Circle of Parents programs operate from the perspective of “nothing about us, without us”.  That means that Circle of Parents programs can only be successful with the full participation of each and every member of the group committed to, and involved in, the process.  Through the concept of Parent Leadership, Circle of Parent program participants come forward to give and provide support to each other, manage their groups processes and help to make the benefit of the groups effective and long-lasting.  Parent Leadership can be seen through a number of activities, actions and ways that parents participate and lead.  Here are four categories that help to define what Parent Leadership looks like.

Personal Leadership

Get self and family to group. Participate by attending regularly, on time. Follow children’s program rules. Act on ideas learned through group. Report back to group on successes and challenges. Share honestly and offer ideas and support to others. Participate in parenting classes or other educational activities as needed for personal growth. Take leadership role in own family. Advocate on behalf of self and children with schools, doctors, and other professionals. Facilitate family meetings to plan fun events or solve problems. Model appropriate discipline, self-control, active listening, compassion and compromise for children and others. Take responsibility for solving personal problems: e.g. mental health issues, drug/alcohol issues, anger management problems, etc. Practice forgiveness for self and others and know that we all make mistakes, even leaders.

Leadership Within the Group

Arrange/open meeting room or building. Arrange for supplies, e.g. snacks, handbooks. Put up signs directing participants to the room. Welcome others; be a greeter or “chair patter”. Introduce new parents to children’s program. Clean up after meetings. Pass out/explain material to new parents. Take calls from prospective members. Participate in fund-raising activities. Develop referral base. Keep group calendar of upcoming events. Call missing members. Initiate introductions at group. Read or ask others to read opening and closing statements. Lead meeting. Take attendance or keep statistics. Be a timekeeper during meetings. Facilitate members’ transportation needs. Accompany other parents as their advocate. Organize group events. Participate in team meetings with facilitator and children’s program leader.

Leadership in the Organization

Participate in training facilitators, parent leaders, and children’s program staff. Attend and present at conferences and meetings. Implement needs assessments and surveys. Advocate with local aldermen, legislators, town and tribal councils. Volunteer to be on a board or advisory council. Help develop fund raising events. Contribute special talents to organization: e.g. office skills, artwork. Develop publicity to general community: e.g. health fairs, PTA presentations, service clubs, faith-based groups. Participate in publicity to target audiences: e.g. parenting classes, health and welfare groups.

Leadership in the Larger Community

Promote informed citizenship by voting and assisting with voter registration. Promote issue awareness through letter-writing and e-mail campaigns, public forums both for those affected and change-makers. Run for office: PTA, school board, local, state or national government. Organize or participate in child abuse awareness and prevention events. Serve on community councils and agency boards. Partner with community agencies. Work with national organizations or legislators to formulate public policy. Volunteer to work with national organizations or be on a national board. Participate in civic and community activities e.g. neighborhood watch, scouting, faith-based groups.


Parent Leadership Proclamation 2011 [pdf]

Circle of Parents Leadership [pdf]

Stories of Parents Leadership

Circle of Parents helped to found “Stories of Parent Leadership” on the website of the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-based Child Abuse Prevention Programs (CBCAP)

Circle of Parents worked with the FRIENDS Parent Advisory Council (PAC) to complete this project, and engaged Story Corps, a national non-profit organization dedicated to recording stories of every day Americans. The stories are excerpts from interviews of six parent leaders who work in their communities and nationally to help family support and child abuse prevention practitioners and organizations develop effective and relevant programs and policy. 

In their own voices, unique stories are presented about how parent leadership positively impacts personal growth, the well-being of an individual’s own family and one’s involvement as a partner with practitioners so that other families could benefit from effective programs and policy. Either singularly or combined, these vignettes can be used to increase public awareness or as tools to support training for staff, network members, partners, parents and other key stakeholders about the value of parent engagement and involvement. While the length of most vignettes is between 4-6 minutes, a 12-minute version is particularly recommended for intensive training.

To find out more about Parent Leadership, and how you can contribute to this national dialog, please send your comments to Julie Rivnak-McAdam, Administrator, Circle of Parents. 

We certainly hope the stories serve as a catalyst for spreading the message that parent leadership does make a difference!


National Office
P.O. Box 7241
Fredericksburg, VA  22404-7241