Parent review feedback summary

  • Parent reviewers found the Parent Partner Program to be potentially beneficial to families and recommended that child welfare agencies implement similar models into their systems.
  • Parent reviewers are excited about more opportunities for lived experts to be able to connect with parents currently being impacted by the system because this level of advocacy has proven outcomes such as faster reunification.
  • Reviewers want to ensure that parent advocates are not micromanaged by the system and that the system is prepared to look to them as leaders and advocates for impacted parents.

What is the intervention?

A Better Way, Inc is a nonprofit that empowers children and families to develop the insights, life skills, and permanent relationships that promote social, emotional, educational, and economic well-being. One of their program offerings is Parent Advocacy, a one-on-one advocacy and mentoring program that connects parents who have successfully navigated and exited the child welfare system to parents currently encountering the child welfare system. In Santa Cruz County, parent advocacy is known as the Parent Partner Program.

The Parent Partner Program was initially kickstarted in 2021 in collaboration with A Better Way, Inc and Santa Cruz County Family and Children Services. Parent Partners, who are birth parents with personal experience and success with the child welfare system, provide education, advocacy, and support. Parent Partners are available to families for Child Family Team Meetings (initial meeting with social workers and families where out-of-home placement is possible), phone consults (consultation by phone about navigation tips, services, and general questions), Communicating History and Transitions meetings (ice breaker/relationship development), parent orientation, case work, support groups, fatherhood circle groups, committees, and trainings.

What makes it a Bright Spot?

The Parent Partner Program is designed to increase reunification and reduce out-of-home placements for families involved with the child welfare system. The peer support component helps to bridge the gap between families and the services that are available to them to keep their family safely together. Additionally, it is another low-judgment resource connection point for referrals to substance abuse treatment programs, housing, food, education, mental health, and employment.

What steps can you take?


These downloadable resources may help provide additional context and information about this family-approved resource for systems change.

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