PIWI Grant Awards

Three SFTA member agencies were recently chosen to receive funding to implement Parents Interacting With Infants (PIWI) in their regions, through Race to the Top funds distributed by the Pyramid Model State Leadership Team. PIWI is an approach involving parents and their babies, meant to strengthen the child/parent bond and understanding while also building parents’ confidence and knowledge as caregivers. The agencies awarded these funds—Family Resource Center of Eau Claire County, Northwest Connection Family Resources, and Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin – each have a unique take on the implementation of PIWI in their regions.

Family Resource Center of Eau Claire County

Kari Stroede, Executive Director of the Family Resource Center of Eau Claire County, stated that her agency is taking a four-part approach to implementing PIWI.

“Along came this grant opportunity and we thought, wow, we can really blend multiple things here,” said Kari.

The funding will primarily be used to offer “Baby Cafés;” a six-part series for infants andBaby Cafe Invite their parents incorporating PIWI methodology. These cafés will take place for an hour and a half once a week from April through May of 2016. Cafés are currently still in the planning stages in terms of what the structure will look like, but recruitment is already in the works. The agency plans to take café invitations directly into birthing centers at local hospitals, so that new parents can easily access this opportunity. Parents will receive yet-to-be-determined incentives for attending all six cafés.

“We are very intentional in terms of how we plan the Baby Cafés,” stressed Kari. “It’s a support place for parents…focused on where they are at.”

Family Resource Center of Eau Claire County is partnering with Child Care Partnership (the local Child Care Resource & Referral agency and SFTA member), who will provide a PIWI certified trainer for the Baby Cafés. Northwest Breastfeeding Network is also a partner in planning, and may offer the opportunity for Baby Cafés to extend beyond the funded period, as a continuing monthly or bi-monthly event, where a lactation specialist would be available.

In addition to Baby Cafés, the agency’s PIWI funding will be used to create ten “Play with Me” bags—with mobile and non-mobile infants in mind—for families to check out for up to a month. The bags will contain items such as washable toys and other materials focused on different developmental periods, to support child development and parent-child interactions. Kari recently submitted a grant to an area community foundation to create 20 more bags focused on preschool -aged children, to expand this effort beyond infants.

The agency has also budgeted to build an infant-toddler library containing high-quality materials that can be used to support PIWI implementation. The libraries are housed within latched transport tubs for easy mobility, so that if another agency wants to create and support a PIWI play group or Baby Café, they have materials to get them started.

Finally, a portion of the PIWI funding will be used to support child care programs with 2 or 3 Star ratings in YoungStar, Wisconsin’s Child Care Quality Rating & Improvement System, in understanding and implementing PIWI. Family Resource Center of Eau Claire County has connected with two child care programs in Eau Claire that have large infant populations. Together they plan to offer a PIWI coaching clinic in the fall where providers from other programs will be invited. The clinic will be followed by triadic coaching in the classrooms to teach providers how to implement PIWI into their program on a regular basis.

“Our desired outcome would be that we continue the collaboration, the partnerships that we have created through this,” said Kari. “We are all in this together. We are really very tickled with the collaborative piece of this.”

Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin

Funding received by Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin (Child Care Resource & Referral agency and SFTA member), will be focused in Lafayette County, according to Executive Director Sabrina Earl. The agency has already built community connections in this county through the Parent Cafés they are currently hosting, and this area has been identified as having higher Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scores compared to the rest of the agency’s service delivery area. A higher ACE score indicates an individual is at a greater risk for physical and mental health issues, and poorer overall outcomes. PIWI funding directed where these higher risks exist will target those who need it most.

“So often our families are not connecting anymore,” said Sabrina. “I really think families need that connection.”

Family Connections of SWWI, true to its name, is creating an opportunity for families to connect through their PIWI funding. Three families from a local 2 Star child care program and three families from Head Start will be chosen based on need, to meet at the Darlington Community Center starting in September. They will meet weekly for an hour and a half to 2 hours, for 6 weeks. Families will take part in guided activities centered on PIWI, facilitated by Sabrina and a family resource center staff member. Head Start and child care program staff will shadow the sessions in order to learn effective PIWI implementation. Participating families will also be encouraged to participate in Parent Cafés to continue to build supports and connect with parents in other venues. After the initial 6-week period funded by this grant, Head Start plans to continue monthly meetings with families in their services in a similar fashion, while the child care provider will use PIWI to support continuing family engagement in their program.

Northwest Connection Family Resources

Northwest Connection Family Resources is working with multiple community partners to implement their PIWI funding, including UW Extension Educator, Indianhead Community Action Agency Head Start, Sawyer County Birth to 3, Hayward Community Schools, the Mino Maajiswein Home Visitation Program and Star Bright Daycare.  Two planning meetings have taken place thus far, to outline community needs, partnership roles and anticipated outcomes. These meetings also involved discussions about recruitment and how to support parent/child pairs in expanding on their current strengths to reach higher levels of engagement and learning.

Up to eight parent/child pairs will attend a 6-week PIWI-focused series.  Community partners will identify two families they would like to invite to the first series, which will begin Thursday, April 21st from 9:30 to 11 am at Northwest Connection Family Resources. Because social emotional competency is the foundation of early childhood development, the series covers related topic areas including:  What Makes Me Laugh and Why I Need You.  Participants will be encouraged to attend every session through weekly incentives, and a completion certificate and incentive given to each family.  Child care will be offered for siblings in order to effectively support the participating parent/child pairs during the PIWI program.

“In every session, through a variety of activities, songs and books, parents will learn about their child’s development, temperament, and interests while having fun together in developmentally supportive environments,” said Northwest Connection Family Resources Co-Director, Kathy Mullally.

Northwest Connections Family Resources will continue to gain valuable insight from partners and parents through this first series, which will help guide the planning for the next PIWI series to be held in the fall.

Stay tuned to our social media and partner agency websites for updates on these awesome efforts!

*This article was originally published in SFTA’s Q1 2016 newsletter. View the full newsletter here, and access previous newsletters through our publication archives.

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A Peek at a Few Upcoming Parent Cafés

Check out and print fliers for some of Wisconsin’s upcoming Parent Cafés. Learn more about what Parent Cafés are all about, and find other upcoming dates, here.

In Green Bay, WI:

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In Montello, WI:

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In Fond du Lac, WI:

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In New Richmond,WI:

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A Peek at a Parent Café: The Parenting Place

A series of Parent Cafés, coordinated state wide by Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) and planned locally by some of our member agencies, have kicked off with the first café of the year in Tomah, Wisconsin. The Parenting Place did a fantastic job with their café on the theme of “Taking Care of Yourself,” starting off with a healthy family breakfast for children and parents to eat together before children went to another room where child care was provided, so parents and caregivers could engage in peer-to-peer discussion. After getting to know one another through active listening, parents participated in several small group discussions guided by a parent or agency staff member using a parent café tool kit that focuses questions on building the protective factors. Eventually the goal is for all café discussions to be led by parents who are familiar with the process. At the end of these discussions parents shared some final thoughts they gained from the café:

  • I realize that there are others around you who are strong and can be a source of support
  • Often children of different ages pose the same challenges
  • I am not the only one dealing with different issues within my family
  • It is important to be my best self to be the best parent I can be, and everyone wants the best for their kids
  • It is okay to do for myself (self-care)
  • You are not perfect and you are not expected to be

Closing words shared by participants proved the café a success, expressing their café experience with sentiments such as “community,” “perspective,” “comfort” and “balance.” A few lucky participants went home with gift certificates from local businesses to pamper themselves, and children took home an art project they worked on about healthy bodies. Here are a few of the decoration and other ideas from this café, to inspire your own:

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Interested in attending a parent café in Wisconsin, or learning more about parent cafés? Check out the SFTA website.

Wisconsin Parent Cafés: Engaging Parents and Children

What is a Parent Café? Think of a cozy coffee shop or restaurant where you feel safe and comfortable, and it is easy to chat with the person sitting next to you. Parent Cafés guide parents to explore the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors in a small group setting through a peer-to-peer learning process and individual self-reflection. Cafés provide a safe and nurturing environment for parents to have authentic, intimate conversations about their families and ways that they can strengthen their families and communities. Parents build enhanced social and emotional skills and learn how to proactively respond to challenging situations. Throughout this process parents acquire the leadership skills necessary to engage, train and lead Parent Cafés within their own community. Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) is partnering with agencies in 11 counties across Wisconsin to offer Parent Cafés to Wisconsin parents.

If you are a member agency participating in Parent Cafés, another agency looking to start your own Parent Cafés, or simply an educator or a parent looking for some fun children’s activities that celebrate caregivers, check out the 3 simple ideas below! These pair perfectly with Parent Café themes– which are indicated– and can be used in a variety of other settings. Thanks to Kendra Scherg of Kimberly, for these fantastic activities and examples! Find more Parent Café activity ideas on our Pinterest board.

Cup of Calm ExamplesCup of Calm TextPrint: Cup of Calm Text

My Hug Examples

My Hug Text

Print: My Hug Text

Super Parent Examples

Super Parent Text

Print: Super Parent Text

Stay tuned to our website to find out where and when Parent Cafés are happening and how you can register to attend a Parent Café in your part of the state!

This Parent Café opportunity is available with funding from Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

Child Abuse and Neglect prevention Teach-a-Thon in the News!

In case you missed it, SFTA’s Small Change Makes a BIG Difference Teach-a-Thon to prevent child abuse and neglect spans the month of April. Throughout the month we make a push for our staff and member agencies to host as many child abuse and neglect prevention trainings as possible, to train more Wisconsin adults in child abuse and neglect prevention. We were lucky enough to receive a small amount of news coverage regarding this event as we make our final push here at the close of April. Check it out!

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Small Change Makes a BIG Difference in Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention

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Learn more about how you can help prevent child abuse and neglect by clicking the photo above.

Small Change Makes a Big Difference Teach-a-Thon for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention is NOW!

Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) is proud to announce our fourth annual Small Change Makes a BIG Difference Teach-a-Thon and campaign! SFTA is partnering with Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies and Family Resource Centers across Wisconsin to make positive, nurturing early experiences a reality for ALL children. Throughout the month of April we will provide a high volume of trainings that promote the 5 protective factors and prepare adults to prevent child abuse and neglect. Last year we reached over 1600 adults through these trainings. This year we are aiming to reach 1800. Can we count on you to help us reach our goal and raise funds to sustain our work on behalf of Wisconsin children and families?

*Click the infographic picture below to learn more about the importance of child abuse and neglect prevention for each and every one of us.

Small Change a BIG Difference_infographic

Here’s how Small Change Makes a BIG Difference works:

Contribute your small change for every adult we aim to train in April to support our work in promoting quality early childhood experiences. Give a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, 50 cents, or $1 for each adult we aim to train in April. For instance, if you contribute a nickel per adult trained, yours would be a total donation of $150.00. Mail your contribution directly to SFTA, or give online right here!

However you donate, you will receive a 2015 tax receipt, since all donations made to SFTA are 100% tax-deductible.

Contribution Levels:
1 penny x 3,000 adults = $30
1 nickel x 3,000 adults = $150
1 dime x 3,000 adults = $300
1 quarter x 3,000 adults = $750
50 Cents x 3,000 adults = $1,500
$1 x 3,000 adults = $3,000

…OR set your own Amount

As a 501(c)(3), SFTA is also eligible to accept bequests from planned estates. If you are interested in leaving a legacy for future generations, please contact us at
1 (888) 713.KIDS.

Regardless of your profession, you can make a difference in a child’s life by understanding your role and responsibility in preventing child abuse and neglect. Contact us to find a training near you in the month of April. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to ensuring the best possible outcomes for young children!

SFTA is committed to accountability & transparency. Visit our profile on GuideStar to learn more.