ACT Program for Parents: A Snapshot
The ACT program is an early prevention intervention focusing on parents and caregivers of young children. The program is based on three foundational pieces of evidence from research:
- The early years are a critical time in development when children are learning basic skills that have long-term effects on their lives.
- Exposure to adverse experiences early in life, such as maltreatment, can have serious and long-lasting impacts on emotional, cognitive, behavioral development and on health.
- Parents and caregivers are teachers, protectors and advocates for their children.
- Equip organizations and professionals with research-based tools and knowledge to help build strong and healthy families that contribute to safe communities.
- Teach parents of young children positive parenting skills that create safe, stable, healthy and nurturing environments and relationships that prevent children’s exposure to abuse and adversities that have lifelong consequences.
- Create a community of learners contributing to reduce the violence in the communities.
- It is a universal intervention for ALL parents and caregivers of young children regardless of risk or experience as abusers.
- Focuses on the early years when lifelong learnings and conditions are established.
- Embraces a psycho-educational model where individuals are organized in groups combining interpersonal interactions and educational information to lead to learning experiences.
- Curriculum delivery is not judgmental, puts emphasis on the practice of skills and discussions of positive parenting options presented: offer options to parents.
- Has a collaborative, person-centered, gentle, empathetic way to elicit motivation to change parenting skills and practices.
- Has standardized materials and protocols for fidelity of delivery and evaluation developed by the Violence Prevention Office of the American Psychological Association with assistance from experts.
- Curriculum and materials are research-based and strength-based.
- Has strong evidence base demonstrating its effectiveness in improving parenting skills, preventing/reducing physical punishment of children, reducing/preventing children’s aggressive behaviors, bullying, and improving parental social support.
- It is culturally sensitive and has research-based curriculum and materials adapted for diverse cultures and translated into several languages.
- Translates science-based content into simple, friendly language and formats for all parents/caregivers to learn positive parenting skills and practices.
- Developed and coordinated by a national, recognized professional organization: the American Psychological Association.
The research-based curriculum was developed around three central themes:
- Knowledge and beliefs about child development
It is important that parents and caregivers understand what children are capable of understanding, feeling and doing at different ages and stages of development and its conditions.
- Role of relationship
Abuse and violence occur in the context of relationships in an environment that is not conducive to healthy relationships. It is important that caregivers understand that strong, nurturing and healthy bonding with their children create a positive foundation for the rest of their lives.
- Parenting skills
Parenting styles and practices have an impact on children’s behaviors. Parents need to be provided with positive, science-based parenting options that will help them raise their children free of abuse.
The program curriculum is delivered by trained professionals (ACT Facilitators) to groups of parents/caregivers in nine sessions of two hours on average each and addresses the following topics:
- Pre-Meeting: Motivation and Behavioral Changes
- Session 1: Learning Child Development and Understanding Children’s Behavior
- Session 2: Young Children’s Exposure to Violence
- Session 3: Understanding and Controlling Parents/Adults’ Anger
- Session 4: Understanding and Helping Angry Children
- Session 5: Children and Electronic Media
- Session 6: Discipline and Parenting Style
- Session 7: Discipline for Positive Behaviors
- Session 8: Parents as Teachers, Protectors and Advocates at Home and in the Community
Contact one of the Program Coordinators/Master Trainers to find a program site near you.