Definition of Parent and Shared Leadership®

“…Being a Parent Leader has given me confidence and raised my self esteem. For me, Parent Leadership has meant that I have found a place where I can make a difference, a place where my experiences and ideas are valued.”
– Parents Anonymous® Parent Leader

What is a Parent Leader?

Leadership is demonstrated when individuals take action to accomplish a goal. The term Parent Leadership best describes those committed parents who work to help make their community’s schools, social services, health care providers and other entities become more responsive to and supportive of children and families. Parent Leaders may be parents, grandparents, kinship care providers, foster parents or anyone in a parenting role. They are speaking from their own perspective and are not speaking or acting in a staff role for an organization or other entity. Every parent has the potential to become a Parent Leader. The most effective Parent Leaders are those who have personal experience in the schools, programs or systems they are working to change.

What is Shared Leadership®?

Parent Leaders and staff increase their successes by working together to accomplish their mutual goals and shared vision. Shared Leadership® is successfully achieved when parents and staff build strong partnerships and share responsibility, expertise and leadership in any areas that affect families and communities.

Shared leadership® has emerged as a vital and practical strategy with unprecedented impact in evidenced-based family strengthening programs and strategies.  The public health sectors’ social ecological framework of prevention offers a new conceptual model to understanding the interrelationship and impact of intervening at the community and societal levels.  When parents are recognized and encouraged to be leaders by staff or policy-makers, shared leadership® becomes the cornerstone of effective programs, caring communities and responsive social policies to address a plethora of social issues.  Broader impacts can be achieved when staff and other key community stakeholders work together with parent leaders to achieve positive social change.  As a result of shared leadership® efforts, organizational cultural change and improved services to families occur.  These changes have led to increases in protective factors and decreases in risk factors that result in the prevention of child maltreatment and other social problems.

Parents Anonymous® Inc. was the first national family strengthening organization to:

  • Recognize the value and expertise of the life experiences of parents
  • Advocate and model shared leadership® between parents, agencies and policy  makers to ensure evidence-based results that benefit families
  • Advance an innovative conceptual framework and ambitious research agenda on Parent Leadership and Shared Leadership® that promote the strengthening of families and communities

For almost half a century, Parents Anonymous® Inc. has demonstrated the effectiveness of engaging parents in meaningful leadership roles to ensure better outcomes for families and conducted research on this vital work. We continually advocate with federal, state and community-based organizations to create meaningful roles for parents where they can share leadership in making decisions to improve services, neighborhoods and policies to build and support strong, safe families.