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What is PEARLS?

PEARLS is a workforce development model designed to support Peer Parent Support Partners (PPSP) through comprehensive coaching and training.

Peer parent support is a critical component of a comprehensive service array for youth- and family-serving systems partnering with families having children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs.

Hiring PPSPs can be a paradigm shift for agencies and requires the careful attention that our team can offer. The presence of the Parent Partners positively influences agency culture and creates a conduit between treatment settings, family settings, and culture and leads to increased connectedness to community resources and natural supports.

Certificate Program

The PEARLS certificate program provides local PPSP coaches and leadership with the support and training to provide quality peer parent support across the service continuum and positively impact outcomes for families.

What Will Be Different for Our Organization & Our Families if we Implement Pearls?

Organizations experience the beneficial nature of parent professional partnerships at all levels of the system.

Peer parent workforce is developed with the skill to deliver high-quality, purposeful supports to parents.

Parents feel supported and able to navigate complex child-serving systems for their families.


When onboarding peer parent support roles within your organization, there needs to be specific training for their role in addition to standard new hire orientation practices. Onboarding peers requires an investment in training and ongoing coaching to assure parent support partners--who are living their own stories with their own families--have the skills and support necessary to fulfill their roles.


PEARLS training focuses on two frameworks. The first is the parent’s journey in systems; our framework describes the parent’s experience as they move through that journey. The training is designed to provide participants with a balance of who they are and what they do. PPSPs will be asked to reflect on their own parent journey while also learning how to provide peer parent support. The second framework is the six core meta-skills, illustrated by the PEARLS acronym, that PPSPs will be able to demonstrate in each interaction with a parent.

Peer-based relationship

Encouragement for decision-making

Active acceptance of the parent they are working with

Respect for the parent and their family

Linking with others in problem solving

Suspending Bias and Blame


PEARLS coaching focuses on three levels of practice competency for peer parent support partners:

Knowing what to do: expectations and tasks required to deliver high quality purposeful parent support.

Knowing how to do it: practicing skills until the required response becomes second nature reflecting a reliable model for parent support.

Knowing why you are doing it: understanding and applying principles of peer support and the ability to articulate it to others.


The most critical part of our initial interaction with families should not be to learn all we can about their history, but to establish a relationship. We accomplish this by showing genuine respect for families and by joining them where they are and not where the worker wants them to be.

– Sheila Kaplan
Strengthening High Risk Families, 1994

Contact PEARLS

For more information or for any questions, please contact