How PEPS Helps Build Healthy Families
PEPS provides peer support programs for new parents based on the Strengthening Families™ Framework.
Our universal programs are open to all families, and our focus is on increasing family wellness and on building resilience by preparing parents to cope with life stresses before problems arise.
Strengthening Families is a research-informed approach from the Center for the Study of Social Policy to increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.
We know that parenting is challenging work, and we believe the well-being of a community is enhanced when all parents have access to support. Additionally, we know that supporting parents is foundational to the healthy development of children and that family wellness is two-generational, meaning that support must be given to children and parents. Many years of study confirm that outcomes of children are influenced largely by parents who are nurturing and responsive to their emotional and physical needs and that a child’s earliest experiences and environment is the foundation for future learning and school readiness.
Strengthening Families has at its core 5 Protective Factors that all families need and that PEPS enhances and supports:
Parental resilience: Parenting a new baby is one of life’s biggest stresses. Parents need to learn to deal with stress and day-to-cay challenges and still maintain a safe and nurturing environment in their family. During PEPS discussions, parents learn skills from each other for managing their day-to-day lives, reducing stress, taking care of themselves and preparing for and managing crises.
Social connections: Strong families have a network of people who provide concrete assistance, emotional support, and nonjudgmental help and validation. The healthiest relationships are characterized by trust, reciprocity, flexibility, child-friendly values, and a balance of independence and mutual assistance. Our primary focus is bringing together communities of parents for mutual support and shared information. At group meetings, PEPS parents also discuss ways that new parents can preserve/ strengthen relationships with their extended family and current circle of friends.
Social and emotional competence: In healthy families, parents have a positive, nurturing relationship with the child that is based on behaviors that promote healthy, secure attachment. PEPS leaders teach developmental activities that parents can use to build connections with their child and discussions include topics like how to respond appropriately to children’s needs, stimulate healthy brain development, and promote positive play interaction between parents and children.
Knowledge of parenting and child development: Parents who understand typical development patterns can better guide and discipline their child and promote healthy development. PEPS integrates current research on child development and early learning into our programming and curriculum. The PEPS Topic Guide, which leaders use to facilitate discussion, offers both theoretical concepts to increase parents’ understanding and practical tools that can be applied in daily life.
Concrete support for families: A PEPS Group provides concrete support directly by bringing parents out of isolation during the early weeks and months of having a new baby. In addition, families benefit when they are made aware of community resources that enhance wellness and protective factors during their group meetings. In PEPS Groups, parents share information and connections to help each other get the help and resources they need. PEPS also provides ongoing communications and referrals that help parents find appropriate support and resources.
For more information on Strengthening Families™: www.strengtheningfamilies.net