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Parenting NI

The organisation has been providing support to parents since 1979. Clients can move easily between these services depending on their need. All services relate to the health and well-being of parents and families.
The services:
  • Parents Helpline provides support and guidance through freephone helpline
  • Face to Face Support/Counselling offers a model to explore issues further
  • Parenting Education delivers a range of evidence informed/based programmes
  • Parent Consultations gather parent’s views to influence policy /practice
The Odyssey Parenting Your Teen Programme
This home grown parenting Programme was been developed by Parenting NI and In conjunction with Queen’s University with funding from Atlantic Philanthrophies, a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) was carried out over three  years.
The study provided ‘convincing evidence of the effectiveness of the programme’, showing that it can improve outcomes for parents, their teenager children and overall family functioning. In particular, results showed that Odyssey Parenting Your Teen enhanced parental well-being, reduced parental stress, improved relationships between parents and teenagers and made a positive difference on some aspects of teenagers’ social functioning.
The aim of the programme is:
To improve the parent/adolescent relationship
Based on the principle of prevention and early intervention the programme is delivered to groups of parents in 2 hour sessions over eight sessions. Each week the parents get a personal Handbook of the session to help reinforce the learning.
The programme promotes the authoritative parenting style, which research evidence indicates is the most effective and helps extend the parents’ understanding of how to manage the stresses and strains of adolescents. As well as helping parents with their relationship with their teenagers, parents report it helps them manage other children in the family. Many health professionals make referrals and speak highly of the value of it, especially considering there are few programmes for teenagers.
Maurice Meehan, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager at the PHA, said: “Being a parent of a teen isn’t always easy and the Odyssey ‘Parenting Your Teen’ programme is designed to provide the techniques and methods to best deal with what can be difficult and tense circumstances.
“Not only does the programme benefit the parent in how to manage these scenarios but it has both short and long-term positive benefits for the young person’s development and benefits the whole family.”  This is also evident in a number of comments made by parents at the conclusion of the last programme:  ‘given me better insight into how my own behaviour can change to produce a change in my relationship with my child’ and ‘I would recommend it definitely, very useful for teens, should be given at least twice a year to help so many parents struggling’
The programme has been commissioned by the PHA since the conclusion of the RCT and further evaluation is continuing.

Parents Helpline and Face to Face Support/Counselling
Parenting NI is commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board to provide a regional Parents Helpline and a Face to Face support/counselling service that, guides and supports parents in need, including those most marginalised and disadvantaged. These services work to complement and support the work of the statutory sector which is demonstrated by the volume of referrals from a range of professionals.
To increase the accessibility for parents and provide a wider choice of how they make contact, there is a provision to email, or access web chat/instant messenger and Skype face to face support.
Aims of the services are:
  • To provide a free parent helpline service that is accessible through a range of mediums to all parents throughout NI
  • To provide support, information and guidance to parents and family members
  • To increase parents awareness and knowledge in their parenting role
  • To help and support all parents with issues in a safe supportive environment especially encouraging contact by fathers
The services are child centred, seek to empower parents and are based on the principle of early intervention and prevention. They promote the authoritative parenting style which has been shown by research to be the most effective and produce the best outcomes for children.
Almost half of the referrals are from professionals including, GP’s, Health Visitors, Social Services, EWOs, solicitors and teachers with the highest number coming from Social Services Referrals from professionals have been increasing. The remaining contacts are self –referred.
Presenting Issues
Parents present with multiple concerns including mental health, abuse, aggression, neglect, effects of separation/divorce, breakdown of child and parent relationship, self-harm, suicide intent, challenging behaviour, child to parent violence and drugs and alcohol misuse. The issues that are highest include aggressive behaviour, teenager issues and mental health.
The Helpline and face to face support/counselling enables parents to explore the issues with the client and using the Brief Solution Focused model help them to focus on the most pressing concerns. As the circumstances that the parent is experiencing play a key role in them being able to focus on the needs of the child/ren, time is spent talking with the parent about themselves. Face to face support /counselling is available at locations across NI for parents or anyone in their family, to explore issues they have raised on the helpline more fully with a trained counsellor.
Quality Monitoring
For quality assurance purposes Helpline calls are monitored by a listening in facility and transcripts of web chat transcripts reviewed regularly. All staff have regular supervision and appraisals.
CORE Net and CORE Family measures are used to assess progress at each face to face session so as to ensure that all clients’ emotional and mental well being is continually being addressed and progress monitored.
In a survey of clients approximately 60% said they would have contacted their doctor, social services or Health Visitor if they hadn’t contacted Parenting NI.