PLTl Empowers Wyoming Parents: Increasing Community Awareness of Children’s Health Issues

By Charla Ricciardi
PLTI Director and Child & Adolescent Health Coordinator, Wyoming Department of Health

Anne Siebert
MFH Parent Leadership and Engagement Coordinator

Maternal and Family Health (MFH), the Title V Agency in the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), recognizes the important role of families as equal partners in the decision-making process to improve the health and safety of children and the improvement of comprehensive early childhood system in Woming. In 2010, through MFH support, Wyoming piloted their first Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) site in Cheyenne. Wyoming now has three successful sites across the state (including the smallest U.S. community and the first American Indian Reservation to pilot PLTI) and more than 65 parent leaders have graduated from the 20-week program and completed individual community projects. PLTI is an evidence-based program celebrating 20 years of success in Connecticut.

Though parents desire to make changes to benefit their children, they often lack the skills needed to create policy and other types of change crucial for their communities. PLTI provides parent leaders with a toolkit to help understand local/county/state systems and the knowledge to evaluate, improve and support those systems to achieve better outcomes for children. WDH uses Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) federal funding to support communities in establishing PLTI and this investment has resulted in parents making positive local changes using non-traditional funding sources.

The outcomes the Public Health Division is seeing as a result of PLTI include: parents serving on local/state level boards; parent leaders partnering with local agencies to increase awareness in areas surrounding health issues and services for children; and local and state boards realizing PLTI has a connection to a growing network of leaders who understand systems and are able to eloquently bring a family voice to the table. Most recently, parent leaders have partnered with MFH by reviewing and providing valuable feedback on sections of the 2013 Title V Application. MFH plans to utilize PLTI graduates as they establish a new MFH Advisory Committee to help improve the effectiveness of the MFH Programs and Title V funding in Wyoming.

For more information about the PLTI of Wyoming, please e-mail charla.ricciardi@wyo.gov or anne.siebert@wyo.gov.

 Family Scholars Program

AMCHP values family leadership and family involvement at all levels. A venue for AMCHP to develop family leaders that can actively engage in national MCH discussions is the Family Scholars Program (FSP).

An intensive 10-month program, each month of the FSP focuses on a different topic related to the MCH Block Grant such as lobbying, advocacy and education, parent-professional partnerships, life course, conflict resolution, and coalition building. The MCH Leadership Competencies are integrated throughout the activities. National partners, family leaders, and past FSP participants are engaged on these topics as presenters and resources. In addition, scholars complete stretch assignments related to each monthly topic to apply the information and skills they are gaining at the state level.

Ultimately, the focus of this program is to give family leaders the tools, resources, and connections to be stronger and more effective advocates for MCH in their state and in national forums. FSP graduates become part of a growing pool of national family leaders, who are directly impacted by funding, programs and services that AMCHP engages in a variety of ways.