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PEPS reaches out to new parents

Babies bring major change to the lives of their parents. Adult lives that included sleeping in late on weekends, leisurely dinners and unstructured time give way to feedings, diaper changes, laundry and 24-hour infant surveillance.

Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS) is a Seattle institution, and the only organization in the Northwest that serves parents of newborns, from birth to four months, in neighborhood-based groups. PEPS exists to make the process of moving into parenthood easier by providing parent connection, social support, information and resources. PEPS is a strength-based program founded on the belief that all parents have strengths and that when parents are supported, their strengths grow.

For the past 24 years, PEPS has brought thousands of parents together to be the best parents they can be. The cornerstone of the organization is the Newborn Program. PEPS connects parents in neighborhood groups to share the joys and challenges of parenting , exchange ideas and receive information on parenting topics and infant development. Groups meet weekly in parent homes for a period of four months. Babies within the groups are roughly the same age.

Newborn groups are facilitated by trained volunteers who are PEPS group alumni. These volunteer group leaders are recruited by PEPS staff and receive comprehensive training. PEPS has a dynamic curriculum, developed with assistance from John Gottman, Ph.D., the Talaris Institute and the Washington Council for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

PEPS serves approximately 1,400 families yearly through daytime and evening groups. Many of our groups continue to meet informally for three, five and even 10 years or more. It is not uncommon for participants to maintain their PEPS-related connections for 15 or 20 years.

Here's what one mom said about her experience with PEPS: "PEPS was an oasis for my daughter and me in the crazy early months of motherhood. I'd been through challenging situations before, but none like becoming a mother. With my husband away at work, I felt isolated. My PEPS group became my anchor. PEPS is truly the best thing a new parent can do!"

To learn more about PEPS, visit our Web site at www.pepsgroup.org or call our office at 206-547-8570. Registration for a four-month newborn group is $125. Scholarships are also available.

PEPS is currently piloting a series of innovative projects designed to strengthen the Newborn Program. These projects include groups for: families with twins, families with toddlers and newborns, couples who struggle with early parenting and families in transitional housing.

PEPS is a non-profit that relies on the talents of its volunteers to fulfill its mission. Volunteers serve as newborn group leaders, public speakers and board members. If you are interested, we are looking for individuals who have a love of families and some time to give. For more information about volunteering, please contact PEPS at volunteer@pepsgroup.org.

PEPS is one of four Puget Sound organizations featured in ParentMap's 2006 Giving Together campaign, which supports and promotes agencies that are striving to improve the lives of families in our community. Other Giving Together partners include the Foundation for Early Learning, Hopelink and Great Starts.

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