Working With PRIDE

Back to the Future

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SidebarThis is the second edition of the Voice's new column, "Working with PRIDE." With the 20th anniversary of the PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Develop-ment, and Education) practice model coming next year, a new generation of child welfare professionals and resource families--foster and adoptive parents--are learning about it. Just as children's histories help us understand behaviors, PRIDE's history provides some perspective on its sustainability over the past two decades.

PRIDE's roots go back to our country's first national foster parent training program, inspired by Helen Stone, who worked at CWLA in the 1960s. At the time, more challenging children were labeled as having "special needs." In collaboration with the late Beatrice Garrett from the U.S. Children's Bureau, Helen recognized that foster parents needed a vehicle for advocacy, support, empowerment, and training. With a Children's Bureau grant to CWLA, they created the National Foster Parent Association in the late 1960s and CWLA published Parenting Plus. This pioneer effort acknowledged the extra responsibilities of fostering with a 12-hour training program and accompanying workbook and films.

In the 1970s, Helen consulted for a new program at Nova University, where Eileen was the principal developer of what became known as the "Nova model." Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, "Nova" provided the foundation for PRIDE by taking a behavioral and systems approach to foster parent recruitment and assessment. Preservice training was conceptualized as an integral component of the home study process. The goal was to help foster parents and agencies make informed decisions about their willingness, ability, and resources to work together.

The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 required both foster parents and caseworkers to have more skills. Eileen joined the Child Welfare Institute to become the first author of Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting, originally funded by the Massachusetts and North Carolina Departments of Social Services. Two of CWLA's current leaders, Board President Julie Springwater and Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs Linda Spears, were part of the initial MAPP development team. The 1980s innovations in MAPP provided an additional foundation for the 1990s development of PRIDE: (1) replace "home study" with culturally competent strengths/needs family assessments; (2) include prospective adoptive parents; and (3) reframe preservice training as preparation, expanding it to 27 hours to support the family assessment process.

In 1990-91, CWLA convened the National Commission on Family Foster Care in collaboration with the National Foster Parent Association. The Commission produced A Blueprint for Fostering Infants, Children, and Youth in the 1990s, recommending policies and practices so foster and adoptive parents could protect and nurture children; meet their developmental needs; support their relationships with birth families; connect them to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime; and work as professional team members. As State Foster Care Director for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Donna served on the Commission, and Eileen, then a national program director for CWLA, was the Commission's staff director. In Illinois, foster and adoptive parents were requesting a competency-based, comprehensive approach to recruitment, preparation, assessment, selection, in-service training, and other supports that would help with retention. With significant input from Illinois' foster and adoptive parents, Donna and Eileen collaborated with more than 100 colleagues from public and privates agencies, and national and international organizations to create Foster PRIDE/Adopt PRIDE.

By focusing on competencies, PRIDE shifted the way training was historically conceptualized for foster and adoptive parents. The 100-plus hours of PRIDE's preservice, core, advanced, and specialized training reflect the time needed to learn, practice, and become competent in a skill. PRIDE proposed that protecting and nurturing children at risk and strengthening all their families--birth, foster, or adoptive-- requires teamwork among individuals with diverse knowledge and skills, but with a shared vision and a common goal. PRIDE's popularity over the years may be its format as a comprehensive practice model that reframes the tasks of recruitment and retention to 14 specific steps in foster and adoptive family development and support.

In recent years, budget cuts and a new generation of child welfare workers have prompted some jurisdictions to deviate from the model, using PRIDE solely as a preservice training program, or for kinship caregivers. This column provides a forum in which implementation, research, innovations, and challenges can be shared. You are invited to write a column about your experiences, and to share this invitation with others. For submission guidelines, as well as further references on foster parent education and PRIDE, visit

Eileen Mayers Pasztor DSW is an associate professor at the California State University, Long Beach Department of Social Work, and continues to care for her now adult foster and adopted children because of their special needs. She is currently working with CWLA on a new curriculum, Collaborating with Kinship Caregivers. Donna D. Petras PhD is a professor emerita at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago, and is a visiting professor at the Addis Ababa University School of Social Work in Ethiopia.

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