New business’ goals: educate parents and build community

The Parenting Academy is now open for business at 114 W Magnolia St. A program of Brigid Collins Family Support Center, the Parenting Academy began operations in early April of 2019. The new resource connects parents with professional coaches to mentor children and help build family relationships.

The Parenting Academy works alongside parents and children to help strengthen family relationships, support appropriate parenting strategies and enhance the parent-child relationship.

The Parenting Academy offers parents, relative caregivers and grandparents in Whatcom County Parent-Child InteractionTherapy, parenting seminars and one-on-one guidance with accredited coaches. According to a Generations Forward survey of parenting education resources, there has been a gap in one-on-one support services in Whatcom County. Until now, most parental support offered has been through seminars and informal support groups.

Megan Brown Douglas, Program Director, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and mother of two feels passionate about bringing these valuable parenting services to Whatcom County. One of her goals is to dismantle the stigma around parents asking for help.

One issue is that parents feel like it is there responsibility to know everything about being a parent, but we are trying to shift that conversation of asking for help to be less daunting,” Brown Douglas said. “The old saying is that there is no instruction manual for parenting.”

The programs offered are evidence-based interventions that are curtailed to specific family needs. The methods have been researched and shown to be effective with families. Coaches can assist children who may have disruptive behavior disorder, ADHD, anxiety or who are non-compliant and oppositional, Brown Douglas said. Coaching sessions provide evidence-based learning for parents with children age 0-18. Whether it is a new baby, defiant toddler or a teenager, the Parenting Academy is prepared to offer assistance with any parenting issue, large or small.

Parents are often connected to the academy via a variety of stakeholders in the community such as pediatricians, teachers or child therapists. The Parenting Academy also has a direct referral source with Peace Health Pediatrics. Self-referral is also an easy way to access the Parenting Academy.

Scholarships are available to accommodate for a wide spectrum of financial circumstances. The Parenting Academy has recently received a large investment from a local donor that will fund its scholarship program and allow any parent to access services.


The Parenting Academy currently has two full-time coaches and is seeking to expand capacity by hiring a third. Lauren Caravello is one of the parenting coaches. She has her masters of social work from the University of Michigan and specializes in a positive parenting program that works with parents and teens.

Caravello has been with Brigid Collins for about one year. She meets with parents on weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis and helps parents set and achieve family specific goals. Over time behavior changes and begins to expand from the sessions into home-life, school and public settings, Caravello said.

I think if we can tackle some of these issues now while kids are young we are less likely to see these concerns pop up later on,” Caravello said. Tactics such as selective attention and positive reinforcement are used to help children and parents manage their emotions and express themselves, Caravello said.

Fundraising for the Parenting Academy started in July 2018 with the intention of raising $300,000 for a three-year pilot program. The Parenting Academy opened doors in the Crown Plaza Building, Suite 300 in downtown Bellingham.

Recently, the Parenting Academy was authorized to be a provider of parenting education services through BP’s EmployeeAssistance Program, said donor developer, Barb Lupo. We are thrilled to be able to offer this valuable resource to all parents in Whatcom County, Lupo said.


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