Web-Enhanced Pre-Service Training for Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Parents

Period of Performance: 07/05/2007 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Northwest Media, Inc.
Eugene, OR 97401
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Foster, kinship, and adoptive parents have to successfully complete training and screening prior to becoming licensed caregivers. The Institute for Human Services (IHS) has created one of the few standardized pre-service programs in current use nationally. Face-to-face contact between prospective caregiver parents and staff is crucial during this part of their training for the purposes of screening, building support, and handling sensitive topics. Recently, however, IHS and others have become increasingly interested in enhancing their pre-service program by adding online training activities that focus more on conveying information about the child welfare system, and about the complex circumstances, issues, and attitudes these parents will have to face. Using the Web for these activities will not only allow parents to regulate and more fully process this part of the training in the convenience of their homes, but may actually increase the quality of time they spend in class by reserving that time for activities that are social, interactive, or sensitive in nature, rather than individualized. We propose developing a version of the IHS pre-service training program enhanced by interactive multimedia (IMM) that alternates and integrates online instruction with class instruction. In Phase I we will develop the first of 12 units, on Child Abuse and Neglect. The completed unit will be evaluated with a sample of 80 incoming foster parents affiliated with a social service provider and affiliate of IHS in Milwaukee. The study will compare the IMM-enhanced approach with the traditional class approach on measures of parent knowledge, empathy, usability, and satisfaction. Subjects participating in this project will gain important information about parenting children of abuse and neglect that may help them to better understand and manage these children's disturbed behaviors. As a result, the quality of parent-child relationships in foster, adoptive, and kinship families could improve, which could help stabilize family placements and improve children's short- and long-term mental health outcomes.