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01-12-2011 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2011

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2011

Family Peer Advocates: A Pilot Study of the Content and Process of Service Provision

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2011
Jennifer P. Wisdom, Serene Olin, Priscilla Shorter, Geraldine Burton, Kimberly Hoagwood


Professional family peer advocates are increasingly employed by public mental health systems to deliver family-to-family support that reduces barriers families face in accessing children’s mental health care. These services, however, are neither uniformly available nor standardized. This pilot study describes the process, content and context of family-to-family support services. Simulating a parent seeking services, a trained standardized parent participated as a client in meetings with advocates in four programs and collected data through structured observations, a structured survey, and session audiotapes. The “walk-through” process was determined to be feasible and acceptable to family peer advocates as a way of evaluating services. Four family peer advocates provided an average of 25 services during each 2-session simulation with the standardized parent, including the following: information and educational support, instruction and skills development, emotional and affirmational support, instrumental support, and advocacy. Findings also revealed variability in the range of services provided and identified challenges in aspects of service provision, such as boundaries of advocate roles, availability of confidential service environments, and addressing crises and parent concerns about child safety. This paper provides the first in-depth look at services provided by this emerging workforce.

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