Education: Parents Place, Inc.
Skip to Content
United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Kathy at Parents Place, Inc.

Education: Parents Place, Inc.

Main Content

Image of two people in hallway with play overlay button


Parenting is the most important job that there is. But with little recognition and truly long hours, it can wear you down, reflecting negatively on your parenting skills and on your child. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It doesn't mean that you care any less or love your child any less. It just means that you may need some help.

Parents Place, Inc. in Waukesha recognizes the needs of families and provides support to them through some of the most challenging times. They focus on strengthening families and protecting children through prevention, intervention, and education in Southeastern Wisconsin. What began as a grassroots response to child abuse and neglect in 1983, Parents Place is now in their 40th year and is a leader for child advocacy on a local, state, and national scale.

Families come to Parents Place for many reasons. Whatever the reason a family would contact Parents Place, the organization knows that, even though it can be about the child’s needs, it’s really about the parents’ needs.Kathy and Raquel at Parents Place

“We really do have to look at the parents’ needs,” said Kathy Duffek, Parent Educator at Parents Place. “Because if their needs aren't addressed, if they’re stressed to the limit, overwhelmed with life, struggling with their own mental health issues, it's hard to be there for your kids.”

It starts with something simple: learning a parent’s goal and what brought them to Parents Place. There is no judgement and no rush to find an answer. It simply begins with listening to the parent, being there for them, and understanding them.

“Most parents truly do love their children and they want to do what's right by them,” said Kathy. “But they are so frustrated, they're lashing out themselves in all the wrong ways. I always feel it's got to be very, very humbling to reach out and ask for help, which is why we as staff recognize that. We realize they're at their worst possible moment. They consider themselves failures as parents. So, when they call us, I strongly believe that we must have the utmost compassion. Because how would we feel if we had to reach out to ask someone, ‘Tell me how to parent’?”

Kathy recalled a success story about a single mom trying to make the best life for both her and her two young daughters; one was 18 months old and acting out while the other was a newborn.

“She just really needed support; she was a mom who had been previously an addict. She was in recovery…she was just alone. She really needed to recognize her own strengths and recognize what a beautiful, wonderful person she really was and how much she could give to these little girls. And she just blossomed.”

Now, with two thriving daughters and a nursing degree nearly under her belt, this mom came a long way with the help from Parents Place. Even though she had wrapped up her program about four years ago, she still meets with Kathy for park playdates with her daughters and joined a support group offered by Parents Place for other mothers, where she is an inspiration and role model. 

Kathy and Raquel at Parents PlaceKathy has worked with hundreds of families through Parents Place, for a variety of reasons. Some come back just for a “refresher course.” She doesn’t measure success in how many families she and Parents Place have helped, or whether they come back. She measures success by looking at a family working together, being present, and building relationships.

Raquel Mehring, Executive Director at Parents Place, credits the staff for the organization’s success, “We've had a long-term success in serving the family, serving the community with our family support programs, but it really is the staff. That do the hard work and they're the ones that make the connections and that's the value: they're showing families their value.”



When you give to United Way, you're not just making a donation. You're changing a life. Kathy, Raquel, and everyone at Parents Place remind us that to live better, we must Live United.