It takes a village: New centers will offer support to parents

Memphis will soon be home to the first Universal Parenting Places (UPPs) in the country. These innovative centers will provide families with proactive parenting support and focus on the prevention of childhood trauma. They are “judgment-free” zones where parents can receive professional counseling, information, and emotional support for family-related issues.

Porter-LeathBaptist Memorial Hospital for Women and Knowledge Quest partnered on a three-year pilot program to create two new parenting places; Porter-Leath will administrate the parenting places, while Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women and Knowledge Quest are the two pilot locations. 

Dedications for both two sites will be held on April 16 at 11am, which will include site tours and performances from Memphis' creative community, illustrating a few of the nontraditional and diverse support programs the centers will offer.

Universal Parenting Places will officially open to the public on Monday, April 20. The centers welcome all families at no cost.

At the heart of the parenting places initiative, which was funded privately from a local foundation, is the startling correlation between adverse childhood experiences and adult health outcomes

"We hope to universalize that parenting is a challenge, it's one of the hardest things we do, and that it is OK to need help," said Barbara Holden Nixon, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Task Force chair. "The three partners on this project advocated for doing something with the research to find out more about the toxic stress that is leading to feeding off our criminal justice and child welfare systems on the back end. We want to find what we can do on the front end to prevent it."
The centers boast state-of-the-art, welcoming and preventive approaches to reducing challenges to children's emotional and behavioral health, and Holden Nixon stresses that the emphasis will be non-threatening environments where family members will be able to talk about anything.

"The difference of these sites from other programs is that they will be open to everybody, regardless of where they live or what their income or situation; they will be universal. You will not have to qualify for them or be referred," Holden Nixon says.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Luttrell will speak at the dedication next week, as will author and speaker Robin Karr-Morse, whose Oregon-based "Parenting Institute" provides the founding vision and staff training components for the UPP project.

Read more articles by Anna Mullins.

Anna is a local writer, editor and non-profit administrator. She serves as Managing Editor for High Ground and as the Director of Communications and Marketing for the New Memphis Institute. Share feedback and story ideas with her here.