Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) Launches at MCC

February 8, 2024

New Program Helps Parents Develop Their Voice and Learn How to Interact with Media and Lawmakers at All Levels

It started with a single New England-area parent who wanted to give other parents a voice in improving outcomes for their kids and other children in the community.  From one parent leaning in, a national movement was born and has now come to Manchester Community College.

Following decades of successful efforts in Connecticut and around the nation, MCC proudly offers the Parent Leadership Training Institute, a unique, evidence-based program designed to teach parents and family members how to find their voice on issues and policies that are important to them and translate that voice into meaningful and positive change for children. 

“This is a wonderful and engaging program with lasting results for communities and families,” explains Marla Soucy, Community Engagement Coordinator at MCC. “PLTI has a proven track record in states all around the country and we are so excited to be the first in New Hampshire to offer this program to families.”

Helping Parents, Helping Children

PLTI is a grant-funded program underwritten by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. It was developed initially in Connecticut 30 years ago as an informal gathering of parents wanting to help with the educational opportunities for their kids.

Since then, it has grown to sites all around the country and been the genesis of several impactful programs, such as establishing and staffing a community garden to help local families with food insecurity, and a ground-breaking anti-bullying program for elementary school students.

Fully certified by National Parent Leadership Institute which provides the curriculum for the program, MCC participants attend weekly sessions on how to help others, while making connections to share best practices. The idea is to simply get more parents involved to help them have a voice where they see a need. Classes are running now through June.

“This is all about enhancing skills to match peoples’ passions for their children,” says Soucy. “All they need is the idea; our role is to make parents feel comfortable developing their ideas, training them to communicate it broadly and then provide access to resources to assist them in their work.”

The three-year grant program was procured by the NH Charitable Foundation and Southern NH Services. MCC staff lead the program, which includes trainings on public speaking, civics, speaking to the media, understanding policy, how to testify to lawmakers and how government works.

PLTI attendees receive Chromebooks, to help them develop their ideas, build a database of information and research, create contact lists, and bring their ideas into reality. Organizers say the program has a pay it forward aspect to it because attendees in other states have continued working on their programs for years beyond the training. Many others come back to help train the next cohort of parents to ensure new ideas and new energy are constantly flowing.

“It’s just phenomenal; this is results-oriented and it keeps people engaged for long periods,” says Soucy. “The legacy of the actions from parents speaks for itself. These busy moms and dads buy-in and then come back to help train other parents. it’s exciting to see the energy around this work.”

Expanding PLTI

Soucy feels what’s most exciting about PLTI is that not only have participants from previous cohorts returned to become trainers, but the program includes pre- and post-surveys with evaluations to take feedback to adjust and strengthen the programs and outcomes. It’s a cyclical pattern versus a more linear learning timeline.

Soucy hopes to see current participants lean in on programs in developmental disabilities as some have expressed a desire to work in that area. But she points out parents can focus on any area of their children’s lives they see a need; PLTI is broad and fully supportive of ideas.

“Hopefully, someday we will expand PLTI to the entire community college system, but for now, we are focused on our first group of parents in Manchester,” says Soucy.

Applications for the next round of PLTI training will be in summer ‘24.

For more information, contact Marla Soucy