Held in February in Sonoma County, California, the 19th Helping Families Change Conference (HFCC) was organized by the Parenting and Family Support Centre at the University of Queensland, and brought together more than 280 researchers, policy makers, thought leaders and professionals working in the parenting and family support space.
And just a few weeks ago, Ontario’s leading family support agencies, educators, and Triple P practitioners gathered for Positive Parenting Matters, to attend workshops, create professional networks, see exhibits, and hear keynote speakers including Triple P founder, Professor Matt Sanders.
HFCC delegates came from 15 countries including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, South Africa, Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States.
The Ontario event in Toronto covered topics such as preventing child maltreatment, culturally relevant parenting programs in First Nations communities, and helping early childhood educators to meet the needs of children with social-emotional and behavioral challenges.
Since California is home to many of earliest adopters of Triple P, HFCC delegates gained insights into the best and long-standing implementations of the program in the country. A key presentation was delivered by representatives from First 5 Santa Cruz, the County’s Human Services Department and its Health Services Agency, who shared results of a five-year report into the Santa Cruz Triple P population rollout. They showed how the program worked across diverse cultural groups, how it was effective with just light-touch delivery, and the long-lasting effects on families.
Keynote speaker Professor Irvin Waller, an innovative crime prevention expert who is the author of many books, including Less Law, More Order: The Truth about Reducing Crime, spoke about the need for governments to make parenting and upstream prevention a public policy priority, with a target of reducing violent crime in the United States by 50 per cent by 2030: "[We] need to stop misspending on reaction and invest upstream on things that make a difference, and they're nearly all person-centered solutions.”
Prof. Waller, who is also Vice-President of the International Organization for Victim Assistance, suggested Triple P should be part of any early-intervention crime-reduction strategy.
More recently, the Ontario conference kicked off with a keynote address by Professor Matt Sanders, and included researcher Dr. Marie-Hélène Gagné (leader of a university-community partnership devoted at preventing child maltreatment); Dr. Christopher Mushquash (prominent advocate for culturally relevant parenting programs in First Nations communities); Dr. Shawna Lee, (speaking about innovations in helping early childhood educators to meet the needs of children with social-emotional and behavioural challenges); and Dr. Susan Hopkins (on her involvement with Dr. Stuart's Shanker's organization, the MEHRIT Centre, who work across Canada and internationally to improve the lives of children youth, and adults in schools and communities).
There were also workshops on adapting programs for high-needs families, dealing with challenging dynamics in parenting education groups, using social media to engage parents.