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June 2024Vol. 25, No. 5The Role of Parent Partner Programs in Supporting Prevention and Reunification

A brief from Casey Family Programs discusses the positive impacts of parent partner programs in child welfare, such as offering guidance and hope to parents navigating challenging circumstances. Focusing on reunification, these programs provide support by drawing on the firsthand experiences of individuals who have already experienced the child welfare system. Research underscores the effectiveness of these programs, indicating higher rates of reunification among parents who participate compared to those who do not.

The brief covers several aspects of parent partner programs:

  • How parents benefit
  • What research says
  • How parent partner programs are structured
  • How parent partner programs are funded
  • What to consider during implementation

The brief also highlights three parent partner programs: Parents Anonymous, the Kentucky Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team (START) Program, and Iowa's Parent Partner Program. These initiatives offer tailored support and resources to parents, empowering them to navigate the complexities of the child welfare system and work toward reunification:

  • Parents Anonymous offers support groups, parent partner services, and helpline support to parents and caregivers facing challenges in an effort to mitigate the impact of and prevent adverse childhood experiences.
  • The Kentucky START Program pairs child welfare workers and family mentors to work with families to provide quick access to intensive substance use treatment. Decision-making involves all team members, focusing on child safety, permanency, and parental sobriety.
  • Iowa's Parent Partner Program matches parents involved in the system with mentors who have successfully navigated similar challenges. The program seeks to help families access community resources. Each mentor commits to working with a family for 7 to 10 hours monthly, with up to 15 parents per mentor.

Research shows that all three programs produced positive outcomes. Parents Anonymous participants were significantly less likely to have a subsequent child maltreatment referral and substantiated maltreatment finding. Participants in both the Kentucky START Program and Iowa's Parent Partner Program showed higher rates of reunification compared to those who were not in the program.

Visit the Casey Family Programs website to read How Do Parent Partner Programs Instill Hope and Support Prevention and Reunification? For more information on the importance of implementing parent voice in child welfare and early childhood systems, read "New Resource Emphasizes Value of Parent Voice" from the April 2024 edition of Children's Bureau Express.