Youth throughout DeKalb County often find themselves in need of safe alternative housing. Not all youth meet the criteria for DCFS Foster Homes, but nevertheless may need a Safe and Reliable Alternative Home. These youth and their families are often in crisis and need assistance in making changes, finding resources or learning new skills. While the social services agencies throughout DeKalb County work diligently to provide resources that allow the youth and family to remain intact, it occasionally is necessary for the family to separate and allow the parent to obtain the assistance needed to promote a healthy home life. They need to know their child is safe, well cared for, and someone to assist them in parenting their child.….thus….Partner Parents.
Partner Parents are appointed through the 16th Judicial Court –DeKalb County to be Safe And Reliable Alternative Homes (SARAH) for youth. Since the needs throughout the county vary, there are three different types of SARAH Homes servicing three different youth populations:
Short Term– Partner Parent provides housing for court involved youth from 1 day to 6 months at a time. Depending on the length of stay, the Partner Parent’s involvement in the youth’s case or follow up once the youth leaves their home is minimal. There is little to no interaction with the natural parents.
Short Term to Long Term– Partner Parent provides housing for court involved youth from 1 day to 2 years (All stays are assumed to be approximately 6 months in duration but the Partner Parent may indicate to the coordinator their willingness to take on youth needing longer term stays. Children placed in long-term alternative care are able to reside in the community with minimal supportive services.) The Partner Parent is part of the Resource Team established for each youth and may serve as a mentor to the natural parents when youth returns to their home.
Specialized Alternative Care– Partner Parent provides housing for youth with significant mental health concerns or specialized populations. These children require careful interagency planning, observation, and nurturing. Specialized Partner Parents may have a great deal of experience, hold college degrees or be trained in psychotherapy. In addition, they receive special training and are required to complete ongoing training and workshops .