This project seeks to improve the knowledge and skills of parents of children 0-5 years of age through a cultural relevant parenting curriculum, Smart &Secure Children (SSC), as a strategy for reducing disparities in health. The SSC was developed with local community parents through a collaborative community-based participatory research process. The SSC curriculum is designed to increase quality parenting knowledge and skills and mental well being as protective factors for parents in order to reduce the negative impact of poverty and related risk factors affecting children's preschool ability and behavioral health. These risk factors ultimately lead to health disparities, particularly in mental health. Specifically, the proposed research will determine the effectiveness of two delivery methods of SSC (intervention arms) relative to a control arm (social participation and interaction) in: 1) improving knowledge of quality parenting, quality parenting skills, and mental health well-being of parents and 2) the subsequent impact of improved quality parenting on the children's pre-school readiness and social and behavioral health. The project will use a cluster of randomized, controlled trial study design, to assess improvements in quality parenting and mental well-being among parent participants (i.e., mothers, father and grandparents) with each of the intervention arms being compared to the improvements among parent in the control arm. Trained parent leaders within each targeted neighborhoods will recruit parents from their formal and informal social networks to become parent participants in the social participation learning groups of the proposed study. Recruited parent participants of each social network (or cluster) will be randomly allocated to one of three distinct arms, each facilitated by trained parent leaders. Knowledge, skills, and mental well-being of participating parents will be measured at base-line and immediately at post-intervention intervals for a total of five (5) post-intervention parent assessments. Baseline pilot assessment of children pre-school readiness and behavioral health will be conducted at intervals as recommended by the standard tools.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been consistently linked to behavior or mental health problems in children and psychiatric disorders in children and adults. Risk factors such as poverty, lack of maternal attachment, incarceration and severe depression, child neglect and repeated abuse negatively impact child development and behavior health. These risk factors contribute to growing disparities in health, and SSC is designed as a strategy for reducing the associated disparities in health/mental health and child outocmes.
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