Monday, February 8, 2010

Bright Beginnings/Personal Best Awarded Renewal Grant from Robin Hood Foundation

Bright Beginnings and Personal Best – two programs developed by the Ackerman Institute’s Center for the Developing Child and Family – have been awarded a $200,000 renewal grant from the Robin Hood Foundation. This latest grant brings the total of Robin Hood support for these programs since 2004 to $1 million.

Bright Beginnings and Personal Best are both prevention programs for families with young children. Bright Beginnings, developed by Center Director Martha Edwards, PhD, is designed to promote the children’s mental health and school readiness. Originally developed and implemented in the New York City public schools, Bright Beginnings consists of a manualized curriculum of 36 sessions, starting in pregnancy, and then continuing until the child is three years old. Personal Best, developed by Center Associate Director Judy Grossman, DrPH, is a 16-session curriculum designed to help parents enhance their parenting skills and to promote their mental health, social support and self-efficacy.

Both curricula are part of a continuum of programs developed by the Center for the Developing Child and Family to help parents of infants, toddlers, preschool and elementary school children strengthen parent-child and family-school relationships. The Center’s goal, through all of its activities, is to support families and schools to nurture children’s developmental competencies, school readiness, and school success.

"We are deeply grateful for the very generous support the Robin Hood Foundation has provided to us," Martha Edwards commented. "Our goal was to train and provide support to program staff in community agencies so that they actually are the ones implementing the programs with families at a high level of quality. We wanted these skills to reside in the community agencies so that the programs can be sustained in the future. Not only have the Robin Hood grants enabled us to accomplish that goal, they also provided support for an independent evaluation that documented that staff has developed a high level of expertise in implementing Bright Beginnings/Personal Best."

With support from Robin Hood, the Center has trained staff at three agencies: the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services, University Settlement House, and Child Center of New York.

Founded in 1988, the Robin Hood Foundation is dedicated to supporting programs and organizations that fight poverty in New York City. On its website, the Foundation states that "Our philosophy is simple: to significantly affect people living in poverty you have to attack its root causes. That’s why Robin Hood focuses on poverty prevention through programs in early childhood, youth, education, jobs and economic security."

The Foundation notes that Bright Beginnings/Personal Best "… aims to improve parents' ability to nurture their children, an approach shown to reduce child abuse and neglect as well as improve children's cognitive development and later achievement." The Foundation says that Bright Beginnings/Personal Best realizes that goal by promoting "…two key outcomes that improve the chances of a child graduating from high school: a high-quality home environment and a strong parent-baby relationship."

"The data collected at the three sites supported by Robin Hood shows that Bright Beginnings/Personal Best has a definite positive impact on families struggling with poverty," Lois Braverman, President of the Ackerman Institute, said. "We know that the family is the single greatest resource available to individuals coping with all kinds of concerns, including the wide variety of challenges caused by poverty. Bright Beginnings/Personal Best is playing a significant role in helping families harness and strengthen their existing resources and make a stronger community."

If you would like to support the implementation of these programs in other sites around New York City, click here, and select Center for the Developing Child and Family from the drop down box on the Donations Page.