by Emily Orenstein, University of Chicago Institute of Politics Intern


Young people are more likely to succeed when they have their families behind them. In particular, teenagers whose parents are involved in their lives are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and more likely to see improvements in emotional health. Get IN Chicago recognizes the importance of strong families to our mission of keeping acutely high-risk youth safe, which is why parent leadership is a key component of our funding and measurement work.

Last year, Family Focus, Metropolitan Family Services, and Youth Guidance all received Get IN Chicago support for family engagement programs. These three organizations serve Austin, Englewood, West Englewood, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, and Roseland using two evidence-based models (B-PROUD and Parenting Fundamentals) which rely on similar core curricula that emphasize respect and communication between parents/caregivers and teens.

Participants from Family Focus Lawndale’s B-PROUD parent leadership program pose at their graduation ceremony in June 2017

B-PROUD (Black Parenting with Respect, Order, and Discipline), a curriculum developed by Northwestern University professor Dr. Jelani Mandara, is specially designed for parents of African-American teens, particularly sons.  B-PROUD addresses issues of racial socialization, adolescent development, and discipline styles. Family Focus and Youth Guidance both use the B-PROUD curriculum as part of their programming. Metropolitan Family Services’ Parenting Fundamentals promotes the social emotional development of children, prevents child abuse and neglect, strengthens families, and improves school readiness and achievement.  Its sessions cover topics like academic support, connecting with children, and parental self-care and sometimes include home visits by educators.

Between February 2016 and January 2017, this cohort of organizations enrolled more than 500 parents and reported the following the successes:

  • 90% of Family Focus B-PROUD participants expressed an increase in their perception of their parenting capacities.
  • 80% of Metropolitan Family Services Parenting Fundamentals participants improved their ability to use disciplining strategies effectively.
  • 80% of Youth Guidance parent participants reported that they apply the “no fault” approach when dealing with their children’s challenges at home, in school, and in the community.

Families and youth at a Youth Guidance family engagement event in Austin

Representatives from our parent leadership cohort recently attended our SYNC Provider Kickoff.  There, they shared strategies for family engagement and met other grantee teams to introduce their services as a resource for parents of SYNC-enrolled youth.

Success Story: Metropolitan Family Services, Parenting Fundamentals
“I am so very proud of my son and myself.  I took heed of the lessons CJ (instructor) shared for building relationships with your children. CJ had us practice the 5 elements:

  • Showing love by verbally saying “I Love You” to our children
  • Having fun together by going somewhere as a family
  • Encouragement by giving us 101 ways to praise your child – and she had us choose one phrase a day for a week
  • Mutual respect by listening to our children
  • Giving them our full attention which leads to communication, by simply asking them ‘how was your day?’

“It has made a world of difference as I notice the change in my son’s attitude and he in mine. I also loved the home visits as it allowed me to truly open up and talk candidly. CJ was even able to recommend a male mentor for my son!”

CJ Pruitt, Parenting Fundamentals educator at Metropolitan Family Services, shares family engagement strategies at our SYNC Provider Kickoff