Parenting can be a tough job under any circumstances — we often hear people joking that kids should come with instruction manuals. Foster parenting can come with additional challenges, but when you decide to become a foster parent, you do get a manual of sorts. You'll receive training to help you work with children who are experiencing crisis.
PS-MAPP is a program used in some areas of the U.S. to help prepare individuals for the tough but rewarding work of foster parenting.
The acronym stands for Partnering for Safety and Permanence-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting and it's the first step toward becoming a licensed foster parent or completing a foster care adoption. As of 2016, states with PS-MAPP programs include California, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Massachusetts, as well as the District of Columbia. It's often a mandatory component of the process of becoming a foster parent or legally adopting a foster child.
The PS-MAPP Program
Individuals should expect to spend 3 hours a week for 10 weeks with two certified leaders, usually a social worker and an experienced foster parent. These are often group sessions. Potential foster parents may also be required to attend two one-on-one family consultations with the leaders, each lasting 2 to 3 hours. Various types of "homework" may be involved, designed to assess and identify the prospective foster family's strengths and weaknesses.
Some of the goals of the course include:
Preparing individuals to work with children who have been abused and neglected.
Preparing foster families for partnering with birth families to hopefully reunify them with their children.
Helping potential foster families decide whether foster parenting is right for them.
Learning how to work with a team for the best interest of a child.
Potential foster parents can freely explore their abilities, readiness, and willingness to ensure a child's safety and well-being, and they can get an understanding of what's involved in achieving permanency for a child. They'll receive training in the skills and knowledge that will help them promote safety, well-being, and permanency for any child or children placed in their care. The program emphasizes the sense of teamwork between foster families and child welfare workers that is necessary for a successful foster placement. State approval for becoming a foster parent generally hinges on successfully completing the PS-MAPP program.
The Goal of Permanency
The initial goal in any foster care situation is to ultimate return the child to his birth parent or parents. This reunification process addresses what went wrong in the child's home to bring about his removal to foster parents. The state will work with the birth parents to remedy the problems so the child can return to their care, but this isn't always possible. Permanency then becomes a matter of trying to place the child in a "forever" home, sometimes with relatives and often by ultimately terminating the birth parents' rights and paving the way for adoption.
Learn more at the Partnering for Safety and Permanence-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting or PS-MAPP website.