John Martin was on the run with warrants for his arrest when his daughter, Mia, was born. She was placed into Child Protective Services (CPS) at 8 months old.
John decided to turn himself in, went to dependency and drug courts, and got connected to King County’s Parents for Parents program. He gained sole custody of his daughter and now three-year-old Mia will start preschool in the fall while John continues to pursue a career in the human services field.
The Parents for Parents program recruits parent “allies” who have successfully navigated the child welfare system to mentor parents who are trying to reunify with their children. Children's Home Society of Washington’s Catalyst for Kids Innovation & Policy Office provides oversight and coordination of this unique statewide mentoring program.
“I got tremendous help from the Parents for Parents program, and I was told that I could get a job after I was done,” said John, who now works for the Parents for Parents program in South King County.
His work involves connecting parents with open CPS cases to Dependency 101 classes that try to simplify the complexities of the child welfare system. He also finished training to teach father engagement classes. The goal for the classes is for parents to regain custody of their children.
In the 2015 legislative session, the Washington State Parent Advocacy Network staffed by Catalyst for Kids Innovation & Policy Office was able to successfully advocate for funding for the Parents for Parents program. John testified in the House and the Senate in Olympia for extension of the program.
“John’s story is just one of many that illustrates how the guidance and hope that the Parents for Parents program provides is reunifying and building stronger families throughout Washington state,” said Mariko Ohiso, program manager for Catalyst for Kids Innovation & Policy Office.