DETROIT -

Children do better at school when they're parents are involved, which is why centers have been set up around Detroit to encourage parents to be more active in their children's education.

Detroit Public Schools and the Detroit Parent Network have set up eight parent resource centers to be hubs for training and resources that will help not just the students succeed, but the parents too.   Most of the centers are in schools.

Sara Lawson uses the parent resource center at Cody to help her 17 year old son Kenneth who is in the 11th grade.

"It helps my child, because when my child sees me, that I am involved,  then he feels better about himself," said Lawson. "Yesterday, I just came up to volunteer, I didn't let him know I was coming to volunteer or anything. He looked in the hallway, he seen me and that put a smile on his face.

Lawson also recently attended a workshop put on by the Detroit Parent Network called, "Transition: Preparing students for change."  The workshop's goal was to teach parents how to prepare their children to transition from one school to another.

"For us, it is about helping, putting parents in a position to help their kids win, to be successful academically in school," said Sharlonda Buckman, chief executive officer for the Detroit Parent Network. "Kids are excited when they see their parents get involved."

The Parent Resource Centers have been open for nearly three years; developed with input from parents, community leaders and the Detroit Parent Network.

"When we look at other communities, a lot of times they have coffee houses and places where, you know, communities just naturally gather. There is less of that in Detroit and so the schools naturally became a place where we could kind of create the condition that parents would want to be in the schools," said Buckman.

The Detroit Parent Network said since the centers opened they've seen a 63 percent increase in parents involved in activities at school and attendance at parent meetings is up 49 percent.

"The biggest successes are more parents who are aware of what is going on with the schools and how they can be helpful, particularly with their students and also with the school," Buckman said.

The centers are a meeting place where parents can talk over coffee, there are computers for parents to learn new skills, look for jobs, and improve their resumes.

Expert-led workshops include ways to help children in school and to help families at home.  

Detroit Public Schools and Detroit Parent Network partnered with Home Depot to offer a series of workshops to help.  The most recent involved teaching parents how to hang a door, replace a window and install a smoke detector.

DPS said those workshops are offered to parents because the district wants to ensure students have a healthy learning environment and a safe home environment.

"As much as we're proud of the numbers that we've achieved of the parents that have gotten involved, the parent leaders and how they've evolved, and been a big part of this success, we know that there is still a lot of work to do," said Buckman. "We continue every day to stand in the gap and work to close the cracks in terms of getting every single parent to the school."

Parents who take advantage of the workshops and resource centers have trouble understanding why other moms and dads have not done the same yet.

"If we as parents don't do our part, they'll surely fail," said Jacqueline Chapman, a parent in Detroit.

Through the Parent Resource Centers parents have access to child care, job training, MEAP assistance and even book clubs.  Detroit Public Schools has also developed a dads club for fathers to meet.

"It is better for you to get involved with them now than to be trying to get involved with them later when they have really went off into doing something like committing crime, selling drugs," said Lawson.

Detroit Parent Network said it had nearly 5,000 parents come through expert-led workshops last year.  For more on the services provided through the centers and other programs, click here.
For a full list of Parent Resource Centers and their locations, click here.