Partners in Parenting (PIP)’s mission is to ease the transition to parenthood by creating neighborhood-based parent groups that strengthen and empower families. We work to build family wellness, mitigate the stress and isolation linked to postpartum mood disorders in new parents, and promote healthy childhood development.
Noticing a gap in Austin’s birth services, new parents Carolyn Opps and Krista Miller, started groups for parents of newborns. Krista, who had previously lived in Seattle, Washington, contacted PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) who was looking to replicate their new parent groups in other cities. With the help of PEPS, Krista and Carolyn founded and incorporated Partners in Parenting (PIP) as an affiliate organization in 2014 to support parents of newborns in their transition to parenthood. The founders began as a two-woman team, facilitating groups, creating marketing materials and a website, building an active Board of Directors, recruiting dedicated volunteers and guest speakers, and focusing on outreach.
PIP has since grown into a valued member of Austin’s vibrant birth community. Today, through PIP, vulnerable and often confused new parents gain access to vital information on parenting and child development. A recent Washington Post article highlights the need: “Overly optimistic expectations and a lack of preparation can cause significant distress at a time when new parents already feel vulnerable. For some parents, this may impede bonding with their baby, shade over into postnatal depression – which affects up to 16 percent of new mothers and 5 percent of new fathers – or strain the relationship with their partner.” We know that parenting is stressful work, and universal parent access to peer support enhances the well-being of a community.
Over 10 consecutive weeks, PIPsqueaks groups of 6-12 parents of babies 0-4 months convene in participants' homes or partner sites. With the help of a trained facilitator and PIP’s comprehensive curriculum, new mothers and fathers develop the skills needed to be effective and nurturing parents. The facilitator guides discussion and provides resources related to infant health, child development, and parenting issues that focus on subjects including sleep, feeding, early learning, childcare, and postpartum mood disorders. Parents have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns while observing how other participants interact with their babies. For many, their PIPsqueaks group becomes an extended family, a supportive community and, frequently, a lifeline. Most PIPsqueak groups stay in contact well beyond the three months of meetings.
Our program and curriculum is modeled after the research-based Strengthening Families™ Framework, which outlines five protective factors of family wellness proven to increase attachment, foster healthy brain development, and lay the foundation for successful early learning. PIP continues to be a proud member of the PEPS Network, a program of the highly successful Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS) in Seattle, Washington. Over the past 30 years PEPS has developed a nationally-recognized direct-service model of peer support groups for new parents and serves over 3,000 individuals annually. As a member of the PEPS Network, PIP receives program materials, mentoring and valuable data to effectively deliver peer support to families in Austin.
More information is available on our website at: www.pipaustin.org