Work Group Report: National Parents' Organization

Organizing Parents


Purpose:

This work group was based on the premise that a national parent organization similar to the American Association of Retired Persons is needed because the interests of parents and children are not adequately represented in our society and political system. It focused on identifying ways of representing and advocating for the some 62 million parents across the United States through a national parents' organization.

Procedure:

The work group of 40 individuals began with panel presentations by Kerby Alvy (Effective Parenting Campaign), Sylvia Ann Hewlett (National Parenting Association), Selene James (Family Resource Coalition), Sara Mahoney ( Parents Magazine), and Jane Shibilisky (National Parent Teachers Association). The group broke out into five subgroups with the assignments of identifying issues important to all parents, the functions of an umbrella parent organization, the structure of such an organization, and a process for creating that organization.

Results:

The following ideas were generated by collating the material produced by the five subgroups:

Issues:

  1. Family supportive tax structure
    1. Dependent deductions
    2. Child allowances
    3. Pretax savings accounts
  2. Values & character development
  3. Schools
    1. Safety
    2. School based services
    3. Start public education at age 4
    4. Developmentally appropriate educational system
    5. Quality control and class size
    6. Parental involvement
    7. Latch-key children
  4. Safety
    1. Home
    2. Child care facilities
    3. School
    4. Community
    5. Weapon access
    6. Sexually transmitted diseases
    7. Motor vehicle access
    8. Access to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
  5. Family friendly workplace
    1. Realistic hours
    2. Flexible schedules
    3. Accessible, affordable child care
    4. Lactation support
    5. Paid family leave and sick child days
  6. Child care
    1. Quality (standards)
    2. Accessible and affordable
    3. Professionalization
  7. Health care
    1. Affordable health care for all
    2. Dental and mental health benefits
    3. Family centered health care
    4. Child development specialists in all pediatric clinics
  8. Media
    1. Effective ways to control
    2. Responsibility of society, not just parents, to protect children
  9. Parenting skills
    1. Information
    2. Parent support groups
    3. Family centered meetings
  10. Family planning
    1. Birth control covered by insurance
    2. Infertility treatment
    3. Adoption
  11. Housing
    1. Tenant rights
    2. Mortgage availability

Functions of a Parent Organization:

  1. Advocacy & lobbying
  2. Policy development
  3. Member benefits
  4. Education
  5. Clearinghouse
  6. Collaboration
  7. Technical assistance
  8. Seal of approval for family friendly organizations and activities

Structure of a Parent Organization:

  1. Individual memberships through other organizations and direct
    • Local organizations
    • State and regional
  2. Organization memberships
  3. National Staff
    • Washington

Contemporary Scene: (Plethora of child-parent organizations)

  1. National Parent Teachers Association (6.5 million members)
    Washington office for advocacy; state and local organizations
  2. National Parenting Association (7.5 thousand members)
    Policy "think tank"
  3. Parents magazine
    Publication
  4. Family Network (100 thousand members)
    Member benefits and corporate clubs
  5. Family Resource Coalition
    Professionals, resources for parents
  6. Parent educational and training organizations
    Parent education
  7. Information clearinghouses (ERIC, etc.)
    Parent education, advice, communication
  8. Parent educator organizations

Recommendations:

  1. Create a task force or steering committee to explore organizing parents ("United Parents")
    • Draw on conferees
    • Seek funding to support steering committee meetings
      • Foundation
      • Existing organizations
      • Corporations
  2. Create a mission statement for an umbrella parent organization
    • Bumper sticker slogan
    • Parental Bill of Rights (Hewlett and West)
      • Time Bind Relief
        • Paid parenting leaves, flexible workplaces, part time career ladders, and tax breaks for at home parents.
      • Economic security
        • A living wage for parents, child allowances, eliminate sales taxes on children's necessities, such as diapers and car seats.
      • Legal structures
        • Premarital counseling, family marriages, child-oriented divorce. Favor two-parent families in welfare reform.
      • Supportive environment
        • Represent parents in political system. Extend the school day and early childhood education.
    • Parental rights stem from rights of children
      • Right to nurturing parents
      • Right to education
      • Right to health care
  3. Identify existing parent organizations and organize a meeting of their leaders
    • (NPTA, NPA. Family Network, National Partnership for Women and Families, Children's Defense Fund, Children's Partnership, etc.)
    • Seek foundation funding for such a meeting
  4. Identify stakeholders
    • Parents, grandparents, foster parents, caregivers, teachers, youth, Headstart, corporate human resources (AMA, CDF, CED, NGA, NIA, NCFR, NASL, AARP, religious organizations, National Bankers Association, National Insurance Association, University Extension, Family Research Coalition, NACT, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National 9-5, Fortune 500, Focus on the Family, National Association of CEOs, Promise Keepers)
  5. Conduct a parental awareness campaign
    • Parents undervalued and unsupported
    • Identify persuasive spokespersons
      • Dr. Berry Brazelton, Bill Bradley, Bill Cosby, Hillary Clinton, Dr. James Dobson, Marion Wright Edelman, Al Gore, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Jesse Jackson, Michael Jordan, Paul McCartney, Rosie O'Donnell, Governor Roy Romer, John Travolta, Oprah Winfrey

Copyright © 1998 [author(s)].

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