Built off the traditional foster care model, partnership parenting is Georgia’s most up-to-date parenting practice model used by caregivers and birth parents when a child is temporarily removed from a home. Adopted by the Department of Family and Child Services, partnership parenting is a trauma-informed shared parenting model that helps keep birth parents connected to their child by allowing them to remain in a parental role, even if their child is currently in foster care or another out-of-home placement.
Who Is Considered a Caregiver in Partnership Parenting?
When a child is removed from a home for a period of time, they could be placed with qualified caregivers, which can include family members—grandparents, adult siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.—or foster parents. “Caregiver” is an inclusive, catchall term that applies to anyone legally and temporarily providing care to a child in an out-of-home placement. It is even a term used for adoptive parents.
Possible caregiver types you can become include:
Partnership Parents, More Traditionally Known as Foster Parents
Partnership parents, or foster parents, are those who have been trained and are qualified to welcome non-relative children in need of temporary placement into their homes. Partnership parents learn how to share parental duties with the child’s birth parents and understand the importance of doing so for the child, the parents, and the reunification process.
Resource parents are partnership parents who are qualified, prepared, and willing to adopt if circumstances call for it.
Relative parents are those who are related to the child by blood and are qualified to take the child in for temporary care. Relative parents must undergo the same training and approval process as partnership parents, qualifying them to take in non-relative foster children if circumstances call for it.
Adoptive parents can include parents who are fostering to adopt, parents interested in adopting a waiting child*, or relative parents interested in gaining legal custody of their family member.
Adoptive parents can only pursue adoption if the birth parents have voluntarily relinquished their parental rights or have had their parental rights terminated by the court.
*Waiting children are those who are in foster care or out-of-home placement and whose birth parents have either voluntarily or involuntarily terminated their parental rights.
What Is the Goal of Partnership Parenting?
Georgia’s goal through partnership parenting is to maintain the child-parent connection and keep the parents as involved as possible, as long as circumstances allow. Not only does partnership parenting help mitigate a child’s trauma following placement by preserving the bonds between the parents and child, but it also allows parents to demonstrate and improve their parenting skills, which can help expedite the reunification process.
Additionally, if the circumstances call for concurrent planning*, partnership parenting is designed to help serve either outcome.
*Concurrent planning is a form of planning for a child in foster care or temporary placement that prepares for reunification with the birth parents while also arranging for adoption as an alternative in case reunification is not possible. In cases of concurrent planning, the child will usually be placed with a resource parent or a partnership parent who is willing to pursue adoption.
Benefits That Partnership Parenting Has on a Child
- The child can remain connected to their family, identity, and heritage.
- The parents can continue to support their child and can learn new and improved parenting skills.
- The reunification process can be smoother and less tumultuous.
- The child can receive love, care, and compassion from both families.
- The birth parents and child are more likely to stay connected to the partnership parents following reunification.
Evidence also shows that under the partnership parenting model, children are more likely to develop an enhanced level of self-esteem and a better self-image.
How Does Partnership Parenting Work?
When a partnership parent welcomes a foster child into their home, they are connected to the birth parents and are expected to maintain communication with them. There are numerous ways each parent can create and take advantage of parenting opportunities, which can be done through phone calls, virtual calls, letters, and face-to-face connections.
Opportunities birth parents should participate in can include:
- Calling the child every evening to hear about their day
- Meeting in person to help with homework or sign school-related papers
- Cheering the child on at sporting events, performances, or other extracurricular activities
Whenever it is viable and favorable for the birth parent to connect with their child, both partnership parents and birth parents should work together to achieve this connection.
You can help Georgia’s children find safety and comfort as their families work toward reunification by becoming a foster parent with Generational Child Care.
At Generational Child Care, we offer continuous support and the resources you need to become a foster parent in Georgia. Georgia’s youth need loving homes, and we invite you to join other foster parents in the mission to love and support them with a safe place to live. Discover more about becoming a foster parent in Georgia by contacting 478-477-1289 .