February 2024 – C/W CSTAC Spotlight

Whitney Point CSD’s Parenting Program:
The Incredible Years for Incredible Families

Parenting, Family Engagement

Located in rural upstate New York, the Whitney Point Central School District was fortunate to receive a sub-award of a Full-Service Community School Grant from the Department of Education. One of the requirements of the grant was to implement programming using the evidence-based program known as The Incredible Years. This program has a layered approach to social-emotional learning, which includes classroom, small group, and parenting programs. Being a rural community, we are thrilled to be able to provide families in our district with a quality parenting program.

Families have been very receptive to The Incredible Years, as the parenting program has several options for participants. The infant program focuses on helping parents bond with their babies while learning some child development information as well as the importance of routines and how to develop age-appropriate routines; participants also learn about the importance of playing with their child, versus using electronics to keep their child engaged and learning. The toddler program addresses these same subjects, customized to suit the developmental needs of toddlers and fostering an environment where participants gain valuable strategies to navigate the challenging behaviors typical of that age group. Next, the pre-school age and school-age programs are built on the same foundation as the other programs, also tailored to help parents navigate the age-specific needs and challenges. Finally, there is a program for parents whose children are on the autism spectrum that helps parents find ways to attend to the needs of their children in a way that is unique to them. We are fortunate at Whitney Point to have been able to attend the training for all these programs and provide each program to our families when the need arises.

The Incredible Years Parenting programs are intended to be in-person classes that are held once a week. The COVID shutdown was in place when we were starting the program, so we had to quickly shift to provide the program via Zoom. While that presented some initial challenges, we found our families liked the online format. Once school resumed in person, we surveyed families to gauge their preference between online and in-person programming. A significant number favored the online format. Their preference stemmed from the convenience of not having to venture out at the end of the day. Moreover, they appreciated the ease of putting their children to bed immediately after class and simply relished the comfort of being at home. This year, we have shifted to an in-person class with the option to join via Zoom, and are also offering a daytime and an evening class.

So far, the participant feedback is positive and reflects that attendees are enjoying connecting in person with other parents. We provide childcare for both the daytime and evening classes, and we also provide participants and their families a meal before class. In addition, we provide incentives such as prizes for parents who do their own ‘homework’ and actively participate in the class. Prizes are typically family board games or other activities parents can do with their children.

The Incredible Years classes are 14-18 weeks long, which concerned us at first: We wondered if and how participants would stay engaged for a prolonged period. Fortunately, we have never had an issue with attendance and participation in the program. And true to the Community School model, we have trained parents who participated in the class, and one parent now helps lead the classes.

We are grateful to the Department of Education for providing the grant funding, Binghamton University for writing and managing the grant, our District administration for their vision and support, and to the families in our school district who have enriched our lives by engaging with us in these classes.

-Submitted by Julia Jurena, Community School Co-Coordinator, Whitney Point Central School District

Watch the video below to see these programs in action at Whitney Point CSD!

Do you have a community school story that you would like featured in our e-newsletter?  Email cstac@binghamton.edu.