Parent to Child (P2C) - Family Interaction Pilot Project
The Parent to Child (P2C) Program was created as an extension of services of the Family Interaction Program of DCDHS that continued the support and mission, providing supervised visits to families. The P2C Program focuses on providing family visits to parents and children facing barriers to daytime/weekday visits due to: work, school, and other challenges. P2C offers family visits weekdays 4pm-8:30pm and on weekends.
The Parent to Child Program is nearing its full first year as a pilot project. In January 2016 we began a volunteer component of P2C. Until this time the program was staffed solely by the Program Director, Emmy Lita, MSSW. In January, staff member Jennifer Bethel, MS, ATR, became a case manager in P2C. Emmy and Jennifer’s eight years of working closely in Canopy Center programming and having expertise in volunteer driven programs, made them a great team for the P2C Program. The volunteer program of P2C is modeled in part after CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates.) Our first volunteer training occurred at the end of January. Volunteers are trained in child-parent attachment issues and disorders, what to expect during visits, a child’s journey through the court system, a mock role play with a parent and toddler, safety planning, observation and listening skills, values clarification, etc. After training, volunteers are matched with a family and make a year commitment to work within the P2C Program and with the family he or she is matched with. We try to match the specific needs of the family with the strengths of the volunteer, as well as consider the specific schedule needs of the family and foster family.
We provide a number of visit possibilities. The first is a community visit where the volunteer (the Family Interaction Specialist) meets with the family in a community setting, this might be a library, restaurant, the zoo, a park, etc. Another option for visits is meeting with the parent and child in the parent’s home. We try to match more seasoned, confident FIS’s with families where home visits will take place. The third type of visit is a meeting that takes place at our designated site location on Thursday evenings. During this time we can offer supervised visits for multiple families within the timeframe of 4:30-8pm. From 5pm-7pm we offer an art therapy experience, led by an art therapy student intern, for families wanting to participate. Each family can choose their own comfortable room, use the common spaces such as an area that can function as a small gymnasium, use the kitchen for preparing meals, use the childcare room for infants and younger children, or choose to take a walk in the community. The neighborhood provides for a great meeting experience for families. The Thursday night program also has the potential for families to learn from one another, help each other build skills, share successes, and have other families to talk with for support. The Thursday night component is not a drop in program. To participate in the Thursday night program a family must be matched with a volunteer.
Our staff and volunteers offer supervised visits, as well as act as mentors and resources as needed to parents and children during the meetings each week. We believe that through rapport and on-going and consistent support, our Family Intervention Specialist will be able to help families develop skills, foster bonds, and have invaluable time with their children.
The P2C are working with the JET Team, as well as hearing from CPS units on how we can best meet the needs of families.
Emmy Lita, MSSW email@example.com 608-729-1125
Jennifer Bethel, MS, ATR firstname.lastname@example.org 608-729-1124
This program began as a pilot project on July 1, 2015 to assist Dane County Department of Human Services (DCDHS) in providing supervised family interaction services to families in CHIPS (children in need of protection) cases. DCDHS has a team of staff who provide this service Monday – Friday 8-5, but unfortunately many parents work during these times, making it difficult to attend regular sessions with their child(ren). The Parent to Child program provides supervised family interaction services weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends, to help support DCDHS in their efforts to conduct family interaction sessions on a timely basis, at times that work for parents. It is the purpose of family interaction sessions to, hopefully, progress toward the goal of reunification of a family in a manner that ensures the safety of the child(ren).