There is growing evidence that parent partner programs are an essential strategy to promote engagement and increase
reunification among families and children that are involved in the child welfare system.
Casey Family Programs website
states that parent partners 1) instill hope, 2) promote self-advocacy, 3) connect families to services, and 4)
an agency culture shift to one that engages authentically with families. Evidence is emerging that parent partner
programs are effective in helping families to reunify more quickly and help in reducing incidents of re-entry
Iowa Parent Partner Project and the
Partnering with Parents Promising Approaches to Improve Reunification
Outcomes for Children in Foster Care
report by the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare.
In the report entitled, “How family partners contribute to the phases and activities of the wraparound process”, E.
Bruns & J. S. Walker report that parent partners also have an important role in grounding child and family serving
professionals in their work with families and increasing engagement with families due to their unique perspective of
having navigated the complexities of the system themselves.
Parent partners have four key functions: (1) to ensure parents are equal partners, if not leaders, in the
and implementation of their behaviorally-based service plans, case plans, and treatment plans; (2) to represent the
needs and perspectives of parents to internal and external stakeholders and decision makers within the system of
(3) to ensure that parents have access to a comprehensive array of prevention and support services that meet their
individual needs and increase family engagement; and (4) to ensure that these services are family-centered; easily
accessible; respectful of cultural, ethnic, and other community characteristics; and stigma free. To effectively and
respectively integrate parent partners into systems and programs, agencies must consider how parent partners will be
trained and supported in their role. Special consideration should be made for facilitating peer-to-peer support,
supervision, compensation, and the collection and use of data to support the effectiveness of parent partner
For parent partners to be successful, it is essential that parent partner programs are integrated throughout the
It is critical to create a cultural shift throughout the organization to support full integration of parent
For further information how to implement a parent partner program, please review the
Capacity Building Center for
States’ (CBCS) website
, which includes a "Parent Partner Program Manual".
To effectively and respectively integrate parent partners into systems and programs, agencies must use a trauma
approach in every aspect of a parent partner program and role. Bringing parents into institutional leadership
(e.g. state or local advisory committees, school boards, community organizations’ committees, or other civic
positions) can be an intimidating and unnerving experience, especially for parents placed in these positions for the
first time. Part of being a trauma informed organization working with parents, families, and children is reflected
how parents are engaged. Utilizing trauma informed principles to engage parents can improve the effectiveness of
engagement and benefit both parents and organizations seeking to improve child and family well-being. Family Hui, a
program of Lead4Tomorrow, created a
that provides a guide for incorporating trauma informed practices into
parent partner organizations. The Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) provides funding to Family Hui to support
statewide parent leadership. To learn more about Family Hui, visit:
https://www.familyhui.org/. To learn more about
other programs funded by the OCAP, visit:
Parent Partner Resources
- Casey Family Programs Parent Partners
This website provides parent partner specific information including: benefits of parent partners, research and data, parent partner program structures, parent partner funding opportunities, implementation considerations and information on engaging fathers.
- Capacity Building Center for States’ (CBCS)
This website includes a “Parent Partner Program Manual”, which provides a detailed description of parent partner program implementation, guiding principles, and sample program statements, policies, and procedures.
- Birth Parent National Network (BPNN)
The BPNN promotes birth parents as leaders and strategic partners in prevention and child welfare systems reform. The website includes a variety of ways for individuals and organizations to get involved on a national level to support and promote parent partners.
- Trauma-Informed Parent/Caregiver Leader Engagement
This document was created by Family Hui, a program of Lead4Tomorrow. It provides a guide for incorporating trauma informed practices into parent partner organizations. The Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) provides funding to Family Hui to support statewide parent leadership. To learn more about Family Hui, visit: https://www.familyhui.org/. To learn more about other programs funded by the OCAP, visit: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/ocap.
- CalSWEC Father Engagement Toolkit
Father Engagement involves including fathers (and other paternal relatives) as active participants in the lives of their children incorporating their perspectives into child welfare practice and decision making. The information, documents, and materials in this toolkit will help users learn about father engagement and its importance. They also provide specific tools and suggestions about how to implement father engagement strategies that best meet organizational needs.
- All County Information Notice I-54-20
The purpose of this All County Information Notice is to provide county Child Welfare Services agencies with guidance to engage, support, and assist families in understanding and navigating the child welfare system.