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The Quality Parenting Initiative is Youth Law Center’s approach to strengthening foster care, including kinship care, using branding and marketing principles. It is a process designed to help a site develop new strategies and practices, rather than imposing upon it a predetermined set of “best practices.” Our core premise is that the primary goal of the child welfare system is to ensure that children have effective, loving parenting. The best way to achieve this goal is to enable the child’s own parents to care for him or her. If that isn’t possible, the system must ensure that the foster or relative family caring for the child provides the loving, committed, skilled care that the child needs, while working effectively with the system to reach the child’s long term goals.
QPI recognizes that the traditional foster care “brand” is has negative connotations and this deters families from participating. QPI is an effort to rebrand foster care, not simply by changing a logo or an advertisement, but by changing the core elements underlying the brand. When these changes are accomplished, QPI sites are better able to develop communication materials and to design recruitment training and retention systems for foster parents. The key elements of the QPI process are:
- To define the expectations of caregivers;
- To clearly articulate these expectations; and then
- To align the system so that those goals can become a reality.
The major successes of the project have been in systems change and improved relationships. Sites have also reported measurable improvement in outcomes such as:
- Reduced unplanned placement changes;
- Reduced use of group care;
- Reduced numbers of sibling separation: and
- More successful improvements in reunification.
To help achieve the goals of QPI, the Youth Law Center provides the following services:
- Assistance recruiting families to serve as foster care providers;
- Providing training, counseling and assistance to foster care providers; and
- Consulting with and providing counseling and support to foster care providers.
The Quality Parenting Initiative is currently being implemented in 23 counties in California, throughout Nevada and Florida, and in jurisdictions in Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
QPI has been supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the David B. Gold Foundation, Eckerd Family Foundation, the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, the Stuart Foundation, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, the California Department of Social Services and numerous other state and local agencies throughout the country. Key partners include Dr. Denise Goodman and the University of South Florida.