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Upcoming Event

Mapping Session #1
Tuesday, October 17
9 AM - Noon

Join Healthy Start Missoula for the first of three mapping sessions! Please join us for a morning of collaborative work to better support our families with young children! (pregnancy - age 5)

Contact Anna Semple (asemple@missoulacounty.us) if you have questions!

About This Project

Raising children can be rewarding, but also challenging! Every parent needs support, but it is not always obvious where to find it. In Missoula we have so many parenting support options, but there can be confusion about best-fit programming, as well as gaps in services. There are many parts to our early childhood parenting support system, and we are excited to work as a team to better serve families in our community! 

This work will take place in four parts:

  1. Mapping Session #1: Bringing all parts of the system together to begin thinking about our system's strengths, and what we want it to look like in the coming years. We will rotate between small facilitated groups to create a vision for each area of work. ​​

  2. Family Engagement Process: Feedback from the first mapping session will be used to design a parent survey and/or focus group series. This work will occur between November 2023 and February 2024, and information gathered will inform the next steps for this project.

  3. Mapping Session #2: In early 2024, we will invite all parts of the Parenting Support System back to the table to hear the results from the Family Engagement Process and begin brainstorming next steps to improve parenting support in our community. 

  4. Mapping Session #3: In Spring 2024 we will look at action! The full group will be brought together to prioritize next steps, assign tasks... creating a community-wide action plan! 

A note about language: Right now we are using the word "parenting" to describe the work and care that goes into raising a child. That includes parents, grandparents, foster parents, or anyone else who is the primary caregiver of children. We know that there are a wide variety of families types out there, and we want them all to feel supported! Please let the organizers know if you have other ideas of what to call this - we are open to ideas throughout this process. 

Why Pregnancy - Age 5?: While early childhood extends until the age of 8, our family support systems look very different before and after children start kindergarten. For the purpose of this project, we are only mapping, visioning and action planning for families with children pregnancy - age 5. 

The Parenting Support System

Parenting Protective Factors

According to the Child Welfare Bureau, "Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, and communities that promote the health and well-being of children and families." ALL families benefit when they have sufficient support in these areas: 

  1. Nurturing and Attachment

  2. Knowledge of Parenting for Child and Youth Development

  3. Parental Resilience (parent ability to cope with stress)

  4. Social Connections (for parents)

  5. Concrete Support in Times of Need

  6. Social and Emotional Competence of Children

While the Child Welfare Bureau talks about these Protective Factors in terms of child abuse and neglect prevention, we will be focusing on the universal benefit for parents of having support in these areas. You can find more information about each of these factors on the Child Welfare Bureau website. 

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