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March 2011Vol. 12, No. 2Successful Parent Leadership in Child Welfare

When parents are given the opportunity to serve as leaders within the child welfare system, parents and agency staff can form partnerships to share responsibility for the design, implementation, and evaluation of services for families. Involving parents as leaders, not just advisors, requires ongoing staff commitment and the establishment of policies and practices that encourage parent leadership.

The FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention recently published Meaningful Parent Leadership: A Guide for Success to help State and local child abuse prevention, family support, and child welfare agencies develop models for engaging parents as stakeholders and leaders. The guide defines parent and practitioner roles, reviews the principles of collaborative leadership, and discusses the elements of successful parent leadership. According to the guide, creating a culture of true parent leadership in child welfare requires the following steps:

  • Assess and improve agency/staff readiness
  • Identify, recruit, and retain parent leaders
  • Provide appropriate roles for parent leaders and recognize their contributions
  • Address culture, diversity, and special needs

Appendices to the guide offer successful State models of parent leadership and numerous tools to assess personal and organizational readiness. Download the guide on the FRIENDS website: (2137 KB)

Related Items

FRIENDS provides a training guide, self-assessments, and additional tools and publications in the Parent Leadership and Involvement section of the FRIENDS website:

The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections offers links to websites, webinars, bibliographies, examples from the States, and more resources in the Family Leadership and Perspectives section of its website: