Building Evidence about Parent Advocacy Initiative in Initial Child Safety Conferences

Marina Lalayants - Silberman School of Social Work

This evaluation study examined the perceptions and outcomes of the Parent Advocacy (PA) Initiative implemented in Initial Child Safety Conferences (ICSC) by New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Parent advocates hailed from two agencies: The Center for Human Development and Family Services (CHDFS), whose catchment area covered  the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island; and the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA), whose catchment area encompassed Brooklyn and  Queens. In ICSCs, parent advocates, drawing upon their extensive personal and professional experiences, advocated for, supported,  counseled, and guided families throughout the duration of the conference. 

This study analyzed the experiences and perceptions of parent advocates differentiated by agency of origin; investigated parents' understanding of the parent advocate's role; elicited feedback from the child protective services (CPS) staff at the supervisory and caseworker-levels about their professional and relational experiences working alongside advocates; identified the types of supports provided by advocates in the ICSC and their general helpfulness to families and child welfare staff; and proposed areas for improvements