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“The Real Work is What They Do Together”*: Peer Support and Birth Parent Change


This article examines a peer support intervention with birth parents in the child welfare system. Literature on the emotional change process for child welfare-involved parents, peer-support intervention-outcome studies in child welfare, and findings on peer support in related fields is reviewed. The Mendocino County Family Services Center (MCFSC) model is described, and findings from an exploratory study are presented and discussed. This model engages parents in a sequence of services based on developmental stages. The study used focus groups, interviews, and observation to understand the key components of the MCFSC peer support intervention, and the experience of birth-parent participants with respect to their personal change process. Further research into this model and other interventions that promote birth-parent change in child welfare is warranted. Copyright 2006 Alliance for Children and Families.

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