You can see them printed on the sides of buses, the windows of businesses, and bumper stickers slapped on the tail ends of cars around Bakersfield.
“Parents take their children to the library regularly and read to them daily, beginning when they’re infants and continue until they’re reading on their own.”
“Parents don’t excuse or make excuses for their children’s poor behavior.”
“Parents allow their children to make mistakes and see to it they learn from them.”
Those are the simple types of parenting tips that David Dooley wants every mother and father in Kern County to know. Affected five years ago by Child Review Death Team reports published annually — studies that catalogue potentially negligent children deaths countywide — Dooley set out to prevent more.
“I made a commitment to myself that I wanted to do something to prevent these worst kinds of child abuses, and I reasoned that the child abuse was a result of horrendous, awful parenting,” Dooley said. “The way to improve the quality of parenting is through education.”
He focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences, addressing the problem by elevating the quality of parenting. His method? Plastering 50 simple parenting tips around Bakersfield. He calls his nonprofit Advancing Parenting.
It’s built on the idea that one of the most effective public health advances would be to improve parenting skills across the country, he said.
It started humbly, with Dooley begging businesses door to door to hang his parenting tips in their storefront windows. He’s since expanded, recently striking a deal with Golden Empire Transit to put the tips on buses around town, made possible through a $2,500 grant from First 5 Kern.
But for now, that’s all the outreach Dooley can afford. His nonprofit is out of cash, he said, but with hundreds of order forms for bumper stickers and window tips still sitting on his desk waiting to be fulfilled.
“We are desperate for funding and donations,” Dooley said.
His goal is to get all 50 parenting tips plastered on billboards permanently throughout the country on a rotating basis.
“Hopefully it will make a difference,” Dooley said. “I believe it will.”