September/October 2015Vol. 16, No. 7Associate Commissioner's Page
The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current Children's Bureau Express Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.
Dear friends and colleagues,
It is with deep gratitude that I write my last "Associate Commissioner's Page." I am leaving the Children's Bureau after serving as Associate Commissioner for the past 2 years and will return to Casey Family Programs at the end of the month. It has been a privilege to be part of the Bureau—a team made up of people with expertise, commitment, and passion to our shared work of helping vulnerable children and families. In my short tenure at the Children's Bureau, we have accomplished a great deal:
In 2014 and 2015, President Obama's Federal Budget called for increased assistance to vulnerable populations by investing in efforts to improve outcomes for children in foster care and support the prevention of human trafficking and direct services for domestic victims. In September of 2014, we saw a vital piece of legislation enacted in support of these priorities. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183) amends the title IV-E foster care program to define sex trafficking and set title IV-E requirements for identifying, reporting, and determining services to victims; limits another planned permanency living arrangement as a plan for youth; and reauthorizes and amends Family Connections Grants and the Adoption Incentives Program (read more in the April 2015 issue of CBX). The law includes provisions requiring States to implement a "reasonable and prudent parent standard" that will empower foster parents or other designated decision-makers to make decisions to allow youth in foster care to participate in healthy and developmentally appropriate activities such as field trips, sleepovers, and other extracurricular activities. This standard is intended to expand opportunities for youth in care to engage in activities that will promote their well-being.
During the past 2 years, the Bureau also continued to support States in implementing title IV-E child welfare waiver demonstration projects. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, P.L. 112-34, signed into law on September 30, 2011, provided the Department of Health and Human Services with authority to approve up to 10 demonstration projects in each of fiscal years 2012–2014. These demonstration projects involve the waiver of certain requirements of titles IV-E and IV-B of the Social Security Act to allow for more flexible use of Federal funds in order to test new approaches to service delivery and financing structures, in an effort to improve outcomes for children and families involved in child welfare. Currently, there are 30 active demonstration projects in 29 States, the District of Columbia, and one Tribe. For more information, including summaries and profiles of the projects, visit the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs/child-welfare-waivers.
The Children's Bureau kicked off the third round of the Child and Family Services Reviews in 2015, incorporating improvements to the process for reviewing titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act through the CFSR. Round 3 reviews will be done this year in Delaware, North Carolina, Vermont, New Mexico, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Arizona, and reviews will be carried out in the remaining States through 2018. You can read more about the CFSRs in CBX's June 2014 Spotlight.
During February of this year, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) (PDF - 665 KB) on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) that proposed to update the AFCARS requirements and included changes made as a result of the enactment of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351) and the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. Just last month, an NPRM was published for Tribal and State title IV-E agencies on the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) (PDF - 452 KB). This NPRM addresses changes in child welfare practice and technology related to the case management and data collection needs of children receiving foster care and adoption services, and it provides agencies with increased flexibility to build smaller systems that more closely mirror their practice models. These are only a few examples of the improvements and advances we have seen during my time with the Children's Bureau, and I have every confidence that the Bureau will continue to work hand-in-hand with Federal, State, and local partners to further advance the well-being of the children and families we serve.
I have enjoyed this chance to speak directly to child welfare leaders, frontline workers, advocates, families, and perhaps most importantly, youth who are or were formally in care. Thank you for embracing the changes we have initiated and for your partnership in creating policies that will ensure that children and families who come to our attention receive the services and supports they need, not merely the ones we currently have available. Thank you for your tireless efforts to make a difference in the lives of all children and families, regardless of race, religion, creed, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. A special thanks to the Children's Bureau staff for your kindness, commitment, and flexibility during times of transition. It has been a privilege to be part of this team.
Administration for Children, Youth & Families
Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services