Intersector collaboration helps parents develop skills, reunify with children

Cross-sector partners share resources and expertise

blog_image_LucasCountyCollaborationIn Toledo, Ohio, an intersector collaboration among Lockrey Manufacturing company, the non-profit science museum Imagination Station, and Lucas County Children Services (LCCS) is enabling parents in the child welfare system to develop parenting skills and rebuild their families.

Parents who have been separated from their children are required to participate in parent-child visits supervised by LCCS. Research shows that these visits, and the parent-child attachment they foster, are critical to the process of reunifying families. Nurturing interaction and engagement in a visit, however, presented a real dilemma for LCCS. Julie Malkin, public information officer for the agency, wrote in the PA Times: “Many parents struggle to interact with their children during these visits, watching the children play on the floor rather than engaging with them.”

In this cross-sector collaboration, Lockrey Manufacturing provided financial resources that enabled LCCS to invite Imagination Station into their parent-child visits; Imagination Station shared their expertise in hands-on learning by hosting interactive workshops, which were held at LCCS for two hours during peak visit times on varying days of the week. Activities like building small catapults and rubber bands cars encouraged active participation and engagement from both child and parent.

As a result of the collaboration, LCCS reports that:

  • More than half of parents surveyed felt that having Imagination Station at LCCS made them somewhat or much more likely to participate in visits with their children.
  • 84 percent of parents surveyed rated their experience with Imagination Station during their scheduled visit as“very good” or “excellent.”

In the second year of the project, partners expanded the collaboration with the addition of LCCS supervised visits to the Imagination Station museum. Imagination Station provided deeply discounted tickets ($1) to families and allowed supervising caseworkers to enter for free.

When sectors partner together, sharing resources and expertise, they can catalyze real change in the lives of individuals.