Essential Steps for Parenting Success
Strive is envisioned as a set of parent support and education programs designed specifically for parents involved in the child welfare system. The first program, the Strive Engagement Module (pilot testing in 2017-18), aims to humanize the way that parents visit with their children in foster care by helping them navigate the system and maintain or build strong bonds with their children. Providing support in these areas at the beginning of supervised visits, right after a child is placed in foster care, should increase parental engagement in visits. Initial success in this area will likely have positive effects for other aspects of their case, and, ideally, contribute to helping parents get on the road to successful reunification with their child.
Court-ordered visits are necessary for parents to maintain their relationship with and regain custody of their children after they’re placed in foster care, but this experience is stressful on both sides. Children might be frightened or angry and act out. Parents, often grappling with a variety of other issues, including substance abuse and mental health challenges, may feel defensive and discouraged. Without meaningful support, it’s hardly a scenario conducive to effective parenting or supporting the well-being of children.
Partners for Our Children (POC) wants to change that. That’s why we created the Strive Engagement Module, a first-of-its-kind parent support program designed to improve the quality of parent-child visits. By incorporating parent support in the visitation process, we can empower parents during their visits – reinforce a simple set of skills that they can practice in visits with their child, skills which will help reduce trauma for them both.
Being developed in collaboration with the Washington State DSHS Children’s Administration, Strive focuses on the basics of visitation, covering everything from how to communicate positively with your child and the adults involved in your case to creating safe environments for your child. Supervised visits represent an untapped and vital opportunity to address child and family needs in order to improve visit quality and potentially receive a greater return on the investment made in visits each year – at roughly $18 million annually, serving approximately 8,000 children at any given time in Washington alone.
But the creation of an evidence-informed supervised visitation program is just the start – POC envisions creating a suite of programs for parents involved in the child welfare system. Our ultimate goal is to create an array of high quality parent support and education programs available to all families who are involved with the child welfare system, so more children can be safely reunited with their parents, and live safe, healthy and happy lives with their families.
“When I gauge her against other parents with similar barriers, other parents are not doing as well. For her to have a visit routine, coming early and prepared, and putting stability in place. It’s not the same for other parents in this situation. There are some people who never get a routine.” –Visit Navigator reflects on Mom enrolled in Strive