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Partners in Parenting (PIP)

PIP aims to ease the transition to parenthood by creating neighborhood-based parent groups that strengthen and empower families.

Photo of Jessica
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In no more than 3 sentences, please tell us who your idea is designed for and how it reimagines the new life experience.

PIP works to build family wellness, mitigate the stress and isolation linked to postpartum mood disorders in new parents, and promote healthy childhood development. PIP follows a peer-to-peer model that can benefit ALL parents of newborns, providing continuous 10-week peer support for mothers and fathers. This level of commitment builds trusted relationships so that parents and their babies receive the dedicated support they need during the first year of their babies’ lives and beyond.

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: 

At what stage is your idea?

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

PIP began in 2014 and to date we have served 124 families including 73 so far in 2017. Among PIP participants who responded to post-surveys: 93% reported that PIP helped them feel less isolated; 81% felt that PIP increased their confidence about their ability to parent well; 57% felt PIP gave them tools for reducing or managing stress; 77% learned about activities that enhance their baby’s development; 75% learned about local resources through their PIP groups.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

PIP wants to grow our reach to more communities in Austin and beyond. Our curriculum is flexible enough to benefit ALL families. We would welcome input on how we can best grow our program to reach more families with the support needed in the transition to new parenthood. One of our biggest challenges is that when we reach out to expecting parents, they don't think they will need the support we provide. We welcome input on how we can get participants even when they don't know they will need PIP.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am PIP's Executive Director, and I bring a decade of experience in nonprofit grant writing. Our team is comprised of three part-time staff, all of whom are parents of young children and understand the excitement and challenges of the transition to parenthood.

This idea emerged from...

  • A group brainstorm
  • An organization or company

Are you an expecting, new, or experienced mom?

  • yes

Are you a healthcare practitioner?

  • no

Are you a current employee of UCB Pharmaceuticals or Sutter Health?

  • no


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Jessica,

It is good to have you in the challenge.

How do you plan to expand PIP to other cities? Would the curriculum be available to people to deliver the model if they have undergone some training?

How are you reaching out to parents?

Do you have a website you can share so I can find out more about your organisation?

Photo of Jessica

Hi Kate,
Thanks for your questions! Currently, we are focused on Austin, Texas and our affiliate is in Seattle, WA. I think our curriculum is able to be adapted to any community though.

We reach out to parents through targeted social media, tabling events for new parents, through OBGYN and Pediatrician offices where we have connections. Our best source of outreach is through those who have participated in the program and tell their expectant friends to join. Our yard sign campaign has also been useful in spreading the word in new neighborhoods.

I'll add our website to our information but you can find it at


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