New developments

Can Parent Quality Mark Contact Leandra Box

Supporting parents to tackle extremism and the radicalisation of young people

The Race Equality Foundation is working in partnership with the Youth Justice Board to support Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities Facilitators to ensure their group parenting work supports parents to tackle extremism and the radicalisation of young people.

This work will comprise of a free one day advanced training course where the key issues will be explored. Facilitators will be introduced to how the SFSC curriculum can be used to ensure the issues of extremism and radicalisation are addressed with parents, linking them to the goal of SFSC: promoting healthy violence free communities; and to the role of parents in safeguarding their children.  All participants will receive detailed guidance notes to supplement the existing curriculum and other resources including additional slides and a DVD.

SFSC awarded the CANparent Quality Mark

The Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities programme has been awarded the CANparent Quality Mark.  The assessment team were pleased with the strong evidence base presented, the comprehensive parent, facilitator and trainer materials and the responsiveness demonstrated to parental feedback.  The CANparent Quality Mark indicates that a class:

  • can be relied on by parents to make a positive difference, is evidence based, and is monitored and evaluated to improve parent/child relationships.
  • is recommended by other parents.
  • is responsive, warm and relational, engaging with parents and builds on these effective relationships to meet their needs.

It also demonstrates that parents can rely on the integrity of the class provider, its professional conduct, competence, financial and governance systems, and data protection/confidentiality, to ensure suitability to deliver a class.

To find out more about Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme, please see:

Developing SFSC for parents of children with ASD

A new specially adapted version of SFSC has been piloted with parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). After liaising with a behaviour nurse from the Disabled Children’s Team, facilitators from the Parent Partnership Service worked with SFSC Parent Programme and Training Officer, Beverley Thompson, to develop a version of the SFSC programme to take into account the needs of children with ASD. For example, whilst SFSC might usually emphasis the importance of ‘time outs’ to allow a child to calm down and reflect on their actions, this may not be appropriate for children with ASD, and instead emphasis might be put on activities to ‘burn off’ energy or anger such as having a run around.

Six parents completed the 13 week pilot, and further courses are expected to be delivered in future. More details of the work will be available on the website soon.

To find out more about this work, please see:

Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities to offer FREE under-five parenting courses in Middlesbrough, Camden and High Peak

The Race Equality Foundation is to offer a free version of the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities parenting programme to parents of under-fives in Middlesbrough, Camden and High Peak.  It is hoped that parenting classes will become as commonplace as antenatal classes, offering anyone involved with raising an under-five the opportunity to talk about the challenges and pick up useful tips.

As part of a recently launched government pilot scheme “CANParent”, the initiative is based on the theory that happy confident mums and dads have happy confident children.

Parents or carers can pick up their vouchers at Boots, Community Centres and doctors surgeries. The vouchers are worth £100. This covers the cost of the specially designed Strengthening Families course. This course is based on the national Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme. Parents can register now at

This course is suitable for people from ALL backgrounds, and ALL types of family (single parents, grandparents, step-parents, mums, dads, siblings and child-minders). It provides practical solutions to the everyday challenges all parents face such as tantrums and coping with sleepless nights.

The SFSC course can be completed online, or in a group, or a combination of both. The local groups will run at a variety of convenient times, and the online course can be completed at home at their own pace.

The course is very useful for everyone looking after a baby or toddler. It is easy to follow, using videos and typical everyday examples, to build on the carer’s experience, all designed to increase parents’ confidence.

Mumsnet will provide follow-on forums for the Strengthening Families course, so parents can carry on sharing experiences, and get further support.

Jabeer Butt from the Race Equality Foundation said

  • ‘We’re delighted to be able to offer a range of courses that are a real step forward in providing universal, inclusive and accessible support to parents and know that by working with Mumsnet parents will be able to continue sharing their experiences even after the courses have finished.’

Justine Roberts of Mumsnet said:

  • ‘Courses like ‘Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities’ can help make parents’ lives easier, but so far have been hard to access or expensive. It’s great that all parents in the trial areas can now benefit from a course that can help with the everyday challenges of being a parent. And by logging on to Mumsnet they can continue to swap experiences with other parents even after the course has finished.’

Local parents who have attended said:

  • ‘The course has given me the confidence to make choices in how I bring up my children, stay with them and be happy about them.’
  • ‘I have found myself more able to turn to people around me for help and support.’

For more information, please:

New parental mental health e.learning resources

Photos and findings from the After the Riots Conference

Photos and findings from the After the Riots conference are now available. The conference, held in London on 21st January 2012, was a great success, and brought together parents, practitioners and young people to discuss the causes of the August riots. The Foundation will be producing a detailed summary as well as video of the event. We are discussing with our partners how issues raised on the day are addressed.

Families can be helped to stay together and thrive if the right support is offered at the right time. The Social Care Institute for Excellence’s (SCIE) Parental mental health resources (external website) focus on the whole family, demonstrating how parents will always receive the best support with integrated working across children’s, adults’ and health services.SCIE has developed an eLearning package, Parental mental health and families (external website). The resource sets out all the key relationships, linkages and systems that need to be understood and taken into account of in parental mental health and families work.

First UK-based facilitator trainers certified!

For over ten years SFSC facilitators have been trained by accredited facilitation trainers from Parenting Across Cultures, including Marilyn Steele, Judy Gaines, Paul Nagle-McNaughton, Neldine Edwards, Linda Reyes Songer and Vicky Fitzgerald. However, we are now proud to announce the certification of our first two UK-based SFSC facilitator trainers – Bernadette Rhoden and Maurice Kennedy.

Both Bernadette and Maurice are experienced SFSC facilitators with a huge amount of experience in delivering and supporting the programme. Following additional training and observation of their skills, the Parenting Across Cultures team has now accredited them to provide facilitator training across the UK.So, what difference will this make for existing and new facilitators? Although the delivery model for SFSC will remain unchanged, in future prospective facilitators will benefit from:

  • a facilitator training which takes account of the SFSC co-facilitation model
  • the UK knowledge and links of facilitator trainers
  • easier access to facilitator trainings
  • ongoing input to the programme from UK based trainers through the Race Equality Foundation

We hope you will join us in congratulating Bernadette and Maurice on achieving the high standard required to become accredited SFSC facilitator trainers! If you have any questions or comments about this, please speak to a member of the SFSC team.

New parent certificate ordering process

From January 2012, the process of issuing parent certificates will change. The parent certificates for attending an SFSC programme will now be sent to you electronically.There will be a number of benefits to this:

  • It will allow for a quick turnaround, and will mean that your certificates will arrive with you in good time for your graduations
  • It will mean that corrections can be made quickly and easily when mistakes are made with spellings etc.
  • It will mean that you can control the way you print the certificate out – you can use plain paper, card or laminate in order to present to parents

In addition the template we are using is more in keeping with the programme materials and the manual, and is unique to the programme as opposed to the old generic style certificates.This new system will reduce the administrative cost of producing certificates. With the current system, we would have had to introduce charges in order to cover the materials, postage and admin involved. However we also believe that this system will result in better certificates, on time and with greater accuracy.

The certificates continue to come in two formats – participation and completion. In order to receive the certificates you need to complete the ‘certificate order form’, which is sent out to you when you register a programme, this has your unique programme registration code on it. You will need to return this form two weeks before requiring the certificates. We will produce an electronic file which contains your completed signed certificates and this will be emailed to you for you to print. Whilst the certificates are in colour, you can print them in either black and white or colour, depending on the type of printer you have. For those people who would still like us to print and post certificates, we can do so but you will need to specifically request this and we will now need to charge for this service. Good luck with your programme delivery, and we hope you like the new certificates!

Conference remembers Dr Marilyn Steele

This year’s Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities conference enjoyed great success, with a strong turnout and enthusiastic debate on the theme of ‘parenting in a time of austerity’.Delegates at the conference also heard from Miles Tanter, the son of SFSC programme developer, Dr Marilyn Steele. Dr Steele sadly passed away earlier this year, and Mr Tanter thanked facilitators and UK staff for their condolences after his mother’s death, speaking both of his mother’s and his own commitment to the programme.

Dr Steele’s positive contribution to the parenting community is also to be commemorated with the announcement of 2 new awards, the Marilyn Steele award for outstanding facilitation and the Marilyn Steele parent award for community action.

Further details of the awards will be published in January 2012 when we formally announce the awards and the timetable for nominations for the awards. Further information will appear on our websites and Twitter feeds (@raceequality and @ref_sfsc) soon.


SFSC conference announced!

This year’s SFSC conference will take place on 21st November, and will look at the theme of supporting parents in a time of austerity. The event will see contributions from parents, young people, practitioners, and policy makers. There will be two panel discussions: one looking at strategies for sustaining parenting support. The other panel will debate the role of parents in preventing violence. In addition there will be a series of workshops, including:

  • Delivering parenting programmes to learning disabled parents
  • Supporting non-resident dads in their parenting role
  • Delivering SFSC to parents of under-fives
  • Online parenting support – what should this look like?
  • Parenting programmes as a response to communities affected by guns, gangs and knives

For more details see the conference page.

Free parenting classes to be offered to over 50,000 mothers and fathers

The Race Equality Foundation welcomes the Government’s announcement of the offer of parenting classes to all fathers and mothers with children under the age of six.The Foundation’s Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities inclusive parent programme is already being taken-up by parents across England as well as in Camden, one of the Government’s pilot sites. Evaluation and comments from parents suggest that they think it is of value to all parents and should be offered as early as possible.

Foundation secure funding for SFSC parenting programme under Communities Against Gangs, Guns and Knives Fund

Strengthening Practice to be relaunched!

Strengthening Practice is an online network, designed to facilitate information-sharing and support between SFSC facilitators. We are currently rebranding the Strengthening Practice site to bring it into line with the Race Equality Foundation’s other websites. We plan to launch the new website by the end of the year- watch this space!

The Race Equality Foundation has secured funding from the Home Office through the Communities Against Gangs, Guns and Knives Fund. The work will support families living in areas blighted by gang, gun and knife crime, by building on the evidenced-based violence prevention parenting programme, Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities (SFSC). We will help parents to work with their children to keep them safe, and also support parents to make an impact on the communities in which they live.

What increases the risk of involvement in violence?

There is evidence to suggest that the risk of involvement in violence (including involvement in gangs and the use of guns and knives) is increased by:

  • societal factors (for example, poor rule of law)
  • community factors (such as poverty)
  • relationship factors (such as friends being involved in violence)
  • personal factors (for example, alcohol/drug abuse)

How can SFSC help?

We know that warm and authoritative parenting is key in preventing children and young people from becoming involved with gangs, guns and violence. Parenting programmes, such as SFSC, can foster a positive style of parenting, and promote the social competence, self-esteem and solution building skills of children and young people. Building on this evidence, the Race Equality Foundation will work with a range of partners to deploy an enhanced version of the SFSC parenting programme. We will work in Croydon, Leeds and Haringey, targeting areas which have a greater risk of children and young people being involved in gangs, guns and violence. The enhanced version of the SFSC programme will introduce a new film resource, to trigger discussion and plans for individual, family and community action. The project will reach 180 parents over the lifetime of this work.

See the Challenging gun, gang and knife crime through supporting parents project pages

See the Home Office Challenging gun, gang and knife crime through supporting parents FAQs (250kb PDF file).

SFSC is now on Twitter!

You can now keep up to date with events and current affairs information by following our SFSC feed on Twitter.

Positive feedback for SFSC from Children's Workforce Development Council

The Race Equality Foundation has received positive feedback from the Children’s Workforce Development Council for the high completion rate of SFSC training achieved as part of its Parenting Practitioner 1000 Places Training Offer.  117 facilitators completed SFSC training as part of this programme, and particular praise was given for the Foundation’s commitment to timetabling the training at short notice and for the completion of all paperwork and feedback surveys.

CWDC Head of Programme, Bekah Little said:

‘We have been impressed by your commitment to this project and that you have delivered that which was required within the tight timescales.  You rose to every challenge that was encountered and we are therefore grateful to you for the dedication that was shown’.

SFSC highlighted as promoting 'Equality at the heart of big society'

The Race Equality Foundation’s Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities parenting programme has been highlighted as a positive example of the black and minority ethnic voluntary and community sector’s contribution to Big Society.  In a report designed to both celebrate and maintain support for the work carried out by voluntary and community sector organisations, One North West describe the role of SFSC in connecting black and minority ethnic parents with communities, decreasing isolation and empowering them through access to information.

Read Equality at the heart of big society (external website).

New look facilitator manual

The SFSC facilitator manual has undergone a review process which is now complete. The new look manual complements the PowerPoint slides and the parent manual.  This means the manual:

  • looks more aesthetically pleasing
  • refers to power point slides throughout
  • includes a disc holder within the manual
  • has an improved font size and lay out
  • includes improved direction on the smacking discussion.

The manual has also been revised to include more up-to-date information on:

  • UK rollout of SFSC
  • programme delivery procedures
  • research and legislation.

The manual is being used for facilitator training from November 2010 and new facilitators will receive the manual.  For facilitators in receipt of the previous manual, the new edition can be ordered from the Foundation.

Order form (76kb Word file)

A new look parent manual

The SFSC team have been working on the design of the parent manual to make it more user-friendly and attractive to parents. This has involved the introduction of:

  • full colour
  • new fonts and reduced use of upper case letters to better support dyslexic readers
  • new slide designs to make for standardisation between materials
  • new covers

Currently this manual is only available in English; however we are currently updating all translations.  These should be available in 2011.

Order form (75kb Word file)

Partnership working with Family Planning Association

SFSC has teamed up with the Family Planning Association to offer ‘Speakeasy’, a free one day course that will help SFSC facilitators improve their skills, knowledge and confidence. Speakeasy:

  • supports SFSC delivery, especially areas of the curriculum which examine healthy relationships
  • is easy to introduce as an add-on session and into the community speakers sessions of the programme
  • offers a non-threatening group-based opportunity for parents and carers to acquire confidence and skills to talk to their children about sex and sexuality
  • is designed to be fun and relaxed, and provide an atmosphere where parents can learn together from their experiences.

Free courses will take place in five locations across the UK, dates November 2010 – February 2011.

See the events pages for Speakeasy training dates

New training: Working with parents with learning disabilities

The first ‘Working with parents with learning disabilities’ training, the latest in our Advanced Skills Training portfolio for trained SFSC facilitators, took place on the 23-24 September.  It was a successful event attended by 13 facilitators from agencies in London, Birmingham and Northamptonshire. It was facilitated by Maurice Kennedy and Janette Bryan.

This training resulted from the production of the draft illustrated manual for parents with learning difficulties and:

  • raises awareness of the particular challenges faced by parents with learning difficulties
  • considers how these challenges might have an impact on parenting techniques
  • briefly re-visits the SFSC curriculum
  • explores how to effectively engage and support parents with learning difficulties in the SFSC programme.

The training was very well received by the participants who, despite two fairly intense days, were extremely focused on bringing their skills, knowledge and expertise to the training.  This helped to make it an informative and fun two days for participants and facilitators alike.

It is envisaged that facilitators/agencies will take up this training, not only to make SFSC accessible to parents with learning difficulties, but also to inform their practice generally.  Further courses will be delivered in early 2011.

For further information on training to deliver SFSC to parents with learning disabilities, email Beverley Thompson

Easy words and pictures overheads

Delivery to parents with learning disabilities has been simplified with the development of overheads which mimic the language and images used to explain programme concepts in the easy words and pictures manual. The easy words and pictures PowerPoint should be used alongside the easy words and pictures manual and standard PowerPoint slides- they are NOT to replace existing PowerPoint overheads which should continue to be used with all other groups.

Order form (75kb Word file)