The Framework has five levels of indicators: 1) initiative; 2) personal transformation; 3) collective action; 4) public officials and community leaders; and 5) civic climate. Each indicator has a list of “what this may look like.” These lists do not include everything parent leadership initiatives do, nor is everything on them expected from every parent leadership initiative. They simply serve as examples that we frequently have seen in studying initiatives that develop parent leadership.

Download: Parent Leadership Indicators Framework - Full Report (PDF)

Initiative Indicators

In this category, the “unit of analysis,” (i.e. the “what” or “who” is being studied), is the parent leadership development initiative.

The “ripple effect” begins with a high-quality parent leadership initiative, program, or model. Despite their differences, initiatives that successfully develop parent leaders share several key attributes, which we list below as “universal indicators.” The bullet points underneath each indicator serve as examples of what the indicator can look like in practice. All PLIs in our broad sample are a bit different; some bullet points may speak to some PLIs and not to others. Above all, high-quality PLIs have a core belief that parents of all backgrounds and circumstances can be effective advocates and civic change agents on behalf of children. All have a demonstrated commitment to equity in regard to race, gender, class, and language.

Additional Initiative Indicators

Additional indicators include some indicators that will be relevant to some PLIs but not to others, as well as indicators that are aspirational – in other words, indicators that PLIs may aspire to but may not yet have the capacity for. PLIs may choose to focus on one of the optional indicators when considering areas of growth and development.

Personal Transformation Indicators

In this category, the “unit of analysis,” (i.e. the “what” or “who” is being studied), are changes in current and former PLI participants, as a result of their participation in the PLI.

High-quality PLIs can lead to personal transformation among participants, for example, applying what they learn to solve problems, watching their inner strengths unfold, attracting recognition as a trusted information source, and building networks that bridge race, class, and culture. Across many diverse PLIs, we found that participants experienced the following personal transformation outcomes.

Additional Personal Transformation Indicators

These indicators may be seen in some PLIs but not in others. The first three of these additional indicators reflect unintended – rather than intentional – outcomes of PLIs (for example, improved physical health). The latter three include those that may be relevant to some PLIs, based on the focus of their programming, but not to others.

Collective Action Indicators

In this category, the “unit of analysis,” (i.e., the “what” or “who” is being studied), are changes in groups of parents who are working together as a result of their participation in the PLI.

When parent leaders see opportunity gaps, they know the consequences for their children and take action, forming networks and joining forces with other groups. Using their own stories, backed by data, and speaking in their authentic voices using their personal stories, they offer ideas that lead to more equitable policies and practices. The indicators below demonstrate how parents take collective action.

Public Officials and Community Leaders Indicators

In this category, the “unit of analysis,” (i.e., the “what” or “who” is being studied), are changes in public officials and community leaders who have interacted with parent leaders.

As public officials and community leaders listen to parent leaders, they gain new information, create new opportunities to learn from diverse parents about local issues, and consider parents’ ideas. Support grows for greater opportunities for all children. We found that public officials and community leaders often change in the following ways after interacting with parent leaders.

Civic Climate Indicators

In this category, the “unit of analysis,” (i.e., the “what” or “who” is being studied), are changes in communities and systems as a result of a high-quality parent leadership initiative.

As parents become key informants, community leaders open new forums for dialogue, providing a platform to increase public support for better children’s outcomes. Parents step up to be decision-makers on committees, boards, and task forces. Some parents run for public office; others join the staff of public agencies to provide a family perspective. Communities are more organized, informed, and ready to take action. We found that institutions, settings, and structures change in the following ways due to parent leadership.