A UALR criminal justice professor is coordinating a multiphase community project that will give parents in the Little Rock area support and educational resources over the next year.
Dr. David Montague, associate professor of criminal justice, said the Parental Education Project is about providing help to families where there have been gaps and educating parents about the myriad programs available in the central Arkansas area.
“The goal is to help create the best environment for children possible so that those children have an increased chance of a positive future,” Montague said. Funding from the city of Little Rock will allow the pilot project to operate as part of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline Initiative.
The first phase of the project kicks off Saturday, Dec. 15, at Centro Reto Ministries at 4919 Base Line Road in Little Rock. The project will be bilingual to address the growing need for resources in the Hispanic community. The first session begins at 1:30 p.m., with the second session at 3:30 p.m.
Phase 1 will seek parents’ feedback in a listening session. Phase 2 will delve into school issues in a series of 8 to 10 sessions led by educators, who will work with parents to directly address challenges children might face at school, from nutrition and testing to transportation and peer conflict.
The third phase of the project will bring together parents and a panel of inmates, providing a positive lesson about how to guide children and offer support through tough situations. The phase came about as a result of UALR’s relationship with the state Department of Correction. The university has three community re-entry to society programs officially endorsed by the department, Montague said.
Additionally, several criminal justice students and faculty members have made a habit of volunteering for such initiatives, many based on significant effort of retired UALR professor Dr. Charles Chastain.
The fourth phase will put families in touch with several area organizations in what Montague called a justice train. The idea is that parents and children will go table-to-table at an expo, receiving information and winning prizes along the way.
Montague, who also serves as director of the UALR Senior Justice Center, felt compelled to participate in this project when asked by the Cradle to Prison Pipeline Initiative, and has worked closely with the initiative to model portions after a similar project in the D.C area.
“I worked with Mr. Lee Lindsey of the initiative on several other projects while he worked with the State Division of Youth Services,” Montague said. “He’s also a graduate of the state’s LeadAR program, so I knew this would be another great opportunity to think big.”
Montague said the project could not have come together without the help of several organizations and team members.
“There are so many valuable organizations, and they’re all doing wonderful things,” he said. “This project lets everyone come together.
“I’ve been fortunate to recruit team members like Edna Ramirez [former student intern and now an LEP Victim Advocate at the Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits] to ensure we are being inclusive with our Latino community, given this rare opportunity. That’s what makes UALR such a great place to be — we have valuable resources and committed people.”
The final step in the project will be exposing parents and students to higher education opportunities. Montague hopes to send participants on visits to UALR and one other college in the area.
According to Montague, the project’s funding also provides for a library of resources – guides, pamphlets, handouts, brochures – to help parents beyond just the five phases.
To sign up for the Parental Education Project or attend the first session, contact Edna Ramirez at 870-310-0988 or email@example.com, or Lee Lindsey at 501-835-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.