February is National Parent Leadership Month

Family of three laughing

During National Parent Leadership Month, the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) would like to honor parents throughout California for the work that they do to improve their communities.Therefore, the OCAP will present awards to parent leaders for the Fourth Annual OCAP Parent Leadership Awards!

2021 Parent Leadership Award Winners

The Office of Child Abuse Prevention would like to congratulate our 2021 Parent Leadership Award Winners.

Polly Huffer

Polly is one of the most welcoming Parent Partners and presents with a genuine, warm, and caring demeanor that puts all family members (and staff) at ease instantly. As a long-term resident, Polly is very familiar with all that the community has to offer clients and their families in terms of resources, supports and services that could be of assistance to the families in the community. Polly not only provides this linkage and welcoming nature to the families she services in her employment, but also volunteers time in the community at a local non-profit to assist others and volunteers time to consult with staff members about resources that may support them with their own children and navigating community systems.

Polly has a warm and welcoming vibe, that allows for her to have meaningful conversations with the families we work with. She is open with her communication and is always asking parents for their feedback and works to ensure they are comfortable and on board with any decision made. Polly not only models this for families, but she also coaches and trains parents on how to use their voice and communicate their needs. She also supports families outside of her employment through a variety of community volunteer work at local non-profits, consulting with local therapists about local resources, advocating for youth needs, assisting parents with learning how to advocate, and assisting individuals on a personal level in advocating for the needs of their own children. Polly has a natural way of utilizing her own personal story of having a child with special needs as a way of building positive relationships and increasing motivation with families and assisting parents in finding their own confidence in advocating for their own needs and the needs of their children.

Polly models effective collaboration on micro and macro levels, both in her professional duties and personally. Polly also participates in a variety of groups on a local and state level to ensure that the voice of Parents is heard and incorporated into service implementation. She embodies the leadership, dedication, and passion for improving family engagement and promoting the safety and well-being for the parents, children and families in her community to the exemplary standards that Polly embodies in her day to day life.

Elisa Cochran

Grandmother sitting and smiling with two granchildren. Elisa has four adult children and six grandchildren. She has guardianship of two of her grandsons, ages 10 and 7, and has been raising them for the last 5 years. Elisa stated that she struggled initially to find a place as a caregiver and often wondered how she could raise grandchildren, when she felt had failed as a parent. Elisa knew that if she wanted to help her boys heal from the trauma that they had endured she would need to look into services that could help. Elisa wanted to be more informed about childhood trauma, so she read books, attended seminars, workshops, and trainings. That is how she initially learned about ACE's.

Elisa had a feeling that she was not the only parent/caregiver that was in the same/similar situation, and that she wanted to help children. That's when Elisa attended a Parent-2-Parent Support Group hosted by the Parent Leader Advisory Group, PLAG. She decided that she wanted to become involved with PLAG and so she became a trained Parent Leader. She said that once joining the group, she found a community and feels like she has a purpose. She wants every parent/caregiver to know that there is hope and with that comes healing and that it is okay to ask for help.

Elisa stated that she wants to keep learning, hoping, experiencing, and growing. She said that through her leadership and growth she wants to be the inspiration and driving force of hope so that her boys will understand that there is a positive path that leads them to living their best lives. Through her involvement with PLAG she can help other parents/caregivers do the same.

Since joining PLAG, Elisa has participated in the PLAG monthly Parent-2-Parent Support Group as often as her schedule allows, attended Parent Cafe, and became a trained table host. Elisa also offers support on the Hotline for Hope phone line and was in the commercial with her grandsons. We are so happy to have Elisa and her family with us and can't see where their journey takes them.

Rachell Baker

Mother and children taking a selfie Rachell is a single mother of 4 children, ranging in age from 8 to 16, each with their own individual struggles. As a family they have endured numerous life challenges that have altered their life plan. Throughout their journey they have reached out for help and felt like they did not get very far.

After deciding to become her own advocate, Rachell started looking for help and support, and that's when she heard about Pathways to Hope for Children and the Parent Partner Program. Rachell said that she was not only greeted but was also accepted with a warmth and compassion from the beginning that gave her a sense of Hope. Soon after being connected with a Parent Partner she was introduced to the Parent Leader Advisory Group.

Rachell had attended a Parent Cafe led by PLAG in November 2019 and really enjoyed it but wasn't sure if the Parent Leader Advisory Group was for her at that time. Rachell told me that when she attended her first monthly Parent-2-Parent Support Group Meeting she was overwhelmed with a sense of belonging and felt that she had finally found her place. Rachell said that PLAG has provided her access to amazing trainings, opportunities to grow, and resources to help her family. She said that she feels like she has experienced growth as a person and as a mom, has gained leadership skills, and most importantly developed her parenting skills! Rachell believes that PLAG is a pathway to growth and giving back to the community.

Recently Rachell completed the training to become an official Parent Leader with the Parent Leader Advisory Group. She plans on furthering her involvement in the group by joining the PLAG Supervisory Committee where she will be able to bring her skills and passion for event planning, leadership, and community outreach. Most importantly Rachell is excited to be able to share her story and offer support to other parents.

Nomination Forms

2022 Parent Leadership Month Resources