Training needs of parent educators : a needs assessment of BC practitioners Dickerson, Shannon McCune
Parent educators are expected to serve families with vastly differing backgrounds and needs. However, the field has little infrastructure, development, or funding. The skill and knowledge levels of individuals working with parent groups vary tremendously as there is no set path to becoming a parent educator and currently, there is no national standard of knowledge or skills which parent educators should possess in Canada or the U.S. Often, individuals are sent to specific parenting program trainings by their agency without prior experience or training in basic areas such as group development and facilitation, adult education principles, or basic knowledge about child development and parenting. Working with the BC Council for Families, this project sought to determine whether a foundational training program should be developed for BC parent educators and what it should cover. The perspectives of parent educators with less than three years of experience were elicited through surveys. Insights and experiences of supervisors and trainers of parent educators were gained through interviews. Through these interactions, answers were sought for the following questions: What should be done to better prepare parent educators for the multiple demands that they are expected to meet? What barriers might keep parent educators from accessing further training? What formats for a foundational training might surmount these barriers? A review of resources, courses, or workshops in BC revealed that no training program covering the "basics" of parent education currently exists. Supervisors and trainers of parent educators indicated that such a training is needed. The feedback from all three groups indicated that the highest priority areas in which to offer training for parent educators are: group facilitation, counseling and interpersonal skills, working with families with diverse needs, cultural sensitivity, and teaching adults. While desires for further training were strongly expressed, especially by those interviewed, funding, travel, and time were identified by most respondents as universal barriers. It is recommended the BC Council for Families provide a foundation training for parent educators using a mix of workshops, online tutorials, and web seminars, as needed for remote areas of the province.
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