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Secondary traumatic stress among parent advocates in child welfare

Published: 15 November 2021

Abstract: Parent advocates are peers with lived experience who were formerly involved with the child welfare system and who interact with child welfare-involved parents and families to provide varying types of needed supports. Understanding the role of the secondary traumatic stress among parent advocates is crucial as secondary traumatic stress can not only hamper the quality of services provided to families but can also adversely impact advocates. Given the dearth of available research, this exploratory study provided a unique and much-needed glimpse into the parent advocates’ experience of secondary traumatic stress, through data generated from qualitative in-person interviews with the advocates. Several respondents admitted that they experienced some self-detected secondary traumatic stress. The study identified the formal and informal coping mechanisms that the program and advocates employed to handle such stress. Implications are discussed, and areas for future research are presented.
Keywords: Parent mentor / parent advocate / peer / child welfare / secondary traumatic stress / vicarious trauma / compassion fatigue

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