Parenting education in NC is universally accepted, easily accessible, and highly effective.
NCPEN provides advocacy and support for parenting educators to advance the field of parenting education and promote quality outcomes for all families in NC.
Evolution of NCPEN
Under the leadership of Dr. Karen DeBord, The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service initiated a series of dialogues between organizations and agencies which provide parenting education programs for parents across North Carolina. In 1996, a core group of 25 professionals developed a collaborative relationship to focus on parenting education. The growing network began calling itself the North Carolina Parenting Education Network (NCPEN).
Members of the core leadership group included representatives of various agencies and organizations working together to develop a networking system to strengthen the delivery of high quality parenting education in North Carolina. Although some counties had human service coalitions or partnerships with parenting education components, NCPEN determined that one centralized planning group could encourage high quality educational programs and disseminate high quality research-based information, develop and deliver more training programs that devote time to training diverse audiences, and design systems to evaluate parental learning.
NCPEN’s Vision in the 1990’s was to use the North Carolina Parenting Education Network (NCPEN) to facilitate statewide linkages among parents and other partners to encourage positive parenting practices. The term “partners” was intentionally used to be broadly inclusive of all those who play an important role in a child’s life. This may include grandparents and other kin, single parents, step parents, foster parents, co-parents, teen parents, guardians, and other caregivers.
Emerging NCPEN work
In 2001, the network moved from a voluntary loose network to a membership organization with dues, elected officers and bylaws. Local networks began to form across the state. This was a success in the eyes of the early planners as the field began to grow. In 2002, a parenting educator credential was piloted then integrated into the work of the organization. By 2004, the credential along with offering 2 professional educational forums per year has become the central outreach mechanisms for NEPEN. The organizational structure has been refined and strategic planning has continued to be an asset in the dynamics of NCPEN.
In 2006, NCPEN began working more closely with North Carolina legislator, Martha Alexander, to propose that the professional development system be recognized by the state. During this process, Representative Alexander brought NCPEN together with another organization, North Carolina Families United NC, which sought to recognize their peer parent educators. This relationship led to a more refined credential including a level to credential peer educators.
In 2012, NCPEN continues to partner with the National Parenting Education Network, offer a newsletter, a website, a Facebook page, 2 educational forums per year and the credentialing system all without special funding. Although a small processing fee is charged for credentialing, these funds are re-invested into the professional organizational outreach.