Eastern Michigan University awarded grant to create new foster parent training program for State of Michigan

image of a training session of adults

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University (EMU) has been awarded a three-year, $689,200 grant by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to develop, pilot, and implement a new mandatory statewide training for foster parents. 

The project comes as a result of EMU submitting a proposal in response to MDHHS's RFP for the development and implementation of a new mandatory training curriculum for foster and adoptive parents in Michigan. 

The project will help caregivers establish and maintain relationships to support all developmental stages of the approximately 13,000 children in foster care in the State of Michigan. 

EMU’s Dr. Sarah Shea, associate professor and field program director, Dr. Jennifer Farley, assistant professor and Dr. Jennifer Kellman Fritz, professor and director of the School of Social Work, will spearhead the project. Shea, Farley and Fritz are all part of EMU’s School of Social Work.   

“We know that children in foster care are in need of safe, consistent, and compassionate relationships in order to support healthy development and mitigate the impacts of trauma and loss,” said Shea. “Foster parents are in a unique position that allows them to create new relationship experiences for children in foster care and also support children’s relationships with their birth parents whenever possible. The work that we’re doing to revamp the foster parent training in Michigan will ensure that foster parents are given the tools and knowledge needed to provide this unique caregiving experience.” 

As part of the project, they will conduct an assessment of all relevant foster/adoptive parent-training models. Based on the comprehensive assessment, the team will identify what, if any, of the training models or elements thereof can be utilized in the new curriculum. Following that, they will begin to write curriculum to ensure all of the components identified as essential elements by MDHHS in the RFP description are included in the curriculum. 

The team will use contemporary research and literature focusing on the developmental needs of children and youth in foster care, as well as current literature about age-appropriate and trauma-informed parenting approaches and practices to inform this curriculum development. Outcome measures will be developed to be able to assess whether the curriculum is meeting the needs of the foster and adoptive parents and whether it is effectively conveying the important content such as relevant policies and regulations that are required for licensing.  

During the pilot phase of the new training curriculum, the team and consultants will work together to train the pilot trainers. In addition, the Team will work with MDHHS to create a survey to assess the efficacy of this pilot training.

After the new curriculum has been finalized based on the pilot evaluation, the team will develop specific “train the trainer” guidelines and criteria that must be met for certification. Ten master trainers in all six regions will then be trained using those guidelines and a combination of modeling, application, and experiential approaches.  Following certification, the master trainers will train regional trainers, who can begin executing the training. 

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

August 28, 2019

Written by:
Morgan Mark

Media Contact:
Morgan Mark