Since 2011, Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) has been implementing the Parent Ambassador Program. This parent advocacy program serves to educate parents/caregivers of school-aged children on the importance of public health, school health, advocacy, and involvement in schools to improve and create healthy learning environments. The training is offered in both English and Spanish in partnership with schools and community based organizations throughout Maricopa County.
The Parent Ambassador Program is a 12 hour interactive training led by a trained facilitator. During this training parents learn to identify a "health cause" they would like to address, how to communicate their message, how to collaborate with other parents and school staff, and develop an action plan that they can implement. The ideal class size is a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 25 participants. The training is typically delivered in 2 days with 6 hours of education each day and an additional 30-60 minute lunch break. The class can also be provided in a 4 day, 3 hour each day training or 3 day, 4 hour each day training structure.
The Parent Ambassador program is a public health & school health program with no specific health focus (i.e. diabetes, teen pregnancy, disability, etc). It is important that facilitators have an understanding of public health, community health, and/or school health to keep learning focused at a macro level. Facilitators from a variety of backgrounds can be trained to implement the Parent Ambassador Program.
The training focuses on seven areas which address the following:
- Understanding public health
- How school systems work
- What public health policies look like in schools
- What advocacy actions are and how they work
- How to advocate in a school setting
- Building an action plan and managing it
- Success using the advocacy actions