The Full Story
The National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) has been successful in mobilising mentors to encourage effective parenting in their communities.
Parent mentors assist with the implementation of the Commission’s programmes and initiatives at the individual, school and community levels.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kaysia Kerr, tells JIS News that the mentorship initiative is “the only programme where we have parents trained to offer this kind of support at the different levels.”
Parent mentorship is the flagship programme of the NPSC, which also offers other categories of parenting education classes.
Parent mentor leaders, who are selected from among their peers trained in this area, mobilise other mentors in their parish and share skills taught by the Commission.
Latoya Bailey-Ball is a Parent Mentor Leader from St. Thomas who has used her training to improve the relationship with her son.
“Before I became a part of the Commission, I used to parent the way I was parented. I beat my kids, shout at them and I didn’t know how to deal with anything. Since I became a part of the Commission, I realised that I was parenting incorrectly. The Commission has taught me that when you listen to your child, you will learn more,” she tells JIS News.
Through the NPSC, parent mentors see transformation in their lives at home and, thus far, they have been staying with the programme, which is one metric by which success is measured.
“One of the ways that we measure success is just the level of attrition – it is very low. Once parent mentors are trained, they tend to stay in the programme because they see their own lives being transformed. They see where they want to apply the information to be more effective in their own practice,” Ms. Kerr mentions.
The parent mentors are volunteers with various levels of skills. They find the programme empowering and are positively impacting their communities.
“We have a wide range of skill sets that enter the programme. So you have persons who might have barely finished primary school and persons who only finished high school. But we have persons up to a Master’s degree, and what we find is that it’s very empowering for all of them,” Ms. Kerr points out.
She notes that the NPSC involves persons who consider completing the programme a significant accomplishment.
“You have people who entered the parent mentorship programme and it’s the first time they would have graduated from anything. So they feel valued, and because of that, they are willing to continue their volunteerism and to give back to the programme and… their communities. They’re not changing their lives only, they`re changing the whole fabric of their community,” the CEO tells JIS News.
Speaking about her own situation, Mrs. Bailey-Ball explains that the NPSC helped her to find a solution to parenting challenges she was experiencing.
“I have a son who attended a particular high school. When he was in grade seven and eight, he was acting up. I had to visit that school every week like I was working there. One day I sat him down and asked him ‘Why are you behaving like that?’” she shares.
Mrs. Bailey-Ball notes that he recounted an incident he experienced at school that led to his concluding that he was not well-liked by a particular teacher at the institution and which had sparked his behavioral issues.
“I spoke with him and I told him – ‘remember, you don’t go to school for the teacher to love you, and you don’t go to school to like the teacher; but you have to show respect to the teacher’,” she says.
Mrs. Bailey-Ball points out that during a subsequent consultation, she was advised that her son would not be recommended to sit a critical subject in the external examinations.
Through her new-found training, she says she addressed the situation and not the child, which involved sending her son to extra lessons.
She tells JIS News that her son’s behaviour showed significant improvement in Grade nine, which later led to him being recommended for eight subjects in Grade 10.
He subsequently graduated from high school with an award for ‘Most Improved Behaviour’.
Mrs. Bailey-Ball, who has been a parent mentor for more than five years, says she is “a living testimony of the Commission”, and now shares her experience with others.
As of November 30, 2023, there are 500 certified parent mentors across the island.
The National Parenting Support Commission is an agency of the Ministry of Education and Youth.