In 2000, PISA (the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment) surveyed educational performance in children from 43 countries around the world.

The survey revealed that even within Germany’s generous welfare state, children from poorer families have very little chance of earning a high school diploma, let alone a university degree. Generally these children have fewer chances of success in life and suffer crucial disadvantages.

The Human Safety Net in Germany has decided to work with local partners to offer parenting courses organized into 20 weekly, 2-hour meetings. The meetings are designed to empower isolated, underprivileged parents to form peer groups in an effort to help them become more responsible mothers and fathers.

The approach employed for the parenting courses is the same all over the country. Weekly 2-hour meetings are organized into a consistent, transparent structure. Parents determine all course content and are active participants in the meetings. Each group includes approximately 8-10 participants, and meetings are offered free of charge. Where appropriate, childcare is provided for the duration of the sessions.

The meetings help parents increase self-efficacy and build strength in their roles as mothers and fathers. They establish networks with other parents, helping reduce social isolation, eliminate neglect and create an environment that can help them build closer bonds with their children.

78% of parents who participated in the program believe they have been able to build a better relationship with their children as a result of the program’s activities.

The program

The first parenting courses started in 2017.
As of May 2018, the program is deployed in four cities and supported by five local partners.


Stadteilzentrum Steglitz e.V.
Lernende Region – Netzwerk Köln e.V.
Herbie e.V. Leipzig
Caritasverband Saarbrücken e.V.
Jugendwerk Aufbau Ost JAO gGmbH

Local activities

For The Human Safety Net for Families, ELTERN-AG is currently partnered with local NGOs in five German cities, emphasizing the importance of empowering parents.

ELTERN-AG is a community-based training program that empowers underprivileged and isolated parents to form peer groups to help them become more responsible mothers and fathers, create a nurturing family atmosphere and the community environment their children need to succeed in school and life. Relying on a “train-the-trainer” methodology, the program engages local NGOs, allowing them to become part of ELTERN-AG and The Human Safety Net.

We believe we can change the world!

Stadtteilzentrum Steglitz has been working in Berlin for over two decades, striving to create better living conditions for local citizens and working with local populations in order to help them achieve their goals and bring their ideas to existence in the best manner possible.

This support takes many forms. Engagement with socially-disadvantaged families is one of the most important. As part of THSN, the partner now conducts ELTERN-AG, combining THSN’s mission and vision to help provide disadvantaged families and their children better chances in life.

Access to education and knowledge for all

With the Lernende Region – Netzwerk Köln joined a big local network The Human Safety Net for families. Focusing on the different prismen of education ELTERN-AG enriches the services of the Lernende Region and brings new opportunties to work with socially disadvantaged families.


We believe we can change the world!

"We decided to become ELTERN-AG trainers in order to accompany parents in an appreciative and unprejudiced way, seizing this chance to participate in a process of positive change.” 
Annett and Lisa – ELTERN-AG trainers in Leipzig with their puppets Oskar and Pepe.

We believe we can change the world!

Caritas Saarbrücken was one of the first local partners to join The Human Safety Net’s For Families program in Germany. It’s extensive history of charitable work makes Caritas Saarbrücken a strong partner for socially disadvantaged families.

"It's great to see how parents enrich and communicate with ELTERN-AG through their different cultural backgrounds.” – Elisa, an ELTERN-AG trainer in Saarbrücken.

"There are things I don’t like to do with my child, for example going shopping. We talked about this in ELTERN-AG and I learned that there are still advantages in doing things like that together. The other parents suggested I try making a game of it, and I’m going to try doing that.” – Hans, a parent in Saarbrücken.

The route is the goal

Based on seven years of successful cooperation within one of the most socially-challenged areas in Berlin, JAO and ELTERN-AG have now teamed up with THSN to establish a new ELTERN-AG program in another difficult are of the city.

“It's great to see how parents learn and develop during the program. They become friends, supporting each each other in everyday life too.” - Rene, a trainer at ELTERN-AG.

Parents build networks through ELTERN-AG, making the program and its local partners an excellent foundation for The Human Safety Net’s For Families program in Germany. Together we can unlock the potential of disadvantaged families!