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Benchmarks: Journal of the New York State Unified Court System

Parent Education Advisory Board Update

The Parent Education and Awareness Program was created in 2001 by Chief Judge Kaye to foster increased utilization of parent education by judges for families in the midst of divorce or custody proceedings.   logo

At the same time, she appointed the Parent Education Advisory Board, chaired by Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Frazee of Rochester, to develop uniform standards for parent education programs to which courts would make referrals and to oversee their implementation. Parent education focuses on helping parents understand the effects of their breakup on their children. It seeks to promote children’s healthy adjustment by educating parents as to how to help their children through the period of transition and beyond. Experience shows that parents who attend these programs are more likely to reach a negotiated resolution of their dispute and less likely to return to court.

"We make parents more aware of how they may be putting their children in the middle of conflicts and how it’s negatively impacting their children and we show parents how to deal with the family transitions in ways that do not affect the children,” said Judge Frazee. “We also tell parents about age-appropriate reactions to the breakup and when professional intervention is needed. When parent education has been available, it has been embraced and greatly appreciated by the parents.”

The board has established a statewide system of certification and monitoring that sets standards parent education programs must meet in order to receive court referrals. These standards include protocols addressing domestic violence and other safety issues.

To date, 46 programs have already been certified by the board, with classes in 38 counties. The board is actively involved in identifying new providers to offer programs at additional sites so that classes are available in all 62 counties. Additional training for judges and nonjudicial staff begins this fall. Last year’s training seminars resulted in helpful revisions to the board’s ultimate recommendations and materials, which include a “Parent’s Handbook,” ”Parent Education: Help for Separating or Divorcing Parents” and ”Guidelines for Courts.” Efforts are underway to enhance the Parent Education Web site and translate the handbook and brochure into Spanish.

The success of the parent education program depends on all members of the court family — judicial and nonjudicial — who work with affected families. Feedback from those who have contact with the program will help the board assess its effectiveness and make necessary modifications.

For further information, please contact Raquel Aracena at 914-824-5701, toll free at 888-809-2798, or at nyparent-ed@courts.state.ny.us, or access the Web site at www.nycourts.gov/ip/parent-ed.

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Web page updated: September 1, 2006 - www.NYCOURTS.gov