paper-peopleDependency Advocacy Center (DAC) is very proud of its Mentor Parent Program. A Mentor Parent is a mother or father who has been through the dependency system. They have had their children removed because of their drug and/or alcohol addiction, participated in drug treatment services and have successfully reunified with their child(ren). Their cases have been dismissed and the court no longer has jurisdiction over their families. The role of the Mentor Parent is to provide support, guidance and motivation to those substance dependent parents whose children have been or are currently at risk of being removed from their care. Because of their former involvement with the dependency court, Mentor Parents can provide a candid and realistic approach to parents who are entering the system.

The Mentor Parent Program exists to identify barriers to reunification, to provide role models for a clean and sober lifestyle, and to reach out to dependency court parents with a message of hope and recovery. Mentor Parents work directly with DAC attorneys to encourage early engagement in rehabilitative services and to provide guidance to parents as they navigate the child welfare system.

DAC currently staffs 9 Mentor Parents, six mothers and three fathers. The Mentor Parents have assisted hundreds of dependency court parents and play a significant role in Santa Clara County’s specialized drug treatment court, Dependency Wellness Court (DWC).  Further, through their participation on systems level committees and as guest speakers at a wide variety of trainings and conferences, DAC’s Mentor Parents are able to bring the parents’ perspective into critical planning and implementation discussions that impact the larger dependency system.

Mentor Parents are employees of DAC. Consequently, a Mentor Parent’s relationship with DAC clients is protected under the attorney-client privilege. This is crucial to maintaining the confidential and special relationship the client has with the Mentor Parent. With their conversations being privileged communications, Mentor Parents can encourage clients to reveal information to their social workers or attorneys and support the clients’ efforts to engage or re-engage in treatment in a much more effective way. The Mentor Parent Program is funded through a variety of county and federal grants.

For more information about the Mentor Parent Program, contact Dave Shuster, Mentor Parent Program Manager at 408-516-7470 or Hilary Kushins, Drug Court and Training Programs Manager at 408-999-0311. You may also send an email inquiry to

If you would like to make a donation to the Mentor Parent Program, click here.