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Circle of Parents


PCAV coordinates the Virginia Circle of Parents® parent support group program as part of a national Circle of Parents network.

Circle of Parents is a national network of parent leaders, statewide and metropolitan regional non-profit organizations dedicated to using a peer-to-peer, self-help model of parent support to carry out their mission of preventing child abuse and neglect and strengthening families.

 Circle of Parents is structured to allow for sharing of responsibility among parents and professionals and national network members who represent all walks of life.  National network participants include parent leaders, organization administrators, community organizers, management and program services staff and a variety of human services professionals.

The Circle of Parents model is based on three principles:

  •  Shared leadership:  Members pool resources (at the national, state and local level), whether it be cash, goods, services, expertise or in-kind contributions to carry out its mission.  Parents and “practitioners” are equal members at the table.
  •  Family Support:    Circle of Parents recognizes the need to build on the strengths which exist within a family system.  The support group process gives parents the opportunity to enhance their parenting skills and strengthen their family relationships.
  • Mutual Self Help:   Circle of Parents members build more effective parenting skills, while receiving and giving support to one another.  Families have the opportunity to receive resource information through the informal family-friendly group meeting format.  The Circle of Parents program helps parents achieve their self-described goals by helping reduce isolation, building self-esteem and reinforcing positive parenting. Exposing parents to other families provides reassurance that the challenges parents face are neither unique nor insurmountable.  Parents improve communication and problem-solving skills through their discussions of the frustrations and successes involved in particularly challenging family circumstances.
  •  The Circle of Parents program is firmly established in the belief system of parent empowerment. According to best practice standard set by the Circle of Parents model, local meetings are led by parents from the groups.  Parents are encouraged to become advocates for themselves, their families and their communities.  Parent leadership development and parent leadership training is a focus in every aspect of Circle of Parents program.  The practitioner’s role is to support the parent leader in developing stronger leadership skills.  The “parent” voice is central to all aspects of the Circle of Parents program- at all levels of the program.

The Circle of Parents model includes a structured children’s program which emphasizes the importance of working with the family as a “whole” and reinforcing family support principles.  Children’s programs provide a safe and supportive environment for children while their parents are participating in their group meetings.  Children are given the opportunity to develop self-esteem, social skills, learn safe and healthy ways to handle feelings, as well as problem-solving and conflict resolution techniques. Children’s groups also help children and parents establish trust and positive interactions with each other.

  •  In terms of evidence-based practice, the Circle of Parents program currently meets all the criteria for programmatic characteristics and research and evaluation characteristics for classification as a PART CBCAP “Promising Programs and Practices” as a result of the recently completed national research project.

For more information about Circle of Parents in Virginia contact:
Julie Rivnak-McAdam at circleofparents@pcav.org or 804-359-6166 ext.311.

For more information on the national Circle of Parents organization, visit:


Also visit the For Parents page on this website for more parenting resources and helpful tips.