Children’s Trust continues to work with its partners across South Carolina to provide services to children and families during the coronavirus pandemic. While social distancing has limited much of the in-person contact usually employed by our prevention programs, our Triple P partners in Greenville have skillfully adapted their work to ensure families receive the support and resources they need to stay strong in these trying times.


Melena Hood became a Triple P practitioner this year because she believes the Positive Parenting Program gives parents practical strategies that help empower them in building strong and positive relationships with their children.

A care coordinator for Greenville nonprofit Little Steps, Hood works to give parents the tools necessary to create a plan that manages the difficult behavior of their children. When the coronavirus outbreak disrupted life as we know in early spring, practitioners encountered a huge hurdle in their ability to provide services to families. Parents experiencing tough times at home found themselves even more disconnected.

Melena Hood

Melena Hood

“Our families faced many challenges before the coronavirus pandemic. Uncertainty has added stress to an already stressful situation,” Hood said. “Many of our families have lost their jobs due to the virus and day care closings.”

These events have made programs like Triple P more important than ever in providing reliable support. With more than 35 years of ongoing research, Triple P is an effective, evidence-based parenting program that offers practical strategies to help parents build strong, healthy relationships, confidently manage their children’s behavior, and promote positive childhood development. Triple P has been shown to work across cultures, socioeconomic groups and in many kinds of family structures.

“Triple P will help the young parents in our community by allowing us to serve more families while ensuring a safe and positive learning environment,” Hood said. “The more families we serve, the stronger our community will be for future generations.”

Greenville First Steps is coordinating the program in the Upstate with funding and support from Children’s Trust and The Duke Endowment. Nicole Sheppard, Greenville First Steps program director for the Triple P project, wants all parents have access to parenting supports, whether they reach out for help at their pediatrician’s office, their place of worship, their child’s school, their place of employment, or another local nonprofit.


Nicole Sheppard

“Community and statewide partnerships can make all the difference in the world. Greenville First Steps and Children’s Trust want to assure parents they’re not alone, as navigating these difficult times may present many challenges,” Sheppard said. “We aim to collectively quash the stigma that asking for parenting help means someone is a bad parent or doing something wrong. It’s quite the opposite. Parents should be commended for reaching out while they are tackling the hardest job in the entire world.”

As a nonprofit organization, Little Steps has a mission of building a positive network of support for teen and young parents while equipping them with the ability to more independently provide for themselves and their babies. Triple P is one outlet to do that. Despite the impact of social distancing guidelines that have changed in-person meetings, practitioners like Hood have found ways to provide the lessons of Triple P in an innovative fashion.

“Our delivery of Triple P services has altered in a good way,” Hood said. “Going virtual has offered our participants an opportunity to save money on transportation and missing work due to appointments. Virtual Triple P has allowed us to view our participant’s world from a new perspective. The lessons of positive parenting are more important than ever because it is very easy to slip back into old habits during stressful times. Triple P empowers parents with simple strategies and a plan they can depend on during these difficult times.”

Virginia Bikas

Virginia Bikas

Virginia Bikas, Triple P community capacity coach for Children’s Trust in the Upstate, is impressed by the coordination that’s taking place between practitioners and families as they navigate these COVID-19 issues.

“The work that is taking place in Greenville County is simply amazing,” Bikas said. “These Triple P providers could have easily said they needed to take a step back when society came to a halt earlier this year, but they stepped up to the plate because they knew that parents needed this support now more than ever.”

Sheppard noted that many families have settled into a new normal through e-learning and working from home. She added that many parents are utilizing programs like Triple P as another tool in their parenting toolbox. The trained providers, who also can assist with technical issues, have embraced the new virtual world because it allows them to meet with the families wherever they are.

The response to Triple P being provided in different ways continues to be favorable.

“We’re receiving terrific feedback from families who have attended an online class, virtual one-on-one sessions, or those parents who were able to provide face-to-face services while following social distancing guidelines,” Sheppard said. “For example, after learning the five Triple P principles of positive parenting or program building blocks, many caregivers are embracing the information provided regarding the importance of parental self-care.”

Bikas credits the work being done by the activating organization in Greenville as a key element of the successful start.

Greenville First Steps

“Greenville First Steps has truly led the way for how to support parents virtually, ensuring they are getting supportive, positive and timely information,” Bikas said. “Parents are overwhelmed with so much these days. To watch the work Nicole is doing in leading and supporting her group of Triple P practitioners to serve parents and meet them where they are – often times in their living rooms in front of a computer at the end of a long day — is truly humbling.”

Children’s Trust, which provides support that includes community capacity coaching, evaluation and communications infrastructure, communications materials, and social norms research, launched Triple P in Greenville and Georgetown counties at the start of the new year, and it is building a model prevention system for counties that can be replicated across South Carolina to reinforce positive parenting and strengthen child and family well-being.

“The most important thing parents need to understand is that they are the most important resource for teaching their children,” Hood said. “Nurturing and modeling the behaviors you want to see in your children will help you navigate the challenges you will face while raising them.”