Foster and adoptive parents are in the front lines of care for vulnerable children, many of whom have experienced complex trauma and all of whom have experienced some level of separation and loss. Foster and adoptive parents have the challenging, yet rewarding, task of welcoming these children into their families. Although parents start this journey with good intentions, parents are often not fully prepared for the challenges they might encounter, and which ultimately can impede their ability to provide stability and permanence. As such, it is essential that parents are provided with ample, comprehensive information at the start of this journey, enabling them to make informed decisions and to develop a new set of skills that are effective and aligned when caring for children who have experienced trauma, loss, and separation. These parents also need to have access to ongoing training and skill development so they can build their capacity and resilience as their needs and their children’s needs change over time.
The NTDC aims to accomplish the goal of preparing foster and adoptive parents for this journey through three program components: self-assessment, classroom-based training, and “right-time” training.
Parents will complete self-assessments before and after the classroom-based training. Information gained from the initial assessment will help the facilitator tailor the classroom sessions and materials to meet the specific needs of the group participants. The second self-assessment is designed to help parents better understand their capacity, progress, and specific areas in which they might need to seek additional learning opportunities.
The dynamic, interactive NTDC curriculum will provide concrete information on the roles and responsibilities of foster/adoptive parents and impart to parents the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to effectively parent children who have experienced trauma, separation and/or loss. Each theme will have clearly delineated learning objectives that not only build on skills taught in previous themes but also align with competencies identified as common characteristics of successful foster and adoptive parents.
Participants will have ongoing access to training and resources, allowing them to guide their own continued learning and to obtain parenting information at the time it is needed. Resources such as videos and written materials will be easily available to parents through an app or Web-based platform, enabling parents to continue building their skills over time and access age-specific information as their children transition through different developmental stages.
At the end of the grant period, states, counties, tribal nations, territories, and private agencies will have access to a free, comprehensive curriculum that has been thoroughly evaluated, which can be used to prepare, train, and develop foster and adoptive parents.
In addition to the partner agencies, the NTDC will work with the following four committees to bring both lived and professional experience to the development of the curriculum:
- NTDC Content Committee
- NTDC American Indian / Alaska Native Content Committee
- NTDC 21st Century Learning Committee
- NTDC Integration Committee