Quality Parenting Initiative Needs Input

Several SaintA staff members, a SaintA foster parent, and I recently had the opportunity to attend the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) conference in sunny San Diego. Wisconsin was one of seven states (as well as California, Nevada, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York) in attendance. QPI is an initiative aimed at providing great caregivers to the children in out-of- home care and having everyone on the team work together as a partnership for the well-being of the child.

QPI was initiated in Florida by founder, Carole Shauffer (of the Youth Law Center). The key elements of the QPI process are: to define the expectations of caregivers, clearly articulate these expectations and align the system so that the goals can become a reality (see qpiflorida.org).

Nikeyah Flagg
Nikeyah Flagg

Wisconsin is one of several states working to start the QPI movement. QPI’s overall goal is the same, in that we all want the best care possible given to children within child welfare, but each state’s QPI movement will look different based on that city/state’s population.

Among attendees at the conference were direct staff, leadership, foster parents and youth who previously were in care. It was absolutely awesome to listen to the stories of the youth who once were in care. We were able to gain insight as to what worked and what could have been better for them. I think that information is vital in the recruitment of future caregivers. One of the great messages I received from the conference was to get the input of our current/previous youth in care as we move forward in the recruitment of foster parents.

Can I just say foster parents, “You rock!” As a caregiver support specialist, I realize that a foster parents’ job is difficult. However, when you really sit down and think about the amazing work that they do, it’s mind boggling. We have to look to our caregivers as our partners rather than someone who is there to “babysit.” Children are in their care 24 hours a day, so it’s silly not to partner with our caregivers. They are essential to children finding permanence.

Ray Tucker of Tucker Leadership Group was the guest speaker at the conference, and the insight/information he shared on leadership was great. In order for Milwaukee to go forward with QPI, it will be vital for our leadership from all respective child welfare programs to be on board and present to support this QPI movement. SaintA already has a great start, having monthly QPI sessions with founder Carole Shauffer and sending staff and a foster parent to the QPI Conference. We expect to be a part of something great.

This QPI movement is a partnership and cannot be done without the key players; this movement involves everyone. SaintA is not able to get QPI off the ground without foster parents, youth, legal parties, and community partners. We need you to be a part of the team and come with ideas and feedback. Again, this is a partnership in which we are all working together to support providing love, care, and well-being to a child.

I hope that anyone who was not able to make it to any of the previous QPI sessions will join the next QPI branding session on Thursday, Feb. 12, 9-11a.m. at the Tommy Thompson Center (640 S. 84th St., in the State Fair Park). Also stayed tuned to be a part of QPI committees that will soon be forming.


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