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University of Minnesota Extension

Parents Forever helps families for 25 years

father and baby resting in bed, baby has milk bottle
Parents Forever centers child well-being when teaching how to coparent.

2022 marks the 25 year anniversary of Parents Forever as an Extension sponsored educational program for families experiencing divorce, separation or a change in custody. 

In the beginning, to meet the needs of Minnesota parents and caregivers, a statewide committee including Extension educators, community members and specialists across Minnesota developed a curriculum which can be used by any community wishing to facilitate their own divorce education program. Over the years, as times have changed for families, Parents Forever has remained adaptive and innovative in its programming and approach.  What began as an in-person county level program has grown into offering multiple delivery methods including two online program options (4 hour and 8 hour) that reach state, national and international audiences.  

The evidence-based program addresses issues from a whole person perspective and teaches parents to:

  • Examine their family transition and how each family member will be affected.

  • Recognize the role of self-care, parent-child relationships and coparenting in child well-being.

  • Identify their internal and external resources and plan how to leverage them  to promote resilience for all involved.

Parents Forever participants value the program’s focus on child well-being that is grounded in healthy family relationships. One previous participant said they liked “Learning from kids on how they feel and what they wish to hear from their parents and the help they wish to get. Now I know how to help my daughter from an emotional perspective better. I also know how to better manage myself  because my daughter deserves for me to be her positive parent.”

Educators and staff diligently work to keep Parents Forever both relevant and grounded in research, including using shared evaluation measures, used across the country, to improve the program for content and best methods for delivery. The team has multiple research publications and conference presentations and, in 2021, the program was added to the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) guidebook in the United Kingdom. From its simple beginnings in Minnesota, Parents Forever is now accessible and used around the world. 

Parents forever presenting branded table
Parents Forever educators Ellie McCann and Sharon Powell share the work of Extension.


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