Are you afraid of getting rejection letters after spending your evenings and weekends writing funding proposals? Speak to what funders are seeking, evidence-based models and measures that show how children and families grow from your services. Similarly, board members want to know that your parenting services make a difference in families lives. In this week’s blog we’ll offer some guidance to increase the chance of your parenting services proposals being funded.
Make a Strong Argument for Why Parenting Is Important
There is currently a strong push by funders for quality evaluations that document evidence of outcomes using evidence-based models and validated measures. In addition to documenting fidelity to the chosen model, a quality evaluation assesses outcomes to show if you have achieved your stated goals. Commonly, school readiness, child health, safety and development, and/or the prevention of child abuse/neglect are the ultimate outcomes. Parenting is a critical intermediate outcome in the logic models of how services lead to child health and well-being. While many programs aimed at children and families monitor child outcomes, they may not assess the intermediate outcomes that are directly affected by their services, and that influence children’s long-term development. Funders want evidence that their money is well spent on these intermediate outcomes that are driving the ultimate child outcomes. Intermediate factors need to be the focus of evaluations. Without defining and assessing the intermediate drivers one cannot improve the services or fully interpret your ultimate outcomes. By assessing intermediate parenting outcomes, you can guide more nurturing parenting and ultimately improve child outcomes.
Why Use a Valid Observational Parenting Assessment?
The most common method of parenting assessment involves questionnaires that parents complete. There are many parenting survey tools available (see reviews at CEBC or NCTSN). Through questionnaires you can learn about parents’ perspectives regarding parenting knowledge, attitudes, feelings about the parenting role, stressful circumstances or supports in their lives. However, proposal reviewers are increasingly coming to realize that knowledge, attitudes and feelings are NOT behavior, and it is parents’ behavior that really matters to children.
Another assessment method involves staff documenting their clinical impressions of parenting. Parenting items (e.g., discipline, nurturing) are often included in summary measures aimed at assessing overall family functioning. This general information may be useful for prioritizing parenting services among all family needs, but it does not help you identify specific parenting strengths or growth opportunities for targeted intervention.
Observational Parenting Assessments Guide Parenting Services
Validated parenting observation tools provide detailed insights into parent-child interactions. With the insights provided by an observational parenting assessment, like KIPS, you can intervene more effectively to build skills for more nurturing parenting. Parenting assessments give you specific information on how each parent can improve in nurturing each child. Furthermore, using an observational parenting assessment tool, you will collect information that can be used in quality improvement. By having your staff use the assessment in goal planning and their work with parents, you will gain two additional benefits beyond that of proving outcomes. First, if the assessment information is used to tailor services to the parent’s needs, then parents are more likely to engage in the services and the program outcomes are likely to be better. Second, if the staff person working with the family sees practical value from the assessment, then buy-in for the process is likely to be much higher for both staff and family. For further discussion of the value of observational parenting assessments, see our paper on the 9 Ways parenting assessment can benefit your program, staff and families.
Observational Parenting Assessments Evaluate Outcomes
If your program’s goal is to promote high quality parenting practices, an observational parenting assessment can evaluate the outcomes. By measuring what matters to children, their parents’ behavior, family service programs can document a vital outcome. Having data to show potential funders that your services improve parenting behavior leads to the joy of opening that announcement letter that your proposal was funded. Think about it from the proposal reviewers’ point of view: One proposal will assess what parents actually do; the other will survey parents about what they think they do. If both provide comparable services, which proposal would you fund?
Rejoice in Funding!
Include Parenting Assessments
Melt your funders' hearts.
Or, at least open their wallets.
Download this guide to effectively include the KIPS parenting assessment in your proposals.