Getting to Know Us, Part 2: Moving Training to the World Wide Web
By Lee White, President
Over the past couple of years, the number of agencies using Foster Parent College has rapidly grown. Since many of you may not be that familiar with us, over the next several Solutions, we are featuring a series of short articles about FPC, so you can get to know us better.
In 2001, after producing trainings on CDs and DVDs, Northwest Media, the parent company of Foster Parent College, became interested in using a new communication tool, the World Wide Web. Our team at the time was Dr. Caesar Pacifici, a psychologist and specialist in child development; Dr. Rick Delaney, a psychologist and specialist in attachment theory and foster care; and I, a person with a rounded background in business and computer programming. Personally, several times in my childhood, I experienced informal kinship care, sometimes for as long as a year. Unknown at the time, I had experienced emotional trauma and from birth had a learning disability. I didn't speak words until I was 4 years old and did poorly in school settings. My childhood experiences, along with my adult experience of single parenting two boys from diapers to adulthood, made focusing on the topic of fostering a natural.
The team was excited about the potential training qualities the web could offer, including record keeping and the ability to combine interactive activities, printed material, and (eventually) video. Being able to utilize all these features in one source, we saw the possibility to provide training for a broad base of resource parents, relatively inexpensively.
In 2001, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded our pilot project to build a multimedia course, titled Anger Outbursts, and to perform a pre- and posttest research study using intervention and control groups. Results showed significant increases in knowledge about children's anger problems and confidence in parenting children with such problems, as well as high satisfaction with the course, and NICHD funded a larger project, which became the start of FosterParentCollege.com. For the full 3-year project, we designed and built the first version of the website management system for agencies, along with several interactive courses for parents. The effectiveness of each course was studied, which added to our knowledge about web-based delivery of self-paced courses. The project's final study of our website delivery was conducted with the California Community College System. An article on the pilot study appeared in Social Work Research in 2005, and results of the final study were published in Children and Youth Services Review in 2006.
In those early years, FosterParentCollege.com focused on in-service training for parents who had gone through pre-service training and needed to renew their license. In the next article, I will describe how and why we developed our innovative blended approach to pre-service training.
Could It Be FASD?: New Course Coming Soon
As many as one in 20 children in the United States—from all social and economic levels of society—are impacted by the learning and behavior problems caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are even more prevalent in children in care.
Since FASD is a medical condition that often looks like a mental health condition, when faced with a child's behavior problems, many professionals do not consider the possibility of a brain-based, biological cause. For children in care, this is compounded by the fact that it may be unknown whether they were prenatally exposed to alcohol. Consequently, children in care and their resource parents often do not get the assistance and support they need. To help resource parents understand the impact of FASD on the children in their care, Foster Parent College is about to release a new course, Could It Be FASD?.
After viewing Could It Be FASD?, parents should:
understand how alcohol can affect the brain of a developing fetus
know the impairments children with FASD may experience
understand how children with FASD are diagnosed
recognize the potential learning and behavior issues children with FASD may have
realize how FASD may be the underlying cause of their child's behavior
be able to identify ways to support their child and help them reach their full potential
Could It Be FASD? will be available in early September. Stay tuned to our social media accounts to hear about the release.
ADA Compliance Journey, Part 3: Approaching the Summit
At FPC, we are continuing to progress steadily toward our 2021 goal to make all of FosterParentCollege.com meet or exceed ADA accessibility requirements. Most of our work thus far has focused on making the user interface for the course player accessible with assistive technology. As of this writing, we have made preliminary accessibility additions for all of our stand-alone courses and all of our Advanced Parenting Workshops, for example, adding audio feedback (a click sound) on all interactive buttons. We are now starting the next phase of our work, which involves making the rest of the course player accessible, including the review questionnaire, the course evaluation form, and the more complex interactives. These segments require additional coding solutions. In addition, we have begun the process of adding accessibility features to the rest of the website, such as the welcome page, the login page, and the Personal Home.
We have also begun adding closed captions to our Spanish-language courses. Now members who prefer to learn in Spanish can also access closed captions in the Spanish versions of Child Abuse & Neglect(Maltrato y negligencia infantile), Understanding Behavior in Foster Children(Entender el comportamiento de niños en crianza temporal), Child Development(Desarollo del niño), Caring for Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused(El cuidado de niños que han sido sexualmente abusados), and Working Together With Primary Families(El esfuerzo conjunto con las familias primarias). We hope to have all of our Spanish-language courses captioned by the end of this year.
Any agency staff, caregivers, or trainees who have questions or feedback regarding our web-accessibility additions, please do not hesitate to contact us!
New Agency Member Type: Super Admin
We are excited to announce that we have added the "Super Admin" agency member type to Foster Parent College. A Super Admin is a top-level agency administrator who has control over some of the powerful permissions and management abilities on FosterParentCollege.com.
The Super Admin role was created to better serve our larger agencies and ensure that certain permissions and management abilities would be accessible only to top-level administrators. Currently, your agency should have at least one Super Admin account and is permitted to have a maximum of two Super Admin accounts. Please contact FPC Support if you would like to add a second Super Admin.
Super Admin Abilities and Permissions (click HERE for the full Super Admin Guide)
Customize/Edit Welcome Emails: When registering new members, a welcome email is sent by default to them with their login credentials. The Super Admin can include a customized message within the welcome email and can choose to edit it at any time.
Add Agency Handouts to FPC Courses (see below for more information): Super Admins are able to upload agency-crafted or region-specific handouts within FPC courses.
Edit the Course List, Block or Unblock Courses, or Set Courses to Member-Pay: Super Admins can choose to customize the availability of courses for the entire agency or for any self-contained, in-service subgroup. This feature is helpful if an agency wants to provide access to a specific set of courses for trainees, parents, or staff members.
Edit the Account Contacts: Super Admins can edit the account information for the agency. Contacts set at the top group of your agency will be inherited by all agency subgroups, or Super Admins can choose to designate contacts for each self-contained subgroup. Super Admins can also designate a "Support Contact" and a "Notifications Contact" from the "Contacts" subtab.
We are always striving to be as responsive as possible to the needs of our member agencies, partners, and trainees, and we welcome feedback to help us improve Foster Parent College. If your agency does not have a Super Admin account currently, or if you have questions or comments, please contact us!
Adding Agency-Created Handouts to FPC Courses
Super Admins can now upload and manage agency-crafted and region-specific handouts to FPC courses. While our courses are generally developed for a national audience, we know that each region, county, and agency is unique and has unique procedures, policies, and training needs. We are always looking to create new tools for our member agencies to individualize the online learning experience they provide for their trainees. Here are some suggestions on how to use the new handout tool.
Consider adding these handouts:
Your state's Foster Youth Bill of Rights to Supporting Normalcy
A list of county and state resources to The Child Welfare Team
A list of colleges and universities in your state, along with local educational resources for youth in care, to Preparing Teens for Postsecondary Education
Tips and Best Practices for Adding Handouts to Courses
Handouts must be in PDF format.
Remember that many courses (especially pre-service courses) are available in both English and Spanish. Make sure your parents who prefer to learn in Spanish also have access to the same handouts.
Occasionally, monitor the upload dates, and update handouts as necessary.
Super Admins can see how to upload handouts in the Super Admin Guide. Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback regarding this new feature.
California County Staff: Are You Attending the 2021 CWDA Conference?
We are excited to announce that, for the third year in a row, we will be a sponsor for the County Welfare Directors Association of California (CWDA) annual conference. On October 13-15, CWDA will be hosting a hybrid event, which will offer both an on-site experience at the Monterey Convention Center and an online, virtual experience. As a sponsor, FPC will have an in-person exhibit space, as well as a virtual booth. To align with this year's theme, Driving Changes From Within, we will be sharing information on how counties and agencies adapted to utilizing online training in new and innovative ways during the pandemic. In addition, we will have details on new and current courses that meet the requirements within the California Written Directives. Both in-person and virtual visitors will have the opportunity to preview new material, chat with an FPC representative and ask questions, sign up for account access, and more. If you are interested in attending the conference, please visit the CWDA conference page, here: cwdaconference.org.
Since 2017, FPC has had the honor of being partnered with the California Department of Social Services to provide California parents with free access to FPC online training. With this partnership, FPC has had the opportunity to work closely with various California organizations, including CWDA. With the help of these organizations, FPC is happily serving over 52,000 individuals statewide, with over 50+ counties directly participating and 180+ private agency accounts established. All California parents have the opportunity to gain free access to FPC's 72 online courses, which have been developed for in-home viewing to help improve the lives of children and families. If you work with a California County or Agency and would like access to FPC, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Positive Parenting 3: Retiring
We strive to keep our courses up to date. That means re-producing some, updating or adding segments to others, and—sometimes—removing one from the FosterParentCollege.com website. When it comes to parenting strategies, there have been many improvements, including a focus on practices that are trauma informed. The course, Positive Parenting 3, focuses on time-outs, removing privileges, and assigning extra chores to manage difficult behavior, instead of on the more trauma-informed strategies. Therefore, we have begun the process of retiring it.
If you are using Positive Parenting 3 within an FPC Series, group workshop, or template, we encourage you to remove it from your training. Both Positive Parenting 1 (on using cooperation, tracking behavior, and encouragement) and Positive Parenting 2 (on setting limits and creating behavior contracts) will remain. In place of Positive Parenting 3, we would suggest the Trauma-Informed Parenting course, and in 2022, we will be adding a new course on motivational interviewing. This course will be a communication skill builder that will help resource parents support a youth who is working toward a change in a behavior.
Parent-Child Attachment: Updated Exercises
At the end of each FPC course, viewers are encouraged to complete a course evaluation that includes an open-ended request for feedback. Eighty percent of the parents and staff members who take our courses fill out at least part of the evaluation. We take the time to read all written feedback, and we regularly use this feedback to improve, update, or modify our courses. In response to feedback we've received on the Parent-Child Attachment course, this summer we are modifying two course exercises. The two "Is it a Myth?" exercises will become "Is this True or False?" exercises. The learning experience within the exercises will not change. Additionally, the Spanish-language equivalents to the new exercises are being translated and will go live as soon as possible.
Courses in Production
The scripting and production teams at Foster Parent College are currently creating courses on the following topics, which we look forward to sharing with you and your parents when they are ready:
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (Titled Could It Be FASD?, this course will be available in early September.)
Eating and Food Issues Experienced by Children in Care, 2 nd Edition (in production)
Motivational Interviewing for Resource Parents (completing script review process)
Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2 nd Edition (being scripted)
Fibs, Untruths, Lies, and Confabulations, 3 rd Edition (being scripted)
The Resources, Abilities, and Willingness Needed to be a Resource Parent (being scripted)
Sexual and Reproductive Health (being scripted)
We are also working with our translator, Mr. Omar Canals, to translate three more courses into Spanish. Translated and dubbed versions of these courses should be available next winter.
The Role of Mandatory Child Abuse Reporters (La función de los denunciantes obligatorios de abuso de menores)