Core Knowledge, Attitudes, and Skills

Texas Registry of Parent Educator Resources (Texas ROPER)
"Core Knowledge for Parent Educators and Professionals
Who Work with Families"

According to a 1996 report by the Pew Charitable Trust, over 50,000 parenting and family support programs reach millions of parents every day. Rae Simpson in 1997 reported that there are currently over 100 regional parenting publications, and several parenting series available through television, internet and radio. Parent education classes and family support initiatives are growing in popularity; and many initiatives such as Head Start, the court system, schools, and workforce development programs are allocating funding and establishing requirements for parenting/family support programs as a component of their services. 

Professionals providing family support and parent education come from a variety of backgrounds. Elementary school teachers, speech teachers, school counselors, psychiatrists, ministers, parents, extension family and consumer specialists, nurses, and preschool teachers are among those who serve as parent educators and family support professionals. Many hold degrees in such diverse fields as education, medicine, business, agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and social work, while others have no degree, experience or background in working with families. Many of these professionals lack education or training in areas that could be commonly identified as critical to supporting families, such as assessing parent needs and designing programs to meet those needs, parent-child interactions, adult education, child development, family systems and interaction, and activities that strengthen families. 

In order to identify critical knowledge for working with families the University of North Texas Center for Parent Education and the Texas Registry of Parent Educator Resources conducted nineteen focus groups and nineteen telephone conferences with over 400 participants. Professionals from a variety of fields, as well as parent educators, worked together to identify and create a core knowledge. 

This booklet provides:

  • Core knowledge areas identified as the most critical for professionals working with families. All professionals that work with families should have some knowledge in each area.
  • Subcategories within each knowledge area identifying in greater detail the knowledge areas. Some subcategories are more pertinent, for instance, to a school social worker while others may be more pertinent to a parent educator or to a home health visitor. Some subcategories may include integral knowledge a professional should know, while knowledge of how to access that information may be sufficient for others.
  • A glossary that assists in defining and explaining the terms used in the Core Knowledge.
  • Internet links to find more information, training and resources about specific knowledge areas.
  • Information on upcoming training in the Core Knowledge.

About The Texas Registry of Parent Educator Resources

The Texas Registry of Parent Educator Resources, or Texas ROPER, is a statewide network of professionals who work with parents. It is sponsored by The Children's Trust Fund of Texas, The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and the University of North Texas Center for Parent Education. Texas ROPER provides: 

  • A searchable database of parenting professionals in Texas that parents and professionals can use to locate parenting assistance by location, language or topic.
  • A website, at with a listserv, conference listings, and links to research, resources and professional organizations
  • A leveling system to identify Texas parent educators according to background, training and/or experience
  • Website resources for parents
  • Newsletter for professionals
  • A professional library with research, curricula, books and information on parenting and parent education

For more information contact: The University of North Texas Center for Parent Education, P.O. Box 311337, Denton, Texas 76203-1337, Telephone:940-369-7246.

Core Knowledge For Parent Educators and Professionals Who Work with Families

The Core Knowledge applies to families and children from ages 0-18.

Having knowledge in each of the Core Areas is an important part of professional practice. Knowledge of how to access information for each subcategory is also critical. Some subcategories are more applicable to one profession than another.

Winter and Summer Training and Coursework on The Core Knowledge!

Receive training, CEUs and optional graduate or undergraduate course credit on the Core Knowledge at "The Summer Institute on Supervision, Training and Facilitation for Parent, Family and Child Care Professionals," held each June in Denton, Texas! Also, the Annual Conference on Parent Education held each February offers nationally known researchers and speakers in parent education. For more information contact the Center for Parent Education and Texas ROPER website at and click on "Conferences" or contact: The UNT Center for Parent Education at 940-369-7246.

Glossary of the Core Knowledge

Adult life skills Any skills an adult needs to be a fully functioning individual, such as work skills, literacy skills, stress management, financial management, anger management, cooking, and home management.

Advocacy Provision of support through communicating and/or intervening with individuals and groups on behalf of a person, group or cause.

Areas of development Includes cognitive (referring to intellectual), language, social, spiritual/moral, emotional, and physical areas in which individuals grow and progress.

Assessment Use of specified criteria to make a determination about a plan, person, or group. Pre-assessment is an important component in the development of programs for families and should be done prior to the delivery of any service, information or program.

Blended families When parts of nuclear families are combined; the most common is a family in which the wife and husband have children by another marriage.

Caseworker A professional, usually with a degree in social work, who assists families in identifying and accessing needed resources.

Child abuse, elder, spousal, parent abuse The mistreatment of an individual that could be physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual; includes abuse and neglect.

Community is a group of people, typically in a geographic area, bound together politically, economically, culturally, and /or for a common purpose.

Development and fostering of character, ethics, self-control, and moral competence The development of an understanding of right and wrong, concern for others, and the ability to make judgements based on standards that the child develops and holds as important and that are generally held by society to be appropriate; fostered through social, emotional, cognitive development.

Developmental stages of parenting The evolution of parenting through the life cycle from the birth of the first child through the child as an adult. The developmental phases address the concerns, roles, and responsibilities of parents at each stage.

Dual homes When a child has two residences, usually maintained by separate parents or grandparents, and the child considers each his home.

Ethics: A set of rules, principles or a way of thinking and looking at the environment and self that is used to guide the thoughts and functions of a group or individual.

Evaluation Use of specified criteria to determine the effectiveness, usefulness, or knowledge of a particular individual, group or program.

Family disruption and loss Occurs with divorce, death of parent or sibling, incarceration of parent or child, homelessness or any traumatic event that results in significant changes in family lifestyle.

Family support The process of providing services, resources and assistance for families to achieve and maintain optimal functioning. The basic premise of family support involves empowering families to achieve their own goals.

Family support professionals Individuals who provide services, resources and information to assist in strengthening families for optimal functioning and responsibility for their own decisions and life.

Family system The interrelationships of individual members of a family and understanding that in a family each person is interdependent and is affected by every other family member.

Guidance Process of assisting the child in the development of self-control and learning to make appropriate choices and decisions. Guidance refers to the development of decision-making skills and self-control in behavior, thoughts and actions and is child-centered, not adult-centered.

Intergenerational relationships Relationships between generations, such as grandparent and grandchild or parent to older parent.

Marriage preparation and education Classes and materials for those who are contemplating and preparing for marriage often required by many states and churches as preparation and as a prerequisite to marriage. Conflict resolution, communication skills, and focus on goal-setting and preparing for a future as a couple are often included.

Media Mediums of mass communication, including television, reading materials, internet, movies, and music.

Needs assessment A partnership activity involving parents (family members), professionals, and community members gathering information from a variety of sources to identify unmet needs for parent (family life) education and support and its delivery.

Normal range of development Refers to normative behavior that has been defined for certain age ranges, across the life span in emotional, ecological, social, physical, moral, language development.

Parent education Many definitions have been given to the field of parent education. For some it is workshops and classes on parenting. For others it is any type of educational services from brochures and books to toys and activities that parents and children can use. Still others see parent education as providing family support and services that assist parents in providing an optimal environment for their child.

Parent educator A parent educator is a person or organization that provides services, education and materials to parents. The individual may be a professional, paraprofessional or volunteer, and could be a home visitor, a volunteer who answers questions about immunizations, a minister who provides classes on helping children develop spirituality, a therapist who assists parents in developing skills to work with their children, an author of parenting books or brochures, or a caseworker teaching anger management skills to parents.

Parent Involvement Specialist Usually found within schools, they work with parents to involve them in their children's education. May include visits to families, acting as a liaison between parent and teacher or school, conducting parenting programs, or providing resources.

Parenting Process of assuming major responsibility for the development and growth and nurturing of a child.

Physical, emotional, learning, behavioral, or developmental disabilities Delay, reduction or absence of functioning in one or more of these areas.

Professional practice Those standards, knowledge and skills that define a given profession.

Social institutions Recognized organizations such as schools, government, and churches that are an integral part of the societal structure and provide services and support to individuals within the society.

Substance abuse Excessive and/or inappropriate usage of such substances as drugs, tobacco, alcohol or any element that can potentially cause harm to the body.

Theories of human growth and development Concepts and ideas that attempt to explain or predict human development and behavior. A knowledge of major theories of how children and adults grow and develop is a critical component of working with families.

Universal health precautions Defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it is the protection of individuals from disease through the use of a set of standard health practices.(Refer to internet links to the Texas Department of Health for more information.)


Annotations by Bernadette Rodriguez
Early Childhood Teacher
Carrolton-Farmers Branch I.S.D.


General theory indexes:
The Theory Into Practice Database containing summaries of major theories of learning and instruction.
This site provides tutorial topics consisting of core elements of Educational Psychology.

Theories of child development:

A website created as an information resource for members of the Jean Piaget Society for the study of knowledge and development.

A tutorial containing information about Vygotsky, his theory and its application to education.

General developmental information for 0-18:
The National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting and Prevention
Child Welfare League of America: Links to Related Organizations
Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting
Nurturing Parenting
This is the National Network for Child Care site. It provides a variety of child development topics and resources for both professionals and families.
Theories of adolescent and adult development:

Adolescent : Go to Top
Web-based learning activities on the topic of development are provided on this site.

Adults and Aging:
A site detailing Yale psychologist Daniel Levinson's comprehensive theory of adult development.

Information on the six phases of Robert Athchley's model of retirement are outlined.

This page provides a synopsis of theorist William G. Perry's positions on cognitive development.

General theory indexes:

General developmental information for the lifespan, particularly adults:
This site includes a variety of resource links on various stages of development. Useful for students of lifespan and human development.
A site providing links to child development sites.

Death & Dying:
An on-line interview with Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross a recognized authority in the field of death and dying.

Social/emotional Development:

Life skills:

Developmental Organizations:
American Educational Research Association - Special Interest Group in Moral Development and Education

Development: Go to Top

Society for Research in Child Development:
The Society form Research in Child Development is multi-disciplinary, non-profit professional organization promoting research development and application.

This site provides a collection of links on topics including: family, children, mothers, fathers and single parents.
General resources are provided on the topic of family resiliency.

Family relationships & diversity in family, including divorce, stress and sexuality:
A comprehensive site with information and resources in all areas of family life.

Six stages of parenthood:
This is an overview of Ellen Galinsky's six stages of parenthood.

Work and family:
The official website for the Texas Workforce Commission, the state agency responsible for providing workforce development services to employers and jobseekers.

Comprehensive child care site:

This link contains the Parenting Evaluation Decision Framework provided by the National Network for Family Resiliency.
This site provides research briefs on designing effective parenting programs based on learning needs.
An interactive program planning tool provided by the National Network for Family Resiliency.
This site provides information, databases and various parent education resources.

A site sponsored by the Texas Youth commission providing a directory of programs and resources promoting youth development in families, schools and communities.
This site provides articles on guidance and discipline topics such as behavior management, social skills and self esteem. Resources also available in Spanish.

The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services webpage for child protection topics.
The official website for the Texas Department of Health.
The official website for the Texas Interagency Council on Early Childhood Intervention serving families whose babies or toddlers have disabilities or developmental delays.







Here is an opportunity to identify your training needs in the core knowledge, and to help universities, agencies and organizations around Texas plan training and courses for you! Please go online and fill out a form at . A report will be developed and can be sent to you based on the information received to identify the most needed areas of training for different professional. Please help your agency, school or organization develop training based on YOUR needs!

Core Knowledge for Parent Educators and Professionals Who Work with Families in Texas!

  • A new resource for parenting professionals!
  • Developed through focus groups with over 400 educators, professionals who work with families, and parents around the state. 
  • A guideline and self-evaluation tool for professionals to recognize and assess their knowledge of those concepts most important to their work with families.
  • A tool for agencies, schools and organizations to use in identifying standards of practice, and hiring criteria for professionals who work with families!
  •  A critical tool for professionals who works with families, including parent educators, school involvement specialists, family support professionals, therapist, social workers, school counselors, teachers, school and child care administrators, health care professionals, and caseworkers.