Simply put, our philosophy centers around effective parenting and other prevention efforts as protective factors for community change. We facilitate this philosophy by building capacity of individuals and organizations within communities through various collaborations, workshops, training programs, campaigns and parent education programs.
We approach prevention as a public health concern. It is our goal to influence policy change and environmental reinforcements that support parent training/parent education – recognizing that such programs are necessary in order to produce healthy, vibrant, successful children. Our various programs are indicative of this goal as well.
Our philosophy is also based, in large part, on Public Health Perspectives in Health Promotion, with our official training model based on the Social Learning Theory and Ecological Approach.
Public Health Perspective in Health Promotion
HEARTS for Families™ has adopted the Public Health Perspective in Health Promotion, Health Education and Behavior Change to improve parenting and other prevention efforts as protective factors against substance abuse and child abuse. Parenting is a determinate of health for children, and as with other social determinants of health, institutions and organizations addressing social determinants of health must utilize public health strategies and strong theoretical approaches to effectively and efficiently address this social concern.
Health promotion, health education and behavior change strategies have been proven to work in the prevention of substance abuse and child maltreatment by focusing on multiple or co-occurring risk factors. Substance abuse and child maltreatment have similar risk and protective factors that often go beyond the individual’s influence or actions. The environment has a strong influence on the focused behavior change which is why HEARTS™ is intentional in its approach to address the family unit and the community in which the individual resides.
Social Learning Theory
The social learning theory focuses on the environmental affects as well as the individual, but strongly supports the self-efficacy of the individual as a major tenant to the theory. The ecological perspective recognizes that the interventions have to exist on multiple levels to achieve population behavior change. HEARTS™ is committed to combining micro and macro level approaches to address prevention as a public health concern.
“Social learning theory, later renamed social cognitive theory, proposes that behavior change is affected by environmental influences, personal factors, and attributes of the behavior itself. Each may affect or be affected by either of the other two. A central tenet of social cognitive theory is the concept of self-efficacy. A person must believe in his or her capability to perform the behavior and must perceive an incentive to do so (i.e., the person’s positive expectations from performing the behavior must outweigh the negative expectations). Additionally, a person must value the outcomes or consequences that he or she believes will occur as a result of performing a specific behavior or action. Outcomes may be classified as having immediate benefits. But because these expected out-comes are filtered through a person’s expectations or perceptions of being able to perform the behavior in the first place, self-efficacy is believed to be the single most important characteristic that determines a person’s behavior change. Self-efficacy can be increased in several ways, among them by providing clear instructions, providing the opportunity for skill development or training, and modeling the desired behavior. To be effective, models must evoke trust, admiration, and respect from the observer; models must not, however, appear to represent a level of behavior that the observer is unable to visualize attaining.” source
While the ecological approach is often used in physical activity initiatives, public health principles still apply. The ecological approach is, in part:
“An underlying theme of ecological perspectives is that the most effective interventions occur on multiple levels. A model has been proposed that encompasses several levels of influences on health behaviors: intrapersonal factors, interpersonal and group factors, institutional factors, community factors, and public policy. Similarly, another model has three levels (individual, organizational, and governmental) in four settings (schools, worksites, health care institutions, and communities). Interventions that simultaneously influence these multiple levels and multiple settings may be expected to lead to greater and longer-lasting changes and maintenance of existing health-promoting habits. This is a promising area for the design of future intervention research to promote physical activity.” source