child relationship stress.

NEED FOR PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT WITH AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY

Research has demonstrated the positive impact of parental involvement on children's academic achievement and socio-emotional development (Jackson, Gyamfi, Brooks-Gunn, & Blake, 1998; Lamy 2003; Parker, Boak, Griffin, Ripple, & Peay, 1999; Samaras & Wilson, 1999). …

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