Our Partners

PEP - Parents Empowering Parents program

For more information about PEP or upcoming workshops in your area, please contact Rachel Leslie at rleslie@hemophilia.ca


The PEPTalk e-newsletter goes out regularly with the goal being to raise awareness about the program and to create stronger community. Please find links to past issues below:

August 2017

May 2017

February 2017

November 2016

October 2016

August 2016

July 2016


PEP International Breakfast during WFH Congress 2016

The traditional twentieth anniversary gift is china, so we piled our china plates high from the breakfast buffet at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida.  What better way to celebrate two decades of parenting progress than with our friends and program designers from around the world at the World Hemophilia Federation Congress.  Eggs and excitement, pancakes and pride, coffee and companionship; we had it all.
“Parents Empowering Parents” was represented by delegates from its country of origin, the USA, plus comrades from Canada, Ireland, Israel, South Africa, New Zealand and many more! The newest success story was the number of places PEP is offered in India.  Friends who had not seen each other in years reconnected with catch-up stories, new ideas and plans for future sessions.   The celebration breakfast recognized those who have been working with parents who seek encouragement and support from experienced mothers and fathers who have already carried their children through the trials of growing up with an inherited bleeding disorder.

Danna Merritt, Ed Kuebler and Madeline Cantini brought this dynamic parenting program to Canada in 2009.  It was a time of training the trainers who would bring the written content alive during flexible sessions demonstrating best practices, customizing ideas for individual circumstances and working with other family members to create consistent and productive strategies for raising emotionally and socially stronger children who live with hemophilia or similar disorders.  That weekend in Montreal would change the options our Canadian parents would have for years to come.

One of the more recent advances has been the translation of major portions of the program into French so we can reach more of our Canadian families in their first language.  Each year more programs are added in communities across Canada, organized by the social workers and nurse coordinators in the comprehensive care clinics in each province.  The meeting of representatives from around the world in Orlando assured us that this program is still reaching its goal of empowering parents to empower even more parents.  It was a special and nostalgic moment during the congress to dine together and rekindle our promise to strengthen and encourage mothers and fathers to stay strong and know they do not have to feel alone but can laugh and learn together.  -Lawry MacLeod

What is PEP?

What is PEP?
Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) is a program designed to promote effective parenting skills to parents of children with hemophilia, and to educate and support parents through classroom discussions and exercises. Written originally in 1995, the program has spread across the United States, and is has moved into the international bleeding community. Over a thousand parents have been through the program!

The Story of PEP International

Why is PEP so valuable to parents?

Raising a child with a genetic bleeding disorder is a significant challenge that impacts the entire family. The PEP program was designed to address this need by affirming positive parent/child behaviors while focusing on the unique problems faced by parents of children with bleeding disorders.

What are the goals of the program?

The PEP program is designed to enhance the therapeutic relationship between parent, child and treatment staff; increase the parents' understanding of the child's bleeding disorder; heighten the parents' ability to respond objectively and consistently to bleeding episodes; and provide the parent with the skills necessary to effectively parent the child at the earliest age possible.

What are some of the topics PEP covers?

The program addresses many important issues, including the impact of bleeding disorders on child development; understanding and dealing with frustrations, anger and other feelings; compassionate discipline; child management skills; building self-esteem and confidence; parenting styles; and parent/family communication.

How is the course designed?

The program usually takes place over a 2 1/2 day weekend, but can also been held over 2 Saturdays or in conjunction with clinic visits or family weekends. The Hemophilia Treatment Centre (HTC) team is involved with inviting parents who they feel would be receptive to the program.  Most of the attendees expenses are paid through funding support from Bayer.  CHS chapters  contribute towards the expenses of the weekend and each parent couple is asked to pay a $ 25 registration fee.   The training team includes trained parents who have children with bleeding disorders, along with professionals from the treatment center. This team approach combines the strengths of peer support with professional expertise which in turn reflects the comprehensive treatment center model.

Who created PEP?

The PEP program was created in 1995 and co-authored by Danna Merritt, LMSW, MSW, a social worker from the Children's Hospital of Michigan with consultation with the Treatment Center Staff at Children's Hospital of Michigan, and Sandra Joseph, Ph.D., the director of MapleTree Counseling Centers in Livonia, Michigan. To keep it current, Danna Merritt, along with the members of the National PEP Steering Committee, have recently revised the content of the program and the parent manuals. 

PEP in Canada

The PEP program in Canada is sponsored by Bayer. The PEP program was introduced to Canada in 2009 when the US PEP training team delivered a Train the Trainer workshop to a group of Canadian parents, HTC social workers and nurses. To date there are 22 PEP facilitators (11 of which are parents) who have been trained to deliver local parent workshops. In 2010 this group of trained PEP facilitators delivered parent workshops in 4 regions (BC/Alberta, Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Ontario and the Atlantic). In 2011 a 2nd Train the Trainer workshop was held and parent workshops were held in BC/Alberta and the Atlantic. In 2012 regional parent workshops took place in Ontario and in 2013, they were held in Manitoba, Alberta and Nova Scotia. In 2014, a workshop was held in Atlantic Canada, in 2015 in Ontario and in 2016 in Alberta. By the end of 2017, workshops will have been held in Saskatchewan, and the Atlantic provinces and the 1st french-language PEP will be held in Quebec.


It is very rewarding to see the participants’ relationships  and confidence grow over their time together.  The communication, problem solving, conflict management and emotional awareness skills learned in the program are invaluable in parenting, but also in all other relationships. And, we have some great laughs!    -social worker

I have used the PEP program in my own parenting and as a facilitator, I have seen it be very helpful to other families.  Attending a PEP session allowed me to share many of the same parenting challenges that come with having a child with an inherited bleeding disorder, and benefit from other families’ experiences. My own extended family and friends can’t understand the way other CHS families do.     -parent/facilitator

The facilitators were exceptional with their experience, knowledge, and their ability to read the crowd and adjust pace

Overall, although most parents were already well educated about bleeding disorders, they expanded their knowledge and benefited from the interaction, learning and bonding with other parents of similar experiences.
-social worker

I especially enjoyed the range of parental experience from newborn to teenager as well as cultural range

I believe in this program, and feel that there are so many more families out there that could benefit from it. I have over the last year spent many weeks reaching out to find people that are going through the same thing as us. I have made so many close friends and connections and this was probably the most effective.

The PEP program is excellent for all the new families and all the families who are already part of the bleeding disorders family, lots of good info.