Policies on Supporting Relationships between Birth & Foster Families

Supporting Relationships between Birth & Foster Families graphic

Ventura County Co-Parenting Policy

Co-parenting in Ventura County represented a complete shift from prior practice, in which foster parents had little to no contact with birth parents. Co-parenting is now an integral part of foster parent training, called 21st Century Training, which includes a presentation by a foster parent, birth parent and child on how the practice made a difference in their lives. Foster parents also receive coaching on co-parenting from Caregiver Support Specialists, who are available to deal with more complex issues, such as coordinating supports to stabilize children in the home, and Peer Partner Educators, who are experienced foster parents able to answer general questions and provide coaching on day-to-day caregiving.

See here for more information.

Foster parent recruitment to support birth and foster parent relationships

Georgia is implementing Partnership Parenting, a trauma-informed parenting model designed to allow parents to continue parenting while their children are in care. Recruitment of a pool of “Partnership Parents” who can mentor birth parents includes grassroots outreach, relationship building, and community education. “Resource Parents” also mentor birth parents but are ready to adopt a child if reunification efforts fail.

See Georgia's diligent recruitment plan for more information.

Safety Resource Policy

Georgia utilizes different strategies to promote family-based care, including a Safety Resource policy that allows parents to voluntarily place a child with a relative for 45 days as parents work to resolve any safety concerns. These planned placements can also extend across state lines. 

To learn more, see the brief, "How can we ensure a child’s first placement is with family?"

Illinois Shared Parenting Policy

Within the shared parenting framework, Permanency Workers, parents and caregivers work as a team. As with any effective team, players have different roles, responsibilities and tasks, but each team member has the same goal - in this case, to preserve or rebuild the family around the long-term welfare of the child. This requires that the team members form a partnership or positive alliance always seeking to keep parents focused on the welfare of the child.

See the policy for more details.

Office of Parent and Caregiver Support

Illinois DCFS Office of Parent and Caregiver Support employs 40 Foster Parent Support Specialists statewide to serve DCFS and private agency foster homes. The goals of the program are to retain foster parents, promote family reunification, stabilize foster placements and facilitate youth development.

See Illinois' diligent recruitment plan for more information.

Pre-Removal Conferences

Iowa has reduced the overall population of children in congregate care by 46 percent, from 29 percent (1,972 children) in 2005 to 18 percent (1,068 children) in 2015. Strategies used to promote family-based care include Iowa’s Pre-Removal Conference, which is a model for meeting with the family prior to removing a child, with the goal of including the family in the removal process. This strengths-based meeting keeps the focus on reducing trauma for the child and is shown to increase relative placements and educational stability. In the event that a relative placement is not available, these meetings still provide parents with a chance to be involved in decision-making, and provides the child protection agency with as much information as possible to identify a foster home that can best meet the child’s needs. In Polk County, an income maintenance worker attends the Pre-Removal Conference to ensure the identified relative caregiver is connected to all eligible benefits before the meeting ends. The family also leaves the meeting with a visitation plan in place so that both the parents and the child know when they will see each other again. This level of engagement and communication has improved the agency’s relationship with the community in general, and has also been embraced by staff, county attorneys, and the judiciary.

To learn more, see the brief, "How can we ensure a child’s first placement is with family?"

Quality Parenting Initiative

Louisiana's state plan for diligent recruitment of foster families discusses the state's Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI).  QPI is an approach that envisions an entire team – birth parents, foster parents, case workers, state and local child services agency officials, doctors, therapists and judicial workers – all working to create the most stability, the best environment and most of all, the best possible parenting, for the children.  QPI recognizes that no one-size-fits-all parent exists.  QPI embraces five principles.

Principle 1: Excellent parenting is the most important service to provide to children and youth in care.  Children need families, not beds.

Principle 2: Child development and trauma research indicates that children need constant, consistent, effective parenting to grow and reach their full potential.

Principle 3: Each community must define excellent parenting for itself. 

Principle 4: Policy and practice must be changed to align with the community definition of excellent parenting.

Principle 5: Participants in the system are in the best position to recommend and implement that change.

See this CHAMPS blog for more information.