Special Publication 12-10
Parenting Needs for Parents
of Young Children in
YaeBin Kim, Ph.D., Family Literacy and Parenting Education Specialist
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
This needs assessment report would not have been possible without the
support of many people, and I am grateful for their support. In particular, I
would like to thank everyone who participated in the 2011 Parent Needs
Assessment Survey and the agency personnel who shared their
experience and insights with me, as well as the following individuals who
made significant contributions to this needs assessment report.
Jerry Buk, Interim Dean and Director
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Regina Chelle Miller
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
And special thanks to
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Children’s first six years of life have a significant effect on their development and
parents play the most important role in children’s development. University of Nevada
Cooperative Extension (UNCE) recognizes the importance of the early years and, given
limited resources, strives to provide parenting education to vulnerable families most in
need of support and to provide educational content that is important to success. In order
to develop new parenting programs or maintain existing programs, it was necessary to
identify parenting education needs in southern Nevada. Therefore, this comprehensive
needs assessment was conducted in southern Nevada in 2011 to determine program
priorities for families with children from birth to 5 years of age. The multi-method
1) A review of the research on the most critical areas of development in young
children and the ways in which their parents influence that development,
2) An examination of statistics that indicate the well-being of children in southern
Nevada to identify potential areas of concern,
3) Interviews with personnel in other agencies working with young children and their
families in southern Nevada to determine what is being provided and what
agency personnel see as unmet needs in parent education programs, and
4) Information collected from parents of young children to find out what they see as
needs for parenting education and support.
Information from all four sources was used
to prioritize six parenting needs in southern
Nevada: 1) Providing inexpensive activities
that will help child learn and develop; 2)
Helping parents understand appropriate
child development for each age; 3)
Supporting early language/literacy and
school readiness; 4) Learning effective
ways to discipline that lead to self-
discipline; 5) Learning how parents can help children develop healthy eating habits; 6)
Finding community resources. The UNCE parenting program has provided parenting
education programs to families in need, and this study confirmed that UNCE has, in fact,
cultivated the exact audience it has been targeting for many years.
Based on identified parenting needs, the UNCE parenting program could make an
important contribution to Nevada’s young children and their families. The
recommendations from the literature review, the child well-being data, interviews with
agency personnel and the parent surveys suggest several directions for potential and
existing programming for the UNCE parenting program and other agencies working with
young children and their parents. The recommendations of this study are:
1) UNCE should focus first on six priority parenting topics for parents of young
children in southern Nevada.
2) Parenting information should be delivered through preferred sources of parenting
information identified by parents of young children in southern Nevada: mail,
email or Internet, brochures or booklets, parenting education workshops and
possibly smartphone applications. Parenting programs need to make decisions
on which sources of parenting information to use based on available resources,
including time, money and relative value.
3) More parenting education workshops should be offered in southern Nevada to
encourage parents to develop parenting skills, understand their child’s
development and build social network and support (depending on the resources
available). When planning parenting education workshops, it is important to know
parents’ preferences for workshop formats.
4) It is necessary to collaborate with other agencies or UNCE educators in rural
areas to provide parenting programs in geographically diverse areas of southern
Nevada and reach diverse groups of families. Particularly, it is urgent to provide
parenting education programs in rural areas, since nothing is currently available
in rural areas across southern Nevada.
Table of Contents
Executive Summary ....................................................................................................................... i
Table of Contents ...........................................................................................................................v
Part I: Introduction .......................................................................................................................1
Part II: Review of the Research on the Most Critical Areas of Development in Young
Brain Development and Developmental Milestones ............................................................................. 4
Attachment Development .......................................................................................................................... 6
Language Development ............................................................................................................................. 7
Part III: Children’s Well-Being in Southern Nevada ...............................................................10
Demographic Background ...................................................................................................................... 10
Economic Well-Being ............................................................................................................................. 10
Early Education ........................................................................................................................................ 11
Health Issues ............................................................................................................................................. 12
Safety Issues .............................................................................................................................................. 13
Part IV: Interviews with Agency Personnel Working with Parents and Young Children ...16
Parenting Issues and Gaps in Parent Education ................................................................................... 17
Family related issues .................................................................................................................................. 18
Agency related issues .................................................................................................................................. 21
Community related issues ........................................................................................................................... 21
Rural vs. urban............................................................................................................................................ 22
Current Parenting Programs in Southern Nevada ................................................................................ 23
How to Reach Parents of Young Children in the Community ........................................................... 24
Part V: Parent Survey .................................................................................................................25
Demographic Characteristics of Families ............................................................................................. 25
Preferred Parenting Information Topics ................................................................................................ 28
A closer look at parenting topics, by family demographics ........................................................................ 30
Preferred Delivery Methods for Parenting Information ...................................................................... 31
A closer look at preferred sources of parenting information ...................................................................... 31
Parents’ Perception about their Parenting ............................................................................................. 32
Parents/Caregivers’ Opinions about Parenting Workshops ................................................................ 33
Part VI: Conclusions and Recommendations............................................................................37
Needs That Were Identified .................................................................................................................... 37
Other topics to consider .............................................................................................................................. 40
Family Characteristics to consider ............................................................................................................. 40
Urban vs. rural............................................................................................................................................ 40
Preferred Sources of Parenting Information ........................................................................................ 41
Sources of parenting information available in UNCE ................................................................................ 41
Workshop delivery ...................................................................................................................................... 42
Family characteristics ................................................................................................................................ 42
Recommendations ................................................................................................................................... 43
Appendix A. Urban vs. Rural in Parenting Issues from Agency Personal Interviews ..........48
Appendix B. List of Additional Parenting Topics .....................................................................51
Appendix C. Parent Interest for Topics by Parent Characteristics ........................................53
Appendix D. Preferred Delivery Methods by Parent Characteristics ....................................55
Part I: Introduction
The first six years of a child’s life are acknowledged as the most critical for future
development (Shonkoff, 2009). During these early years, a child develops more rapidly,
both physically and mentally, than at any other period. In addition, this period is crucial
for the full and positive development of the brain. Child development is continuous and
cumulative. In other words, children’s early experiences influence their later lives.
The quality of parent-child interactions
profoundly influences early development,
either positively or negatively (Papalia, Olds
& Feldman, 2002). In order for children to
succeed in life, they need supportive
families. Parents* are the most significant
teachers children will ever have. Especially
for the first five to six years, it is the parents
who lay the foundation for their children.
*The term “parents” includes key persons who play the central parenting role in a child's life. Throughout
this document wherever we refer to parents we mean mothers, fathers, caregivers including grandparents
and other adults with responsibility for caring for a child.
Cooperative Extension specialists from across the country not only recognize the
important role that parents play in children’s development but also believe that parenting
is a learned skill that can be strengthened through education and experience when they
developed the National Extension Parent Education Model (NEPEM) in the 1990’s
(Smith, et al., 1994). The model includes six categories of priority practices for parents
that should be considered when we develop parenting programs: Understand, guide,
nurture and motivate children, advocate for them and take care of yourself.
Understand: It is recommended that parents understand their children’s
development, needs and uniqueness. It is also important that parents accept that
each child is different, know developmentally appropriate behaviors of children (age
appropriate) and try to meet children’s basic needs (physical, emotional, social,
intellectual, spiritual and creative).
Guide: It is important that parents know how to use their power effectively, set
reasonable limits to protect their children, give freedom at the same time and help
children to learn responsibility.
Nurture: It is suggested that parents encourage and support their children, build a
positive relationship (attachment), show love and respond promptly to their children.
Motivate: It is recommended that parents
motivate their children to learn the knowledge
and skills they need, encourage children’s
learning efforts and help children to be ready for
Advocate: Although this is not directly related to
the growth and development of their children, it is
important for parents to connect with community
resources. It is suggested that parents look for programs or services for their
children and families and advocate for their children’s welfare.
Care for Self: It is recommended that parents manage their own stress and family
resources, seek and provide support when needed, recognize their own strengths
and work with their child-rearing partners.
We can easily find similarities between these six categories of parent skills developed
by NEPEM and parenting topics listed and found in several parent education studies.
For over a decade, the NEPEM model has guided Extension specialists, educators and
community partners to develop parent education programs, educational materials and
evaluation instruments. This model was also used to develop the parent questionnaire
for this needs assessment study.
UNCE recognizes the importance of the early years and, given limited resources, strives
to provide parenting education to vulnerable families most in need of support and to
provide educational content that is important to success. UNCE focuses and builds on
family strengths to prevent problems from occurring. An earlier statewide needs
assessment by UNCE in 2004 (Martin & Evans, 2004) identified priority areas for young
children and families and parenting was one of priority areas. Later, in 2009, UNCE
provided leadership for a survey conducted for Department of Health and Human
Services to collect information from agencies serving families across the state. A group
of individuals working in the field of parent education and family support around the
state of Nevada participated in the online survey (57 individuals from 42 organizations).
More than 50 percent of the respondents served parents with children who were at-risk,
parents with low incomes or parents with limited English proficiency. Approximately 50
percent of the programs targeted parents of
preschoolers. Although frequently covered
topics in the programs were family
communication, reassurance and support for
parents, and learning at home, most of the
respondents expected that parents might be
more interested in learning discipline, anger
management, health and safety, and temper
tantrum skills. Although this report is based
on information from a number of agency personnel working with children and parents,
the opinions expressed do not reflect what parents of young children consider important.
The purpose of this publication is to report on a recent, comprehensive needs
assessment carried out in southern Nevada in 2011 to determine program priorities for
families with children from birth to 5 years of age. The multi-method approach was used
to collect the data for this study in order to get a complete picture from many sources
and viewpoints. The multi-method assessment included:
1) A review of the research on the most critical areas of development in young
children and the ways in which their parents influence that development,
2) An examination of statistics that indicate the well-being of children in southern
Nevada to identify potential areas of concern,
3) Interviews with personnel in other agencies working with young children and
their families in southern Nevada to determine what is presently being
provided and what agency personnel see as unmet needs or gaps in parent
education programs, and
4) Information collected from parents of young children to find out what they see
as needs for parenting education and support.
Part II: Review of the Research on the Most Critical Areas of
Development in Young Children
Many parents have concerns about parenting. Some might need parenting information
to deal with specific issues like temper tantrums and others might want to learn how to
interact with their child. Parents do not always realize that they do not have information
that they need. For example, a parent lacking knowledge about typical development
may become stressed and punitive when potty training is started before a baby is
developmentally ready to learn bowel and bladder control. According to popular
parenting websites (Web MD, Parenting.com, etc.), there are common parenting issues
that typical parents experience with their youngsters, such as discipline, potty training,
developmental delays, sleep problems, health and nutrition, temper tantrums, biting,
whining, teething, play and reading. One previous study about parent education needs
(Jacobson & Engelbrecht, 2000) that focused on parents of young children (05 years
of age) listed 15 parent education topics, and parents in the study rated the following
four topics as strong interest: Helping children have good relationships, effective
discipline, building a child’s self-esteem and helping children do well in school. As can
be seen in the parenting topics listed, parenting is not only about responding to the
child’s problem behaviors, but supporting the child’s positive development, behavior and
outcomes. Therefore, it is necessary to review the child development literature to
identify critical areas in early childhood development.
The bulk of child development research has
shown the importance of early experiences
and, for more than 50 years, the effects of
parenting on child development have been
the topic of many studies (Belsky & de Hann,
2011). All areas of child development are
highly interrelated and interdependent, so
this needs assessment identified several
major areas of child development that are
linked to parenting and have long-term effects: Brain development and developmental
milestones, attachment and language development.
Brain Development and Developmental Milestones
The brain is the most important of the human organs and brain growth is related to all
forms of human development: motor development, emotional control, vision, social
attachment, vocabulary, second language, math and logic,
and music. Since research on brain development is relatively
new, many parents may have little, if any, information about
it and how they influence their child’s brain development. A
brain growth spurt occurs over the early years of life. At birth
the brain is about 25 percent of adult weight and is 75
percent of adult weight by 2 years of age (Blows, 2003).
When a baby is born, about 100 billion neurons or brain cells
have been produced. Those brain cells have begun to
connect with each other (synapse) and 70 percent of a
child’s brain is developed by the age of 6. Both genetics and
environment (or experiences) cause brain cells to form
connections and the developing brain of a young child is
particularly sensitive to environmental influences. Shonkoff (Harvard Mahoney
Neuroscience Institute, 2009), one of the well-known brain researchers, said, “The brain
expects the environment to influence its evolving circuitry (wiring). These circuits are
literally shaped by personal experience.” Recent brain development research has
underscored the importance of early childhood experiences and learning for a child’s
early brain development and capacity of subsequent learning (Shonkoff & Phillips,
Parents play the most important role in providing children with a nurturing and
stimulating environment. Parents can help a child’s brain development by giving them
love and attention, but ongoing negative experiences such as child abuse, neglect,
maternal depression, substance abuse
or family violence can damage
developing brain structures (Family and
Work Institute, 1996; Zero to Three and
The Ounce of Prevention, 2000).
Unfortunately, early exposure to
negative experiences tends to have
harmful and long-lasting effects on
young children. Therefore, it is important
for parents to know when the brain is
best equipped to learn certain skills (Brotherson, 2005): Physical and motor
development (prenatal to 5 years old), emotional control (birth to 2 years old), visual and
auditory development (birth to 4-5 years old), social attachment (birth to 2 years old),
“Parents can help a child’s brain
development by giving them love
and attention, but ongoing negative
experiences such as child abuse,
neglect, maternal depression,
substance abuse or family violence
can damage developing brain
vocabulary (birth to 3 years old), second language (birth to 6 years old), math/logic (1-4
years old) and music (3-6 years old). The impact of the early years lasts forever, so it is
recommended that parents touch, talk, sing, count and play with young children.
Healthy emotional, social and intellectual brain development in young children is a
critical foundation for later success in school and in life and parents of young children
play a critical role.
In addition to brain development, it is also helpful for parents to know what their child
can do by a certain age (developmental milestones). When parents are aware of normal
developmental milestones, parents can
support the growth and development of their
young children. Physically, a 2-month-old can
start moving arms and legs smoothly, a 1-
year-old baby can sit without help, a 18-
month-old can walk alone, a 2-year-old
begins to run and a 3-year-old runs easily, a
4-year-old can hop and a 5-year-old may be
able to skip. Socially and emotionally, a 2-
month-old baby tries to look at parent, a 1-
year-old is shy or nervous with strangers, a 18-month-old may cling to caregivers in new
situations, a 3-year-old separates easily from caregivers and a 5- year-old shows more
independence. Cognitively, a 2-month-old begins to follow things with eyes, a 1-year-old
explores things in different ways (i.e., shaking, banging and throwing), a 2-year-old
plays simple make-believe games, a 3-year-old plays make-believe using props (i.e.,
dolls, animals, and people) and a 5-year-old knows
about things used every day (i.e., money and food)
According to John Bowlby (1969), attachment is the
emotional bond between a child and his or her
parents. From this relationship, children develop a
sense of security and trust in future interpersonal
relationships. A secure attachment is built upon
sensitive and responsive caregiving and helps the
child control his emotion in stressful situations, build
self-confidence and healthy eating habits and foster
cognitive, emotional and language development. The first two years of life are critical for
attachment. If the attachment relationship is not securely established, the child will
suffer irreversible long-term consequences such as delinquency, reduced intelligence,
increased aggression and depression (Mcleod, 2007).
As can be expected, parents play an important role as
attachment figures for their children. Loving your child does
not automatically result in secure attachment. Secure
attachment develops from the parents’ ability to manage
their stress, respond to child’s needs and successfully
interact with the child. Attachment Parenting International
(API) has suggested eight principles that foster secure
attachment between the parents and child: 1) preparation for
pregnancy, birth and parenting, 2) feed with love and respect,
3) respond with sensitivity, 4) use nurturing touch, 5) ensure
safe sleep, physically and emotionally, 6) provide consistent
loving care, 7) practice positive discipline and 8) strive for
balance in personal and family life (www.attachmentparenting.org). A secure
attachment helps the child better explore her environment, knowing that she has full
support and cooperation from her family. The bonus is that the child will develop
intellectually, physically, emotionally and socially at the same time.
Language Development The achievement of language is one of the most important
triumphs of early childhood. Before they go to school,
children master the sound and grammar of their language
and acquire thousands of words. In the words of Fogel
(2009), “Learning a first language in the short space of three
years is an educational accomplishment of such magnitude
that it would be hard to duplicate at any later point in life.
There is more to language than just learning the meanings
of words. It is also necessary to learn how words are used,
when to speak and when to listen and how to understand
what others are saying. Language in this sense is really only
one form of a broader intention to communicate, to share
information, and to learn more about the world.” (Fogel, p.19).
Children reach school with different levels of literacy or
language skills, and these initial differences affect children’s
later language growth, cognitive development, literacy and
academic achievement. In one study, 40 75 percent of
children who did not gain a solid language foundation in
early childhood had difficulty learning to read and this
problem had a domino effect as children who were
struggling to read then had trouble learning other subjects
(Burns, Griffin & Snow, 1999). This means that children’s
delays in language skills prior to kindergarten can last
forever. Not all parents realize the important role they play in
their child’s language and literacy development or how to
provide the opportunities their child needs to succeed in school. However, children’s
experiences at home are critical to early language growth and learning. Especially when
English Language Learners have pre-reading experiences (both their home language
and English) before they go to school, they tend not to have difficulties in reading later
(Riches & Genesee, 2007).
Many literacy researchers have suggested three aspects of the home literacy
environment as central to children’s
early language and learning: 1) the
frequency of children’s participation
in routine activities such as shared
book reading, storytelling, or
teaching about letters, 2) the quality
of caregiver-child interaction
(parents’ sensitivity and
responsiveness) during those routine activities and 3) the provision of age-appropriate
books and toys during those routine activities. A supportive home literacy environment
might have the most positive effect on the development of children’s early literacy skills
and other areas of child development.
Brain development and developmental milestones, attachment development and
language development are important areas that parents significantly influence and that
should be considered when designing parenting education programs. Not all parents
know how to promote literacy in young children, how to interact with their children and
how to talk to their children. Parenting education programs can help parents better
“Children reach school with different
levels of literacy or language skills, and
these initial differences affect children’s
later language growth, cognitive
development, literacy and academic
understand typical child development and have a more nurturing and enjoyable
relationship with their young children.
Part III: Children’s Well-Being in Southern Nevada
A second source of information about needs for parenting education involves an
examination of indicators of the well-being of children in southern Nevada. According to
the 2012 National Kids Count Data, Nevada ranked 48th (40th in 2011), among the 50
states for children’s well-being − the status of children in terms of their social,
psychological, physical and cognitive development. This section explores five
categories that describe young children’s well-being, including demographic background,
economic well-being, early education, and health and safety, using data from multiple
data sources. Exploring children’s well-being in southern Nevada will help identify
potential areas of concern.
The demographic characteristics of children in southern Nevada are helpful in
understanding children’s well-being. As of 2010 (Daneshvary & Brown, 2011), there
were 145,616 children ages 0 to 4 years in southern
Nevada, which was 7 percent of the total population
(N=2,018,570) and 26 percent of the total number of
children and youth (0 to19 years old) in southern Nevada.
Racial and ethnic diversity has grown in southern Nevada.
In 2010, 38 percent of all children were white, non-
Hispanic; 36 percent were Hispanic; 7 percent were Asian;
and 9 percent were African American. The Hispanic
population is the fastest growing population in Clark
County and is also the largest minority group. Southern
Nevada is no longer predominantly Caucasian. Twenty-
seven percent of Nevadans speak a language other than English. Accordingly Nevada
ranked 7th in the nation in terms of the number of people who speak other languages.
This is an important consideration in planning educational programs, suggesting the
need to consider cultural differences in family life as well as the languages that parents
In Nevada, the percent of children in poverty has been steadily increasing over the past
10 years. On average, 21.3 percent of Nevada children under age 18 were in poverty in
2010. Poverty rates in Nye County (27.8 percent) and Clark County (22.2 percent) were
higher than other counties in Nevada. Nevada’s estimated poverty rate for children
under age 5 was 25.6 percent, a little higher than the U.S. rate of 25 percent. The
percentage of poverty was strikingly high (31 percent) among Hispanic children. In
addition, 36 percent (ranked 38th among 50) of children in Nevada lived in families
where no parents had full-time, year-round employment and 9.2 percent of families with
children lost homes due to a foreclosure (Daneshvary & Brown, 2011). An extensive
body of literature documents the negative consequences of poverty for child
development: low income is associated with low academic achievement, juvenile
delinquency, teenage pregnancy, depression or anxiety and behavioral problems
(Bolger, Patterson, Thompson, & Kupersmidt, 1995; McLeod & Shanahan, 1993). This
information suggests that children in low-income families may be at risk and that UNCE
needs to reach this growing audience.
Early Education In Nevada, 71 percent of children ages 3 to 4
years old were not enrolled in preschool
programs or nursery schools (the national
average was 53 percent) (National Kids
Count Data, 2012). It is possible that with the
economic downturn in Nevada, parents
cannot afford to send children to preschool
programs. In addition, most of the programs
for the disadvantaged (Head Start programs,
state-funded or Title I-funded preschool programs) have a long waiting list. According to
earlier studies about cost and benefits of early childhood education (Perry Preschool,
Abecedarian Project and Chicago Child-Parent Centers), high-quality early education
benefits children and families, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Parents who cannot send their children to early care and education programs also may
have less access to parenting information and support, compared to parents of children
in preschool programs.
Parents in Nevada do not read to
their young children as often as
parents in other states. According to
the 2007 National Survey of
Children’s Health data, 44.6 percent
of Nevada family members read
stories everyday to their children ages
“In 2010, 21 percent of children ages 1
5 were read to less than three days
per week, making Nevada 46th among
the 50 states (National Kids Count
0 to 5 years old, lower than the national average of 48 percent. In 2010, 21 percent of
children ages 1 to 5 were read to less than
three days per week, making Nevada 46th
among the 50 states (National Kids Count
Data, 2012). A higher percent of White and
Asian children from two-parent households,
and children from families with higher
incomes or education than their
counterparts were read to every day.
Children’s literacy ability develops rapidly
and large individual differences appear during the first five years of life (Shonkoff &
Phillips, 2000). Children’s early literacy development influences academic success and
later competence as adults. Many reading problems can be prevented by empowering
the parents of preschoolers to help their young children gain a strong literacy and
language foundation before they enter school (Pierre, Ricciutti & Rimdziou, 2005; Zeece
& Wallace, 2009). This information suggests that families in southern Nevada need to
understand the importance of early language development and how to foster such
growth before their children reach school.
According to the Nevada Kids Count 2011 Data Book, the percent of low birth-weight
babies (less than 5.5 pounds) in Nevada was 8.1 percent. Both Nye (9.7 percent) and
Clark (8.2 percent) counties had a higher percent of low birth-weight babies than the
state average of 8.l percent. Infants with low birth weight are at higher risk of early death
and long-term health and developmental issues. This suggests a need for pre-
pregnancy and prenatal programs.
A second health problem is childhood
obesity. In 2007, 34.2 percent of
children in Nevada were considered
overweight or obese, which is higher
than the national average of 31.6
percent (ranked 41st) and has continued
to rise since 2003 (National Survey of
Children’s Health, 2007). According to
the 2008 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance
System, which assessed weight status
of children from low-income families participating in WIC (Women, Infants and Children),
26.7 percent of low-income children ages 2 to 5 were overweight or obese in Nevada.
Not only individual factors, but also social, economic and environmental forces may
have affected the high prevalence of obesity in Nevada. The consequences of obesity in
early childhood are not only psychosocial, but also include lifelong health problems.
Infancy is a critical period in obesity prevention if parents learn to feed their babies
when they are hungry and stop when they are full. As children begin eating solid foods,
parents have a vital role to play in providing nutritious choices and teaching children
healthy eating habits. In addition, parents can encourage physical activity to keep their
The last health problem is the number of children who lack health insurance. Nevada
ranked 48th on the percent of children who were uninsured in 2010 (1=best, 50=worst)
and 14 percent of children ages 5 and under were not covered by health insurance. The
percentage of health insurance coverage is one measure of the extent which families
can obtain preventive care or health care for a sick or injured child. Immunizations are
also an important part of a child’s health issues, because rates of childhood
immunizations show how extensively children are protected from serious vaccine-
preventable illnesses. However, only 63.4 percent of children in Nevada before 24
months of age were immunized in 2010; this was 7 percent lower than the national
average (47th among 50 states). In southern Nevada, only 59 percent of children ages
19 to 35 months were immunized in Clark County and 55 percent in Lincoln County. It is
recommended that parents know what immunizations children need, when they should
be given and how they can get them.
In Nevada, of the 112,630 babies
born between 2008 and 2010, 626
died before they turned 1 year old
(5.6 per 1,000 live births). The infant
mortality rate is related to the health
of the mother, public health practices,
socioeconomic conditions and
availability of appropriate health care
for infants and mothers. During this
same period, 268 children between
the ages of 1 and 14 died in Nevada
(17 per 100,000 children) and the rate of the combined 15 rural counties was 20.4.
According to the 2009 Statewide Child Death Report, child abuse was identified as one
of the four leading causes of child death (State of Nevada Divisions of Child and Family
Services, 2009). The definition of child abuse or neglect
means physical or mental non-accidental injury, sexual
abuse or negligent treatment of a child under the age of
18. In the state of Nevada alone, the number of child
abuse cases (investigated report) was not high compared
to other states (31 percent in 2009, 12th among 50 states)
(National Kids Count Data, 2012). However, the number of
child abuse and neglect cases reported in Clark County
(7,450) was almost two-thirds of total number of reports
(N=11,883) in Nevada (29 percent) and Lincoln County
(43.8 percent) had the highest percent of substantiated
child abuse and neglect reports (i.e., substantiated cases
of child abuse and neglect are those in which there was
an investigation by a state agency and there was sufficient
evidence to confirm that child abuse and neglect did occur). In Nevada, more than 50
percent of child abuse and neglect victims were children under 5 years old (Daneshvary
& Brown, 2011). Research on the effects of child abuse and neglect predicts long-term
negative outcomes for the victims, such as a higher rate of dropping out of school,
substance abuse, teenage
pregnancy and criminal
behavior (Wiig, Widom &
Tuell, 2003). According to the
Child Abuse Prevention and
Treatment Act (USDHHS,
2010), parenting education is
a core prevention service. In
education classes can help
parents acquire and
internalize parenting and problem-solving skills necessary to build a healthy family and
further prevent child abuse and neglect.
“According to the Child Abuse Prevention and
Treatment Act (USDHHS, 2010), parenting
education is a core prevention service. In
particular, parenting education classes can
help parents acquire and internalize parenting
and problem-solving skills necessary to build
a healthy family and further prevent child
abuse and neglect.”
In summary, the statistics introduced here indicate that many young children in southern
Nevada are at risk for not getting a healthy start in the early years. Although stable
families are one of the most important factors for children’s well-being, southern Nevada
families have been challenged by economic struggles and other related issues. Such
stressors can impact parenting skills, by heightening anxiety, depression and
relationship tensions. Parents may lack the knowledge and skills needed to provide a
nurturing environment. Because the child’s early years are the most formative, we need
to support families most in need not only through direct family services, but also through
educational outreach, including parenting education programs.
Part IV: Interviews with Agency Personnel Working with Parents and Young
Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 35 agency personnel who served young
children (0 to 5 years of age) and families in southern Nevada. The interview was
designed to address the participant’s views on the needs of parents of young children in
southern Nevada. All agency personnel were asked to identify needs of parents they felt
are unmet. UNCE generated an initial list of potential participants and contacted them
by telephone to invite them to participate. During each interview, interviewees were
asked to identify other potential agency personnel who might participate. Recruitment
continued until no new issues emerged from the interviews. All interview participants
were told that their participation was voluntary and that they were allowed to withdraw
from the study at any time. The interviews took from 30 to 90 minutes and six questions
were asked: 1) What are your current responsibilities in your organization?; 2) What
kinds of program (services) do you (your organization) provide for parents and their
young children (0 to 5 years old)?; 3) Over the next year, will your agency close any of
these programs or add anything new?; 4) What other programs for parents and their
young children are being offered in ________?; 5) What are the major issues or needs
of parents of young children in this community?; 6) What are the effective ways to reach
or recruit parents of young children?
There was considerable diversity among agency personnel who were interviewed.
Among 35 interviewees, 21 were Caucasian, five were Latino/ Hispanic, eight were
African American and one was Asian; Thirty-three were females and two were males.
Twenty-seven interviews were conducted with individuals who were located in urban
areas and eight interviews were undertaken with personnel in rural areas (see Table 1).
About half of the interviewees worked for a nonprofit agency (see Figure 1) and most of
them worked for underrepresented populations.
Agency Personnel by County and City or Town
Figure 1. Types of organization represented by agency personnel
Parenting Issues and Gaps in Parent Education
Agency personnel identified 100 issues and gaps in parenting education for parents of
young children in southern Nevada. To summarize this information, the 100 individual
items were repeatedly grouped together with other similar issues until all items were
eventually placed within groups. This resulted in a list of 30 general issues mentioned
by more than one interviewee, and those 30 issues were categorized into three areas:
1) family-related issues, 2) agency-related issues and 3) community-related issues.
North Las Vegas
So. Nye County
Family-related issues. Issues in this category included information, skills and support
that parents needed in caring for their young children. Twenty family-related issues
were categorized into six topic areas: knowledge that parents need, parenting skills to
support their child’s development, social support for parents and children, issues related
to parents as individuals, concerns about motivation and responsibility in the parenting
role and parenting education for specific audiences. The issues under each topic area
were ranked by the percentage of respondents who identified that issue (see table 2).
With regard to knowledge, a large majority of agency personnel thought that parents of
young children in southern Nevada needed to understand age-appropriate child
development. Most thought that a
lack of knowledge about typical
development could lead to
unrealistic expectations –
expecting too much or too little –
which, in turn, could lead to child
abuse and neglect. In addition,
parents can facilitate children’s
healthy development by
milestones. As can be seen in
Table 2, knowledge of child
development was the item mentioned more often than any other by agency personnel.
Twenty three percent of the interviewees thought that
families in southern Nevada needed to get nutrition
information/ education. Currently WIC (Women, Infants &
Children) assists pregnant women and women who have
recently given birth, infants and children under the age of
5 years old and teach those families eat healthy and
affordably and UNCE nutrition programs provide
breastfeeding education to mothers and a few other
nutrition education programs targeting young children as
well. However, the respondents strongly believed that the
need for nutrition education is more crucial than ever to
prevent childhood obesity and encourage healthy eating
habits, especially for parents of young children.
“A large majority of agency personnel
thought that parents of young children in
southern Nevada needed to understand
age-appropriate child development.
Most thought that a lack of knowledge
about typical development could lead to
unrealistic expectations – expecting too
much or too little – which, in turn, could
lead to child abuse and neglect.”
In terms of skills, agency personnel most frequently mentioned the need for parenting
education workshops. Although several agencies were providing parenting education
workshops in Clark County (see pg. 25, “current parenting programs in southern
Nevada”), almost half of the agency personnel perceived that the community needs to
increase both the quantity and diversity of the parenting education opportunities.
Agency personnel reported that this is an even greater problem in small communities,
because currently there are few if any parent education workshops available in most
rural areas in southern Nevada.
Agency personnel also agreed that more opportunities for parents to meet with each
other to gain social support are needed. Parents can learn from each other by sharing
their own parenting experiences and can support each other by sharing feelings,
problems and successes related to parenting. Parents might meet other parents at
parenting workshops, their child’s preschool or child care programs, local playgrounds
or at local events.
More than a third of the agency personnel also felt that parents in southern Nevada
needed to build their own education or skills to raise their children well. It is suggested
that parents learn English, improve their basic academic skills (i.e., GED, college
degree, etc.) and gain life skills, so they can get family-supporting jobs and help their
children succeed in school. Interviewees were particularly concerned about parents
receiving services from their agencies who are English language learners and felt that
they need to learn English to help their children in school later and to get ahead in the
With regard to motivation, some agency personnel suggested parents better understand
their roles and responsibilities as parents. The population of southern Nevada is very
transient. A lot of people move here and usually don’t have family support. To
understand their role as parents of young children, they need somebody to model
parenting behaviors or guide them to be effective parents. Preschool teachers,
parenting educators or agency personnel might play this role for parents in southern
A small number of those interviewed mentioned that specialized parenting programs are
needed by specific audiences. As can be seen at the bottom of Table 2, agency
personnel most frequently mentioned parenting resources and education for adolescent
Family-Related Issues Identified by Agency Personnel
Helping parents understand appropriate child development for
each age (developmental milestone).
Having families get nutrition information/education.
Ensuring that parents know and understand the prekindergarten
Having families get health information/education.
Helping parents understand the importance of play at younger
Helping parents understand the importance of family routines.
Providing opportunities for enhancing general parenting skills
through parenting education workshops.
Helping parents learn how to discipline children without
punishment, when dealing with children’s problem behaviors.
Helping parents improve their child’s language development for
Helping parents to participate in their child’s schools (preschools,
day care, etc.).
Helping parents learn how to spend high-quality time with their
Providing opportunities for parents to meet with other parents to
develop networks or support, or learn from each other.
Providing more recreation opportunities for young children and
Parents building their own education or skills (getting GED, college
degree and ESL education).
Helping parents relieve stress.
Encouraging parents understand their role as parents.
Parents not motivated to learn parenting skills.
Parenting education or resources for teenage moms.
Parenting education or resources for grandparents raising
Parenting education for middle class families.
Agency-related issues. The five items in this
category were about how agencies could better
help parents and families of young children. As
can be seen in Table 3, almost half of the
participants thought that it is important to help
families find available resources in their
communities. Parents often did not know about
existing resources, whether they needed the service, or whether they were eligible for
the program. For example, there are currently four early intervention agencies in Las
Vegas, but agency personnel find that many parents do not have any knowledge about
the early intervention programs. This leads almost a quarter of the agency personnel to
suggest the need to increase collaboration among agencies serving young children and
their parents. Through collaboration, agencies may be better able to refer parents to
programs that would provide the resources and services that they need.
Agency-Related Issues Identified by Agency Personnel
Community-related issues. Finally, agency personnel reported on five issues related
to how communities could support parents and families of young children (see Table 4).
More than half of the participants believed that meeting the basic needs of families
should be a community priority. A number of interviewees mentioned that numerous
families in southern Nevada are currently experiencing economic downturns; many
have lost jobs, homes and health insurance. They are struggling to meet their family’s
basic needs. In addition, almost half of the agency personnel stated that parents need
high-quality and affordable child care programs. In some rural areas, there were few, if
any, early care and education programs for young children and parents. At the time the
Helping parents find available resources in the community.
Encouraging more collaboration among agencies.
Each agency needs to increase awareness of cultural diversity,
sensitivity and strengths.
Each agency needs to provide family-friendly environments.
Each agency needs to provide any kinds of follow-up services to
families who receive their services.
“Parents often did not know
about existing resources,
whether they needed the
service, or whether they were
eligible for the program.”
interviews were conducted there was one early care program in Caliente, a few in
Mesquite and Pahrump, and none in Laughlin and Logandale. Although there were
many child care programs available in urban areas, according to agency personnel,
families could not afford to pay the tuition for their children.
Community-Related Issues Identified by Agency Personnel
Having basic needs of families met (health care, nutrition,
Providing high-quality and affordable child care for children and
Providing transportation services to families, when they need
access to any kinds of services.
Providing free or low-cost mental health services for both parents
and young children.
Resolving family conflict/ domestic violence.
Rural vs.urban. Agency personnel in rural areas had different opinions about a few
parenting issues. Regarding family related issues, rural and urban agency personnel
differed with regard to two issues: providing opportunities for parents to meet with other
parents to develop networks or support and providing more recreation opportunities for
young children and their family. People in rural areas know each other very well, not like
in the big cities, but recreation opportunities are very limited in most of rural areas.
In terms of agency related issues, agency personnel in urban areas more frequently
mentioned the need to help parents find available resources in the community. It
appears that people in rural areas know where to find resources if any are available, but
people in urban areas don’t know how or where to find resources.
Finally, agency personnel in rural areas had more concerns about community-related
issues than those in urban areas. Meeting basic needs of families was mentioned by 75
percent of the respondents in rural areas and providing transportation services was
suggested by 63 percent of them. Not many public or private services are available in
rural areas. Agency personnel reported a lack of medical care, early intervention
services, jobs, access to child care, food and household items, parent education and
many more services.
Current Parenting Programs in southern Nevada
Parenting information can be delivered in various forms such as lectures, media
displays, books, online resources, home visiting and group meetings. Based on the
interviews with agency personnel in southern Nevada, UNCE learned that there were
various organizations providing parenting information or services to families of young
children, mostly in urban areas. In Clark County, several agencies were providing group
workshops for parents of young children: Family to Family Connection sites (for parents
of children 0 to 5 years of age), Title I Parent Centers (currently eight in Clark County
School District (CCSD)), the University Medical Center (UMC) Children’s Hospital
Family Resource Center (for parents with children 0 to 18 years of age), the Clark
County Parenting Project (for parents with children 0 to 18 years of age), community
centers, court-ordered parenting class providers (Family Solutions, Palo Verde, The
Center for Divorce Education), Children’s Cabinet and the UNCE parenting program.
There is a cost to families for some
programs. Some agencies or
organizations have provided their
own parenting programs for families,
and others not only have provided
their own parenting programs but
also have invited other agencies to
teach and distribute parenting
information to the families they reach.
In rural areas such as Laughlin,
Logandale, Pahrump and Caliente,
no parenting education workshops
were available when the interviews were conducted. As of 2012, Family to Family
Connection sites no longer exist in southern Nevada.
Most of the agencies working with young children and their families (Health District,
Nevada Registry, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Head Start programs,
community child care programs, Title I Pre-K and state-funded Pre-K programs) have
disseminated parenting information to their clients not only through parenting workshops
but also using other delivery methods such as email, the Internet, mail and handouts or
brochures. Other agencies with home visiting components have taught their clients
about parenting skills in their homes. These include the Nurse Project, Early
Intervention agencies (four agencies in Las Vegas), HIPPY (Head Start home visitation)
and Early Head Start home visitation. However, these services primarily have been
provided to families in urban areas.
How to Reach Parents of Young Children in the Community
A question was asked about how to effectively reach parents of young children in the
community. Recruiting families was one of the most important, ongoing jobs for
agencies working with young children and families. Most of them suggested distributing
posters or flyers to market their services
and they also suggested leaving posters or
flyers at various community locations such
as schools, child care programs, parks and
recreation, hospitals, libraries, churches,
grocery stores or markets and
homeowners’ organizations. One third of
the participants thought that agencies
should work together to share resources and refer families to other resources for
services when necessary. Several other strategies for reaching families were suggested,
including the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, word-of-
mouth, email, the Internet, radio, television or newspaper ads, participation in
community events and giving incentives or gifts to families.
Agency personnel in southern Nevada raised several parenting issues based on their
experiences with young children and their parents. Many of them thought that parents
need to learn about child development, build general and specific parenting skills, build
networks or support, strengthen their own education or skills and understand their role
as parents better. They also mentioned that each agency needs to help parents find
available resources in the community in collaboration with other agencies, and the
community (both non-profit organization and for-profit organization) as a whole needs to
help meet basic needs of families in southern Nevada. Almost half of them mentioned
that it is necessary to provide more opportunities for parents to enhance general
parenting skills through parenting education workshops. A 2009 Nevada Statewide
Assessment by the Department of Health and Human Services also reported that
parenting classes are one of the seven services to ensure that children remain safely in
their homes (importance of 4.46, out of 5).
“One third of the participants
thought that agencies should
work together to share
resources and refer families to
other resources for services
Part V. Parent Survey
A parent survey was conducted to find out what information parents felt would help
them in raising their children. To get information from parents throughout southern
Nevada, parents were asked to fill out questionnaires at community centers, libraries,
Family-to-Family Connection sites and Head Start Program sites across the geographic
area. Six hundred ninety eight parents who lived in 23 Zip Code areas (89008, 89014,
89015, 89021, 89027, 89029, 89030, 89032, 89101, 89103, 89106, 89110, 89113,
89115, 89117, 89119, 89121, 89122, 89123, 89128, 89142, 89146 and 89147)
answered the survey. Information from 684 complete surveys is reported below.
UNCE developed the parenting survey with feedback from two Extension experts. The
questionnaire consisted of five parts: 1) a list of potential parenting topics ; 2) preferred
sources of parenting information ; 3) parents’ preferences for workshop delivery
formats; 4) parents’ perceptions about their parenting ; and 5) demographic information
Seventeen potential parenting topics were identified using two sources: 1) the
interviews with agency personnel reported earlier and 2) the National Extension Parent
Education Model (NEPEM) (Smith et al., 1994). To help determine the most effective
ways to reach parents with information, parents were asked whether they want to
receive parenting information from eight different sources. A separate question about
parents’ willingness to attend parenting workshops was asked, followed by three
questions about what would make workshops attractive. In addition, the survey
contained two open-ended questions about participants’ perceptions of their strengths
and challenges as parents. Finally, 16 questions were asked about demographic
characteristics, such as education and marital status.
Demographic Characteristics of Families
As can be seen in Table 5, of the 684 parents who completed the survey, most were
from urban areas. There was considerable variation in age, number of children,
education, frequency of moving, work status and ethnicity, reflecting the diverse
situations of parents in southern Nevada. Over half were between 26 35 years of age
and almost three-fourths were married or living with a partner. The vast majority of
parents who filled out the survey were mothers. Four hundred sixty-six parents had two
or more children and almost all of the children were 5 years old or younger. Relatively
large numbers of parents reported lower incomes and were receiving at least one form
of public assistance. More than a third had
moved at least once in the last year and
another 15 percent expected to move over the
coming year. Few had graduated from college.
Almost half were Latino/Hispanic and Spanish
was their first language. However, over 90
percent had mobile phones and almost 80
percent had computers at home, most with an
Internet connection. Overall, relative to the population of southern Nevada, there were
more Hispanic, married and low-income parents than expected and fewer white parents.
Demographic Characteristics of Participants (N=684)
Type of Community
Parent Age Groups
19 to 25
26 to 35
36 to 45
46 or older
Single/ never married
Divorced or separated
Married ore living with a partner
Relationship to Child
Both parents (answered together)
Total number of children
“Relative to the population of
southern Nevada, there were
more Hispanic, married and
low-income parents than
expected and fewer White
More than five children
Number of children 0 to 5 years old
Highest level of education
Less than ninth grade
Some high school, but didn’t finish
High school degree
High school + some college or trade schools
4-year college degree
$20,000 ~ 30,000
$31 ~ 40,000
$41 ~ 60,000
$61 ~ 80,000
$81 ~ 100,000
Prefer not to answer
Higher than it was a year ago
Lower than it was a year ago
About the same as it was a year ago
Frequency of moving last year
No, but I expect to move in the next year
No, and I don’t expect to move.
Work from home
Looking for a job
Social services received
Received at least one service
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) (out of 348)
Medicaid (out of 348)
SNAP (out of 348)
Early Intervention (out of 348)
TANF (out of 348)
Child Subsidy (out of 348)
Asian/ Pacific Islander
Mobile phone I use
Smartphone use (out of 657)
Computer in home
Internet connection at home (out of 514)
Preferred Parenting Information Topics
Parents of children ages 0 to 5 years of age in southern Nevada were asked to rate
their interest in 17 parenting topics on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 indicating no interest to 5
indicating a great deal of interest. In addition, the parents were also asked to identify
other parenting topics of interest (open-ended question). Using average scores for each
item, the topics appear in rank order in Table 6. It is noteworthy that the average rating
for every item was over three, indicating some interest in all 17 topics. Further, two
topics (both ranked 7.5) were tied, with the same average score.
As can be seen in the table below, parents reported the greatest interest in getting
information about inexpensive activities that will help their child learn and
develop. Items ranked 2 through 13 all
received scores of 4 or higher, indicating
considerable interest in them. Parents
seemed to be less interested in the last four
items related to choosing child care,
parenting support groups and their own
challenges and education.
Only 30 parents suggested other parenting topics they were interested in and those
topics were based on their family’s specific needs, such as getting resources for
children with physical and cognitive delays, resolving sibling conflicts (age gap) and
parenting in a single parent home. For all additional topics parents listed, see Appendix
Rankings of Parenting Information Needs
Find out about inexpensive activities that will help my child learn
Learn how to help my child grow up with good mental health.
Learn fun ways to share books with my children to help them
succeed when they get to school.
Learn tips to keep my child safe and healthy.
Know what my child should be able to do at his or her age/
Know if my child’s development is normal for his or her age.
Find out what community resources are available for families
and how to contact them.
Learn about good nutrition for my child.
Learn how to choose books and toys that will be educational for
Learn ways to get my child to behave.
“Parents reported the greatest
interest in getting information
about inexpensive activities that
will help their child learn and
Use family routines to help my child grow and develop.
Learn how to help my child get along with friends.
Find out how I can be involved with my child’s school.
Get tips on talking with other important people in my child’s life,
such as child care providers, teachers and doctors.
Get tips on selecting good child care programs.
Cope with my own stress and challenges.
Connect with other parents to talk about parenting and share
information and support.
Build my own education or skills, such as getting a GED,
learning English, getting a college degree.
A closer look at parenting topics, by family demographics. Preferred parenting
topics differed according to several family characteristics such as type of community
(rural vs. urban), parents’ highest education, family income, social service use, ethnicity,
language, child care use and Internet use (see appendix C). All parents expressed
similarly high interest in finding out about inexpensive activities for their children among
17 parenting topics, regardless of their demographic differences. More families living in
urban than rural communities showed the highest interest in finding available
community resources, but parents with other family characteristics (e.g., family income,
parents’ highest education, social service use, ethnicity, language, child care use and
Internet use) were likely to show similar interest in this topic. Most of the parents shared
a similar level of interest in reading books with children, but non-Caucasian parents and
non-English speakers showed more interest in learning how to share books with their
Parents with the following characteristics were more interested in most of the parenting
topics listed than their counterparts in the study: high school or below, lower family
income, other ethnic groups, social service recipients and no Internet access at home.
Although parents of children in child care programs and their counterparts did show
similar interest in most parenting topics, parents of children in child care were more
interested in topics such as talking with child care providers, teachers or doctors,
selecting good child care programs, handling stress and challenges, and building their
own education or skills.
Preferred Delivery Methods for Parenting Information
Parents also indicated how they would prefer to get information. As can be seen in
Figure 2, the largest percentage wanted to get information through the mail, while radio
was the least popular delivery method. It is noteworthy that over half preferred to
receive parenting education electronically. Although only 16 percent of all parents filling
out the survey preferred to get information through smartphone applications, among
parents who used smartphones, 30 percent wanted to receive information through such
A closer look at preferred sources of parenting information. Parents’ economic
status, education, ethnicity, language and other demographic characteristics also
influenced parents’ preferred sources of parenting information. No difference was found
in parents’ preferred sources of parenting information across different types of
community (urban vs. rural) and among parents who moved often and those who did
not. As shown in Appendix D, almost the same percent of the parents indicated that
they liked to receive parenting information through brochures/ booklets (40 to 50
percent) and online video (10 to 20 percent), regardless of their family characteristics.
Parents with lower income, receiving
at least one social service and
learning English as a Second
Language were significantly more
likely to want to receive parenting
information by attending parenting
workshops than their counterparts in
the study. However, almost the same
percent of the parents with other
family characteristics preferred to receive parenting information through parenting
Parents with the following characteristics were less likely to prefer to receive parenting
information through email or Internet: parents without a partner, parents of more than
one child, parents with lower education and income, social service recipients, other
“Parents with lower income, receiving at
least one social service and learning
English as Second Language were
significantly more likely to want to
receive parenting information by
attending parenting workshops than
their counterparts in the study.”
ethnic groups, non-English speakers, parents using child care, non-Internet users and
Figure 2. Preferred sources of parenting information
Parents’ Perception about their Parenting
Among 684 total respondents, 523 parents answered an open-ended question about
their strengths as a parent. A detailed analysis revealed that parents identified 13
distinct strengths as a parent (see figure 3). The three most frequently answered
strengths were 1) to discipline their children, 2) parents’ love and care for children and
3) parents spending quality time with their children (doing activities).
Figure 3. Parents’ perception about their strengths as a parent
A slightly larger number of respondents (559 parents) answered an open-ended
question about the most challenging thing as a parent. A detailed analysis revealed that
parents identified nine distinct challenges as a parent (see figure 4). The three most
frequently mentioned challenges were 1) to discipline their children, 2) educating their
children (high school graduation, early childhood education, teaching reading/ writing,
etc.) and 3) parents’ time management.
Figure 4. Parents’ perception about their challenges as a parent
Parents/Caregivers’ Opinions about Parenting Workshops
UNCE is currently delivering several parenting workshops throughout the area where
the needs assessment was conducted, so a separate question about parents’
willingness to attend workshops was asked. While only 38 percent of parents reported
that they preferred to attend parenting workshops to receive parenting information in the
previous question, 63 percent of parents were willing to attend parenting workshops.
Among parents who showed interest in attending parenting workshops in the future
(N=409), only 28 percent said that they had attended parenting workshops in the past.
Three questions about how
parenting workshops would be
delivered were asked. Fifty percent
of parents wanted their children to
be with them during the class, 23
percent wanted to have child care
near the meeting room, only 8
percent wanted their children to
stay home with someone else and
19 percent said they do not care.
The largest percent of parents
preferred weekday mornings and
only 7 to 8 percent of parents
preferred to attend parenting
education workshops during weekends (see table 7). A large majority of parents (69
percent) did not care about the instructor’s ethnicity or language, while 25 percent
wanted an instructor who speaks the same native language as they do (mostly Spanish)
and only 5 percent wanted the instructor with both the same ethnicity and the same
Best time for parenting education workshops
Among parents who attended parenting workshops in the past (N=115), 101 parents
answered an open-ended question about what they liked about workshops they had
attended. Seventy two percent of parents liked the information they received, 22 percent
liked meeting other parents, 19 percent liked the instructor, 12 percent liked spending
some time interacting with their children during the workshop and 9 percent liked the
free gifts they received. About what parents did not like about the workshops, answers
were not consistent and only a few parents answered this question. And those answers
are as follows: 1) the location (convenience), 2) length (too long or too short), 3)
schedule (time conflict), 4) lack of parent participation/non-supportive parents, 5) more
practical examples wanted, 6) more privacy when discussing sensitive topics, 7) not
many workshops available, 8) too crowded and 9) instructors explaining too little.
Parents of young children in southern Nevada rated 17 parenting topics based on their
level of interest, chose their preferences from eight delivery methods for parenting
information, identified their strengths and challenges as a parent and shared their
opinions about parenting workshops. The information from this parent survey will guide
us to maintain existing parenting education programs and develop new parenting
education programs in southern Nevada.
Part V: Conclusions and Recommendations
Four sources of information were used to evaluate parenting education needs of
parents of young children in southern Nevada, including existing research, statistics on
the well-being of children in southern Nevada, interviews with agency personnel working
with parents and young children and a parent survey. This multi-method approach
provides a balanced perspective and offsets the disadvantages of using only one
source of information. This section provides an analysis of the findings of the needs
assessment, desired delivery methods to meet the identified needs and
recommendations for moving forward.
Needs That Were Identified
Using all four sources of information, six parenting topics emerged as priorities for
parent education provided by UNCE. The six topics are:
1) Providing inexpensive activities that will help child learn and develop.
2) Helping parents understand appropriate child development for each age.
3) Supporting early language/literacy and school readiness.
4) Learning effective ways to discipline that lead to self-discipline.
5) Learning how parents can help children develop healthy eating habits.
6) Finding community resources.
Parents ranked the first topic, finding out about
inexpensive activities, the highest. Parents with
different characteristics (i.e., income, education
ethnicity, etc.) all agreed that this topic holds the
most interest for them. Existing parenting and
child development research has emphasized the
importance of quality time between parents and
young children, which helps children learn and
develop. Children’s early experiences with their
primary caregivers last a lifetime and shape our community’s future. However, not all
parents know how to interact with their children.
The second highest-ranked topic, understanding appropriate child development for each
age, was identified by 63 percent of the
agency personnel. Parents also thought
that this topic was highly interesting
(ranked 5th). It is hard for parents to meet
children’s needs unless they know
developmental milestones and understand
brain development. According to the 2009
Zero to Three report, many parents of
infants and toddlers do not understand when young children are capable of reaching
specific developmental skills. For example, 47 percent of the parents thought that a
child can share and take turns by age 2, while experts suggest that children can share
and take turns between 3 and 5 years. This lack of understanding may cause parents to
have unrealistic expectations for their children and lead to frustration and child abuse.
Learning how to foster early language development and school
readiness was ranked third by parents. Parents who are
minority (mostly Hispanic and Asian) and limited English
proficient were more interested in this topic. Interestingly, this
topic also was identified by agency personnel in urban areas,
but not by agency personnel in rural areas. However, as
described earlier in the literature review, language development
is very critical to children’s later school success. Further,
Nevada ranked 46th among 50 states regarding the percentage
of children ages 1-5 whose family members read to them less
than three days per week.
More than one-fourth of agency personnel thought that parents in southern Nevada
need to learn ways to discipline their children, and parents of young children also
showed considerable interest in this topic. In addition, more than one-third of the
parents considered discipline as the most challenging area of parenting. One interesting
result was that around 28 percent of the parents also responded that to discipline their
children is one of their strengths as a parent. 22 percent of those parents considered
discipline as the most challenging area of parenting at the same time. One explanation
for this result is that parents still think that it is difficult to discipline their children, even
“According to the 2009 Zero to
Three report, many parents of
infants and toddlers do not
understand when young children
are capable of reaching specific
when they think they are good at disciplining. It is also possible to think that parents who
think they are good at disciplining might not always understand positive discipline. It is
recommended that parents of young children learn how to appropriately discipline their
children to prevent child abuse and neglect, while providing nurturing and limits at the
same time. According to the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) of
2010 (USDHHS, 2010), parents learning positive guidance (through parenting
education) can be one of the important protective factors to prevent child abuse and
neglect. Attachment research also demonstrates that positive discipline can foster
secure attachment between the parents and the child.
About one-fourth of agency personnel recommended parents to learn nutrition
information and parents of young children also found this topic highly appealing.
Parents in rural areas showed the highest interest in this topic. According to the child
well-being data described earlier, the obesity population in southern Nevada is
increasing rapidly and particularly 26.7 percent of low-income children ages 2 to 5 were
overweight or obese in Nevada. Onset of obesity in childhood accounts for 25 percent
of adult obesity. Obesity that begins before age 8 and persists throughout childhood is
associated with an even greater degree of adult obesity. Again, parents play the
important role in helping young children develop healthy eating habits. A positive
attachment relationship in the early years can also help young children build healthy
Finally, 46 percent of agency personnel reported that parents need help in locating
resources in the community and parents with different socio-demographic
characteristics were highly interested in finding available community resources (ranked
6th). Interestingly, parents in urban areas showed significantly higher interest in this
topic than parents in rural areas. In the present economic downturn, there are families
who are unemployed, have lost their homes or are in poverty. When they need help,
many families do not know where to go. Additionally, as in the case of a child with
developmental delays, parents may not know whether they need or are eligible for
services. Therefore, parents might need to be referred by parenting educators, a child’s
pediatrician, or other agency personnel.
The six high-priority parent education topics that emerged from this needs assessment
are aligned with the Extension NEPEM model: Understand, Guide, Nurture, Motivate,
Advocate and Care for Self. Parent education programs can help parents understand
child development; encourage parents to use positive guidance; nurture children and
help them learn healthy eating habits as well as engage in physical activity; motivate
children to lay the foundation for school success by offering family literacy programs
and other kindergarten readiness programs; and help families advocate for their
children by finding community resources they need or want. Finally, when providing
workshops on these six and other topics, parenting educators could also encourage
parents to care for themselves by building support networks and teaching each other.
Other topics to consider. Parents seemed to be highly interested in most of the
parenting topics, with four exceptions: getting tips on how to choose child care, coping
with their own stress and challenges, connecting with other parents and building their
own education or skills. However, almost 40 percent of the agency personnel suggested
parents build their own education or skills to support their children and family and 43
percent thought that agencies need to provide opportunities for parents to meet with
other parents develop networks or support, or learn from each other. Although these
two topics were not high priorities for parents, parenting educators can always
encourage parents to look for resources or information to build their own education or
skills and support networks with other parents.
Family characteristics to consider. Analysis of data for subpopulations indicates that
non-English speaking parents (mostly Spanish), non-white families (mostly Hispanic/
Latino), and parents with lower education and
income were more interested in most of the
parenting topics listed. UNCE has provided
parenting education for such vulnerable
families and this study confirmed that those
families want information. Currently, more than
80 percent of parents enrolled in UNCE
programs have low incomes, low educational levels, or are members of Spanish-
speaking Hispanic families.
Urban vs. rural. This study also revealed that there are some differences between rural
and urban areas. Parents in both areas showed similarly high interest in most of the
parenting topics, except for four: finding available community resources, learning about
good nutrition, parent involvement in school and learning about child safety and health.
Although more community resources are available in urban areas, as well as public
transportation to access those resources, parents in urban areas showed significantly
higher interest in finding available community resources. More than 50 percent of the
“UNCE has provided parenting
education for such vulnerable
families and this study
confirmed that those families
agency personnel in urban areas also identified this issue, but only 25 percent of the
agency personnel in rural areas mentioned this. Although families in rural areas have
fewer resources, such as child care, they appear to know what is available in the
community. However, urban families usually do not know where to find community
resources. Rural parents showed significantly higher interest in learning about good
nutrition for the child and learning about child safety and health than urban parents and
urban parents were interested more in parent involvement in school than rural parents.
Preferred Sources of Parenting Information
This needs assessment study revealed that more parents of young children in southern
Nevada preferred to receive parenting information through mail, email or the Internet,
brochures or booklets, or workshops. In addition, 30 percent of smartphone users
preferred to receive parenting information through smartphone applications. However,
fewer parents wanted to receive parenting
information through television, online video,
or the radio. Both UNCE and other agencies
need to make decisions about how best to
deliver parenting information, taking into
consideration available resources and
relative value. It is also necessary to understand demographic differences among
parents with regard to which sources they preferred to use for parenting information.
Sources of parenting information available in UNCE. The UNCE parenting program
in southern Nevada has provided diverse research-based parenting information to
parents of young children for almost two decades. UNCE has emphasized the
importance of interaction between parents and young children to prevent child abuse
and neglect and increase a child’s later success at school. Currently, the UNCE
parenting program is providing not only parenting education workshops but also
parenting information online (Just in Time Parenting, several fact sheets about
parenting and the Kinship resource packet) and offline (handouts in workshops).
Through collaboration, the UNCE parenting program in Clark County has been able to
provide a variety of parenting education workshops (Family Storyteller Program, Fun to
Play, Life Skills series, and Child Safety and Welfare series) in other agencies, including
Acelero Head Start sites, community parent resource centers, Title I parent centers,
CCSD preschool programs, community child care programs, community recreation
centers, Family to Family Connection sites, libraries and rehabilitation facilities. UNCE
also distributes online and offline written materials to the community, mostly focusing on
“30 percent of smartphone
users preferred to receive
parenting information through
low-income and low-education families. This study confirms that the program delivery
approaches that we use to reach families are also preferred by parents.
Workshop delivery. In a separate question about parenting education workshops, 63
percent of parents showed interest in attending workshops. In addition, almost half of
the agency personnel (from the interview) thought that parents of young children in
southern Nevada needed to attend parenting education workshops to enhance
parenting skills. The existing literature has demonstrated that many parents of young
children do not realize the importance of their role. In addition, children’s well-being in
southern Nevada has been strongly affected by the economic downturn. Parenting
education workshops could be used not only as tools for parent education but also to
provide personal development experiences. Parents attending parenting education
workshops could learn to manage their own stress, use positive guidance strategies,
understand developmental milestones and build friendships and networking. According
to the parent survey, more than half of the interested parents wanted to be with their
children during parenting workshops and preferred to attend workshops on weekday
mornings. Unlike many other agencies, UNCE includes both parents and children in its
parent workshops and utilizes several teaching mechanisms such as lecture, discussion,
homework, modeling and practicing skills. Although the majority of parents did not care
about the instructor’s ethnicity or native language, 25 percent of the respondents
wanted an instructor who speaks the same native language as they do (mostly parents
who speak Spanish), because they wouldn’t be able to understand the information in
English. Depending on the groups of parents to be involved, UNCE needs to be able to
deliver information in their native language.
Family characteristics. No difference was found in parents’ preferred sources of
parenting information in urban and rural communities. However, parents’ economic
status, education, ethnicity, language and other demographic characteristics influenced
parents’ preferred sources of parenting information. More parents with lower education,
lower income or non-English speaking parents seemed to prefer more traditional
sources such as mail, Television/ Digital Video Disc (DVD), radio and parenting
education workshops. However, their counterparts seemed to prefer technologically
advanced sources of parenting information such as email/Internet and smartphone
This needs assessment study revealed that there are preferred parenting education
topics and sources of parenting information for parents of young children across
southern Nevada. Based on identified needs, the UNCE parenting program could make
an important contribution to Nevada’s young children and their families. The
recommendations from the literature review, the child well-being data, interviews with
agency personnel and the parent surveys suggest several directions for potential and
existing programming for UNCE parenting program and other agencies working with
young children and their parents. The recommendations of this study are presented
1. This study identified six priority parenting topics for parents of young children in
southern Nevada. The UNCE should focus first on these prioritized topic areas:
1) helping parents provide age-appropriate activities to help children learn and
develop, 2) helping parents understand appropriate child development for each
age, 3) supporting early literacy and school readiness, 4) learning positive
discipline skills, 5) learning how to encourage healthy eating habits and 6) finding
out about community resources. Existing UNCE parenting education programs
such as the Family Storyteller program, Fun to Play (inexpensive age-appropriate
activities that foster positive interaction and school readiness), Child Safety and
Welfare series (child abuse prevention) and Just in Time Parenting (an
comprehensive program that covers
child development, attachment,
activities to foster school readiness,
language and literacy, discipline,
health and safety, nutrition and the
prevention of childhood obesity as
well as information to reduce stress
and support couple relationships) will
be maintained. Additional education programs or delivery systems may be
developed as resources allow.
2. Parenting information should be delivered through sources preferred by parents
of young children in southern Nevada. Currently UNCE provides face-to-face
workshops, written materials and electronically delivered information. A review of
the cost-effectiveness of these delivery methods in relation to parent preferences
could result in changes in the future. In addition, UNCE should continue to seek
out grants to diversify delivery methods to reach parents.
3. More parenting education workshops should be offered in southern Nevada to
help parents develop parenting skills, understand their child’s development and
build social network and support (depending on the resources available). When
planning parenting education workshops, it is important to know parents’
preferences for workshop formats. On average, more parents in the study
wanted to be with their children, preferred weekday morning and did not care
much about the instructor’s ethnicity or language. However, these preferences
can be changed depending on the group of parents to be involved.
4. It will be helpful to collaborate with other agencies and UNCE faculty to provide
parenting programs in both rural and urban areas of southern Nevada and to
reach diverse groups of families. The UNCE parenting program has collaborated
with several community agencies in Clark County to deliver parenting education
workshops and distribute online or offline information: Acelero Head Start
Program, Cambridge community center, CCSD Title I Parent Centers, CCSD
Preschool Programs, Family to Family Connection, the North Las Vegas Library,
the Henderson Library and recreation centers. We have reached and involved
more low-income families or Spanish-speaking families (80 percent of service
recipients) because most of the agencies listed above serve those families.
Collaborating with new agencies and organizations, such as churches and child
care centers may enable UNCE to reach additional families. We also need to
collaborate with UNCE Extension Educators or other agencies in rural areas to
provide parenting education programs in underserved communities.
This needs assessment suggests that many UNCE parenting education programs are
currently on target in reaching parents with the information they need and desire. Other
agencies providing parenting services might also find the information from this needs
assessment useful. It also provides helpful information about additional topics and
delivery methods to consider as we strive to meet the needs of parents and young
children in southern Nevada.
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2012). National KIDS Count Data. Baltimore, MD.
Belsky, J., & de Hann, M. (2011) . Annual research review: Parenting and children’s
brain development: the end of the beginning. The Journal of Child Psychology
and Psychiatry, 52(4), 409 - 428.
Blows, W. T. (2003). Child brain development. Nursing Times, 99 (17), 28~31.
Bolger, K. E., Patterson, C. J., Thompson, W. W., & Kuperschmidt, J. B. (1995).
Psychosocial adjustment among children experiencing persistent and intermittent
family economic hardship. Child Development, 66, 1107-1129.
Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment. Attachment and Loss: Vol. 1. Loss. New York: Basic
Brotherson, S. (2005, April). Bright Beginnings #4: Understanding brain development in
young children. North Dakota State University Extension Service.
Burns, S. M., Griffin, P., & Snow, C. E. (1999). Staring Out Right: A Guide to Promoting
Children’s Reading Success. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance 2008
Report. Available at http:/www.cdc.gov/pednss/pdfsPedNSS_2008_Summary.pdf
Center for Program Evaluation, University of Nevada Reno. (2009). Nevada parenting
education survey report. Reno, NV: Christiansen, E., Boswell, T., Harris, J.
Daneshvary, R., & Brown, S. P. A. (2011). Nevada KIDS COUNT Data Book 2011. The
Center for Business and Economic Research (CEBR). Las Vegas, NV.
Families and Work Institute (1996, June). Rethinking the brain: New insights into early
development. Executive Summary of the Conference on Brain Development in
Young Children: New Frontiers of Research, Policy, and Practice. University of
Fogel, A. (2009). Infancy: Infant, family, and society, Fifth Edition. NY: Sloan Publishing.
Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute (2009, Winter). Cognitive neuroscience:
Understanding complex human behavior and the brain. On The Brain, 15 (1), 1 –
Jacobs, A. L., & Engelbrecht, J. (2000). Parenting education needs and preferences off
parents of young children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 28(2), 139- 147.
Martin, S., & Evans, W. (2004). CYF program planning guide. University of Nevada
McLeod, S. A. (2007). John Bowlby | Maternal Deprivation Theory. Retrieved from
McLeod, J.D. & Shanahan, M.J. (1996). Trajectories of poverty and children’s mental
health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 37, 207-220.
National Survey of Children’s Health Data (2007). Obesity. Retrieved from
Papalia, D. E., Olds, S. W., & Feldman, R. D. (2002). A Child’s World: Infancy Through
Adolescence (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Pierre, R. G., Ricciuti, A. E., & Rimdzius, T. (2005). Effects of a family literacy program
on low‐literate children and their parents: Findings from an evaluation of the
Even Start Family Literacy Program. Developmental Psychology, 41(6), 953‐970.
Riches, C. & Genesee, F. (2007). Literacy: Crosslinguistic and crossmodal issues. In F.
Genesee, K. Lindholm- Leary, W.M. Saunders & D. Christian (Eds.) Educating
English language learners: A synthesis of research evidence (pp. 64-108).
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Shonkoff, J. P., & Phillips, D. (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The
science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy
Shonkoff, J. P. (2009). Investment in early childhood development lays the foundation
for a prosperous and sustainable society. Retrieved from http://www.child-
Smith, C. A., Cudaback, D., Goddard, H. W., & Myers-Walls, J. A. (1994). National
Extension Parent Educational Model. Manhattan, Kansas: Kansas Cooperative
State of Nevada Divisions of Child and Family Services (2009). 2009 statewide child
death report. Carson City, NV.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (2010). The child abuse prevention
and treatment act. Washington, D. C.
Wiig, J., Widom, C. S., & Tuell, J. A. (2003). Understanding child maltreatment &
juvenile delingquency: From research to effective program, practice, and
systemic solutions. Washinton, DC: Child Welfare League of America Press.
Zeece, P. D., & Wallace, B. M. (2009). Books and good stuff: A strategy for building
school to home literacy connections. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37 (1),
Zero to Three (2009). Parenting infants and toddlers today: Research findings.
Washington, DC: Hart Research Associates.
Zero to Three and The Ounce of Prevention. (2000). Starting smart: How early
experiences affect brain development, 2nd ed.
Appendix A. Urban vs. Rural in Issues from Agency Personnel
Helping parents understand
appropriate child development for
each age (developmental milestone).
Having families get nutrition
Ensuring that parents know and
understand the prekindergarten
Having families get health
Helping parents understand the
importance of PLAY at younger age.
Helping parents understand the
importance of family routines.
Providing opportunities for enhancing
general parenting skills through
parenting education workshops.
Helping parents learn how to
discipline children without
punishment, when dealing with
children’s problem behaviors.
Helping parents improve their child’s
language development for later
Helping parents to participate in their
child’s schools (preschools, day
Helping parents learn how to spend
high-quality time with their children.
Providing opportunities for parents to
meet with other parents to develop
networks or support, or learn from
Providing more recreation
opportunities for young children and
Parents building their own education
or skills (getting GED, College
degree and ESL education).
Helping parents relieve stress.
Encouraging parents understand
their role as parents.
Parents not motivated to learn
Parenting education or resources for
Parenting education or resources for
Grandparents raising grandchildren.
Parenting education for middle class
Helping parents find available
resources in the community.
Encouraging more collaboration
Each agency needs to increase
awareness of cultural diversity,
sensitivity and strengths.
Each agency needs to provide
Each agency needs to provide any
kinds of follow-up services to families
who receive their services.
Having basic needs of families met
(health care, nutrition, housing, etc).
Providing high-quality and affordable
child care for children and families.
Providing transportation services to
families, when they need access to
any kinds of services.
Providing free or low cost mental
health services for both parents and
Resolving family conflict/ domestic
Appendix B. List of Additional Parenting Topics
1. Getting resources for children with physical and cognitive delay
2. Receiving infant care resources
3. Learning computer skills
4. Raising independent children
5. Developing my child’s skills at home
6. Developing more patients with children
7. Establishing informal centers in each community for children and parents to
have quality time together
8. Resolving sibling conflicts (age gap)
9. Learning more about child development
10. Potty training
11. Learning about family development
12. Swimming lessons for kids under 4
13. Raising an only child
14. Understanding nature and environment for toddlers
15. Having more preschool programs available in the community
16. Parenting a single parent home
17. Giving me more information more often about my children
18. Calming my kids when they are angry
19. Teaching my child to obey
Appendix C. Parent Interest for Topics by Parent Characteristics (Mean)
Low: High school graduate or below, High: Some college or trade school, college graduate or higher
Low: Annual income lower than $30,000, High: Annual income higher than $30,000 (Median income: $20,000~$30,000)
Yes: Social service recipients (at least one service), No; Non-recipients
activities for child
*All 17 topics were rated on a scale of 1 ~ 5 (1: no interest ~ 5: a great deal of interest)
**Numbers in red: Statistically big difference was found in the percent of parents who preferred this delivery method in relation to this
and toys for child
Talking with child
Building my own
education or skills
Appendix D. Preferred Delivery Methods by Parent Characteristics (Percent)
*Numbers in red: Statistically big difference was found in the percent of parents who preferred this delivery method in relation to this
Yes: Married or living with a partner, No: Single and never married, divorced or separated and widowed
Low: High school graduate or below, High: Some college or trade school, college graduate or higher
Low: Annual income lower than $30,000, High: Annual income higher than $30,000
Yes: Social service recipients (at least one service), No; Non-recipients
The University of Nevada, Reno is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, age, creed, national origin, veteran status, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation in any program or activity it
conducts. The University of Nevada employs only United States citizens and aliens lawfully authorized to work in the United States.
Copyright © 2012 University of Nevada Cooperative Extension