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Parents as Partners in Child Welfare. National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System National Parents’ Attorneys.

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Presentation on theme: "Parents as Partners in Child Welfare. National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System National Parents’ Attorneys."— Presentation transcript:

1 Parents as Partners in Child Welfare

2 National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System National Parents’ Attorneys Conference May 2009 Policy Issues Practice Tips Next Conference: July , 2011 Michigan Practice Study Study of parent representation Onsite visits from ABA staff in 4 counties Specific recommendations National Reunification Day June 19, 2010 Goal to celebrate families and raise awareness about the importance of reunification Training and Technical Assistance ABA staff available for consultation and training at local and national level Experts available to consult and train

3 What is a Parent Partner? Parent advocates, parent mentors, veteran parents Have experienced the child welfare system and been successfully reunited with their children for a period of time Support a parent currently in the system by accompanying them to court hearings and agency meetings, helping them access services, and encouraging self advocacy

4 Why Are We Talking About Parent Partners? Often, what is in the best interests of the child is being with the parents; what is good for kids is being with family. “Kids aren’t the only ones who need help.” ~ A parent in Washington State

5 MIT study (phase 1): children in care 3x more likely to be involved in juvenile justice system girls in care more likely to become teen mothers children in care less likely to hold a job as young adults for at least 3 months

6 MIT study (phase 2): children in care had 2x - 3x higher arrest, conviction, and imprisonment rate than similarly maltreated children who remained at home

7 University of Minnesota study (2006): children in care exhibited significant increases in behavior problems

8 Wisconsin study (1995/1996; 1998) looked at 250 children aging out of care 52% reported feeling very close or somewhat close with their birth family 74% reported visits with their birth mother in the 12 months prior to the interview 55% had visited their birth mother at least once since discharge 35% had visited their birth father at least once since discharge

9 Parent Partner Models Law Firm/Clinic Model County Agency Model CWOP Model

10 Law Firm/Clinic Model  Center for Family Representation uses Community Advocacy Team (CAT) approach – attorney, social worker, parent advocate has contract from Family Court in Manhattan to represent families, served 700 families in 2008

11 advocates are full-time employees who collaborate on the case with the attorney and social worker help parents access services and accompany them to hearings and meetings

12 County Agency Model  Jefferson County (KY) county-based program, original demonstration site for Annie E. Casey Family to Family Initiative families assigned an advocate either have children under 5, are involved with CPS for the first time, or live in a “high removal rate area”

13 advocates are part-time employees who receive stipend for providing direct services to parents and additional stipends for training encourage parents to participate in case planning, provide information about the child welfare system, and offer support, resource linkage, and modeling

14 CWOP Model  Child Welfare Organizing Project (CWOP) offices in three NYC neighborhoods uses Parent Leadership Curriculum to prepare parents to work at CWOP and other private and public agencies as parent advocates

15 hosts meetings to educate parents about the child welfare process and advocacy: weekly peer-led support and self-help groups, monthly general interest meetings on a topic of interest, and parent/organizer/attorney-led parents’ rights workshops in substance abuse programs, halfway houses, and shelters

16 some advocates are full-time employees; others trained by CWOP work as advocates in other locations works with parents to help them share their experiences through publications

17 What Do Parents and Parent Partners Say?  A Parent Partner provides “a place where parents, even in the midst of turmoil, can connect with another parent... the moment that your child is removed from the home, someone who is there right away.”

18  “The attorney is busy with the court process and can only do so much. What happens to the rest of the process? The parent is going to be lost without someone to encourage her and show her how to succeed.”

19  “Some caseworkers don’t understand that to help the child, you have to help the parent. They also have a lot to do to make sure the child is safe in foster care and cannot always guide and support the parent. Plus, parents don’t always trust the agency that removed their children, so they try to do everything on their own.”

20 What Do the Numbers Say? Center for Family Representation  Average stay for children who entered care was 98 days, compared with NYC average of 11.5 months for children in NYC who reunify within 1 year.  Less than 1% of children reenter care, compared to NYC average of 11.4% who reenter care within 1 year.

21 Center for Family Representation  NYC spends between $18,000 and $49,000 per child per year on foster care costs  Annual cost of CFR teams is between $4000 and $6600 per family

22 Jefferson County (KY)  Children in families with parent advocate had fewer placement moves,.8 v. 1.8 moves, than those who did not have advocate.  Children in families with parent advocate spent less time in care, 10.2 months v months, than those that did not have advocate.

23  Of 202 children whose parent had advocate and left care before 2008, 70.3% were reunified with parents or relatives, as compared to 56.7% of children whose parent did not have advocate.  Of 250 closed cases studied in 2008, 215 did not have subsequent referrals; 25 had substantiated findings within 1 year.

24 Contra Costa County (CA) Center for Social Services Research – UC Berkeley 2009  Parents surveyed reported a higher degree of satisfaction with Parent Partner services: clients reported feeling supported, informed, and empowered.  Parents in focus groups indicated that Parent Partner services were useful, particularly shared experiences, communication, and support.

25  Approximately 60% of children whose parents received services of a Parent Partner reunified within 12 months of removal, compared to 26% of children whose parents did not receive such services.

26 How to Work with a Parent Partner Treat Parent Partners as professionals.Establish roles and expectations.Communicate! Determine what, if any, level of courtroom involvement by Parent Partner is appropriate. Don’t rely on the Parent Partner to do your job.

27 Ethical Issues Don’t have the Parent Partner present when you initially interview a parent client to preserve attorney/client privilege. Is the Parent Partner a mandated reporter? Do your best to ensure that the Parent Partner is not asked to testify or is not subpoenaed.

28 Programs that Train Parents as Policy Advocates and Organizers  Contra Costa County uses Parent Partners to serve on committees and serve as parent’s voice on CFSR uses Parent Partners to work with other professional staff on trainings uses Parent Partners to sit on focus groups and panel discussions for county, state, and national groups

29  Washington State Parent Advocacy Committee parents trained to advocate for child welfare policies that support family reunification focus on housing, background checks, service access

30 Mission Statement Contra Costa County’s The mission of the Parent Partner Program is to help families to develop supportive relationships that will strengthen and support parents and families involved in the child welfare system, and to honor their ability to draw on family strengths and resources in order to facilitate timely permanency for their children.

31 Vision Statement Contra Costa County’s To match families with parent mentors who will provide them with information, support and guidance as they negotiate through the child welfare system.

32 In Contra Costa County we invite parents to participate as Parent Partners in 4 ways: Parent Leaders; Parent Advocates; Parent Trainers; Resource Parent Partners;

33 Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” ~Emerson~

34 Questions:

35 What Can We Do for You? ABA staff/representatives of the Parent Attorney Project  provide networking with other organizations that emphasize parent engagement  provide training and technical assistance on issues involving parent engagement  bring experts to you or send you to observe parent engagement programs for development of local/state programs

36 Contact Us For information about training and technical assistance from the Parent Attorney Project: Mimi Laver: Liz Thornton: For more information about Parent Partners: Diane Boyd Rauber: Parent Attorney Project website:


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