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AVA Partnering with Parents (PWP)






June 30, 2024




Award Floor:


Match Required?




Entity Types:

Nonprofits (with 501(c)(3) Status), small businesses





Source Type:


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


Partnering With Parents (PWP) is a parent-driven program, in partnership with DCFS, POS and Community Based Providers (CBP) staff. PWP works towards a family centered, trauma informed, and strength-based approach. Principles of the Core Practice Model are used to support safety, permanency and wellbeing outcomes for families.

The program assists parents with skill development and strategies to work towards successful permanency for their family. Birth parents who attend chapter groups and other meetings as part of the PWP program also work toward gaining a better understanding of the child welfare system. This enables them to better understand how to navigate through the child welfare system and have additional support while working towards service plan goals. Chapter meetings include:
1. Learning and development for the birth parents;
2. Identification of community resources and assistance with referrals; and
3. A safe platform for birth parents to express ideas, issues and concerns regarding their experience with the child welfare system. Information from birth parents helps guide and integrate practice improvement into the larger child welfare system.

Services are to promote permanency by maintaining, strengthening and safeguarding the functioning of families through work with parents 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 two staff in this program will help develop local parent chapter groups, regularly communicate with the field regarding chapter groups, and help local staff recruit local birth parents to be chapter members and leaders. These staff will also engage appropriate field staff and their supervisors to carry out supportive activities for the local PWP chapters. They shall also provide training and guidance to birth parents; help local staff lead chapter groups, and support staff and birth parents to improve the process of birth parents navigating the DCFS system.

Stateside Oversight
The Provider shall hire and train the two staff who manage and direct the PWP program statewide. The Provider shall carry out primary supervisor responsibilities for the staff in this program. However, the DCFS OCPS will exercise a matrix management approach with the Provider to inform this program such that the program meets the needs and objectives of the PWP program. The DCFS OCPS shall also have administrative authority over this contract, including contract monitoring responsibility.


DCFS Clients
Client Capacity Under DCFS Agreement: Open
Capacity at Any Given Time: Open

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

Average Length of Services: varies

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 a birth/legal parent who has an open investigation and an open placement or intact service case and who has been referred by community service providers, court personnel, DCFS/ POS investigator or case manager, or self-referrals and who are receiving services through DCFS, including those parents who 1) have an open investigation with the Division of Child Protection; 2) have an open Placement and or Intact services case, or who have a child(ren) in the care and custody of DCFS.
Unit of Service
• Direct Services
1. Advocacy and support to families and/or children.
2. Organizing meetings and setting up new parent chapters, plus recruiting members for and generally supporting all parent chapters.
3. Resource research.
4. Special assignments approved in advance.
5. Contact with children and families.
6. Telephone contact with assigned families/children.
7. Consultation with team regarding placement and utilization.
8. Travel to and from meetings with birth parents.

• Indirect Services
1. Report writing (Initial Contact Report, Contact Report, Log, etc.)
2. Travel time for trainings, team and organizational meetings, and supervision.
3. Telephone time with agency supervisor related to providing support services or obtaining supervision.
4. Headquarters is home and thus may bill for mileage reimbursement from home to authorized points of service other than the local DCFS office. Provider must comply with all current state travel rules and regulations.


Families who are receiving services through DCFS, including those parents who 1) have an open investigation with the Division of Child Protection; 2) have an open Placement and or Intact services case, or who have a child(ren) in the care and custody of DCFS.

Parents who refuse to participate in the program and parents who do not have an open service case with DCFS.


• Provider Responsibility
-Referral Decision-Making Criteria: The program is designed to work with birth parents based on referrals, maintaining contact with them during their work toward reunification to provide support as needed. Referrals may be made by the courts, agency staff, other birth families, Birth Parent Mentor program and/or other birth parent support programs.

-Admission Notification Procedures: The program staff will review all referrals of parents and admit to the program those parents who have current open investigation, intact or placement case, to the extent that program capacity has not been reached. If the program is at maximum capacity, admitted parents shall be placed on a waiting list and notified of such.

• Department Responsibility: The DCFS Office of Caregiver & Parent Support will oversee the administrative aspect of the PWP contract. The Department casework staff, administrators, or other Department/POS staff will identify eligible clients in need of support and will provide written/electronic referral information for coordination/referral to the program. A release of information shall be signed to exchange information

• Client Contacts: Client contacts may be made in person, over the phone, in writing, or by other approved technology mediated communication.

Initial contact with a client is made generally in one of four ways:
1. The Client is the birth parent. Birth parents may initiate services by calling the contact person of the program utilizing information from a brochure/flyer.
2. The Client’s caseworker or other involved professional contacts the PWP program on behalf of an individual who wishes to get involved in PWP.
3. The Client comes to a meeting. The facilitator maintains a log of attendance.
4. Clients participate in an Information Fair or Summit/Institute.

Ongoing contact: Clients are encouraged to, but not required to, disclose their telephone numbers to continue contact by the facilitator or by a birth parent leader within the group. These types of communications are generally used for reminders of group meetings or group events.

Clients are encouraged to call the facilitator or other members of the group for ongoing support needs. An integral part of the Partnering with Parents model is peer-to-peer support.


The Provider shall maintain personnel records of all employees who provide direct or supportive services to Department clients and a personnel information matrix listing staff assigned to/providing services under this program plan. This also includes contracted services for contractual providers. The following information for each employee shall be maintained in the Provider’s records:
• Proof of education, including high school, college and training programs.
• A detailed summary of each employee or contractor’s work experience.
• Annual employee performance evaluations.
• Documentation that a background check was completed, including but not limited to a CANTS check.
• Copy of a valid driver’s license (if applicable).
• Auto liability insurance coverage (if applicable).
• Staff medical exam form, appropriate Form CFS-600 through CFS-604 (if applicable).
• Proof of State Required Licensure (if applicable).

Background Checks: All employees, volunteers, and interns who have direct contact with Clients or confidential Client information shall submit information for a DCFS Background Check. The individual will be informed that the background check requires fingerprinting so that information can be checked through multiple information systems. No person working with Partnering with Parents as an employee, volunteer or intern shall have unsupervised contact with clients or access to confidential client information until successfully clearing the background check.

Training: Staff are required to complete all DCFS mandatory trainings.
Staffing and Staffing Ratios: The Contract will fund two staff positions, a Statewide Birth Parent Manager and a Coordinator/Support Position. Volunteer Partnering with Parents chapter leaders, the DCFS Office of Caregiver & Parent Support and DCFS/POS field staff will also support the program.

• Statewide Birth Parent Manager
The Statewide Birth Parent Manager will educate DCFS/POS staff in the community about chapter groups; establish, train and coach all individuals involved in group service delivery; and conduct presentations as needed. Statewide Birth Parent Manager will ensure that the agenda/programs are distributed to each group and will work with the Office of Caregiver and Parent Support for data collection and related needs throughout the year.

Requirements for the Statewide Birth Parent Manager are:
1. Master’s Degree in human services or another relevant degree from an accredited school.
2. Experience in facilitating groups and knowledge of group dynamics, with special emphasis on working with people who are or feel they are marginalized.
3. Ability to communicate clearly and speak publicly.
4. Knowledge of Microsoft Office and the Internet, submitting reports addressing budget management, goals and outcomes. Responsible for coordinating recruitment and outreach activities to private and community-based agencies serving DCFS birth parents.
5. Must be able to work collaboratively with the Parents Statewide Advisory Committee/Birth Parent Councils to identify themes that indicate a need for systemic change.
6. Must have knowledge of child welfare, impact of abuse and neglect and/or dependency; and issues that are specifically related to family reunification such as trauma, grief, loss, separation and attachment; and the youth’s developmental needs as they change and resurface over time.
7. Must demonstrate the ability to work constructively as a member of a professional child welfare team, which may include families, agency staff and other providers in the community.
8. Must have a valid driver’s license and access to a fully insured motor vehicle. Proof of insurance will be required. Travel will be regional and may include statewide.
9. Must demonstrate sensitivity toward other races and cultures.
10. Must have appropriate organizational skills and be able to maintain all records confidentiality.
11. Must be able to utilize reporting procedures as requested by the agency.
12. Must be resourceful, self-motivated and exhibit good judgment and common sense in advocating for the best interests of children and their families.
13. Must understand and actively support DCFS rules and policies regarding confidentiality in working with birth families.

• Statewide Birth Parent Coordinator
1. The Statewide Birth Parent Coordinator must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school in an area of human services or no less than 5 years of documented, satisfactory work in the helping professions, working directly with people.
2. The coordinator shall get assignments and take direction and supervision from the Program Manager and possess the demonstrated and documented ability to interact productively with parents who are marginalized or feel they are marginalized, the supervising agency staff, DCFS field staff and other professionals in the child welfare and human services fields.
3. The coordinator shall possess and have documented evidence of successful experience working with groups.
4. The coordinator shall have experience making and creating records of work with individuals and groups, including paper and digital records.
5. The coordinator must possess a reliable automobile that is fully insured and be willing and able to travel frequently across the state in support of local parent chapters and other Partnering with Parents events. This will include overnight stays.
6. This position must understand and adhere to all policies, practices and other requirements of the contracted agency as well as DCFS.

Supervisory: The Office of Caregiver and Parent Support will provide oversight of the PWP program for program monitoring purposes. Hiring, daily supervision, and housing of records shall be done by the Provider who will have matrix management with the DCFS Office of Caregiver and Parent Support.

Staff Development
• DCFS Required Trainings - Staff shall attend onboarding with the DCFS Office of Caregiver and Parent Support and regularly scheduled staff development meetings. Staff shall complete any DCFS offered required trainings as directed by immediate agency supervisor, on behalf of DCFS. Trainings include, but are not limited to: Mandated Reporter, Core Practice Model, Ethics, Burgos Consent Decree, Sexual Harassment, Employee and Workplace Safety, Confidentiality, and training on LGBTQI+, racial/ethnic sensitivity, equality and competency.
• Provider Required Trainings - Staff shall attend additional training as requested.

• Other Staff Development Activities - Staff shall attend monthly and other team meetings led by staff in the field to develop relationships and maintain connections. Other staff development meetings will be held by the Provider for development and projects to move the program forward.

Provider shall submit its staff development plan to the DCFS Program Monitor upon request.
Performance evaluations will be completed annually.


The Provider shall support achievement of the outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being for children and their parents and other family members served under this Agreement. The Provider also agrees to ensure the safety and well-being of all clients while receiving services under this Agreement. The physical plant shall be safe, adequately maintained, and free from damage. Staffing levels shall assure the adequate supervision necessary to provide therapeutic treatment to clients. A safe and caring environment is critical for supporting therapeutic treatment, and the Provider shall facilitate and maintain this environment so that all treatment services provided to clients are supported.”

Child development is enhanced as parents learn to understand and incorporate knowledge of child development into their parenting practices. Birth parents learn how to navigate the DCFS child welfare system with the support of their peers, other parents who are being or have been served by the child welfare system. Birth parents receive a handbook to supplement what they learn through PWP involvement, helping to guide them through their DCFS experience.

Community education and networking events, known in the past as Information Fairs, will be conducted to recruit new birth parents and to continue to build a network of support.

Each active PWP chapter or region must identify a birth parent to be a member of the new DCFS Statewide Parents Advisory Council. This council will provide feedback into the larger child welfare Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) system.

Services shall be done in these primary locations:
• The community (courts, schools, community service organizations, etc.)
• The DCFS/POS office


Outcome: Establishing birth parent chapter groups in each region is expected to enhance parenting practices/support of and support to birth parents involved with DCFS.
• Measure: 70% of parents surveyed on a quarterly basis will report an increase in family functioning/ resilience/ support.
• Measure: Collect agendas and meeting notes to ensure that chapters are established, meeting, and collaborating to share information in support of birth parents.

Outcome: Increase the number of parents who participate in chapter groups.
• Measure: Compare previous annual fiscal year data on the number of birth parent attendees to the current fiscal year for a final report. Reports will be reviewed quarterly to determine progress and areas that need attention.

Outcome: Educate parents by providing educational material, resources, support, direction and guidance to birth parents during chapter meetings.
• Measure: Chapters and staff will provide birth parents with the Resource Guide/Handbook at their initial chapter meeting 95% of the time.
• Measure: Focus groups, phone calls and surveys will be conducted by staff to measure the effectiveness of this program. Results will be collected and compared quarterly.

Outcome: Continue regular DCFS Statewide Parents Advisory Council meetings with representation in membership from every local parent chapter.
• Measure: Staff will document and review meeting calendars and minutes for and from each Statewide Parents Council meetings on a monthly basis, identifying next steps in each meeting.
• Measure: The Statewide Parent Council will develop a plan for birth parent participation with representation from each region.
• Measure: The Statewide Parent Council will be staffed and populated with parents, and this work will include the development of bylaws with strong input by the parent members.
• Measure: Staff will review and report progress and setbacks quarterly, taking next steps based on information gathered.

Outcome: Facilitate learning and development to birth parents to increase skill development and capacity of birth parents through both formal and informal training.
• Measure: Chapter groups, trainings and/or Birth Parent Cafés provided at a local level by staff at least quarterly will be monitored by the contracting agency and reviewed regularly by the DCFS Office of Caregiver and Parent Support (OCPS). Local staff will record attendance, minutes and activities on activity logs which will be monitored monthly by the program monitor or designee and shared monthly with the OCPS.
• Measure: Effectiveness of groups to increase the capacity of birth parents in meeting the needs of their children will be measured through surveys, phone calls, interviews or focus groups administered by the program monitor or designee.

Outcome: Birth parents who have been selected and prepared to speak publicly will share their experiences with DCFS staff in foundation training sessions on an ongoing basis. These parents’ speaking sessions will be monitored by one of these two program staff and coached according to need.
• Measure: Surveys from the foundation classes will be reviewed and compared on a quarterly basis. Parent attendance at staff trainings will be documented.

Outcome: Consult with the Statewide Parents Advisory Council and the local parent chapters to develop an annual training and education conference in Chicago and an annual partnering With Parents Summit with the Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council in the DCFS Central Region.
• Measure: The contractor will make sure the two program staff perform the major planning and execution of these two events, collecting and filing documents such as attendance sheets, agendas, participant evaluations and expenditures to document these events and their outcomes.



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