Free Foster Care and Adoption Training Curriculum Being Tested in Seven States

National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents (NTDC) is being developed through a cooperative agreement with the Children’s Bureau. Photo from the NTDC website.

Work is underway to test a national foster and adoptive parent training model that will be free for systems to use by 2022.

The National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents (NTDC) announced last month that seven states have been selected to participate in a pilot project to test its new training curriculum.

The selected states are California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma. An agreement is pending with an American Indian tribe for an eighth pilot site.

The project is funded and overseen by the Children’s Bureau, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services that administers most of the federal funds for child welfare. The curriculum is designed to provide up-front and continuing training. The curriculum will also be appropriate for families involved with intercountry or private adoptions, according to the bureau.

“This five-year cooperative agreement is to develop the training for foster, adoptive and kinship families to prepare them for the journey but also offer them ongoing education,” said Melinda Lis, vice president of the academy of family support and preservation at Spaulding for Children, which is the lead agency on the cooperative agreement. “Families don’t just need training on the front end of the journey, they need training throughout the journey.”

Currently, states and agencies provide training to families by developing their own training programs or using curricula like the Child Welfare League of America’s PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) training for pre-service licensing and various online and in-person training opportunities post-placement. The number of required hours of training also vary from state-to-state.

NTDC was launched in October 2017, with $1 million in initial funding and up to $2 million to spend in each remaining year. Several national players in child welfare are involved in its development and evaluation:

  • Spaulding for Children
  • ChildTrauma Academy
  • The Center for Adoption Support and Education
  • North American Council on Adoptable Children
  • National Council for Adoption
  • University of Washington

Pilot locations will test the program that’s been developed by NTDC and evaluate it. Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) announced Feb. 21 that it would be one of the partner sites to help the NTDC further develop and evaluate the curriculum that has been created.

“Colorado’s kinship and foster care families deserve high-quality training and ongoing support. As a pilot site in the NTDC project, Colorado will be in a unique position to inform and be on the cutting edge of a new national curriculum,” said Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families with CDHS, in a press release.

The pilot program will be tested in a few Colorado counties.

“Training for families prior to having children placed in their care is incredibly important, but ongoing training and support is equally important,” Castillo Cohen said in an email to The Chronicle of Social Change. “This project will create resources for families to access throughout their time as caregivers to ensure they are able to meet the needs of the children in their home. This project will create a library of right-time training that families can access when they need it to support the children in their homes.”

The University of Washington is conducting an ongoing evaluation of the curriculum which includes self-assessments provided to families before, during and after the training as well as pre- and post-test and analysis of data from families in the pilot and control groups. Lis said it is hoped that the curriculum will impact parenting confidence, preparedness for parenting, as well as a greater understanding of the impact of trauma, separation, grief and loss. Long-term outcomes of the curriculum hope to show improved placement stability and permanency rates, as well as increased child and family well-being.

A final curriculum will be made available for free to all states, counties, territories, child welfare agencies and tribal nations in 2022.

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Kim Phagan-Hansel
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