Methods: Covidence, an online systematic review management tool, was utilized by the research team to enhance reliability during the screening process. From seven academic databases, 12,966 citations were identified to be screened using specific keyword searches. Of the 12,966 citations screened, four meet full inclusion criteria for the review. A data template was utilized to extract the following information from each study: location, target of intervention, research design, setting of intervention, intervention description, peer parent criteria, inclusion and exclusion criteria for participants, sample size, statistical tests, outcomes assessed, and key findings.
Results: Various peer parent programs have been developed to support and empower child welfare involved families with the aim of improving case outcomes. All of the peer parent programs reviewed had a positive impact on reunification rates; that is, parents who participated in a peer mentor program were more likely to reunify with their child(ren) when compared to non-participants (Berrick et al., 2011; Bohannan et al., 2016; Chambers et al., 2019; Enano et al, 2016). Differences in reunification rates between races were assessed in three studies (Berrick et al., 2011; Bohannan et al., 2016; Enano et al., 2016) and Enano et al. (2016) found significant differences in reunification rates, with Black participants significantly more likely to reunify when compared to their White and Latinx counterparts. Results regarding time-in-care and re-entry post reunification at 12 and 24 months were mixed (Chambers et al., 2019).
Implications: The findings of the systematic review suggest that participation in peer parent programs in child welfare can increase reunification rates. The studies included in the review utilized less rigorous research designs with comparison groups. Future research should implement a random control trial to replicate the findings to add another evidenced-based strategy in child welfare aimed at increasing reunification. Furthermore, prospective studies should examine differences in outcomes between races, as the peer parent model has the potential to address racial disparities. Child welfare agencies should consider developing peer parent programs as they appear to be a promising intervention to support parents and increase positive child welfare outcomes.