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Former DHS leader joins LSI to head Parent Partner program

August 19, 2012
Reinbeck Courier

Waterloo, Iowa-Jan Pratt recently joined Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) as coordinator for LSI's Parent Partner program, which helps build stability for families in Black Hawk, Bremer, Butler, Franklin and Grundy counties.

A former social work administrator for Iowa's Department of Human Services (DHS), Pratt retired from DHS in 2011. However, the opportunity to make a difference through the Parent Partner program drew her back to the human services field, she said.

"My passion for the potential of the Parent Partner program, coupled with the opportunity to work with individuals who I've worked with for 33 years, including some of the best DHS staff and LSI staff, brought me back to the workforce," she said.

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The Parent Partner approach matches parents who have first hand experience with their children being removed from their care, and have made necessary changes in their lives, with parents who are currently experiencing child welfare system involvement, said Pratt.

"The program is so important because as trusted, reliable and supportive mentors, Parent Partners can influence positive life changes in the parents they mentor and support," said Pratt. "The end result is a reduction in re-abuse, more timely return of children to the parent and the creation of more stability in the parental home."

Pratt's experience is an asset to the program, said Scott Caldwell, LSI's director of mental health and community services.

"Jan's extensive experience in child welfare services is truly an asset to our organization and the human services community," said Caldwell. "We are excited to see her assume a key leadership role, and she is a champion of the Parent Partner initiative in Iowa."

During her career at DHS, Pratt held numerous positions, including case manager, foster home licensing worker, social work supervisor, child abuse assessment unit supervisor and program planner. She retired from DHS as a social work administrator, overseeing 27 counties in the northeast Iowa area.

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