Advocacy and mentoring to families
The San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) – Family and Children Services Division began its Parent Advisory Council in June of 2005. HSA invited birth parents that had experience with or were currently involved with the child welfare system to help assist in the development of the council. PAC was developed to assist HSA in improving service delivery to families.
The Peer Parent Advocates Program is a collaboration between Hunters Point Family, Seneca Center, and The San Francisco Human Services Agency.
98% of families surveyed felt supported by services and reported that the program assisted them in reunifying with their children sooner.
The Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is a unified group of parents, foster parents, service providers and family advocates, organized and working together to build healthy families and to continue the struggle to improve the child welfare system to enhance family preservation and quality services to system-involved families.
The PAC advocates for the safety of children, the empowerment of parents and the collaborative efforts of the Human Services Agency with community providers to assure and enhance family maintenance.
The purposes of the PAC:
▪ Bring reality to discussions between birth parents, resource/foster parents, kin caretakers and staff to break assumption and to build empathy
▪ Provide insight and suggestions to help improve service delivery for families
▪ Build better relationships and increase communication between parents and staff
▪ Help parents gain accessibility to decision-making structures and to help decision-makers connect with parents as advisors
▪ Provide a forum for parent voices to help the system better support and strengthen families.
The Parent Advocacy program was developed out of the recommendations of the PAC. This program component provides one-one one advocacy and mentoring to families currently involved in the child welfare system. The program employs parents who have prior personal CPS experience to act as peer mentors. Parent Advocates support families in understanding and navigating the system. They assist with Team Decision Making meetings (TDM), referrals to treatment programs and provide advocacy within the school district, medical and housing and other social service systems. The goal of the Parent Advocacy program is to increase the reunifications rate for system-involved families.