Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) and Valley Kids Belong

May 15, 2012

To treat mental illness in children, it’s important to spot it early, identifying and intervening before more serious problems develops. The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) has been  taking a community-based approach to reaching children at risk of mental health issues.

To test this theory, we initiated a multi-year grant program that has fostered the planning and implementing of pilots within four communities – Derby, Manchester, Middletown, and Waterbury. Each of these pilots is based in a school and links community and medical services to identify and treat these children.

Each pilot has structured themselves differently based on their unique needs. May is Mental Health Month, and so we’re featuring each of these communities every Tuesday throughout the month.

Parents play a key role in the mental health of their children. The more positive that relationship is, the better the child’s mental health is.

To help parents in the Lower Naugatuck Valley have better relationships with their children, the Derby pilot, Valley Kids Belong (VKB), has had explosive success in using the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P). VKB is based in Irving and Bradley elementary schools are then referred (if necessary) to the Lower Naugatuck Valley Parent Child Resource Center for intervention.

Each of CT Health’s pilots uses a different therapeutic model for working with kids who have been identified as at risk of having a mental health issue. Triple P is a multi-level framework that reinforces good behavior while discouraging negative behavior. Based on need, parents can give their children the appropriate level of intervention when facing a challenge.

Laura Mutrie, LCSW, Director of Clinical Services at Lower Naugatuck Valley Parent Child Resource Center, recommended the evidence-based Triple P model for VKB during the planning stage.

“Parents who go through the program are going to learn to enjoy their children,” said Laura. “When kids live in an environment where they know they’re valued and that their parents like them, those are resiliency factors.”

Laura has seen, in her words, “huge” differences between kids in therapy with Triple P and those in therapy without Triple P.

In this video, Laura discusses not only how the program works – but how the model has become so popular it has “gone viral” as she says. She describes herself as an evangelist for the program.

The Parent Child Resource Center in Derby has the only Triple P-certified group facilitators in Connecticut. Laura and the Project Director, Millie VandenBroek, were invited to discuss their implementation of Triple P at a convening held by Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Roderick Bremby and the Children’s Trust Fund Executive Director Karen Foley-Schain to discuss a statewide Triple P initiative on January 25 of this year.

Since then, Hartford and Willimantic have been chosen by the Children’s Trust Fund as test sites for the roll out of training and implementation of Triple P in December. The Department of Children and Families is in the process of reprocuring two contracts Family Enrichment Services and Intensive Family Preservation/Family Reunification Services.  Each of the workgroups is interested in utilizing Triple P as part of their scope of service.

Personally, I love the idea of parents enjoying their children. What resonated with you?

2 Responses to Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) and Valley Kids Belong

  1. Bill Dorman says:

    Great concept IF you can get the parents to participate.

    This is my observation, but most of the problems occur with lower socio-economic families. When there is drugs and abuse included, sometimes it is hard to get the parents to ‘buy-in’ to the worth of something like this. From what I have observed, it’s usually after DCF has removed the kids. Then they are ready to learn how to be a parent.

    You also have to deal with generational abuse and what has become the ‘norm’ for some of these mothers and find a way to break the cycle. Unfortunately, a lot of these kids have the deck stacked against them from the ‘get go.’

    I’m of the opinion if we can save just one, it was worthwhile.

    Sounds like you are doing great things and sounds like a really great program.

  2. Millie VandenBroek says:

    Hi Mr. Dorman –
    Thank you for your feedback. We agree – helping one family makes everything worthwhile. But it’s also been our experience that parenting problems cut across all socioeconomic groups. One of the things we really like about the Triple P model is that it has a strong “universal” or public health component, namely, that parenting support and education needs to happen on a population level, and not just for a few families. Granted, levels of need and the severity of issues can vary quite a bit between families. That’s why Triple P offers something for everyone: the “light touch” of checking out a Triple P parenting DVD from the local library; to a 20-minute advice session with the school guidance counselor (and trained Level 2 Triple P provider) at your child’s school; all the way up to an intensive 10-week Triple P group parenting session. By offering all of these levels of support in our community we can destigmatize the act of seeking out parenting help and make it accessible to all. Even better, when participants complete the parenting groups, they spread the word about how supportive and helpful Triple P has been for their families. Our good word-of-mouth, more than anything else, has helped Triple P catch on in our area. There is so much demand for the group sessions at this point that we have to figure out how to add more. Thanks again for taking the time to comment on our work. – Millie & Laura

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