The Parent Partner Approach
What is the Parent Partner Approach?
Parent Partners Approach celebrates individuals that have overcome obstacles through change, recovery, and accountability by using their skills to mentor families who are currently navigating through DHS as their children are in foster or kinship care. Parent Partners demonstrate advocacy and effective communication, while holding families accountable in meeting their case plan goals.
Parent Partners are selected based upon their interpersonal skills, successes, and proven abilities to overcome obstacles. Parent Partners have been involved with the Department of Human Services (DHS) due to child protection issues. At one time, their children were removed from their primary care and have since been successfully reunified. This includes parents who could only reside with their children under special conditions directed by the courts (i.e. substance abuse treatment or relative care).
Often Parent Partners have had personal experience with domestic violence, substance abuse, and or mental health issues. It is these experiences that make Parent Partners so beneficial to families who are currently receiving DHS services due to child protection issues. Parent Partners are able to offer hope, realistic advice, and advocacy for families. In addition, they form a critical link between the DHS worker, other professionals, and the family.
The DHS caseworker assists a parent who is interested in being matched with a parent partner mentor by providing them the contact information for the Parent Partner Coordinator for the local area. Parent Partners collaborate with social workers, counselors, attorneys and providers to meet the needs of families, assist in policy and program development, change perceptions in communities, and facilitate trainings and learning opportunities.
Parent Partners are not there to fix another parent. They are not counselors. Parent Partners are a role model, a mentor, a resource and a support. A parent’s request for a parent partner mentor is voluntary and the parent may end involvement.
The Parent Partner will:
• Work intensively with birth parents (parents of children in care) to promote engagement in case plan activities.
• Help maintain connections between parents and children while in out of home care.
• Share insight and understanding about their own personal experiences that may help the birth parents be successful in their own reunification efforts.
• Assist in the goal of reunification and/or the development of appropriate alternative permanent plans.
• Provide a sense of hope and inspiration to parents in the "system."
• Connect parents with resources.
• Provide encouragement, outreach and support.
• Work with Parent Partner team (Parent Partner coordinator, child welfare case worker, planning committees).
• Parent Partner mentors do not provide childcare, transportation children or supervise visits.
The Parent Partners are reimbursed for their time and travel and are asked for at least a one-year commitment to mentor at least two families. Parent Partners commit to working with a family for a minimum of 7-10 hours a month. The Parent Partner Program provides training, support, and ongoing education for Parent Partners. Parent Partners also meet with the Parent Partner Coordinator weekly for supervision to discuss ongoing issues and case concerns. Clinical Supervision is provided for Parent Partner on at least a monthly basis for clinical issues that arise in the provision of services. This will be in a group setting. Individual consultation can be set up as needed.
All Parent Partner mentors need to meet the follow eligibility requirement:
• Have been reunited with children for at least one year. Training may be started after six months of reunification.
• Have had at least one year to resolve issues related to termination of parental rights, or other permanency decisions where children were not reunited with the prospective Parent Partner.
• Have a healthy and stable family situation with no current child welfare involvement for safety issues.
• Have no founded child abuse report since assuming the role of Parent Partner or Parent Partner in Training.
• Have some flexibility to attend meetings and co-facilitate groups.
• Have been substance free for one year if substance abuse was an issue
• Participate in all mandated training as well as individual and group supervision,including clinical supervision.
• Agree to share their experiences as a learning tool with other parents, community partners, and child welfare staff.
• Will be disqualified if any of the following apply:
Founded sexual abuse, listed on the sex abuse registry, convicted in the death of a child.
Refer to the Parent Partners web site for Handbook, additional information.