National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities



Images of families and children in the community and in meetings with practitioners.

ParentingWell Practice Profile 

ParentingWell Practice Profile - Executive Summary 

ParentingWell® is an approach to routine practice that makes talking about parenting, children, and family experiences a natural part of the conversation and of an adult’s recovery process. Appropriate, effective treatment for an adult’s specific behavioral health condition is paramount. However, recovery does not occur in isolation. Family can provide motivation for change. Family members can encourage and support individuals to seek help. Parenting provides opportunities to be part of a community – in the neighborhood or through participation at children’s school events, for example. ParentingWell promotes a parent’s ability to live interdependently and to pursue recovery in the context of family life.

 The ParentingWell practice approach promotes opportunities to conduct family-focused conversations, to generate a family-informed service plan, or simply to provide services to an adult living with a mental health condition or addiction, taking parenting and family circumstances into account. Just as you might routinely ask about housing, school or employment, or friends and social supports, it is important to ask (1) whether a person is or wants to be a parent, (2) how parenting and family experiences are going, and (3) how parents would like things to be. ParentingWell is a versatile, responsive approach to a parent’s situation and needs across the lifespan – meeting the parent “where they’re at,” when they’re ready. You can implement conversations focusing on parenting and family life in an initial assessment or in the context of an ongoing relationship when the timing seems right and the parent is willing and able. The initial objective of ParentingWell is achieved when the practitioner and parent work together to identify a parenting- or family-related goal and develop an action plan with steps for achieving this goal. Together, you can monitor progress and adjust the plan as necessary to insure success. The goal may become part of the larger plan for services that the parent receives. Our hope is that parenting and family life become an ongoing part of the conversation over time.

The key underlying principles of ParentingWell reflect a set of values shared by practitioners across service sectors: family-focused, culturally-sensitive, strengths-based, and trauma-informed. The Core Elements and activities of the ParentingWell practice approach provide the framework for your conversations with parents.

The Core Elements include: 



Engage: The first step is asking about a person’s family situation and whether the person is, hopes to be, or has ever been a parent. Respectful, non-judgmental questions about parenting and family life promote normalization and community inclusion. Download Engage PDF


Explore: Exploration involves asking how things are going currently regarding parenting, family life, and experiences with children and asking about past experiences to the extent they contribute to the person’s current functioning as a parent, participation in treatment, and progress in recovery. Download Explore PDF



Plan: Addressing adults’ concerns as parents by helping them envision possibilities, assess options, and set and achieve goals is an essential focus of partnering with parents. Goals related to parenting and family life are woven into the parent’s personal plan for change or into a formal treatment or service plan to support progress in the recovery journey. Download Plan PDF


Access and Advocate

Access and Advocate: Learning about whom or what the parent relies on for emotional, financial, spiritual, or concrete assistance helps to identify solid supports that can help parents to achieve their goals and cope with daily life and to address gaps where advocacy may help. Download Access & Advocate PDF


The purpose of the ParentingWell practice approach is to acknowledge that parenting is an important life role and to incorporate talking about goals for parenting and family life as part of the relationship routine. At best, ParentingWell becomes a part of the ongoing relationship and service delivery process. Helping a parent succeed in this important life domain contributes to positive recovery outcomes.


 All Downloadable PDFs:

ParentingWell Practice Profile

ParentingWell Practice Profile - Executive Summary 

ParentingWell Practice Profile - Engage

ParentingWell Practice Profile - Explore

ParentingWell Practice Profile - Plan

ParentingWell Practice Profile - Access & Advocate 

 ParentingWell Self-Assessment – Access and Advocate 

ParentingWell Self-Assessment – Engage 

ParentingWell Self-Assessment – Explore 

ParentingWell Self-Assessment – Plan 

ParentingWell Self-Assessment – Guidance for Supervisors

ParentingWell Individual Skill Development Plan  

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