Foster, kinship, and adoptive parents and caregivers need safe spaces to find community and feel supported and equipped for their families’ daily challenges. Parent and caregiver support groups can be valuable tools for building knowledge and forming connections with others who “get it.” These support groups can also increase parents’ and caregivers’ confidence in their ability to understand and meet their children’s unique needs.

This article is the first in a two-part series on the value of parent and caregiver peer support. Here is part two.

We Did the Research. has been running parent and caregiver support groups for over three years. We’ve also done a deep dive into the academic research on peer-to-peer support. From our experience and research, we have learned that parent and caregiver support groups are among the most effective and cost-efficient ways to support foster, kinship, and adoptive parents.

The research also shows us that these groups are effective at helping parents be better parents, which ultimately benefits the kids who find ways to thrive too!

The Benefits for Parents and Caregivers

Here are a few benefits we uncovered when studying effective parent and caregiver support groups.

  • Improved quality of life. (Niimomi, 2016)
  • Decreased feelings of anxiety. (Farmer, 2013) 
  • Decreased stress. (Patra, 2016) 
  • Increase in their parenting confidence. (Farmer, 2013)
  • Feeling understood and connected (a sense of community). (Bitsika, 2000) 
  • Increased awareness that they were not alone. (Ergüner-Tekinalp, 2004) 
  • More likely to access resources. (Davis-Groves, 2011) 
  • Improved family functioning. (Samadi, 2012)  
  • More efficiently meet their children’s needs and with greater confidence and hope. (Kutash, 2011)
  • Increased self-efficacy {More self-efficacious} in their interactions with their child. (Robbins, 2008) 
  • Increased awareness of the importance of self-care. (Obrochta et al., 2011) 
  • Decreased internalized blame. (Obrochta et al., 2011)

Why Do Parents & Caregivers Seek Support Groups?

Not surprisingly, foster, kinship and adoptive parents and caregivers search for support groups for various reasons. You or the families you serve might identify with several of these.

1. A state of crisis in their home.

All parents hit road bumps when parenting. We know that foster, kinship and adoptive families are more likely to hit more of these road bumps along the way. When they face one of these challenges, they often feel like they cannot navigate alone.

Parenting a Child Exposed to Trauma, a free guide from

Raising a child exposed to trauma or neglect can be an isolating and lonely journey. These are the times foster, kinship, and adopted parents benefit from being with others who “get it.” Parents and caregivers need the camaraderie and encouragement that these groups offer. They need to know they are not alone.

2. The need for education and support.

Sometimes parents and caregivers come to groups seeking support for their child’s particular issue. Other times, they need education specific to the issues of raising a foster, kinship, or adopted child. The collaborative nature of group discussions can encourage parents and caregivers to learn from each other’s experiences and from the expert-based content offered in their group.

3. A desire to improve parenting skills.

Unfortunately, predicting which parenting skills a parent or caregiver will need before the child or youth lives in their home is hard. Attending a support group that also provides skill-building or training can fill in the gaps – even if they didn’t know they had gaps. Seeking a group indicates a readiness to grow and learn to meet their child’s needs.

4. The need for a safe place to learn and grow.

Parents and caregivers want to learn in a safe space among people who will not judge them for what they do not know. They may often feel “under a microscope” with the many visitations, therapies, and caseworker check-ins that fill their calendars. The feeling of being watched can inhibit learning for some parents or caregivers. A parent support group offers a peer-to-peer learning environment. The sense of equal footing with peers who “get it” can open them up to increased learning.

In summary, the most effective groups are spaces of empathetic understanding where parents and caregivers can choose to learn and grow together, even when the experience in their group stretches their skills or beliefs. After all, it is not just our children who learn better when they feel safe.

Training & Support Beyond a Book or Course

Would you like to offer your foster, kinship, or adoptive families an option for Continuing Education that is more than reading a book or taking an online course? Would you like to combine skill-building with peer-to-peer support?

For Parents & Caregivers

Creating a Family’s all-in-one curriculum was designed to make it easy to run engaging, high-quality groups for support and training that parents and caregivers want to attend. We’ve seen that the easier it is for them to get to a group, the more committed they will be to their group. So, our materials are equally applicable to in-person and online groups. The training modules are interactive, so parents and caregivers build community while learning together.

Continuing Education for Adoption/Foster Care Social Workers

For Facilitators

We also listened to facilitators who told us they wanted materials that make starting and maintaining effective groups for their community easy. The turnkey curriculum reduces facilitators’ time in prepping, making it easy to provide relevant training for the parents and caregivers they support.

Each curriculum module contains a video that comprehensively covers the topic and cues the facilitators when to stop for discussion. The downloadable Facilitator’s Guide walks you through the video and gives you questions to start the conversation. We also include tipsheets and handouts that offer additional resources for those who want to investigate further. Facilitators can download and complete a Certificate of Attendance for attendees who need credit for Continuing Education.

Support and Training for Facilitators

We understand that leading a group can feel intimidating, so we also created an interactive training video facilitators can take at their own pace. The video offers general information for maximizing group effectiveness and opportunities to specialize your experience for online or in-person groups.

Finally, the team supports enrolled facilitators in an online community and through quarterly training where they can brainstorm together and learn more about effective facilitation.

Additional Resources that Might Be of Interest

For the foster, kinship, or adoption professionals reading this, please contact us to learn more. We would love to help you find new ways to support the families you serve. Here are a few additional resources that we think you will find helpful:

If you are a parent or caregiver and this curriculum sounds like something you’d appreciate from your adoption, foster, or kinship professionals, please share this article with them! We are always happy to answer their questions and run them through a demo of the materials.


May is National Foster Care Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. Please also explore the resources offered at the Foster Care landing page.

Image Credits: Tima Miroshnichenko; fauxels; Matilda Wormwood