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Blended Pre-Service Training Options

Blended Pre-Service Training Overview

Our blended in-person and online training approach offers prospective resource parents high-quality and convenient training while providing agencies with standardized delivery of the core program information. In a study that compared the efficacy of our blended approach with an entirely in-person approach, results showed that parents using the blended approach made significantly greater gains in knowledge of the training content from pre- to post-test. In addition, participants in the group using the blended approach had a significantly greater training completion rate than those in the traditional classroom-only training group. The findings of this study were published in the peer-reviewed journal Child Welfare.

FPC offers a variety of ways for agencies to implement a blended pre-service training approach to provide high-quality training and improve the retention of potential resource parents through to the completion of their training. One option is to use or modify the FPC-IHS Blended Pre-Service Training curriculum, which has been recognized by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC). Another option for blended training is through The New Generation PRIDE Model of Practice offered by the Child Welfare League of America. A third option is to develop a customized curriculum using Series, an FPC feature that allows agencies to assemble clusters of our courses and blend them with staff-led meetings.

The blended pre-service training approach combines FPC interactive online courses, available 24/7, with a set of scheduled agency-led meetings.

Benefits of Blended Pre-Service Training

Blended pre-service training combines agency-led meetings with the FPC standardized online courses. This approach takes advantage of the benefits of both mediums.

The benefits of FPC online courses include implementation fidelity of the training material, along with the ability for parents to complete their courses when it is convenient for them (and without the necessity of travel or childcare). The FPC courses are developed by nationally recognized experts using research-based information and a research-based training approach. The online courses are regularly reviewed and updated as appropriate.

Benefits of agency staff-led training in the blended training approach, either through in-person meetings or virtually through platforms such as Zoom, include creating a personal connection between the potential resource parent and the training agency personnel while the agency shares local/state policy information. In addition, there is the opportunity for mutual assessment to happen, that is, for the parent to decide whether being a resource parent is good for their family and for the agency to decide whether this participant is ready to take on resource parenting and continue with the process.

Research on Blended Pre-Service Training

Foster Parent College and its parent company, Northwest Media, Inc., innovated the design and use of blended pre-service training for resource parents. Partnering with the Institute for Human Services of Ohio, we created 10 online courses based on their in-person meetings. These courses were developed with funding from an SBIR grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

As these courses were being developed, the idea of blended training began. Blended training was uncommon at the time, and with approval from NICHD, we revised the research design for our study under the grant to evaluate the effectiveness of the entire blended pre-service training curriculum instead of each of the individual online pre-service courses we had developed.

The research study (conducted with the State of Oregon Department of Human Services) found that the blended curriculum produced a significantly lower training dropout rate of adults preparing to become foster parents than a comparable classroom-only training program. Additionally, parents in the blended training group made significantly greater pre- to post-test gains in knowledge of the presented information than parents in the traditional classroom-only training group. While both study groups made significant gains in awareness of parenting issues, those gains were greater for the classroom-only approach. At a 3-month follow-up assessment, both groups had maintained their gains in knowledge and awareness. An article in the journal Child Welfare (Vol.93, #6, pp. 45-72), titled Efficacy of Blended Preservice Training for Resource Parents, reports on the results of this study.

This blended training approach, now known as FPC-IHS Blended In-Person and Online Pre-Service Training for Resource Parents, has been recognized by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC), where it received a "Promising Research Evidence" rating with "High" relevance to child welfare.