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Parent Advocacy is about Relationships

By Heather Cantemessa and Ambrosia Eberhardt

There are few bonds as strong as that of a parent and child. When that connection is threatened, it brings out a powerful force from inside. A force that will protect that relationship, no matter what it takes. This phenomenon creates incredible bravery and heart-wrenching tales of victory and tragedy. These are stories that cannot be left untold and when a parent shares their story of lived experience of the child welfare system, jaws are left hanging open. 


Newfound respect and admiration replace the indifference and distaste that once filled that space.
Relationships between parents with lived experience that are based on parent advocacy have an unimaginable strength because no one else gets it, like we do. Parents with lived experience have lived in the darkest places of our soul and have come all the way back to shine the light for one another as parent advocates. We don’t have to explain it to each one another. We unite in our adversity and rejoice in our ability to articulate that pain in a way that changes hearts and minds. We are here to make a big impact because family is sacred. Having survived all that despair, we are determined to bring hope to others.


Parent Advocacy relationships are most dearly held as we have all rebuilt our lives focused on our shared passion for empowering parents involved in the child welfare system. We have to speak up for other parents. There is a part of us that is speaking up for ourselves back when our voice was too small and fearful to make a difference.
Parent Advocacy offers opportunities to share experience and wisdom from different perspectives of the same situations and topics and creates a united consciousness. It starts conversations with people who wouldn’t normally interact. Most importantly, parent advocacy creates a platform for advisories to interact and reconcile. This allows challenges to be overcome and humanity to be restored.


At the heart of the work we do, our children are always our focus. Parent Advocacy imporves life long outcomes for our children. Their mental health, their life chances and opportunities, their dignity, identity and heritage are heavily influenced by their relationships with their parents. Parent Advocacy works to support parents to achieve and provide for their children.


IPAN provides a space for individuals to unite and develop passion. Cultivating stronger communication while strengthening the voice of shared experiences of parent advocates. shared experience.


As IPAN’s president, it is my honour to welcome you into our community. IPAN’s mission is to build a parent- led movement to transform child welfare and that is what we have set out to do, by bringing parents and allies together to build an international community dedicated to ensuring a holistic approach is taken to supporting families to raise their children in safe and sustainable homes. 


By building resources, such as the Parent Advocacy Toolkit, to educate and empower parents and allies in parent advocacy. Most importantly, by building relationships to create connections that change lives and shape our future.
 Too often, parents are disempowered and marginalised, from minority communities, and in a state of financial distress. We cannot continue to fail our children by refusing to engage with parents, and parent advocacy is a proven way to accomplish this.


Welcome to IPAN! We look forward to building relationships with you!