The Parent Advocate Project
What is the Parent Advocate Project?
The Parent Advocate Project is an initiative created to support parents whose children are currently in foster care with a goal of reunification. Trained mentors (Parent Advocates) assist parents in identifying support services that will help them be compliant with the Family Service Plan. This project is being performed by Adoptions Together in partnership with the District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA).
Parent Advocates support the initial engagement of birth and foster parents after a child has been placed in out-of-home care. As part of the service team, Parent Advocates work closely with social workers to support partnering and improved communication with birth parents. Parent Advocates receive ongoing clinical supervision and support while providing services under the project.
Why is the Parent Advocate Project Necessary?
Parents are often devastated by losing their child to foster care, and this loss paralyzes them and their ability to utilize community services to regain custody. The Parent Advocate Project embraces the philosophy of intensive and structured parent-focused services provided by a peer. Each of our trained Parent Advocates is a parent who has successfully reunified with a child who has been in foster care. The project assists parents and families in case planning and self-advocacy to successfully reunify with their children.
What is the Referral Process?
The District of Columbia CFSA Social Worker or other referring agency staff will review the eligibility criteria for the Parent Advocate Project and complete the referral form for the referred family. The referral form is transmitted to the PAP Facilitator by e-mail, fax, or U.S mail. The Family Service Plan, Court Documents, and any other relevant documents must be submitted with the referral form.
As a D.C. Child and Family Services Agency Social Worker, I have referred and received services for 2 mothers who have children in foster care. Both assigned parent mentors have repeatedly gone out of their way to not only coach these parents on specific parenting skills, but have also assisted in visitation between the mother and child to encourage that crucial bond. The parents that participate in this program are more supported and come out more self-confident and as stronger parents for their children. One parent mentor traveled to Utah with the mother to visit her child in a specialized foster care placement because the mother was unable to travel alone. Additionally, the parent mentor project provides intensive services for parents who need assistance in managing the court process and meeting their other needs (financial counseling, accessing benefits, accountability, advocacy, etc.). There is no other program for D.C. families that addresses these specific and undoubtedly important needs as does the Parent Advocate Project to promote reunification between children and their families. Thank you PAP!
CFSA Social Worker