Service Will Find Answers To Almost Any Child-Rearing Question

September 04, 1998

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- While kids are struggling with subjects such as math or history this fall, some of their parents may be wishing they just knew more about being a parent.

The concern might be how to support a grade-schooler with a learning disability, how to deal with a teenager trying drugs, or how to get their youngest toilet-trained or sleeping in his own bed. These parents have sought advice, but haven't found what they need.

The best place for them to look may be the National Parent Information Network (NPIN), based at the University of Illinois.

With a well-developed World Wide Web site, electronic access to more than a million articles and documents, and a staff to handle questions by phone or e-mail, the network can provide information free of charge on almost any parenting issue, says Anne Robertson, NPIN's parenting educator.

"We have access to probably the largest collection of resources on the Web related to education and parenting, which we encourage people to download and copy, provided it's for non-profit use," Robertson said. "Also, when people call us or e-mail us with a question, we really do give it a lot attention we have jumped through a lot of hoops to try to get parents the exact information they need."

Dealing with parents' questions on a regular basis, Robertson said, gives NPIN an "ear to the ground" on the subjects on parents' minds ­ information used then to improve its services, like a monthly Web magazine called Parent News ( "We're really trying to listen to what parents want to know at any given point in time, and try to respond to those needs with the resources we have available, and link them with appropriate resources and services in their area."

Whatever the concern, "we try to bring them an unbiased approach in which we suggest a variety of resources so that they can make informed choices," she said.

Extensive resources are available to NPIN because the network is linked with the federally funded Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), a national information database system developed over the last three decades. ERIC, with its nationwide system of 16 information clearinghouses, claims to be "the world's largest source of education information."

Since much of that information is broad-based, covering child development as much as schooling, "it was a natural thing" to develop a network for parents, said professor Lilian Katz, director of the U. of I.-based ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, which serves as NPIN's home. The parenting network is co-sponsored by the U. of I. clearinghouse and the ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, based at Columbia University.

The address for NPIN on the Web is: For questions or requests, the e-mail address is; the toll-free phone number is 800-583-4135.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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