Topic: Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System:

Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System are defined by the CEBC as programs that include parents with experience in the child welfare system (who may be called veterans, alumni, or other similar titles) as mentors, advocates, and/or peer support to parents currently involved with the child welfare system. The goals of parent partner programs may vary, but are typically to engage parents more fully in the child welfare case planning and services process; provide information to parents about the child welfare system and their right and responsibilities; and provide support, modeling, and linkages to assist families in meeting their safety, permanency, and well-being goals.

Although not a part of formal parent partner programs as defined above, parents may also partner with the child welfare system by being advisory members to child welfare system committees and providing a parent's perspective on programmatic and policy development.

  • Target population: Parents involved with the child welfare system
  • Services/types that fit: Typically outpatient services in an individual or group format that include assessment, case planning, case management, education, and/or skill building
  • Delivered by: Trained paraprofessionals
  • In order to be included: Program must utilize parents with experience in the child welfare system as the primary delivery agent for services
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that examines outcomes for families, such as decreased occurrence of maltreatment, reduced out-of-home placement, increased engagement in services, or improvements in knowledge and satisfaction

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

Two Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:

  • Iowa Parent Partner Approach
    [Parent Partners - Iowa]
    Parents involved with Department of Human Services’ Child Protective Services
  • Parents Anonymous®
    Parents, grandparents, relative and kin providers, foster parents, or anyone serving in a parenting or caregiver role and children and ...

Three Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated:

  • Circle of Parents®
    Parents or individuals in a parenting role for children ages 0-18 years and their children ages birth to 12
  • Parent Engagement and Self-Advocacy (PESA)
    Birth parents, foster parents, and caseworkers of children ages 10-17 who are in foster care and candidates for reunification
  • Parents as Partners
    Parents involved with the Child Welfare System through a protective investigation

Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?

The Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System topic area is relevant to child welfare because the child welfare field has embraced the value of including recipients of child welfare services as an effective strategy for meeting new clients "where they are," and having these individuals provide guidance to parents as parent partners. Parent partners are individuals who have successfully overcome the challenges that brought them to the attention of Child Welfare Services. It is believed that because of their experiences in successfully navigating the child welfare system, they are able to provide positive motivation to other parents who have had their children removed due to parental abuse or neglect, or have had the possibility of them being removed. The child welfare field has also followed other fields, such as mental health and AOD, where parents' input on policy/ program development and staff training has been effective in helping to achieve agency goals.

Because Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System have been expanding throughout California, it is important to determine whether there is evidence of their effectiveness. By reviewing current research on this practice, it is hoped that there are programs being supported by research, and that by including this on the CEBC, future research will be encouraged.

Danna Fabella
Director, Federal Linkages
Child & Family Policy Institute of California
Sacramento, CA

Topic Expert

The Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System topic area was added in 2010. Kimberly Hoagwood, PhD was the topic expert and was involved in identifying and rating any of the programs with an original load date in 2010 (as found on the bottom of the program's page on the CEBC) or others loaded earlier and added to this topic area when it launched. The topic area has grown over the years and any programs added since 2010 were identified by CEBC staff, the Scientific Panel, and/or the Advisory Committee. For these programs, Dr. Hoagwood was not involved in identifying or rating them.