DHS Home Page
Department of Human Services    Follow DHS on Facebook Follow DHS on Twitter Watch DHS Videos on Vimeo Connect with DHS on LinkedIn

Parenting Classes

Allegheny County Department of Human Services supports a wide array of community- and faith-based programs designed to meet the needs of both parents and children so that families can be strengthened. Family support centers, Youth Places, after-school and summer camps in public housing communities, and other programs offered through DHS-contracted providers are designed to enable families to get the help they need before a crisis develops.

Parenting support programs are an important part of the DHS prevention strategy. They are available to families through family support centers and other agencies.

Parenting classes focus on  

  • Pregnant women who are identified as high-risk
  • Parents of infants through pre-schoolers
  • Parents referred by child welfare

Parenting classes teach  

  • Age-appropriate child development
  • How to connect with the child through low-stress, meaningful interaction/play
  • Anger management
  • Healthy forms of discipline vs. punishment
  • Communications skills
  • Healthy ways to relate to others in the family and outside the family
  • Guidelines for preferred ways to supervise children and youth

Parenting classes also teach the parent about  

  • Self-esteem
  • Empathy
  • Personal power
  • Interpersonal skills

Referrals are often made to help in other areas such as  

  • Health care (including Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol)
  • Housing
  • Food and clothing assistance
  • Education including GED and English as a Second Language (ESL)

Parents choose to participate because  

  • Valuable information is provided
  • The atmosphere for learning and interaction is supportive and constructive

Important aspects of parenting classes  

  • Classes are accessible and culturally sensitive.
  • Topics for discussion are flexible enough to “meet families where they are.”
  • The relationships established through the parenting classes (both in-home and group) are critical in reducing isolation and therefore child abuse and neglect.
  • The use of strengths-based practices amplifies a family’s positive aspects to counter other seriously harmful issues.
  • When combined with in-home visits, serious issues can be identified much sooner than would otherwise be possible.


Depending on the program, 60 – 90 percent of participating parents show improved self-awareness and more appropriate expectations of their children.

There are several models used throughout the DHS provider community. Two are used more frequently than others. All are selected according to the preference of the agency administration.


  • Parents as Teachers*
  • The Nurturing Parenting Program*
  • Values for Life
  • Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP)
  • Parenting Inside/Out (self design)
  • Strengthening Multi-Ethnic Families and Communication
  • Homebuilders
  • 1,2,3,4
  • Positive Discipline
    *indicates commonly used programs

Evaluation Tools  

  • North Carolina Family Assessment
  • Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale
  • Family Empowerment Scale
  • Adolescent-Adult Parenting Inventory

Length of programs  

From eight weeks to several months (one to two times per week) depending on the program and needs of the family.

pdf.gif Parenting Education page from the DHS Community Referral Packet