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June 2022Vol. 23, No. 5NTDC Expands Parenting Paradigm to Help Foster, Kinship, and Adoptive Parents Better Understand Their Role

Written by April Dinwoodie 

Becoming a foster, kinship, or adoptive parent to children from backgrounds of loss, separation, and trauma is a transformational experience that requires ongoing learning and development. Perhaps one of the biggest areas of difficulty that parents who foster encounter is understanding their role related to reunification and specifically how they are supposed to engage with the child's family.

As a result of this need, the National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents (NTDC) has dedicated two of its classroom-based trainings to this topic: "Reunification – The Primary Permanency Planning Goal" and "Foster Care – A Means to Support Families." "Preparing for and Managing Visitation," one of the 15 NTDC right-time trainings that allow parents to guide their learning outside of classroom-based training, also helps to prepare families as they navigate visits in support of reunification.

The classroom-based theme, "Reunification – The Primary Permanency Planning Goal," helps prospective families learn about their role in relation to the following:
  • Reunification as the primary goal for all children entering the foster care system
  • Caring for children while at the same time preparing them to return home
  • Working with birth families to achieve reunification
  • Concurrent planning
Other relevant classroom-based themes include "Foster Care – A means to Support Families" and "Maintaining Children's Connections With Siblings, Extended Family Members, and their Community." While there are specific themes related to reunification, the importance of connections to the child's family is woven throughout the entire curriculum.  

The right-time theme, "Preparing for and Managing Visitation," helps parents do the following:
  • Understand how to check-in on and address children's concerns, questions, and emotions before and after visits with birth families
  • Understand how to prepare children for visitations
  • Recognize the importance of visits even if children exhibit behaviors before or after the visits
  • Become aware of language to use with children when visits are missed or cancelled 
The following is what parents that participated in the curriculum had to say: 
  • "The training helped me have a lot more empathy towards the parents. And I think the temptation is to look down upon them. But when you think about all the trauma that they have most likely experienced, I feel like it has brought a lot of things full circle in having more compassion for the parents."
  • "NTDC training definitely changed our perspective on the biological parents and actually wanting to root for them."
NTDC draws on the knowledge of those with lived experience while challenging the existing perceptions and parenting beliefs of those who are just starting their journey in becoming a foster or adoptive parent. NTDC guides families through a process of self-reflection through the use of a self-assessment. Participants rate their level of comfort and skill based on characteristics and competencies that research indicates are critical for foster and adoptive families.  

They then participate in classroom training that utilizes both self-directed and transformative learning to further develop their understanding of the needs of the children and youth coming into their home and how they may need to adapt their parenting strategies to build relationships that support the well-being of all. The final component of NTDC is right-time training, which is available to families as they grow with the child and face additional parenting challenges after placement and postadoption, supporting ongoing learning and application.

Available this June, NTDC is a modern educational approach to engaging and educating prospective and current foster, kinship, and adoptive parents. Informed by research and highlighting the voices of parents, professionals, and youth, the NTDC offers transformational, multimedia training experiences that help families understand their role in caring for children and builds new and necessary parenting skills that ultimately expand the parenting paradigm. 

Contact Sue Cohick for more information at