The Development and Evaluation of a Parent Empowerment Program for Family Peer Advocates

James Rodriguez, S. S. Olin, Kimberly E. Hoagwood, Sa Shen, Geraldine Burton, Marleen Radigan, Peter S. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Family-to-family services are emerging as an important adjunctive service to traditional mental health care and a vehicle for improving parent engagement and service use in children's mental health services. In New York State, a growing workforce of Family Peer Advocates (FPA) is delivering family-to-family services. We describe the development and evaluation of a professional program to enhance Family Peer Advocate professional skills, called the Parent Engagement and Empowerment Program (PEP). We detail the history and content of PEP and provide data from a pre/post and 6-month follow up evaluation of 58 FPA who participated in the first Statewide regional training effort. Self-efficacy, empowerment, and skills development were assessed at 3 time points: baseline, post-training, and 6-month follow-up. The largest changes were in self-efficacy and empowerment. Regional differences suggest differences in Family Peer Advocate workforce across areas of the state. This evaluation also provides the first systematic documentation of Family Peer Advocate activities over a six-month period. Consistent with peer specialists within the adult health care field, FPA in the children's mental health field primarily focused on providing emotional support and service access issues. Implications for expanding family-to-family services and integrating it more broadly into provider organizations are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-405
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Children's mental health
  • Family Peer Advocates
  • Family support services
  • Parent engagement and empowerment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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