Date of this Version
Published in Children and Youth Services Review 104 (2019), 104353, 11 pp.
In an effort to facilitate family engagement with services, improve reunification outcomes, and empower the families they serve, child welfare agencies across the country have developed and implemented programs designed to provide peer mentoring. These programs work to identify parents who have successfully navigated the child welfare system in the past and train them to mentor parents who are currently in the system. The current study used a quasi-experimental design and propensity score matching to examine the outcomes for children of families served by the Iowa Department of Human Services Parent Partner program, one of the earliest and most established programs in the country. Results indicated that the children of program participants were significantly more likely to return home at discharge from their foster care placement than the children of matched non-participants. Additionally, Iowa Parent Partner program participants were significantly less likely to have a subsequent child removal within 12 months of the child returning home than matched non-participants. No significant differences were found between the children of program participants and children of matched nonparticipants in the total time in out of home care or subsequent child removal within 24 months of returning home. These results suggest that participating in the Iowa Parent Partner program can meaningfully improve the outcomes of children and families. Limitations and implications of the current study, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.