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Advocates in Parenting

Supporting Children and Caregivers

Together, Partners in Parenting and Advocates in Parenting, bring a unique hybrid model of service delivery to at risk children in the Richmond, Virginia area.  High quality clinical services are provided to families through Partners in Parenting, while the 501c3 recognized nonprofit, Advocates in Parenting, is committed to identifying and evaluating what interventions work best, to training mental health providers, and to advocating for policy reform for children and families. Advocates in Parenting was established in January 2016.


Advocates in Parenting is devoted to influencing care-giving relationship in the child welfare system. Our work focuses on creating partnerships that foster resilience among families and systems, and advocating for changes through policy initiatives and dissemination of best care practices.

Roadmap Speakers Series

July 23, 2024 - Reading with Children: Building Literacy, Healthy Emotions and Relationships with the Imagination Library

When you read aloud to your child, you are not just sharing a story: you’re sharing your time, attention, and – biggest of all – love. This simple act forges deep connections between caregiver and child.


Sharing a book opens the door to characters to befriend, adventures to navigate, and emotions to feel. Both reader and listener will laugh, cry, cheer, shout, and fume along with the characters, providing an opportunity to explore and understand big feelings together. Books build empathy as you meet characters who are like you, and characters who are different, helping you to see the world from many different points of view without leaving your home. Each book you read is like laying a brick in a solid foundation of emotional health.


Whether it’s around the breakfast table, on the couch in the afternoon, or at bedtime, reading aloud to your child creates precious moments of connection. The soothing rhythm of a story and the reliable routine of a set daily reading time can provide a sense of stability and become a cherished tradition that your family looks forward to. You have the power to create lasting memories, nurturing a bond to cherish for a lifetime.


Read to Them is a Richmond-based non-profit dedicated to using the power of reading aloud to build connections across families, schools and communities to cultivate students’ learning and success. Their programs enable school communities to share one book together, at the same time. They are currently serving as the City of Richmond affiliate for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.


Upon registering with Imagination Library RVA, children between 0-5 will receive age-appropriate books delivered right to their home at zero cost to families. Enrolled children will receive a book each month until they age out of the program. For instance, if a child is enrolled at birth, they will receive 60 books!


Partners in Parenting is partnering with Imagination Library RVA to coordinate a book giveaway. Stay tuned for further details…

Future Events

October 22

Understanding and Addressing Racial Trauma

Presented by Gene Cash, LCSW, LISW-S

CEO, Executive Director

Counseling Alliance of Virginia (CAVA)  

AIP's Roadmap Series provides a wide array of speakers from the community who share their expertise to support parents and professionals. We offer quarterly lunchtime presentations on the 4th Tuesday of the month, and other workshops and lectures throughout the year. While there is no fee required to attend, a suggested $10 donation to Advocates in Parenting is requested.  All proceeds of these programs will support the research and training mission of AIP.

FEBRUARY 28 2023 - Fostering Resilience: Helping Parents and Youth Cope with Anxiety with Dr. Jarrod Leffler

Powerpoint Presentation: click here

MAY 23 2023: Dr. Anjali Ferguson & Mr. Justin Ferguson, authors of "An Ordinary Day" - How Can Parents Start Early Conversations About Race and Microaggressions?

OCTOBER 24 2024:

Panel:  Ways to help young people launch

A panel discussion about how to prepare youth for independence, balanced daily life, and healthy social relationships as they launch into young adulthood. 

FEBRUARY 27 2024: Who am I Being in the Relationship? by Kathy Wrenn

Karen-Marie Yust & Ramona Brand

Powerpoint Presentations:

Nurturing Spirituality in Children

Research About Children and Spirituality

5 Ways to Nurture Spirituality

Russell Barkley, Ph.D. 

Powerpoint Presentation:

School Management of ADHD

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At Work in Our Community

Entre Dos Mundos/Between Two Worlds

We recently concluded “Entre dos Mundos” [Between Two Worlds], an innovative Psychoeducational parent model presented in Spanish. The groups focused on acculturative stress, the effects on youth’s well-being, and challenges and changes in family dynamics.  The groups were offered to several Richmond area agencies that directly service Spanish speaking populations and were facilitated by Dr. Jadig Garcia

Advocates in Parenting’s Entre dos Mundos program was funded by a grant from Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. RMHF is committed to its mission of fostering an equitable and healthy Richmond Region. 

Loving Hands Parenting Group

Advocates in Parenting partnered with the Richmond City Health Department Resource Mothers Program to provide a 10-week Circle of Security® Parenting group for teen mothers.  The purpose of the group was to provide early intervention to increase external support for young mothers and to enhance their attachment towards their infants. The Circle of Security® is a research-based model that has been used around the world to strengthen the attachment between parent and child and to promote healthy emotional development.  Groups were led by a certified Circle of Security® parent facilitator and two co-leaders.  


In addition, adult mentors from the Resource Mothers Program provided transportation, attended the groups with the teen mothers, provided child care as needed, and reinforced Circle of Security® concepts in on-going home visits with the mothers.  An average of 4 to 5 mothers attended the Loving Hands parenting group each week, and approximately half of the participants each week were Latinx.  The curriculum was provided in both English and Spanish to address the diverse needs of the mothers and was modified to emphasize key topics and to allow more time for hands-on activities.  For example, mothers and infants participated in activities together to promote bonding and mutual enjoyment.  

Advocates in Parenting provided food and craft supplies, materials for mothers in both English and Spanish, and pre and post-test measures.  In addition to these material donations, Advocates in Parenting donated the time of the group co-leaders and research coordinator.  


Leadership that Ignites

Executive Director | Sharon Brenner, Ph.D.

A graduate of Duke University, Dr. Brenner earned her PH.D. in clinical psychology from the University Of Washington in Seattle, and went on to complete postdoctoral training at both Duke University and the Virginia Treatment Center for Children.  Dr. Brenner earned a National Research Service Award, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.  In this position, she was trained in the systematic analysis and evaluation of mental health services and their associated public policy issues, with a specific focus on national survey data of children involved in the child welfare system.  She has gone on to publish numerous professional articles and is a reviewer for prestigious psychology journals including the Journal of Child and Family Studies and the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.  In addition to her active research interests, Dr. Brenner is a practicing psychologist who incorporates attachment and family systems theories, along with cognitive behavioral therapy and emotion-focused therapy techniques. We are fortunate indeed to welcome Dr. Brenner as she brings this wealth of scientific knowledge, research acumen, and clinical skill to her new leadership position as Director of Advocates in Parenting. 

Meet The Board

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Anne Hayes, Treasurer

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Anne earned a BA in English from the University of Virginia and law degree from William and Mary. After clerking for the Supreme Court of Virginia, Anne practiced law for several years at Hirschler, Fleischer, Weinberg, Cox & Allen. While raising two daughters, Anne has enjoyed volunteering with various organizations, including Maggie Walker PTSA Advocacy, Community Tax Law Project, and St Paul’s Episcopal Church.  


Jennine Moritz, Secretary

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Dr. Moritz received her Bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of the South – Sewanee. She completed her graduate training in Clinical Psychology at the University of South Florida, where she received her Master's and Doctoral Degrees in Clinical Psychology, with a minor in Community and Family Public Health. She served as Training Director for the Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC), part of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System for seven years.  She continues to serve as Assistant Clinical Professor in the VCU Department of Psychiatry and teaches and supervises predoctoral psychology interns at VTCC.  

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Cheryl Groce-Wright,

Board Member

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Cheryl Groce-Wright has held positions in youth programing and development, fund-raising, academic and social science research, substance abuse and family counseling, and college student development.  She earned her undergraduate degree in communications from the State University of NY at Oswego, her master’s degree of education in Psychological Services from the University of Pennsylvania, and her master’s degree of business administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Debbie Blackburn,

Board Member

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Dr. Blackburn received her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia.  She completed her internship at the Medical College of Georgia.  She then returned to Richmond in 1989 joining the psychiatry faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System where she continues to teach and supervise psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows.  

1617 Monument Avenue, Suite 202

Richmond, VA 23220

(804) 442-7192

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