The cornerstones of the program are respect, validation and a belief that when the tools of democracy are understood, the public will become active participants in communities.
Definition of parent leadership
Parent leadership is the capacity for parents to interact within society with purpose and positive outcomes for children.
The public is increasingly alienated from government. Most parents are deeply concerned about the impact of schools, community and the environment on their children, but don’t know how systems function or how decisions are made within the public policy and budget domains. A democracy toolkit is needed to develop the skills of civic leadership.
PLTI has these goals:
- Help parents become the leaders they would like to be for children and families;
- Expand the capacity of parents as change agents for children and families;
- Develop communities of parents within regions of the state that will support one another in skills development and successful parent action for children;
- Facilitate systems change for parental involvement with increased utilization of parents in policy and process decisions; and
- Increase parent-child interactions and improve child outcomes through parent involvement.
Parents are offered leadership training that includes:
- Retreat to develop group communication;
- 10 weeks of classes on self and perception of leadership;
- 10 weeks on practicing democracy skills; and
- A community project based upon the student’s personal passions.
The course ends with a local graduation and a statewide graduation where participants receive citations from the Secretary of the State.
The 20-week course also includes instruction on:
- Understanding personal history and its impact on perceptions of leadership
- Thriving and working with diversity
- Assessing and defining problems – thinking critically
- Using the media
- Public speaking
- Using benchmarks and outcome measures
- Forming useful coalitions and building community
- Working with and how to engage the opposition
- Understanding policy and municipal budgets
- Becoming familiar with city, state and federal law.
Who are the parent leaders?
Adults raising children including mothers, fathers, grandparents, stepparents parents. But you don’t need to be a parent to be in the class, just care about improving systems for children.
Parents, children and communities benefit. Parents gain self-confidence using their skills as change-agents within communities. Children benefit when parents participate more in their lives as advocates and decision-makers. Communities benefit as parents use their tools of democracy in civic initiatives.
What makes PLTI unique?
Some values in the structure of the PLTI include parent leadership developed through trust, participation, skills building, hope and expectation. These ingredients offer parents, who seek to create change for their children and others, a ladder towards leadership through unique features:
PLTI is intergenerational.
The PLTI recognizes that multiple generations raise children. The program offers leadership training to parents and grandparents. The children attend dinner and participate in child care while their guardians are in class. This parent-child participation in leadership enhances children’s visions of their own potential to effect change.
PLTI expands its circle of effect.
Parent graduates serve as mentors for the next class of students. Parents participate, advise, speak and mentor other parents and programs seeking to work with parents as partners. The Design team which sponsors the PLTI initiative in the community also helps bring about change.
PLTI selection is parent-based.
Parents are selected on individual merit based on their application and interview. Some applicants are self-referred. Others are referred by PLTI graduates, religious institutions, schools or community agencies. The PLTI strengthens a diverse constituency of parents who can access and utilize community assets to meet parent-defined goals.