One of the most popular services in our Family Resource Center Initiative (FRCI), Parent and Infant/Child Interactive groups (commonly known as playgroups) are also one of the most complex services our FRCs provide. —These groups offer parents and caregivers of young children opportunities to engage their children in developmentally appropriate activities which help parents/caregivers support the child to be ready for a successful school experience.
A group of our FRC Parent Child Interactive (PCI) Group facilitators recently began meeting as a Professional Learning Cohort to discuss, develop, and innovate their practice in their playgroups. In addition to facilitating the group, FRC staff individualize the program for each parent-child pair through a formal intake and assessment process in which parents/caregivers can help staff understand what other types of information or support may be needed; whether that be assistance with school enrollment, a referral to our Help Me Grow affiliate, or helping the family request an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) from the school district.
Since every FRC in our jointly funded initiative hosts one or more of these multifaceted PCI groups, FRC staff have told us that they would benefit from more opportunities to meet to learn from and with each other. First 5 has responded to this request by developing a series of five monthly sessions which feature discussion and mutual learning of the competencies and skills needed to develop and implement PCI groups. The competencies and skills discussed are informed by the expertise of the Cohort’s members as well as the Wisconsin Core Competencies in Family Support and the Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening and Support. Learning Cohort members supplement these discussions through outside readings of a set of curated materials provided by First 5. Members also have the opportunity to complete a self-assessment and formal observations of their own and other PCI groups in order to develop individualized goals and action steps to further improve the quality of their programs.
This commentary was submitted by volunteer contributor Shelli Rawlings-Fein, Family Support Program Officer and Laura Preuss, First 5 Graduate Student Intern.