Strengthening Parenting Education in the Metro Portland Area

Clients: Oregon Community Foundation and Regional Funding Partners

Case Overview

The Metro-Portland Regional Action Initiative (MPRAI), a regional collaboration of public and private funders and other stakeholders engaged Dovetailing to explore the best way for funders to support parenting education in the metro Portland area.  As part of their exploration, these partners were looking at the “parenting education hub” approach funded by the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative (OPEC) which focuses on building local capacity to coordinate parenting education programs and services and increase the quality of options. 


Because Portland is larger and has more diverse populations and programs than the rest of Oregon (the 2010 U.S. Census shows that 19.5% of children in Multnomah County speak a language other than English at home), the Metropolitan Portland Regional Action Initiative commissioned research (funded by The Oregon Community Foundation, the Portland Children’s Levy, and Social Venture Partners Portland) to determine which elements of the current approach and what other approaches from other regions across the U.S. might be beneficial in the Metropolitan Portland area (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties). The anticipated outcome of the research was a set of recommendations to inform the funding of coordination strategies as well leadership and governance.  


Because the Oregon Community Foundation and several of the other funders in the collaborative had been funding regional parenting education hubs in other parts of Oregon for a few years, there was substantial experience and insight on which the project could build. The project team conducted multi-element research to identify the strategy that could best tap into what is working on the ground. Research included a literature review on successful collaboration, brief detailing best practices, parent and provider surveys, facilitation of "natural meetings" among professionals who work with parents and key informant interviews to identify potent opportunities.


The project team published a series of reports detailing findings, and recommendations including an alliance structure, sequenced grant-funded activities, strategies to provide more support to communicates of color, and public awareness raising elements. As a result, the initiative has enhanced on-demand parent referral information through an "enhanced 211" information line, and established a grant program to strengthen the diversity of parenting education offerings in the region. Work completed as part of this project continues to inform current efforts to align these parenting education hubs with the new state-funded early learning hubs recently established by Oregon statute.