The PLTI program is a two-generation strategy to bolster parental involvement while promoting the lifelong health, safety and learning of children. The program integrates child development leadership and democracy skills into a parent curriculum. Parents attend a 20-week program. The application process is competitive. Family supports such as child care, meals, and transportation are provided. Each class mentors the next, creating a pyramid effect of community caring and developing coalition of parents. The classes are evaluated by parents for both short and long-term outcomes.
General Parent Leadership Training Institute Goals Seek to:
•Help parents become the leaders they would like to be for children;
•Expand the capacity of parents as change agents for children;
•Develop supportive communities of parents within targeted regions of the state that will support one another in both their skills development and successful parent action for young children;
•Develop supportive communities of parents within parent-driven institutions such as Head Start and Title I programs;
•Facilitate parents’ capacity to offer input into community efforts on the neighborhood, city, regional and state level;
•Facilitate systems change for parental involvement with increased utilization of parents in policy and process decisions;
•Increase parent-child interactions and quality children’s programs through parent involvement.
In 1992, The Connecticut Commission on Children designed the Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI). The strategy and curriculum to promote parent leaders evolved after two years of parent focus groups revealed that parents had deep interest in improving child outcomes, but did not perceive themselves as assets or a constituency in the public sector for children.
The American Leadership Forum partnered with the Commission to assist with resource development and a sustainable plan. The Education Foundation of America, Surdna Foundation, Hasbro Foundation, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the State of Connecticut supported the Commission while building and testing the family civics model and its outcomes. The William Caspar Graustein Foundation, Liberty Bank Foundation and other private sector partners supported and embedded the model locally.
When the outcomes revealed strong civic skills development, significant increases in parent leadership within communities, diversity in participants across education levels, culture and race and policy leaders emerging on the local, regional and state level, national interest in replication took hold. The Kellogg Foundation offered a three year grant to test a national structure and network to go to scale. States and cities began to call on the PLTI to help agencies change their culture and attitudes towards parents. Others sought advice on how to braid proven policies for children with authentic parent engagement.
The Connecticut PLTI grew a National Parent Leadership Institute to provide the tested model in other cities and states. PLTI is now in 17 states with shared outcome data, supportive training and cross sector planning in family engagement.