Working With PRIDE

Implementing PRIDE Internationally: Singing the Same Song

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SidebarSharing PRIDE between countries has been a multicultural adventure for nearly 20 years. I had the privilege of participating in the initial development of PRIDE when it was being field tested through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. I quickly understood that PRIDE's core competencies for foster and adoptive parents could be relevant outside the United States. After PRIDE development was completed, conferences sponsored by the International Foster Care Organization provided the opportunity to tell others about PRIDE.

Finland was the first Scandinavian country to implement PRIDE. I helped with that implementation based on my experiences in the Netherlands. The "transnational migration" of PRIDE is documented in a 2001 article in Child Welfare.* The article details influential factors in the transfer process among countries, such as the quality of the program's content, the methodology used to accomplish the transfer, and the commitment of the transferring organizations and individuals involved. While that article explains the specific methodology, I will take the opportunity here to share some anecdotal perspectives.

The first challenge in the transcultural transfer of PRIDE is to build relationships with prospective PRIDE users--a process even more challenging when working through translators or with colleagues who are not native English speakers. This requires finding ways to share culturally meaningful information while still maintaining the integrity of PRIDE. So, upon learning that our Finnish colleagues liked to sing, we suggested a singing activity to get acquainted at the start of PRIDE implementation in Finland. Just as children are better served when the adults around them work as a team, a song sounds better when a group sings the same tune. We suggested that we try a song whose tune everyone might know, even though we may sing the words in different languages.

As trainers, we saw this as a risk. Can you ask colleagues whom you've just met to start singing? Will they ask for their money back and kick you out of their country? But PRIDE requires facing some challenges, so we dared ask: "Does Finland have a catchy short song, with phrases that are repeated in succession by different singers?" We found out there was. The French song "Frere Jacques" is known in English as "Are you sleeping, Brother John?" In Dutch, it is "Vader Jacob." In Finnish, it is "Jacco Ulto." Our Finnish colleagues immediately stood up and sang, in great harmony, "Jacco Ulto," with the American and Dutch versions joining in.

All of us were astonished and touched that, within a few minutes, we had found common ground. Our Dutch-American implementation team came to appreciate that our Finnish PRIDE colleagues had a song for every PRIDE topic: loss, attachment, and even children's behaviors. In the PRIDE model of practice, each training session ends with an activity titled, "Making a Difference," a brief story about a positive foster care or adoption experience. In Finland, it became the tradition to end each session with a song that reflected the subject of the day.

Next, we developed Master Trainers--leaders who carried the PRIDE baton throughout the country. This included ongoing supervision for each local agency implementing PRIDE. Ultimately, the innovators from the first round of PRIDE understood that PRIDE needed its own in-country "parents," a group that would ensure that the PRIDE competencies for foster parents would be applied to the program itself. This would enable PRIDE to be protected and nurtured; have developmental needs and delays addressed; stay connected with its family of origin (American/Dutch colleagues); have safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a long time; and be part of a team--in this case, an international one. To this end, our Finnish colleagues created Pesapuu ry. This year, it celebrates its 15th anniversary and has become a National Center for Excellence in Child Protection. PRIDE is part of that center.

This was a first step on the road to implementing PRIDE in all the Scandinavian countries. It is now impossible to become a foster parent there without experiencing PRIDE. I have also had the privilege to consult on creating PRIDE in Hungary, Poland, Russia, the Slovak Republic, and Ukraine. Check this column for future articles from PRIDE colleagues in those and other countries. You will learn that the common ground has always started with organizations in need of a conceptually sound, strengths-based approach to foster parent development and support. PRIDE has consistently met that need... and that's a lot to sing about.

* Herzcog, M., van Pagee, R., & Pasztor, E. M. (2001). The multinational transfer of competency-based foster parent assessment, selection, and training: A nine-country case study. In E.J. McFadden & E.M. Pasztor (eds.). Child Welfare: International Issues in Child Welfare (special issue), pp. 631-643.

Rob van Pagee is director of Sticht-ing Op Kleine Schaal, the national organization in the Netherlands responsible for implementing PRIDE. He is also the director of Stichting Eigen Kracht Centrale, which implements the Dutch Family Group Conference program. He has been the primary trainer/consultant for PRIDE implementation in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. He can be reached at

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