Parent Partners is an approach that promotes innovative changes in social work practice that is unique because it not only celebrates individuals that have overcome obstacles through change, recovery, and accountability, but also uses their skills to mentor families who are currently navigating through DHS as their children are in foster or kinship care. Parent Partners demonstrate advocacy and effective communication, while holding families accountable.

The Parent Partner [mentor] is a key strategy to improving practice with families, but it cannot stand alone. Parent Partners network within communities and partner directly with DHS, child welfare staff, systems, and agencies. Parent Partners collaborate with social workers and providers to meet the needs of families, assist in policy and program development, change perceptions in communities, and facilitate trainings and learning opportunities.

The Parent Partner approach includes validating parents experiences and opinions to make changes in child welfare that will assist families in reunification and keeping children safe. Parent Partners meet with social workers, counselors, attorneys, and others regularly to assess progress and are able to help professionals empathetically and productively interpret the patterns, behaviors, and needs of families.

This approach includes not only Parent Partners but also those in training, aides, and allies. Parent Partners and DHS need to commit to multiple joint-learning opportunities. Examples include but are not limited to: Parent Partners, allies, and aides attending meetings, workgroups, and trainings within DHS offices to foster cultural change and build relationships; assisting DHS in meetings, committees, task teams, presentations, conferences, etc. to incorporate parent perspective; and instilling Community Partnerships four strategies and mission.

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