Working With PRIDE

Updating the PRIDE Family Development Plan

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On October 4, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS) Education Services launched the second PRIDE Family Development Plan (FDP) pilot to run for six weeks within 18 Children's Aid Societies (CASs), in the Province of Ontario, Canada. Ontario has an ethnically diverse population of 13 million with a landmass of 415,000 square miles--an area almost three times the size of California. Child welfare services are provided by 53 regionally situated CASs independently governed by boards of directors, all mandated through provincial legislation. As of last March, 17,416 children and youth were in care, while 7,101 foster and kinship care families were open and 1,598 adoption families were available.

In 2006 the Ontario government dir-ected use of the PRIDE preservice training in CASs for all foster, adoptive, kinship, and formal customary care families as part of a consistent and comprehensive assessment and development process for all applicant resource families. OACAS Education Services trains CAS PRIDE trainer teams, assessment staff, and their supervisors; is responsible for adapting PRIDE materials to Ontario legislation; and brings additional components of the PRIDE 14-step model to Ontario. CASs have been provided with the nine PRIDE in-service modules and copies of the PRIDE Digital Curriculum, although this in-service training is not mandated.

The Ontario FDP Working Group includes Doug Trimble, Vy Waller, Heather Pearson, Myra Hurst, Donna Hamilton, and Lynn Barker. Not Pictured: Paula Anderson and Christina Winter-Pavelich.

From 2007 to 2008, Ontario piloted the PRIDE Digital Curriculum as an alter- nate learning resource to mitigate travel time and costs within such a massive area. This pilot brought to light the inherent value of the objective, competency- based FDP process where identified education priorities were linked to specific curriculum, further informing agency training calendars. A decision was made to pilot the FDP, and all CASs were offered the opportunity to participate.

In preparation for the pilot, OACAS adapted the PRIDE FDP by omitting the numeric ranking and its associated calculations to simplify and reduce worker and family time. Strengths-based practice and the PRIDE principles of mutuality, openness in communication, and respect guided OACAS in its revision work to Step 11. Language that was deficit-based and evaluative was replaced. For example, participants were asked to identify only three competency strengths and three competency areas to strengthen, with respect to enhancing their child or youth's well-being. The three FDP tools are now named "The Towards Optimal Parenting Tool," "The Competency Development Agreement," and "The Annual Progress Review."

The first FDP pilot began in May 2009 and involved 18 CASs from across the province. Each agency identified a lead who was oriented to the FDP process and tools and was responsible for ensuring five FDPs were completed during the six-week pilot. Agencies were provided updated FDP materials and encouraged to conduct an hour-and-a-half PRIDE FDP orientation session. At the pilot's end, participating staff and families completed an electronic survey comprised of both qualitative and quantitative questions. This data guided agency leads in making Year 1 recommendations as follows:

  • Revise both worker and family manuals by simplifying, using point form wherever possible.
  • Remove the worker scripts and place them in a separate document accessible to all staff.
  • Simplify, update, and further infuse strengths-based language in the competency tool.
  • Develop a more detailed orientation with case examples.
  • Conduct a Year 2 FDP pilot.

Last May, the PRIDE FDP Revision Working Group (pictured at left) began the revisions, including embedding anti-oppressive practice and diversity themes within the tools. To strengthen capacity, each group member partnered with pilot leads from neighboring agencies to cofacilitate the orientation sessions. The orientation sessions held last September generated considerable enthusiasm. Time and resource considerations are always an issue; however, it is anticipated that when agency leads and OACAS staff meet to make final FDP recommendations for the future use of the FDP in Ontario CASs, the value of this competency- based, objective, and mutually agreed-upon process will be evident.

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