Parent Partner Program
The Parent Partner Program works to ensure that birth parents and other adult caregivers are heard, honored, and included as partners in the work that the Division for Children, Youth and Families does with families to improve the lives of children and strengthen families in NH.
The Parent Partner Program leads and coordinates efforts by DCYC to deepen and sustain the integration of lived experience in Child Welfare in three levels aligned with the Children’s Bureau Vision: practice, program and system. Program leaders are responsible for managing the recruitment, training and matching “parent leaders” with various roles within the system. Parent leaders who are people with lived experience can serve as storytellers, practice advisors, training partners, consultants, recovery coaches, mentors or Parent Partners providing peer support to families new to DCYF.
Who We Are
We are family voice champions! We believe in the power of family voice and commit to supporting the integration of people with lived experience as partners in child welfare.
We are parent leaders and agency staff working together. We are fathers, mothers, relative caregivers, foster parents, DCYF staff, community partners, residential providers, CASAs, allies, and other stakeholders who regularly come together in program activities. We work to impact practice and system’s change, and we also lead efforts to provide peer support to families currently involved with DCYF through the Strength to Succeed.
What We Do: Let’s Work Better Together
We bring lived experience expertise into important conversations and action to support ongoing practice and system’s change.
We work with many partners at all levels including practice, program and system’s level to accelerate child welfare practice changes and system’s transformations. Core areas of impact include: workforce development, agency culture and climate, practice improvements, service array, and ongoing continuous learning and quality improvement.
In partnership, we plan, design, create, manage, and sustain programs and strategies to bring the Voices and unique lived expertize of fathers, mothers, and other adults in parenting roles to create positive changes in child welfare practices, programs and systems to improve the lives of children and youth, increase reunifications, and strengthen New Hampshire’s families.
Our vision is that fathers, mothers, and other adults in parenting roles are included and valued as partners in our day to day work with families in New Hampshire. It is a vision where people with lived experience, Parent Leaders, are visibly present at all levels of the child and family well-being system serving as a resource to other parents and to staff supporting the mission of the Division and the Department.
Our core family engagement and family empowerment strategies include
- Better Together
- The Father Engagement Action Team
- The Road Map to Reunification, and
- Strength to Succeed
Parents and other adult caregivers with child welfare experience who want to join the Parent Partner Program by becoming a “parent leader” and utilizing their voice for positive changes can contact their worker or their Parent Partner at the District Offices. Those interested can also contact program leadership at Geraldo.Pilraski@dhhs.nh.gov.
Program Foundations and Infrastructure
- Mobilize, elevate, magnify, and leverage caregiver voice
- Recruit train and support a pool of “parent leaders” & effectively leverage caregiver expertise
- Build Capacity to Partner
- Build Agency Capacity to Partner with Families;
- Build Parent Capacity to Partner with the Division;
- Systematically Integrate people with lived experience as partners in the work of the Division
- Improve the lives of children and improve Child Welfare Outcomes:
- Safety, Permanency and Well-being.
The Program embraces and promotes the DCYF’s Core Values and Practice Model (Insert a link to DCYF practice Model). The following Core Values also guide our work:
- The safety and wellbeing of children and families is our collective responsibility;
- People with lived experience are valued partners at the table;
- Partnership and collaboration at all levels and across systems makes us stronger on safety and wellbeing for children and families;
- Embrace and promote the synergy between the unique lens of lived experience and science based evidence of what works for children and families;
- The value of positively engaging fathers and promoting the perspective that fathers and mothers are partners in raising their children even when they do not live in the same household;
- Resource families, relative caregivers, and birth families as partners in shared parenting for the wellbeing of children and caregivers and as a strategy to support reunifications.
Biggest Added Value
- Family voice and lived experience at the table;
- The program creates “safe courageous spaces” for participants to:
- Experience personal healing and finding their voices
- Engage in self-disclosure and self-reflection
- Experience self-empowerment
- Connect with others in collective discoveries
- Nurture hope
- Learn how to partner authentically
- Move from conversations to action
- The program builds and sustains an active “community of practice”. This community of practice partners with colleagues across the Division and the child and family serving systems to engage in transformative work at the following levels:
Infrastructure to support lived experience
The program serves as the foundational infrastructure that supports the intentional inclusion and integration of people with lived experience as partners and leaders within the Division.
This basic infrastructure includes the following core components:
Program Leadership: Steering Committee
The Steering Committee provides oversight to this work by setting program direction, priorities, co-creating strategies, and co-developing work plans. Members include seasoned parent leaders, Better Together Team Leaders, and community partners. The Committee also functions as a powerful “action team” as each member is charged with becoming a lived experience “champion” in their own setting and community.
Local Better Together Teams: Family Empowerment Action Teams
These teams are the basic and most fundamental “cell” of the Program. There is a “Better Together Team” in each District Office. Members include birth parents, relative caregivers, and foster parents, key allies such as Parent Partners, Reunification Facilitators, clinicians, agency staff, and community partners.
The teams work to promote the value and best practices to deepen the inclusion of people with lived experience as partners. Teams are also charged with leading the recruitment and retention of parent leaders. Teams also develop and implement on projects to support the spread of effective family engagement practices. Examples of projects include organizing panels with caregivers to bring the family voice to staff meetings and practice improvement efforts at District Offices. Teams also work on major projects such as planning Reunification Celebrations and promoting practices that support timely reunifications.
This policy informs staff about Parent Leaders partnerships clarifying the roles and boundaries that support those collaborations.
The continuum outlines roles for parent leaders within the Division providing parents with an idea of the opportunities and serving as a tool to help program leads match parents with appropriate projects and work.
Parent leaders are provided compensations for their time and their service. The Program budget is utilized to cover honoraria and stipend for parent leaders. Parent Partners and Family Peer support Specialists are full time employees of community based agencies contracted to implement the peer support model in NH.