An Introduction to FAPAC's Family Link Initiatives
Family Link is a system-wide effort to promote communication and shared parenting practices between resource and birth parents for the benefit of children in the DC foster care system that has been made possible thanks to a partnership between DC's Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) and FAPAC.
Please read on for more information about some of the resource and supports that FAPAC is developing in order to promote and support shared parenting through the DC child welfare system.
* The term resource parent is used to refer to foster, kinship, and adoptive parents.
Shared Parenting Resources & Supports:
The following shared parenting resources and supports are now available thanks to Family Link. For more information, please email FAPAC at FamilyLink@dcfapac.org.
Flyer about Family Link
This flyer provides readers with a brief description of Family Link and a variety of initiatives that are being developed in order to improve outcomes for children by promoting and supporting shared parenting practices.
Family Link Icebreakers (45-60 Minute Meetings at CFSA)
Icebreaker meetings are opportunities for resource and birth parents to meet each other face-to-face and to connect over their mutual concern for the child's wellbeing. A trained facilitator will be present during the meeting to prompt a parent-to-parent conversation about the child's needs and the many ways in which the adults can work together to ensure that the child's needs are met. Icebreaker participants will have an opportunity to share information about the child, ask questions, and come up with a communication agreement based upon both parties' preferences.
Peer Support Group for Resource Parents
FAPAC's monthly support group provides a safe place for people parenting children through the DC child welfare system to talk and connect with their peers. Participants are encouraged to share how their parenting role impacts them and to discuss the rewards and challenges of partnering with their children's birth parents. Food and childcare is provided. Advance registration is required.
FAPAC will be offering a number of three hour trainings on shared parenting that are geared towards all resource parents (i.e. foster/adopt and kinship parents) who are/will be caring for children through the DC foster care system. As with all FAPAC trainings, advance registration is required and space is limited. Visit FAPAC's "training & events" page for more information about upcoming trainings.
The following Family Link resources and supports are in the process of being developed by FAPAC and will be rolled-out in 2015. For more information, please email FAPAC at FamilyLink@dcfapac.org.
Additional Tip Sheets
FAPAC will develop additional tip sheets about the Family Link icebreakers, share parenting in the context of foster care, and the continuum of shared parenting practices.
Coaching for Foster Parents
FAPAC will recruit and train experience foster parents to be Family Link coaches. The coaches' main responsibility will be to support other foster parents in cases of shared parenting concerns/challenges. Coaches will not advise on clinical matters however they will draw upon their own experiences with shared parenting to practice empathetic listening, offer perspective, give examples of shared parenting practices that have worked for them, and re-inspire folks with success stories.
Shared Parenting Tool Kit
Track and support FAPAC will be developing a tool kit especially for resource parents that will be distributed at the time of placement or shortly there after. The tool kit will include:
information about Family Link initiatives
tip sheets and resource guides
examples of shared parenting practices
documents for tracking contact/interactions with birth parents
information on how to request and icebreaker and get connected to coach
information about Family Link initiatives
what resource parents need to know about "Family Link Icebreakers" and how to prepare
what resource parents need to about "Shared Parenting" and how it can help improve outcomes for children
information about the "continuum of shared parenting practices" and options worth discussing with the team
information about how to request services & supports
how to navigate the system and get the support
Videos about Shared Parenting
FAPAC will work with the foster parent and birth parent community to develop an video about shared parenting that can be used for educational purposes in both pre-service and in-service training. The video will feature both foster parents and birth parents talking about their experiences with shared parenting and speak to some of the challenges and rewards to building parenting partnerships.
In the meantime, here are some other videos on the subject...
Foster parent and trainer, Donna Foster, defines shared parenting in the context of foster care and explains how this how this practice benefits children and facilitates family reunification.
Foster parent and trainer, Donna Foster, describes how to overcome some of the common barriers foster parents experience when trying to engage in shared parenting with birth parents.
Foster parent and trainer, Donna Foster, offers advice to foster parents about how to successfully engage in shared parenting.
This is a trailer for the Icebreaker Meetings training video.
This training video shows how to implement icebreaker meetings to connect foster and birth parents when a child is placed in the child welfare system.
This video tells the story of Leah and how she reunified with her birth mom. Leah, a child in foster care with the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Casey Family Services, needed a forever family. Through an innovative foster care model, Leah's case worker reached out to her biological mom, even though her parental rights had been terminated previously. With lots of work, Leah now lives with her mom and is connected to her lifelong family.
Mother reunited with child she gave up for adoption after 21 years. Clues in a book and Facebook bring them back together.
For more information about any of the above Family Link initiatives, please contact: