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AVA - Birth Parent Mentors Program (Sangamon)






June 30, 2024




Award Floor:


Match Required?




Entity Types:

For profit organizations other than small businesses, County governments





Source Type:


This grant will be awarded from 7/01/2023 to 6/30/2024.

The Birth Parent Mentor Program provides peer support services to families new to the juvenile court system/child welfare system, engaging birth parents from the very beginning of their involvement and continuing throughout the parents’ child welfare system service tenure. Education, mentoring, and guided support are critical components of the service provided to help birth parents navigate the child welfare system and court

Birth Parent Mentors are peer mentors who have experienced involvement with DCFS and the juvenile court system. The Birth Parent Mentor program provides training, guidance, and support to parents currently involved with DCFS and the juvenile court process. The program assists parent(s) who are working toward reunification by providing birth parents with the knowledge and understanding to achieve family permanency. The Birth Parent Mentor Program will identify birth parents who are new to the juvenile court system through a referral process. The Birth Parent Mentor will meet with parents to provide support and guidance, answer questions, listen to the parent’s concerns, and assist with preparation for court. The Birth Parent Mentor will provide parents with the Birth Parent Resource Guide and discuss the vital importance of their participation in recommended services. They will share information and encourage birth parents to become active members in the service plan process. Birth Parent Mentors will also encourage Birth parents to become active in the Partnering with Parents Program and will make a referral to the local parent chapter group.

Services are to promote permanency by maintaining, strengthening and safeguarding the functioning of families to (1) prevent substitute care placement, (2) promote family reunification, (3) stabilize foster care placements, (4) facilitate youth development, and (5) ensure the safety, permanency and wellbeing of children.


The Provider Agency is responsible for hiring, training and maintaining two Birth Parent Mentors and one Coordinator for the Sangamon County Region. The Parent mentors, Coordinator and Agency will be responsible for organizing and implementing an effective program to support, mentor and refer birth parents in navigating the court and DCFS system. Referrals will be made to the Partnering with Parents Program for additional support to the birth parent.

DCFS Clients
• Client Capacity Under DCFS Agreement: 25
• Capacity at Any Given Time: 50

Agency Clients
• Client Capacity Under Program: N/A
• Capacity at Any Given Time: N/A

Average Length of Services: The anticipated length of services is 30-90 days

Services beyond the program plan service parameters: The provider agrees to obtain prior authorization from DCFS to serve clients outside of the program plan parameters.


• Client: An individual or family unit who has an open DCFS case and open juvenile court case and who has been referred to the Birth Parent Mentor program from the court system, DCFS/POS system or community
• Unit of Service: The unit of service is based on the attached budget.


Birth/Legal Parents who have an open DCFS case and an open juvenile court case. The Coordinator shall develop, monitor and utilize a waiting list for those families who qualify for services but for whom a Birth Parent Mentor is unavailable. Families on the waiting list shall be referred by the Coordinator to area resources and directly to the Partnering with Parents program.

Individuals or family units who have an open DCFS case and an open juvenile court case.

A family may be excluded based on verified non-cooperation of the parent(s). Individuals or families who no longer have an open DCFS or juvenile court case are excluded, including those whose parental rights have been terminated, unless the parent has other open child welfare cases for their other children.


Provider Responsibility

Families will be referred to the Birth Parent Mentor Program by the Sangamon County court system, DCFS/POS or other service providers. If the mentor program is at capacity, the Provider agency may negotiate with the Department to accept additional cases. Cases that cannot immediately be served by the mentor program will be concurrently placed on the mentor program waiting list described herein while the Coordinator makes efforts to ensure that linkage occurs between the family, family advocacy centers, Partnering with Parents program, and other appropriate services.

• Referral Decision-Making Criteria: The Birth Parent Mentor program is designed to work with birth parents based on referrals so the Birth Parent Mentor can start working with the birth parent at the beginning of the court process and mentor the birth parent’s case to permanency for the children. Referrals may be made by the courts, agency staff including case managers, other birth families, the Partnering with Parents program, or other birth parent support programs.

• Admission Procedures: The Birth Parent Mentor shall contact referred parents by phone, email or in person within 24 hours of receipt of the referral. During this call, an informational intake interview shall occur. Within 72 hours of receipt of the referral, the Program Birth Coordinator shall contact the appropriate DCFS/POS staff to notify them of the client’s participation in the Parent Mentoring Program. The Program Coordinator will explain to parent clients the nature of the mentor program’s involvement and the range of services that are available. The Program Coordinator shall notify the appropriate DCFS/POS staff by phone and in writing of the family’s willingness to cooperate, when they begin services, if the family drops out, completion status, and any other relevant information about the family’s participation. The Birth Parent Mentor will provide a status report to the caseworker of the parent’s participation on a quarterly basis, when major changes occur, and as requested.

Department Responsibility

• The assigned Department worker will identify eligible clients in need of services and will provide a written/electronic referral form that includes the following basic information:
• Identifying information on the family
• Medicaid #
• DCFS I.D. # name and phone # of referring person
• Presenting problem

Client Contacts

• Birth Parent Mentor client contacts may be made in person, over the phone, in writing, or by other DCFS approved secure technology mediated communication such as WebEx. Contact shall not be made using public channels such as Facebook, Twitter or other unsecure methods. The client shall be contacted by phone within 24 hours of receipt of the referral. Within 72 hours of receipt of the referral, an intake interview shall be held in the home of the referred client or virtually, using a DCFS approved secure method. Birth Parent Mentors shall contact parents no less than weekly and document all such contacts and the outcomes.


The Birth Parent Mentor program will demonstrate effectiveness and value to the Department using a peer to peer relationship building model utilizing mentors as relationship builders. The Birth Parent Mentor program will assist parents involved with court and DCFS as a way to navigate the system to assist with achieving successful outcomes for their families. The program outcomes listed in the Outcomes of Services required under this Agreement will be measured as follows:

90% of contact with the birth parents will be by phone, for parents who have working phones, within 24 hours of the referral. A review of the referral log will be conducted quarterly to assure compliance with referral requirements.

90% of eligible birth parents will be referred as documented in the referral log. The referral log will be reviewed quarterly for those accepted to assure compliance of having a birth parent mentor at court for support and guidance. When the program is at parents served capacity,

90% of new birth parents will be contacted, told about the Birth Mentor Program and the PWP chapter, and be told they are being placed on a waiting list until an opening in the mentor program occurs. All parents in the program will be accompanied to their court hearings if they want the mentor to accompany them. Mentors will keep records of this on a daily basis.

100% of the eligible birth parents served by the mentor program will be referred to the local Partnering with Parents chapter to assist in their learning to better prepare for court and the child welfare service system as well as other skill and knowledge sets. Reports from the Birth Parent Mentor program will be collected and reviewed quarterly. The agendas, meeting notes and attendance logs from the parent chapter meeting will be part of these reports, and they will be reviewed quarterly to ensure participation of mentor program parents having been referred to the Partnering with Parents Program.

90% of all eligible birth parents who accept services will receive the parents tool kit for educational purposes. This will be measured by reviewing the birth parent mentors’ records of their activities with parents.

80% of birth parents referred will demonstrate increased knowledge of court and DCFS, as well as improved skill development. This will be accomplished through formal/informal training and mentoring.


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