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Growing Up Together in Istria - Expanding parenting support to the youngest

Project implemented in: 2017
Project leader: Nina Pećnik
Project coordinator: Sandra Orbanić

Parenting support programmes Growing Up Together and Growing Up Togehter Plus have been implemented in Istria since 2010. However, due to the lack of educated leaders and a systematic support to and supervision of the leaders, these programmes are unavailable to all interested parents, especially those who live outside bigger towns.

The aim of the project was:

  1. to contribute to the development of local experts who would provide support to families through programmes of general and targeted parental support;
  2. to enhance availability, quality and sustainability of those programmes in the Istrian County.

Authors of the Growing Up Together programme (Nina Pećnik and Branka Starc) conducted a three-day education in late May 2017. In autumn and winter 2017, the newly trained leaders conducted 11-workshop cycles, attended by 130 parents in 14 groups. Upon completion of the workshops, a seminar was held and the post-evaluation of the conducted programme was presented. Workshops were attended predominantly by mothers (88%), aged 36 on average, mostly with college and university degree. The evaluation results and the comparison of parents' self-reports before and after the programme, showed an increase in their personal level of parental competences and positive changes of their views regarding children. After their participation in the programme, parents reported that they listened more to their children, began to better understand children's undesirable behaviour, became more accessible to their children and more patient with them. Also, supervision was conducted of the group of programme leaders who were experienced in the implementation of the parenting support programme.

The project ended in Pazin with a round table about the parenting support and a presentation of results of the project implementation. It was agreed to proceed with project activities in 2018.

Growing Up Together Fathers' Club

Project implemented in: 2016
Project leader: Nina Pećnik

A one-year project Growing Up Together Father's Club was successfully implemented in November 2016. It was launched by the Growing Up Together Centre in collaboration with the Velika Gorica Kindergarten and the town of Velika Gorica. Financial support was provided by the Ministry of Demographics, Family, Youth and Social Policy (MPSM). Four workshops for the fathers of children aged 1-5 (Father's role in early childhood; About fathers and feelings; About fathers and mothers; The big Daddy) were designed and evaluated as part of the project.

A total of 221 fathers in 25 groups attended the Fathers' Club programme, which was far more than initially expected. The clubs were organized in 17 towns all across Croatia (Umag, Rovinj, Pula, Opatija, Rijeka, Crikvenica, Rab, Split, Primošten, Zagreb, Velika Gorica, Ivanić Grad, Dugo Selo, Bjelovar, Čakovec, Vukovar, Vinkovci), in 22 kindergartens, and three family centres. The programmes were implemented and enhanced by 57 leaders of the Fathers' Club. Dads expressed great satisfaction with their participation in the programme. It motivated many of them to join the Growing Up Together programme!

Growing Up Together – Count Us In!

Project implemented in: 2016
Project leader: Nina Pećnik

We are very proud of the outcomes of the one-year project Growing Up Together – Count Us In! , which was implemented by the Growing Up Together centres in partnership with the social welfare centres in Bjelovar, Pazin, Sisak and Zagreb and with the financial support of the MSPM. The project envisaged adapting the Growing Up Together programme to the parents of lower socioeconomic status who raise their children in more demanding living conditions. Judging by the feedback provided by both parents and leaders, the project was a success.

The six groups organized in kindegartens or family centres included 45 mothers and one father. In four of those groups, parallel activities were organized for their 34 children of early or pre-school age. Participation in this project required permanent commitment to personal growth, which was a particularly empowering and stimulative experience for both the parents and the leaders!

Sustainable parenting support

Project implemented in: 2015/2016
Project leader: Branka Starc

Supported by the UNICEF Office in Croatia, the Centre implemented the project of Sustainable parenting support in the educational years 2015/2016. Further training was provided for regional coordinators with the aim to ensure a more effective support to the leaders of regional groups. Regional gatherings of the group leaders were organized by the Croatian Education and Teacher Training Agency (AZOO) in Vukovar and Rijeka. The leaders expressed great satisfaction with the project and the need for further meetings. The framework of the project envisaged two workshops for the educators, intended to sensitize them to the needs of parents who have children with disabilities, and to familiarize them with the new activities of the Growing Up Together Plus Club. Also, another 500 handbooks were printed for the Growing Up Together leaders and 1,500 maps and supplements for the parents.

The Growing Up Together Plus programme and its evaluation were presented at international and national conferences (Čakovec, Rogaška Slatina).

The Sixth Annual Conference of the leaders of Growing Up Together and Growing Up Together Plus programmes was held in Daruvar in coperation with the SUPPORT project. The project also provided financial support for the two educational seminars held in Dubrovnik and Osijek and education of 80 new leaders in the areas where the programme has not been widely available so far.