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June 2017Vol. 18, No. 4Webinar Looks at Implementation of Parent Partner Programs to Support Reunification

Parent partner mentoring programs that help families navigate the child welfare system through peer-to-peer supports are a key component of successful family reunification efforts. A recent webinar hosted by the Children's Bureau's Capacity Building Center for States (the Center) looks at how to develop and implement parent partner programs that support reunification work. 

Parent partners are effective mentors and advocates for families working toward reunification because they are typically individuals who were formerly involved with the child welfare system. Parent partners can share stories of the challenges they went through in order to put their lives and families back together—and inspire similar outcomes in those they are mentoring. They are most often individuals who have shown tremendous personal growth and who use their experience to coach and help build self-advocacy skills in parents who are new to the system.

Parent partners help families through early engagement and peer-to-peer mentoring, which can help reduce social isolation and improve access to relevant services. They can function as a bridge between parents, caregivers, child welfare agency staff, and the courts and play an important role during the postreunification period by providing encouragement and support.

The webinar provides child welfare professionals with an overview of parent partner programs and how these programs can benefit parents and children and ultimately support reunification. The presenters include Jennifer Marcelli, program area manager for foster care at the Center; Taffy Compain, national foster care specialist at the Children’s Bureau; Corey B. Best, family engagement manager with Healthy Start Coalition of Flagler and Volusia Counties, Inc.; and Denise Moore, Des Moines service area coordinator for the Iowa Department Of Human Services Parent Partner Program.

The presenters discuss the importance of building capacity to sustain successful peer-to-peer support programs through developing and influencing agency capacity, family capacity, relationship-building, culture, and climate; choosing the appropriate model for implementation—whether through a child welfare agency, nonprofit organization, or legal aid staff; compensation, skill-building, and promotions for parent partners; parent partner roles and responsibilities; how to engage community partners; and use of the Parent Partner Navigator tool to assist states and jurisdictions in setting up programs.

"Implementing Parent Partner Programs and Supporting Reunification" was produced as part of the 2016 National Foster Care Month initiative and can be accessed at

To learn more about parent partner programs, listen to the Children's Bureau podcast, "Developing and Sustaining a Parent Partner Program," which is available at