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Family Care Curriculum: A Parenting Support Program for Families Experiencing Homelessness

Abstract

Purpose In the United States, families with children characterize the fastest growing portion of the homeless population. Parenting for families experiencing homelessness presents unique challenges since families facing homelessness are disproportionately more likely to experience a myriad of interpersonal and contextual stressors that heighten the risk of parents engaging in suboptimal parenting approaches. This article describes the development and implementation of the Family Care Curriculum (FCC) train-the-trainer parenting support program specifically designed to support positive parenting in families experiencing homelessness. Description The FCC is a 6-week theory-based parenting intervention aimed to create positive shifts in parental attitudes to enhance sensitive and nurturing parenting and positive parent–child relationships. FCC assists parents in reflecting on how their own experiences contribute to some of their parenting beliefs, patterns, and behaviors. Parents are coached to imagine and understand the emotions, attachment, and developmental needs behind their children’s behaviors so they can maintain empathic and nurturing parenting responses in the context of cumulative and chronic stress. Parents are supported through learning to engage in self-care. A unique and important feature of the FCC is the inclusion of a culturally sensitive approach that takes into consideration the effects of racism, classism, and oppression on parent–child relationships. Conclusion FCC was designed, implemented, and championed by expert providers in the fields of family therapy, social work, and pediatrics to support parents experiencing homelessness. FCC adds to the body of effective attachment-based, trauma-informed, and culturally sensitive parenting interventions for improving parent–child relations and family health amongst vulnerable populations.

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Correspondence to Sandy L. Sheller.

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Sheller, S.L., Hudson, K.M., Bloch, J.R. et al. Family Care Curriculum: A Parenting Support Program for Families Experiencing Homelessness. Matern Child Health J 22, 1247–1254 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-018-2561-7

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Keywords

  • Homelessness
  • Parenting program
  • Parental attitudes
  • Parent–child relationships
  • Attachment
  • Trauma-informed