A program of the Alabama Partnership for Children

Strengthening Families

A program of the Alabama Partnership for Children

Strengthening Families

by smartstart

Strengthening Families is a research-based, cost-effective strategy to increase family stability, enhance child development, and reduce child abuse and neglect.

The Strengthening Families™ initiative is supported by a grant from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention. It builds five protective factors; 1) parental resilience, 2) social connections, 3) knowledge of parenting and child development, 4) concrete support in times of need, and 5) social and emotional competence of children. Our goal is to fully engage early childhood providers across Alabama, as well as other service organizations, while impacting parents through our Strengthening Families efforts.

Alabama is one of many states across the nation using Strengthening Families™. Leaders across many systems serving children and families have provided leadership to bring Strengthening Families™ to life in Alabama. In 2011, the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) provided a grant to the Alabama Partnership for Children to take over the role as lead agency for this work.

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Smart Start Parenting Kit

The Smart Start Parenting Kit is designed to:

  • Answer frequently asked questions of new parents
  • Provide information on children’s health, safety and child care products
  • Provide easy access to toll-free telephone numbers and websites of state agencies and public programs
  • Provide parents information about the importance of quality child care
  • Provide information for parents that will continue to be useful through all stages of their child’s development

The Smart Start Parenting Kit includes:

  • A child’s first book to highlight the importance of reading and talking to children from birth
  • A congratulatory card to parents with Parenting Kit partners recognized
  • The Handbook for Alabama Parents; a comprehensive resource and referral guide

*Many resources are available in Spanish

The Parenting Kit is one of the most important recommendations from the 2001 Governor’s Early Learning Commission Report. According to the report, there is a lack of understanding that learning that begins long before children enter school. Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers, and Alabama must emphasize the critical importance of early learning and childcare experiences, and support parents in these early years. Therefore, Alabama seeks to develop a public awareness, education, and follow-up program to support parents in their roles by providing information concerning child growth and development, and related resources available in their communities. Effective distribution and follow-up with parents is the most important component of the project.The effectiveness and impact of the Parenting Kit have been evaluated, and some of the findings are listed below.

  • 83 % of families surveyed said they had increased positive feelings about parenting as a result of receiving the Parenting Kit
  • 80% of families surveyed said the had increased confidence in parenting as a result of receiving the Parenting Kit
  •  83% of families surveyed said they had decreased stress as a result of receiving the parenting kit
  • 86% of families surveyed said they had increased knowledge of community resources as a result of receiving the Parenting Kit

For more information about the Smart Start Parenting Kit, contact Tish MacInnis by email at or by phone at 1-866-711-4025.

What is the Smart Start Parenting Kit?

The Parenting Kit is a comprehensive tool designed for parents of newborns in order to give them immediate access to important information to assist in their difficult and joyous job of being new parents. The Parenting Kit is distributed primarily through birthing hospitals throughout select counties in Alabama, which is based on funding availability.

It can be download as a PDF file by clicking the image below, or you can download it to any mobile device by searching “AL Parent Manual” in Google Play or the Apple Store.

Quick links to app store downloads
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Download Parenting Handbook (PDF)

Smart Start Parenting Handbook

Alabama Parent Leadership Network

These parents will be recruited to participate in a systematic structure with a parent mentor, parent leaders, and parent peer learners to engage collaboratively in discovering each other’s strengths and skills, and helping develop them in a way that affects change in their community and state.

The groups will meet for ten sessions centering on topics including:

  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Social and emotional competence of children
  • Identifying priority concerns about their families and communities
  • Describing the issues in the most effective way
  • Learning best practices (what has worked) and brainstorming solutions
  • Communicating ideas and recommendations effectively and broadly
  • Learning how to effectively engage local leaders
  • Learning how to influence and participate in state policy work

Upon completion of this program, parents will be invited to exchange contact information and remain connected through regular meetings as often as they determine is feasible, and in ways that allow their full participation as leaders and policy influencers. Contact information will be maintained by APC who will communicate with each local group to connect them together in a statewide network.

For more information on APLN, contact Tish MacInnis by email at or by phone at 1-866-711-4025.

What is the Alabama Parent Leadership Network?

The Alabama Parent Leadership Network (APLN) targets parents in particular communities within Alabama who wish to contribute their voices to decisions that affect their children, families, and community and who have already received some parent training, such as; Smart & Secure Children (SSC), Parent Leadership Project, Parent Leadership 101, Parent Ambassador Training, Parents as Teachers/Nurse Family Partnership/HIPPY, parent workshops, etc.

Smart and Secure Children Parent Leadership Program

SSC prepares parents as leaders for transforming their parenting behaviors and leading their peers and community in changing existing parenting culture.

SSC is delivered in a social, supportive group, mentored by a parent and facilitated by a parent leader using a conversational learning method referred to as “conversepedia” for a group of up to six parents. Group sessions are held once a week for a total of 10 weeks, or can be flexibly arranged to meet varied scheduling needs. Topics discussed during the program include:

  • How The Brain Develops
  • What Makes A Child’s Brain Develop and Grow?
  • Watch Them Grow: Developmental Milestones
  • Ways to Help Your Child’s Brain Thrive & Come Alive
  • Ways to Watch TV Together
  • Defining Social and Emotional Health
  • Critical Needs of Socially and Emotionally Healthy Children
  • Ten Things to Do at Home Towards Social and Emotional Health
  • Parents’ Self-Care and Nurturing
  • Working with Challenging Behaviors Through Positive Discipline

For more information on Smart and Secure Children (SSC) Parent Leadership Program, contact Tish MacInnis by email at or by phone at 1-866-711-4025.

What is it?

Smart and Secure Children (SSC) is a quality parenting curriculum that was co-designed by parents and led by parents in the community.


Home Visiting Advocacy

Through engagement and guidance from the statewide Home Visiting Advisory Board, the APC prioritizes education and advocacy surrounding the needs and concerns of very young children, in order to work towards a cohesive message about the importance of Home Visiting for all of Alabama’s families.

The APC does not provide direct Home Visiting services, but links together Home Visiting providers, state agencies supporting them, and various communities and families served by Home Visiting, in order to provide a unified voice that emphasizes the important and unique place for Home Visiting in the early care and education system.

The work has resulted in the following informational resources on Home Visiting in Alabama:

  • Statewide Overview of Home Visiting Services in Alabama: Results of Home Visiting Environmental Scan
  • APC Home Visiting Fact Sheet
  • APC Home Visiting Palm Card
What is Home Visiting Advocacy?

The APC, with funding from the Alliance for Early Success, promotes the expansion and enhancement of Home Visiting services in Alabama, in coordination with the Departments of Early Childhood Education and Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention.

Strengthening Families Resources:

Click on resources to download PDF

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State Profile

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Statewide Overview of Home Visiting Services in Alabama

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Home Visiting Fact Sheet

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