• This Bright SPOT is under review BY OUR COMMUNITY OF IMPACTED PARENTS and pending approval.

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What is the intervention?

Stronger Together is the first program of its kind in the nation which strives to provide grief support to mothers who have had their parental rights terminated. Based in Minneapolis, Stronger Together has worked with more than 100 mothers since its inception in 2019. Stronger Together is a weekly support group facilitated by licensed professionals where mothers with terminated parental rights can show up and process their experience with the system, and with losing their children. Bellis provides these sessions twice a week in Minnesota, with transportation services available for those in the Twin Cities. Additionally, they offer an online group that is available for women nationwide!

Bellis, the nonprofit that facilitates the Stronger Together program, continues to advocate for parental rights in the legal system so that they may not end up permanently separated from their children. Stronger Together, however, provides essential support that addresses the “what now?” parents with terminated rights are faced with. Survey data indicates that the support groups, which are facilitated by licensed professionals and are centered around shame, guilt, emptiness, and grief, that:

  • 97% felt less alone
  • 87% felt less shame
  • 77% had an increased sense of calm

Additionally, Bellis is pushing for the passing of a bill that makes the appellate counsel more accessible to parents who have had parental rights terminated, like those in the Stronger Together group.

What makes it a Bright Spot?

There are no counties in the country that provide support for parents whose rights have been terminated. There is no grief and loss support, there is no processing of trauma, and there is certainly no advocacy for what next steps are possible (i.e. appeals when possible). Stronger Together allows these mothers to make meaning of their grief and feel supported by their peers and community. Long term outcomes indicate that participation in such a support group can improve the mother’s family and potentially open the door for future communication with the child they’ve been separated from.

What steps can you take?

  • If you are in Minnesota, add Stronger Together to your list of resources that you offer to parents you work with.
  • Explore Bellis and find out how you can organize a similar resource in your county.
  • Take advantage of the online support groups which are available to women nationwide!

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