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July/August 2022Vol. 23, No. 6NTDC Expands Parenting Paradigm to Help Foster, Kinship, and Adoptive Parents Better Understand Healthy Sexual Development and Identity

Written By April Dinwoodie 

The National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents (NTDC) is a modern educational approach to engaging and educating prospective and current foster, kinship, and adoptive parents. Available in June 2022, NTDC—which is informed by research and highlights the voices of parents, professionals, and youth—offers transformational, multimedia training experiences to help families understand their role in caring for children and build new and necessary parenting skills that ultimately expand the parenting paradigm. 

Supporting the healthy sexual development and identity of youth requires parents and professionals to learn, grow, and continually expand their understanding of sexuality and relationships in nonjudgmental ways. Taking this to heart, the NTDC team has created specific content and tools for parents that address these foundational elements.

Within the comprehensive curriculum, NTDC's right-time training (RTT) provides ongoing learning and skills development for participants by offering additional themes that are not covered in the classroom-based training. RTT is applicable to parents who are fostering or adopting children they are not related to, kinship caregivers, foster and adoptive parents who are American Indian/Alaska Native, and parents who have adopted privately domestically or via the intercountry process.

Specifically, RTT includes tools, such as mini-podcasts, videos, and written content that provide an overview of healthy sexual development and how to talk to children about their sexual development and relationships. The tools address some of the needs children who have experienced trauma, loss, or separation may have in developing a positive, healthy identity relative to their sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. They also provide strategies for parents to use in supporting this development. 

Informed by professionals and those with lived experience, the Healthy Sexual Development and Identity RTT helps parents and caregivers to do the following:
  • Understand and build awareness of definitions and language
  • Become familiar with the differences between sex and gender, gender expression and gender identity, and sexual orientation and gender
  • Know how to help children and teenagers develop strategies to handle bias and discrimination
  • Understand nonbinary gender identities
  • Help teenagers understand healthy sexual relationships
The My Story Mini Podcast series is a signature learning tool that delivers short-form audio content that busy parents can access when they need it. One of the most powerful episodes in the series features Jarel Melendez, a youth formerly in foster care who had to navigate healthy sexual identity and sexual development coupled with the challenges of family separation and moves from state to state.  You can listen to the full episode here.

For more information about the NTDC, contact Sue Cohick at