The University of Maryland School of Social Work is engaged in a wide array of activities to support parenting. The Parenting Research, Education & Policy (PREP) Initiative was launched in 2017 to catalyze the research, training, consultation, and educational activities of nearly a dozen faculty who are engaged in globally, nationally and locally significant activities to strengthen parenting. Dean Richard Barth recently co-authored Parenting Matters, a report published by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that captures the essence of why we have decided to come together to advance our work: influential, important across the lifespan, inadequately supported, gap between research and practices, research and policy. He is just one of the many leading scholars at the University of Maryland School of Social Work who are contributing to science, practice, and policy pertaining to parenting.
Family work has long been a cornerstone of our profession. We have studied and taught family therapy for decades in schools of Social Work. Parenting research and practices are emerging in our field as the need to help parents to succeed in ways that promote children’s social, emotional, educational, and physical well-being has become widely recognized. The critical significance of the first years of life on the entire lifespan presses us to promote secure early relationships, frequent and meaningful verbalizations, non-harsh discipline, and opportunities to play. The PREP Initiative will offer parenting scholars a chance to study the impacts of parenting strategies and programs on children’s social and emotional functioning, physiological systems and processes, school readiness and long-term intellectual development. We will continue to explore, teach, and train students and professionals on evidence-based parenting practices.We view supportive parenting as a prominent thread in our social fabric. The PREP Initiative is dedicated to strengthening parenting as a crucial means to strengthening society as a whole.