Office of Children and Family Services

News Article
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

NYS Council on Children and Families Launches a ‘How-To’ Guide for Expecting and New Parents

What new parent has not wished for extra help and information during pregnancy and their baby’s first years? The New York State Council on Children and Families has a new Parent Guide to provide just that. The Parent Guide – Starting Life Together: Your Guide for Building a Nurturing, Healthy Relationship with Your Child – offers a fresh perspective on what parents can do to support their children. It has key parenting tips for before and after a child arrives, up to age five. It is available for free at The Parent Guide was developed in recognition of how critical a child’s first years of life are.

Children are most vulnerable in their first year of life, according to the National Children’s Alliance. Statistics show that approximately 700,000 children nationwide are victims of abuse and neglect and more than 1,500 children die each year from abuse and neglect in the United States. Infants under one year are most likely to be victimized and their parents are most likely to be the abuser.

The Parent Guide was created to provide parents with ways to prepare for the joy, stress and frustrations often associated with adjusting to life with a newborn. The Guide helps parents anticipate behavioral challenges typical of healthy developing children and suggests caring responses, recognizing how parents grow in their role as their child ages.

“The Parent Guide is just that. It guides parents through pregnancy and the early years with helpful information on having a healthy baby, how to nurture that baby through his or her growth and development and building a strong and healthy family,” said Council on Children and Families’ Executive Director Deborah Benson. “It puts the collective expertise of child-serving professionals in New York State in one convenient place to answer parents’ questions.”

The Parent Guide focuses on five important parenting behaviors: nurturing, protecting, guiding, communicating and supporting children’s curiosity and learning. Expectant mothers can access important advice on exercise, nutrition and other healthy habits during pregnancy. Parents receive information on typical behavior for the age of their child and fun ways to encourage their child’s healthy development. Included are valuable resources on safe sleep, use of car seats, breastfeeding and dental care, among others. Parents can also find important information on how to obtain health insurance; locate child care and preschool, parent education and support programs.

“Parenting is one of the toughest jobs a person can have,” said Benson. “Babies don’t come with instructions, so we created the parent guide to provide the resources parents need to navigate the journey with their baby successfully.”

Tim Hathaway, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse NY and co-chair of the New York State Parenting Education Partnership, said, “The NYS Parent Guide website is an amazing prevention tool! This resource provides parents with child development and parenting strategies tied to better health, cognitive and social outcomes. The New York State Parenting Education Partnership ( is proud to support this effort!”

Dr. Dina Spiropoulos of Main Pediatrics in Buffalo, New York, said, “Caregivers have questions about parenting and need reliable information. Pediatricians often have limited time to spend with a family. The Parent Guide is a valuable tool that provides the family with knowledge and resources to help children reach their full potential.”

About the CCF
The Council on Children and Families coordinates New York State health, education and human services systems as a means to provide more effective systems of care for children and families. Follow the Council on Facebook and Twitter @nysccf, and bookmark its website,

The Council works with its 12 member agencies to coordinate the New York State health, education, and human service systems to provide more effective systems of care for children and families. Members of the Council include the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Labor (DOL), the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center), the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA), the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), the Office for the Aging (SOFA), and the State Education Department (SED).

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