by Stacey Rosenbaum
When the Parenting Place of Boulder closed in 2013, it created a vacuum in the community. Agency board members hoped other organizations would step in to provide classes and services to fill a need that has grown, and continues to grow, among Boulder county families.
Enter Kimberly Baker, a teacher with the Boulder JCC preschool. “I wanted to use my Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy to support the community while being able to continue working at the JCC.”
Baker had interned at the Parenting Place and was familiar with the programming as well as its impact on the greater Boulder community. In fact, prior to the Parenting Place’s closure, she facilitated a preschool parents’ group at the J, which was offered as a drop-in program with loosely defined topics. When the Parenting Place closed, Baker approached the preschool’s director, Susie Valdez, and together, they created additional, more targeted programs through the Boulder JCC. “We started with two groups – one for single moms and one for new moms.” The success of these programs led to development of others. Some worked, some didn’t, and still the process continues today to uncover what the community needs to help fill the void.
According to a study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychology (October 1995), “Parents in [community or group programs] reported greater improvements in behavior problems at home and better maintenance of these gains at 6-month follow-up.” That is not to say that all parenting programs are effective; many researchers are still trying to determine whether they work and what parameters to use to define success. That said, a demand for parenting classes and programs within the Boulder community is very real. In the case of the programs at the Boulder JCC, Baker says they take their cues from the parents and go from there. Case in point, she says, “once the New Moms’ group’s children moved beyond the baby stage, parents started asking for a toddler group.” And so it was formed. As with all parenting groups offered at the JCC, meetings are also parent-driven. “It’s not ‘come to this group and we’ll teach you how to parent,’” says Baker. Rather, she facilitates group discussion to keep it on topic but lets the parents do most of the talking. “I ask them to touch on something that is going well and something that is upsetting to them and then let the others jump in to share what worked in their home and offer advice.”
However, not all subjects that parents request warrant a multi-week commitment or group setting, “so that’s when I started with the parenting series,” says Baker. The format is shorter and centers on guest speakers. Each program targets a specific topic and lasts 90 minutes to two hours. Upcoming topics include: how to talk to your children about sex, countering hate, and setting boundaries with screen time.
For more information on upcoming and on-going parenting groups offered at the Boulder JCC, please visit the JCC website.