While foster-adoptive parents receive some rudimentary training just prior to or in the early months following adoption finalization, many stil harbor unrealistic expectations about adoption and are unaware of the severe behavioral problems they may encounter, no less the role that exposure to substance abuse may play in the child's development. Our Phase II project will develop and evaluate a comprehensive self-directed online workshop designed to help foster- adoptive and kinship families better understand how to parent children who were exposed prenatally to parental substance abuse and/or grew up in a home endangered by drug abuse. The training is based on the TIES (Training, Intervention, Education, and Services) program developed at UCLA to help prepare prospective adoptive parents to understand the complex relationship of birth parent drug abuse to children's subsequent functioning;to develop greater empathy towards and cooperation with birth parents through greater understanding;and to effectively address children's ongoing emotional and behavioral issues related to parental substance abuse. The workshop consists of viewing highly interactive multimedia material and participating in collaborative workshop exercises that are flexibly scheduled. In addition to the workshop developed in Phase I on Substance-Exposed Infants, we will produce four interlinked training workshops in Phase II: The Child with Substance Exposure and Drug Endangerment, TIES Omnibus Workshop, Special Issues, and Intro to Parenting Approaches. Currently, there is no other comparable resource available for post-permanency (foster-adoptive and kinship) parents that provides proven-effective, interactive multimedia learning via the web. Post- permanency training is also inadequate for kinship parents who are characteristically undertrained and undersupported by the care system. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for the disruption or dissolution of a placement, leading to a lifetime of emotional scars for the child and family. Our approach uses the web as a training resource to deliver innovative training material about children who are substance exposed or drug endangered. The workshops are driven by a custom-designed software engine developed by Northwest Media, Inc. that automates and seamlessly integrates media components, including video, audio, text, interactive exercises, individualized response exercises, and a participant discussion board. Results in Phase I provided support for the effectiveness of the online workshop format. Parents in the treatment group made significantly greater gains from pre- to posttest in knowledge and attitudes towards substance-exposed children than either the comparison or control group;and also greater gains in preparedness, attitudes towards substance-abusing parents, and openness to fostering than the control group. User satisfaction and usability ratings were robust for the treatment group. In Phase II, we will assess changes from pre- to posttest over the entire intervention, as well as 3 months following the posttest. Phase II will assess parent knowledge, attitudes, preparedness, willingness to adopt, and parents'follow-through on adopting.
Subjects participating in this project will gain important information about parenting foster-adoptive and kinship children exposed to or endangered by parental substance abuse. The training may help them to better understand and parent children's behavior problems. As a result, the quality of parent-child relationships in resource families could improve, which could help stabilize placements and improve children's short- and long- term mental health outcomes.