Parent review feedback summary

  • Parent reviewers agree that this program would greatly benefit families, but systems need to be ready to pursue this type of work to genuinely be supportive of the parents.
  • For longevity and positive program evolution, parent partners should be included in the decision-making process as well. One reviewer asked, “would you feel more comfortable working with people that just give you orders, or with someone who has walked in your shoes?”
  • Reviewers also wanted to know how this may positively impact reunification, and make it happen faster.

What is the intervention?

Child welfare agencies employ parents who have had their children removed and returned through the child welfare system system to mentor and support parents who currently have children placed in foster or kinship care. Parent partners are unique in that they have faced the pain and confusion of navigating child protective services, and can offer insights, tips, and encouragement because they successfully reunited with their own children. 

Also called parent advocates or parent allies, parent partners encourage and advocate for families. Helping them complete the requirements of their court-mandated case plans. Parent Partners make frequent face-to-face connections and support parents through activities like attending court hearings, sending messages of encouragement, encouraging participation in case plan requirements like visitation and going to appointments, and providing structured and/or informal training on aspects of the child welfare system. 

Iowa’s Parent Partner is offered statewide and has each been active for over a decade. Iowa contracts with nonprofit organizations to coordinate the Parent Partner program. 

What makes it a Bright Spot?

When parents work with a Parent Partner, their children are more likely return home, and less likely to be removed again in the future. Working with a Parent Partner reduces the chances of parental rights being terminated.  

Also, having your children removed and doing what is required to get them back is painful and daunting. Someone who has been there and understands the feelings and the processes can support in ways others cannot. Partners can help keep parents from falling into despair and giving up when it feels impossible.

What steps can you take?

  • Learn more about types of Parent Partner programs
  • Research the benefits of Parent Partner programs and their success rates.
  • Start talking about peer support at your agency.
  • Plan on carefully tending to the wellbeing of Parent Partners, emotionally and financially. This work continually activates past trauma, so ensure they are generously compensated for their unique and valuable expertise. 


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

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