Parent Partners promotes an innovative change in social work practice that is unique because it not only celebrates individuals who have overcome obstacles through change, recovery, and accountability, but also uses their skills to mentor families who are currently navigating through Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as their children are in foster or kinship care. Parent Partners demonstrate advocacy and effective communication while holding families accountable in meeting their case plan goals.
The Parent Partner (mentor) is a key strategy to improving practice with families, but it cannot stand alone. Parent Partners network within communities and 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 is designed to deliver a flexible array of culturally responsive supports to parents who are involved in child protection services. Parent Partners can also provide support to parents during family preservation services through the child safety conference process.
During the initial stages of a case, the Parent Partner averages four face-to-face visits per month and phone contact between visits. The frequency of contact may vary after two to three months as the family works through their case plan. The number of visits is based on a family’s needs and case consultation with the Parent Partner Coordinator.
The Parent Partner mentoring focuses on families who are involved with child protection services and whose child/ren have been removed from their parent’s care and/or who can only reside with their children under special conditions directed by the courts (i.e. substance abuse treatment or relative care is present).
Parent Partners must have prior child protection involvement and have experienced successful reunification or resolution around termination of their parental rights for at least one year.
Parent Partners are selected based upon their interpersonal skills, successes, and proven abilities to overcome obstacles. Parent Partners have been involved with the Agency due to child protection issues. Parent Partners have experienced removal of children from their primary care and have since experienced successful reunification or resolution around termination of their parental rights. It is these experiences that make Parent Partners so beneficial to families who are currently receiving services due to child protection issues. Parent Partners can offer hope, realistic advice, and advocacy for families. In addition, they form a critical link between the Agency worker, other professionals, and the family.
This program will remain flexible by providing the Parent Partner an opportunity to determine the amount of time they will commit to the Parent Partner role. For example, one Parent Partner may be going to school and only wants to only mentor two or three families, but another Parent Partner may want to mentor 10-15 families.
Parents whose children have been removed have both rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. Below is a summary of some of the most important rights and responsibilities.
I have the right to…
- Know why my child was removed and what needs to happen for them to be returned.
- Have an attorney who represents my rights and interests in court.
- Have my child placed with a relative if a relative can care for my child safely.
- Know where my child is placed and have frequent, meaningful interactions with my child.
- Know that efforts are going to be made to place my child in close proximity to my home and to allow my child to continue in their same school.
- Be consulted and make decisions on my child’s religion, health care and education and participate in my child’s care as agreed upon.
- Request a Parent Partner when available and appropriate so that I may be supported by someone who has walked in my shoes.
- Be informed of services my child receives and medical emergencies my child may have.
- Expect that my child is safe in their placement and that his/her needs are met.
- Have my child returned home after conditions required by the court and the case permanency plan has been met.
- File for an appeal against the following: child abuse report determination, termination of parental rights, Child in Need of Assistance, or removal of my child.
- Have information about me and my family kept confidential, unless I agree to share it.
I have the responsibility to…
- Meet with and stay in contact with my social worker, report any changes to phone number or address, participate in creating my family’s and my child’s case permanency plan, keep appointments and make agreed upon changes.
- Request financial assistance if I can’t afford an attorney, discuss the petition with my attorney and stay in contact with my attorney.
- Provide my social worker with names of relatives who may care for my child.
- Develop a family interaction plan and communicate with my child on a regular basis.
- Keep my child’s best interest at heart and to try to see things from my child’s perspective.
- Attend medical appointments and school meetings for my child, share important information about my child’s needs and contribute to the financial support of my child as determined by the court.
- Engage, participate and follow through with peer support and the Parent Partner Program.
- Ask about upcoming appointments that my child may have.
- Communicate any concerns I have to the social worker and my attorney.
- Inform HHS, my attorney and the court if HHS has not provided me with the services listed in my case permanency plan, or if there are additional services I need.
- Stay in contact with my social worker and my attorney.
- Give permission for release of information necessary for my child’s health and welfare.
HHS executed a contract with Children and Families of Iowa (CFI) on July 1, 2019 for an initial two-year contract term with the ability to extend the contract for four additional one-year terms.
As part of Parent Partner approach the Contractor shall provide: Parent Partner mentoring; assistance in establishing Parent Partners on various committees; presentations to HHS/community statewide; training and guidance for Parent Partners; coordinate committees and other aspects necessary for implementation.
Contractors are paid based on a monthly rate that is stipulated in the terms of the contract.
Contractor submits monthly invoices to the Department of Health and Human Services for contacted services. The Contractor shall be paid in equal monthly installments within each state fiscal year.
Within each state fiscal year (SFY), the Agency shall retain 10% of the annual value to be paid to Contractor. Contractor may Invoice the Agency for the remaining 10% of the SFY payments following the end of the State Fiscal Year only if identified performances measures are met within each state fiscal year.