The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children
About This Program
Target Population: Families involved in the child welfare system, receiving supervised visitation services following the child/children's removal from the parent/guardian's care due to abuse and/or neglect
For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 18
For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 18
The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children was developed as a trauma-informed, manualized program to be followed during family supervised visitation sessions. The program focuses on three core components. First, a staff member delivers coaching supports using coaching techniques with families as they engage in resilience-building routines and activities during supervised visits. Second, the parents learn key parenting strategies to better support positive interactions with their children. Third, the children’s within-child internal strengths or protective factors, including attachment/relationships, initiative, and self-regulation, are promoted during resilience-building activities, routines, and interactions occurring during supervised visits.
The goals of The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children are:
- Build within-child protective factors in children who have experienced abuse and neglect that will help them succeed in life
- Develop new parenting strategies with the parents of children who have experienced abuse and neglect, to help parents build their child’s resilience
- Improve the likelihood of successful family reunification
- Increase knowledge of the importance of resilience by child welfare staff and parents participating in the program
- Reduce incidents of abuse and/or neglect in the next generation (i.e., children who participated in the program)
- Increase foster parent and child engagement and satisfaction in visitation services
The essential components of The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children include:
- Families referred to supervised visitation in child welfare settings following child/children’s removal from parental care due to abuse or neglect can participate in the program.
- Visitation services can occur in the office, in the community, or in the home.
- Supervised visitation staff who provide the program to families receives initial training and ongoing support in the program model. Staff members are also trained to use coaching techniques with families.
- Staff implements the program with families during supervised visitation sessions, which may vary in length and frequency depending on the referral source, state requirements, etc. The program’s Coaching Workbook provides staff with a step-by-step guide for implementing the program across a total of 40 supervised visitation sessions.
- At the initial visit, parents complete the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) for Infants, Toddlers, or Preschoolers, and/or the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) on their individual children. These standardized, norm-referenced behavior rating scales are designed to measure children’s within-child protective factors related to resilience. Results of the assessments are reviewed with families, noting children’s existing strengths and growth areas for improvement.
- The DECA and DESSA assessments are completed periodically by the parents (recommended every 10 sessions) to examine progress in building children’s within-child protective factors.
- Visit routine:
- Staff promotes and encourages a nine-step visit routine during each supervised visit, walking the family through from their arrival at the visit to their departure.
- This routine offers and encourages flexibility to meet the needs of the families.
- Documentation of the activities of the visit routine can occur during or after the visit.
- Bounce Activities:
- Staff completes a Bounce Activity during each visit, which is part of the visit routine.
- The Bounce Activities are designed to be engaging and fun guided activities for the family to participate in together, and each activity (40 in total) is linked to how that activity promotes the key three protective factors of the program (attachment/relationships, initiative, and self-regulation).
- The Bounce Activities are modified for all ages and for multiple children of different ages participating together.
- Parenting Strategies:
- Staff promotes and teaches four (4) parenting strategies. These strategies are focused on one at a time, with a focus on a different strategy every 10 visits, and each building upon the prior parenting skill(s).
- Staff builds and reinforces the parenting strategies of families as they progress through the visitation services.
- Coaching Supports:
- Staff models the parenting strategies throughout each visit by using a set of coaching skills that parallel each parenting strategy.
- Staff looks for ways to build resilience of families by identifying opportunities to support children’s within-child protective factors during visitation services, and coaching parents to recognize and reinforce these opportunities.
- Coaching Techniques:
- Staff uses four (4) coaching techniques throughout the visit.
- Staff builds resilience and supports the parenting strategies by using these coaching techniques.
- Visit Wrap-Up
- Staff reviews the visit with the parent and creates a plan for the next visit together.
- Feedback is considered important to help the parent be empowered and a part of the process of visitation.
- It is recommended that the agency implementing the program continually collect and review program implementation and outcome data to ensure fidelity and drive programmatic decisions.
The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:
- Children who have been removed due to abuse and/or neglect
The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:
- Families who have had children removed due to abuse and/or neglect
This program is designed to be flexible, given the nature of supervised visitation services. The number of visits per week and length of each visit can vary depending on the requirement of the referral source, needs of the families (i.e., the age of the children), the collaborative family plan created with the referral source, and progress/barriers that may impact the family. The program can be implemented during sessions of one or more hours, occurring weekly, or with multiple visits per week depending on the needs of families.
This program is designed to be flexible, given the nature of supervised visitation services. The length of supervised visitation services can vary depending on the requirement of the referral source, needs of the families (i.e. the age of the children), collaborative family plan created with the referral source, and progress/barriers that may impact the family. The program includes forty (40) guided sessions that include activities and support of four (4) primary parenting strategies. Families can repeat the activities and parenting strategies if they continue in visitation beyond forty visits to facilitate mastery of skills.
This program is typically conducted in a(n):
- Birth Family Home
- Community Agency
This program does not include a homework component.
The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children has materials available in a language other than English:
For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).
Resources Needed to Run Program
The typical resources for implementing the program are:
The typical resources for implementing the program are:
- Visitation rooms for supervised visits to take place (if services occur in-office)
- Front line staff to deliver resilience-building visitation services
- Supervisors to oversee, support, and help ensure quality service delivery
- Program Supplies:
- Activity bags (cost of initial set up and ongoing supplies)
- Workbooks (printed copies or electronic access)
- Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) & Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA)
Education and Training
Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications
The front line staff should be a paraprofessional with a high school diploma. It is recommended that front line staff have a Bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, sociology, or directly related human service degree from an accredited college; with knowledge of child abuse and neglect, an understanding of child development, and the ability to deliver culturally competent services.
A supervisor should have at least a Bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, sociology, or directly related human services degree from an accredited college (a Master’s degree is recommended), and including five years of experience delivering child welfare services.
Education and Training Resources
There is not a manual that describes how to implement this program ; but there is training available for this program.
- Deanna L. Syndrowski, MS, MBA, LMHC
phone: (260) 421-5006
Training is obtained:
Training is provided onsite.
Number of days/hours:
Training includes two days of training for front line staff, 8 hours each day. Supervisors also receive an additional one-day (8-hour) training beyond the front line staff training. Train-the-Trainer training is also available.
Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research
Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children.
Smith, G. T., Shapiro, V. B., Sperry, R. W., & LeBuffe, P. A. (2014). A strengths-based approach to supervised visitation in child welfare. Child Care in Practice, 20(1), 98-119. doi:10.1080/13575279.2013.847056
Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: April 2018
Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: May 2018
Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2018