The Cutler Institute, with the support and collaboration of the Maine Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) and Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine (AFFM), successfully updated and implemented the Resource Family Introductory Training (RFIT) using the National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents (NTDC).
Between January 25, 2021 and December 27, 2021, 876 individuals successfully completed the training. Of the 876 individuals trained, 393 participants were kinship applicants, meaning they are or would like to care for a relative or a child they have an established relationship with.
By collaborating with AFFM to co-facilitate the RFIT training, Cutler Institute staff have created a strong partnership between two organizations that are passionate about resource parents and child welfare. AFFM brings the opportunity for training participants to hear directly from other resource parents with lived experience, and each Cutler Institute facilitator has worked professionally or has lived experience with the foster care system. Participants consistently report an appreciation for the stories and real-life examples shared by the dynamic team of facilitators.
During each class, the participants learned and practiced a specific skill that reinforces the theme of that class. One of the RFIT goals is for resource parents to have usable parenting skills and the confidence to use them on day one. Many training participants are kinship families who are often already parenting children who have experienced trauma and loss. Through RFIT, these families are taught skills that support their success as resource parents. One such participant shared that she successfully used "the 3Rs", Regulating, Relating, and Reasoning, the evening after she learned this skill during class. She said she felt more connected with her young nephew and has since posted notes in key places in the house to remind her to use the 3Rs strategy.
This past summer, the Cutler Institute launched a learning portal to complement the RFIT training and provide more resources and training avenues for resource parents. RFIT facilitators use the OCFS Learning Portal for classroom management including tracking classroom attendance and adding supplemental information for participants. Once licensed, resource parents continue to access relevant trainings and materials on the portal, including helpful tutorials and how-to guides. The OCFS Learning Portal was built for easy navigation, user-friendliness, and is accessible using any web browser or mobile device.