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June 2007Vol. 8, No. 5Parent Mentors in Child Welfare

A child welfare program that matches former clients with parents new to the system is showing promise for increasing parent engagement and support. In Contra Costa County, CA, parents who have successfully navigated the child welfare system and reunited with their children are selected, hired, and trained as parent advocates who can work within the system to provide mentoring and support to other parents dealing with child welfare issues. This Parent Partners program is described in a recent article in Child Welfare.

Trained Parent Partners are able to help parents new to the child welfare system by:

  • Sharing their own experiences and modeling appropriate and empowering behavior
  • Connecting parents with appropriate resources, often providing a personal contact
  • Serving as contacts at court hearings and team decision-making meetings
  • Serving as a link between parents and the child welfare system
  • Expanding the parents' social networks

An extra benefit of the Parent Partners program is the impact it has made on child welfare staff and the agency's organizational climate. Having the paid Parent Partners on the staff and in nearby office cubicles has promoted more positive language about parents by caseworkers, as well as greater sensitivity to parent concerns and perspectives. This shift in attitudes may contribute to a more family-centered organization.

Read about the Parent Partners program in "Closer to Home: Parent Mentors in Child Welfare," by Edward Cohen and Linda Canan, in the September/October 2006 issue of Child Welfare. For information on abstracts and subscriptions, visit the Child Welfare League of America website: