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CO-PARENTING: Challenging ourselves to safely build joint support and transitions for children in care Dependency Summit September 7-9, 2011 Hon. Jeri.

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Presentation on theme: "CO-PARENTING: Challenging ourselves to safely build joint support and transitions for children in care Dependency Summit September 7-9, 2011 Hon. Jeri."— Presentation transcript:

1 CO-PARENTING: Challenging ourselves to safely build joint support and transitions for children in care Dependency Summit September 7-9, 2011 Hon. Jeri Cohen, T. Petkovich, J. Niarchos, J.D. and L.Katz, Ed.D.

2 Multi-Faceted Process Implications for foster families and birth familiesImplications for foster families and birth families Implications for agency policies and proceduresImplications for agency policies and procedures Implications for system changeImplications for system change Implications for training retoolingImplications for training retooling Implications for both overt and hidden agendasImplications for both overt and hidden agendas Implications for legal and statutory complianceImplications for legal and statutory compliance

3 CO-PARENTING SKILLS From the Foster Family Perspective: Know your own family and their feelings Communicate effectively about your comfort zone Know the children Self-evaluate your own understanding of loss and attachment pertaining to the childs emotional needs Seek training that will expand knowledge Ask yourself how you would like to build connections

4 CO-PARENTING Strategize how the process can build self – esteem in the child and the bio familyStrategize how the process can build self – esteem in the child and the bio family Assure yourself that health and safety of the child and foster family will be maintainedAssure yourself that health and safety of the child and foster family will be maintained Jointly monitor the impact of the process as it unfoldsJointly monitor the impact of the process as it unfolds Accept that there needs to be elasticity in the processAccept that there needs to be elasticity in the process

5 CO-PARENTING How does working in partnership with birth parents validate the role of the foster family? Foster parents have the responsibility to provide safe and nurturing homes for the children in our care.Foster parents have the responsibility to provide safe and nurturing homes for the children in our care. Foster parents commit to helping their children grow and develop.Foster parents commit to helping their children grow and develop. Foster parents work with their agency to keep the best interest of the child a priority.Foster parents work with their agency to keep the best interest of the child a priority.

6 CO-PARENTING Identifying the opportunities and challenges inherent in creating a partnership with the birth parents that opens the door to the childs best interests and permanency planning.Identifying the opportunities and challenges inherent in creating a partnership with the birth parents that opens the door to the childs best interests and permanency planning.

7 CO-PARENTING Birth Family Perspective: Components of an effective partnership with foster family: Willingness to work in cooperationWillingness to work in cooperation Effective communicationEffective communication Recognition that both families can make valuable contributions Recognition that both families can make valuable contributions Clear expectations and roles/ boundaries are set and re- examinedClear expectations and roles/ boundaries are set and re- examined Honesty and TrustHonesty and Trust

8 CO-PARENTING Barriers from the birth parents perspectives: Sense of failureSense of failure Lack of confidenceLack of confidence Anger: being judgedAnger: being judged Mistrust of the systemMistrust of the system Personal agendasPersonal agendas

9 CO-PARENTING Overall lack of information sharingOverall lack of information sharing Mistrust of the foster parentMistrust of the foster parent Reluctance to ask for training and supportReluctance to ask for training and support Inconsistent messagesInconsistent messages

10 CO-PARENTING A birth mothers perspective, taken from Believing in Families by Zamosky, Sharp, Hatt and Sharman. The foster families hold all the power…and the state already thinks they can do a better job than me. What chance do I have? They have a better house, more money, and there are two of them and one of me. I feel like they are judging me. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I just gave up … and then I say no, I love my kids and I can be a good mom to them… its all just so hard. The foster families hold all the power…and the state already thinks they can do a better job than me. What chance do I have? They have a better house, more money, and there are two of them and one of me. I feel like they are judging me. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I just gave up … and then I say no, I love my kids and I can be a good mom to them… its all just so hard.

11 CO-PARENTING From the agency perspective: Co-parenting must be a part of every aspect of the system of care: Recruitment (How will this change who we recruit?)Recruitment (How will this change who we recruit?) Training /orientation-MAPPTraining /orientation-MAPP Child placement logisticsChild placement logistics Team meeting/family team conferenceTeam meeting/family team conference Case plan conferencesCase plan conferences Individualizing the expectationsIndividualizing the expectations

12 CO-PARENTING Building a relationship with families necessitates reevaluating and rethinking the way we fundamentally intervene with families. It requires being able to communicate to families our unwavering conviction that birth parents can grow and safely care for their children. Believing in Families - Zamosky, Sharp, Hatt and Sharman

13 CO-PARENTING Co-parenting strategies support the children More child-centeredMore child-centered Less adversarialLess adversarial More organized/Less fragmentedMore organized/Less fragmented Communication framed in neutral termsCommunication framed in neutral terms Reduces childs externalizing behaviorReduces childs externalizing behavior Presents a united parenting front mediates instabilityPresents a united parenting front mediates instability Both parties become active listeners of the childBoth parties become active listeners of the child Information can be shared as opposed to message delivery onlyInformation can be shared as opposed to message delivery only Addresses problems without blameAddresses problems without blame

14 Preliminary Research on Approaches to Co-parenting Basic premise is that childs emotional adjustment to foster care can be best facilitated when there is an acknowledgement that the caregivers will have unequal roles over the life of the case, when they agree that direct communication can help the child, and when they can communicate about potential interpersonal conflict. Basic premise is that childs emotional adjustment to foster care can be best facilitated when there is an acknowledgement that the caregivers will have unequal roles over the life of the case, when they agree that direct communication can help the child, and when they can communicate about potential interpersonal conflict.

15 One Study – Approach to Co-parenting (Linares, Montalto, Li & Oza, 2006 Study in New York examined effects when biological parents and foster parents (non kinship) attended sessions of parenting classes together.Study in New York examined effects when biological parents and foster parents (non kinship) attended sessions of parenting classes together. Pairs of bio and foster parents were randomized into treatment as usual vs. joint interventionPairs of bio and foster parents were randomized into treatment as usual vs. joint intervention Bio parents got 2 hours parenting weekly by themselves and 1 hour jointly with foster parents in the study intervention.Bio parents got 2 hours parenting weekly by themselves and 1 hour jointly with foster parents in the study intervention.

16 Criteria for Participants Substantiated child maltreatment caseSubstantiated child maltreatment case Residence in a non kinship foster homeResidence in a non kinship foster home Goal was reunificationGoal was reunification 64 parent pairs enrolled/randomized64 parent pairs enrolled/randomized Evidence-based curriculum was used (Incredible Years, Webster-Stratton, 2001)Evidence-based curriculum was used (Incredible Years, Webster-Stratton, 2001) Co-facilitated group leaders did bio only and joint groupCo-facilitated group leaders did bio only and joint group

17 Study Protocol Assessments were done at baseline, post completion and at 3 months follow-upAssessments were done at baseline, post completion and at 3 months follow-up Goal of joint sessions: expand knowledge of each other, practiced open communication, negotiated inter-parental topics of conflict such as discipline, bedtimesGoal of joint sessions: expand knowledge of each other, practiced open communication, negotiated inter-parental topics of conflict such as discipline, bedtimes Fidelity to the curriculum was monitored through taped sessions looking at format and group processFidelity to the curriculum was monitored through taped sessions looking at format and group process

18 Assessments Parenting Practices Interview (Webster-Stratton, 1998)Parenting Practices Interview (Webster-Stratton, 1998) Family Functioning Style Scale(Dunst, Trivette and Deal, 1998)Family Functioning Style Scale(Dunst, Trivette and Deal, 1998) Child Behavior Check List (Achenbach,1991)Child Behavior Check List (Achenbach,1991) HOME (Caldwell & Bradley, 1984)HOME (Caldwell & Bradley, 1984) Additional child behavior inventoriesAdditional child behavior inventories Session Attendance Session Attendance

19 Outcomes For intervention group there was endorsement by both sets of parents for use of positive disciplineFor intervention group there was endorsement by both sets of parents for use of positive discipline Both groups demonstrated clearer understanding of appropriate developmental expectationsBoth groups demonstrated clearer understanding of appropriate developmental expectations Higher degree of flexibilityHigher degree of flexibility Consensus on less externalizing behaviors of the childConsensus on less externalizing behaviors of the child

20 Implications for Practice** Co-parenting approaches should incorporate structured strategies for how the pairs of parents will interact effectivelyCo-parenting approaches should incorporate structured strategies for how the pairs of parents will interact effectively Participation of both sets of parents in some joint trainings is one strategyParticipation of both sets of parents in some joint trainings is one strategy Gain buy-in from the agencies and child welfare that the benefits are understood but that the challenges will occurGain buy-in from the agencies and child welfare that the benefits are understood but that the challenges will occur

21 Implications for Practice Conceptually having the pairs of parents on the same page can support the childs emotional well-beingConceptually having the pairs of parents on the same page can support the childs emotional well-being Training would need to include trust building and structured procedures for how all would communicate and interactTraining would need to include trust building and structured procedures for how all would communicate and interact Shows promise as a strategy to support best interests of the child.Shows promise as a strategy to support best interests of the child.

22 Where do we go next? Development of agency protocols for foster families and biological families so that interactions occur in an organized, agreed upon manner.Development of agency protocols for foster families and biological families so that interactions occur in an organized, agreed upon manner. Clarification of roles and responsibilitiesClarification of roles and responsibilities Define what co-parenting looks like in our community and how it is to be implemented.Define what co-parenting looks like in our community and how it is to be implemented. Challenges and impedimentsChallenges and impediments

23 Health and permanency Opportunities To Learn Adequate Shelter and Nourishment Safe Homes Safe Environments Secure Attachment Relationships BU

24 Co-Parenting Is a strategy where foster parents work in partnership with the childs birth parents toward the goal of reunification. This team approach to parenting allows both families to bring their strengths to focus on the well-being of the child and allows the child to focus on growing, learning, playing and developing to his/her potential during a difficult time.Is a strategy where foster parents work in partnership with the childs birth parents toward the goal of reunification. This team approach to parenting allows both families to bring their strengths to focus on the well-being of the child and allows the child to focus on growing, learning, playing and developing to his/her potential during a difficult time. Benefits of Co-Parenting: Puts the minds of the birth parents at ease to meet the people who are caring for their children.Puts the minds of the birth parents at ease to meet the people who are caring for their children. Gives the parents access to asking personal questions of the caregivers about the children's mental and physical health as well as school, day care and everyday happenings.Gives the parents access to asking personal questions of the caregivers about the children's mental and physical health as well as school, day care and everyday happenings.

25 Benefits of Co-parenting - continued Encourages the birth parents that the caregivers of their children are working with them to obtain reunification by encouraging positive parenting with their children.Encourages the birth parents that the caregivers of their children are working with them to obtain reunification by encouraging positive parenting with their children. Provides the family engagement team with 24/7 knowledge of how the process is affecting the children and their relationship to the birth parents.Provides the family engagement team with 24/7 knowledge of how the process is affecting the children and their relationship to the birth parents. Is the stepping stone to support the birth parents in continued communication with their children in a more natural environment than the supervised visits, whether it be telephone communication, unsupervised visits, accompanying the foster parent to doctor visits and school events and/or meetings etc.Is the stepping stone to support the birth parents in continued communication with their children in a more natural environment than the supervised visits, whether it be telephone communication, unsupervised visits, accompanying the foster parent to doctor visits and school events and/or meetings etc. Supports the family engagement team in the goal of reunification through reinforcement of positive support and encouragement of the birth parents to complete their tasks and reunify with their children.Supports the family engagement team in the goal of reunification through reinforcement of positive support and encouragement of the birth parents to complete their tasks and reunify with their children.

26 Practice changes: Foster parents who accept children with a goal of reunification commit to participate in co- parenting.Foster parents who accept children with a goal of reunification commit to participate in co- parenting. Foster parents meet with the parents within 48 hours of the childs removal in an ice breaker meeting facilitated by the case manager. The team begins exploring how to best support the family including how the foster parents will support and encourage the biological family.Foster parents meet with the parents within 48 hours of the childs removal in an ice breaker meeting facilitated by the case manager. The team begins exploring how to best support the family including how the foster parents will support and encourage the biological family.

27 What Foster parents do to engage the birth family : Transport child to visits with biological families.Transport child to visits with biological families. Send them pictures of the child. Send them pictures of the child. Send them the childs school work/report cards.Send them the childs school work/report cards. Have the child write them a letter or make a picture. Have the child write them a letter or make a picture. Invite them to sporting events the child is involved in.Invite them to sporting events the child is involved in.

28 What Foster parents do to engage the birth family : Invite them to birthday parties and school events.Invite them to birthday parties and school events. Encourage them to attend the childs medical/dental/psychological appointments.Encourage them to attend the childs medical/dental/psychological appointments. Arrange with other foster parents to do sibling visits if the children are separated.Arrange with other foster parents to do sibling visits if the children are separated. Share the details of important milestones in the childs life, such as walking, talking, starting school, awards, etc.Share the details of important milestones in the childs life, such as walking, talking, starting school, awards, etc.

29 Next steps: Implementation Jurisdictional planning-where are we now?Jurisdictional planning-where are we now? Getting the buy-in from families and staffersGetting the buy-in from families and staffers Monitoring practice changes at the practitioner level-how will we know what we have changedMonitoring practice changes at the practitioner level-how will we know what we have changed Seeking client satisfaction feedbackSeeking client satisfaction feedback Examining ways to measure improved outcomes of familiesExamining ways to measure improved outcomes of families


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