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Children's Bureau ExpressJuly/August 2017 | Vol. 18, No. 5

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on Engaging Fathers
This month's CBX spotlight features articles about how having an involved father can lead to better outcomes for children, how responsible fatherhood programs can benefit from fathers’ accounts of the challenges of co-parenting, how community-based organizations can address challenges to fathers and their children and provide solutions in their fatherhood programs, and a three-part web series that explores partnerships between child welfare agencies and community fatherhood organizations that work toward engaging fathers and paternal-side family members.

  • Reviewing 15 Years of Father Involvement Initiatives
  • Evaluating Fathers' Views of Co-Parenting Relationships
  • Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations
  • Three-Part Podcast Series on Engaging Fathers

News From the Children's Bureau
Read about the frameworks and methods used to develop the Family Engagement Inventory, how states can establish a system of data integration that will support and improve services for young children and families, and the special two-part issue of the journal Child Welfare, which highlights many of the key components needed to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families, including cross-system collaboration, ongoing staff and system capacity building, effective implementation, and strategies to improve the use and usefulness of research in the field.

  • The Family Engagement Inventory: A Brief Cross-Disciplinary Synthesis
  • Integration of Early Childhood Data
  • Special Issue of Child Welfare Now Available
  • CB Website Updates

Child Welfare Research
We highlight an article about the development of the adolescent brain and how it affects risk and behavior, vulnerability to addiction, and mental health as well as an article that focuses on the changing trends in family structure.

  • The Power of the Adolescent Brain
  • Changing Trends in U.S. Family Dynamics

Strategies and Tools for Practice
This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other instruments that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.

  • Foster Care Alumni Discuss Transitioning From Care
  • Workforce Development Planning & Assessment Toolkit
  • Finding and Supporting Adoptive Families for Children in Foster Care

Resources
This section of CBX provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.

  • Evidence-Based Treatments for Depression in Children and Youth
  • School Climate Improvement Resource Package

Training and Conferences

  • Training for Adoption Competency
  • Conferences

Spotlight on Engaging Fathers

Reviewing 15 Years of Father Involvement Initiatives

Since 2001, the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) has worked to incorporate father involvement into every aspect of child welfare policies, programs, and practice. NFPN's report, Integrating and Sustaining Father Involvement, reviews research and findings on father involvement from the past 15 years, from practitioner studies focused on the importance of staff training to government-funded initiatives, such as Parents and Children Together.

The report also highlights programs such as Supporting Fatherhood Involvement, which is an implementation model that provides father-friendly assessments of agency policies as well as training on how to integrate fathers into agency programs and case planning.

To close the report, NFPN provides a comprehensive list of recommendations to make father involvement a concerted nationwide effort, including the following:

The full report, Integrating and Sustaining Father Involvement, is available at http://www.nfpn.org/Portals/0/Documents/father-involvement-Report.pdf (273 KB).

More information about NFPN is available at http://nfpn.org/.

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Spotlight on Engaging Fathers
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4980


Evaluating Fathers' Views of Co-Parenting Relationships

Parents and Children Together (PACT) is a large-scale, multicomponent project to evaluate four responsible fatherhood (RF) programs that were funded from 2011 to 2015 by the Office of Family Assistance within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A new brief produced by the ACF Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation focuses on findings from two rounds of interviews conducted between 2013 and 2014 with a total of 87 low-income, predominantly African-American fathers in RF programs that were part of the PACT evaluation. The main topics of these interviews were based on the fathers' points of view regarding the nature of their co-parenting relationships with the mothers of their children; the changes that might have occurred in these relationships in the year between the first and second interviews; and the efforts made by the fathers to obtain legal, formal agreements for visitation, custody, or parenting time.

During the first round of interviews, the majority of fathers reported having conflicted and disengaged relationships with their children's mothers, including low levels of cooperation and communication. Most of the nonresident fathers also did not have (or were not able to obtain) legal visitation or custody agreements, which led to disengaged parenting as a result of lack of access to their children.

During the second round of interviews, however, about one-quarter of the fathers reported a slight improvement in their co-parenting relationships and credited the relationship and communications skills they gained from the RF programs. One-quarter of nonresident fathers had also sought a formal custody or parenting-time agreement between the first and second interviews, which changed the co-parenting dynamic and facilitated the communication needed between parents to implement law-enforced custody or visitation.

The brief concludes with two implications for the design of RF programs based on the findings of the two rounds of PACT interviews:

Fathers’ Views of Co-Parenting Relationships: Findings From the PACT Evaluation is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/12616_coparentingrelationships_508new.pdf (1,770 KB).

 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Spotlight on Engaging Fathers
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4981


Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations

Fathers in the United States—particularly those who participate in fatherhood programs—can face many challenges to being present for their children. These challenges include unemployment and job instability, which can lead to a lack of financial means to provide for their children and the inability to pay child support and bills; physical health problems; substance use; and more. As a result of the aforementioned challenges, the overall well-being of the child is impacted, which in most instances could be alleviated by the presence of a father.

The Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations, produced by the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), highlights the need for community-based organizations (CBOs) to address these challenges to fathers and their children and provide solutions in their fatherhood programs, either through the provision of services by the CBO or the CBO's partners.

The brief addresses eight societal issues that CBOs and their fatherhood programs should address and provides research to support them:


NFI offers evidence-based and evidence-informed programs, workshops, and other resources designed specifically for fathers that CBOs can implement in their programs. These include the Father Friendly Check-Up, which is a tool that assesses how a CBO encourages father involvement in the activities and programs offered; the free e-book 7 Steps to Starting a Fatherhood Program; the FatherTopics Booster Sessions, which help CBOs cover important issues related to fatherhood; and the Community Mobilization Approach e-book, which is meant for those looking to implement a larger city or statewide fatherhood initiative.

NFI's The Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations is available at https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/135704/Offers/eBooks/The%20Benefits%20of%20Fatherhood%20Programs%20in%20Community-Based%20Organizations/Fatherhood_Programs_in_Community_Based_Orgs_NFI.pdf (9,960 KB).

To view the other resources, visit the NFI website at http://www.fatherhood.org/.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Spotlight on Engaging Fathers
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4982


Three-Part Podcast Series on Engaging Fathers

Child Welfare Information Gateway recently posted the third and final installment in its podcast series on engaging fathers. The series explores partnerships between child welfare agencies and community fatherhood organizations that work toward engaging fathers and paternal family members, which can potentially double a child's family resources. During the podcast, professionals from child welfare agencies and fatherhood organizations discuss why having a father in a child's life is so important and steps that child welfare agencies can take to partner with community fatherhood organizations to improve father engagement.

The following is a summary of the podcast series:

The Engaging Fathers podcast series is available on the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/capacity/child-welfare-podcast-series. 
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Spotlight on Engaging Fathers
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4983


News From the Children's Bureau

The Family Engagement Inventory: A Brief Cross-Disciplinary Synthesis

The Family Engagement Inventory (FEI) was designed to enable professionals in the fields of child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, education, and early childhood education to access information on family engagement and how it is defined and implemented in their respective fields of study. Understanding the commonalities in family engagement across disciplines supports cross-system collaboration and increases the odds of more effectively achieving positive outcomes for children, youth, and families.

The Family Engagement Inventory: A Brief Cross-Disciplinary Synthesis, produced by the Children's Bureau and Child Welfare Information Gateway, describes the frameworks and methods used to develop the FEI, including a preliminary literature review, consultation with experts, and an extensive review of published literature.

The brief also defines four domains of family engagement and the commonalities they have as they pertain to the five disciplines:

The Family Engagement Inventory: A Brief Cross-Disciplinary Synthesis is available at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/synthesis.pdf (315 KB).

For more information on the FEI, visit https://www.childwelfare.gov/fei/.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4984


Integration of Early Childhood Data

Early childhood programs have been shown to positively impact children's lives and future outcomes. Integrating and linking data collected from these programs by using a framework often referred to as Early Childhood Integrated Data Systems (ECIDS) serves to inform program leaders about program access, participation, and quality; determine federal and state funding allocation; identify areas in need of improvement; improve the coordination of service delivery both locally and statewide; and more.

The Integration of Early Childhood Data: State Profiles and a Report From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education, is intended to help states establish a system of data integration that will support and improve services for young children and families. Included in the report are the following 10 key considerations for integrating and linking early childhood data:

These considerations are based on best practices from the field and on lessons learned from the eight states (Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah) profiled in the report that are actively engaged in developing data-integration programs. The report also includes two appendices that provide additional information on federal resources for supporting data integration and data privacy laws and regulations.

The full report, The Integration of Early Childhood Data: State Profiles and a Report From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education, is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/intergration_of_early_childhood_data_final.pdf (1,510 KB).
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4985


Special Issue of Child Welfare Now Available

A special two-part issue of the journal Child Welfare titled, "Improving the Use and Usefulness of Research Evidence," highlights many of the key components needed to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families, including cross-system collaboration, ongoing staff and system capacity building, effective implementation, and strategies to improve the use and usefulness of research in the field. Many of the articles in this issue also focus on knowledge development and capacity building. 

Part one of this issue includes articles such as "Strategies to Improve the Use and Usefulness of Research in Child Welfare," "Selecting an Evidence-Based Practice in Child Welfare: Challenges and Steps to Identifying a Good Fit," "Research Evidence Use in the Child Welfare System," and more.

Part two includes articles such as "Exploring the Integration of Systems and Social Sciences to Study Evidence Use among Child Welfare Policy Makers," "Tensions and Opportunities: Building Meaningful Partnerships Between Child Welfare Decision-makers and Evaluators," "Engaging the Child Welfare Community in Examining the Use of Research Evidence," and more.

"Improving the use and usefulness of research evidence" [special issue] edited by DuMont, Kim & James-Brown, Christine, Child Welfare, 94(2 and 3), 2017, is available for purchase at https://netforum.avectra.com/eweb/shopping/shopping.aspx?site=cwla&webcode=shopping&prd_key=727f7022-6183-4db7-9760-111aa853f0aa.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4986


CB Website Updates

The Children's Bureau website hosts information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, federal reporting, and much more.

Recent additions to the site include the following:

Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4996


Child Welfare Research

The Power of the Adolescent Brain

The video "The Power of the Adolescent Brain With Frances Jensen," produced by the Office of Adolescent Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is part of the TAG (Think, Act, Grow) series of videos and focuses on the development of the adolescent brain and how it affects risk and behavior, vulnerability to addiction, and mental health.

In the video, Dr. Frances Jensen of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine explains that the brain is the last organ in the body to reach full maturity; therefore, during adolescence the brain is still developing and often does not reach full maturity until a person is in their mid- to late 20s. This development starts from the back of the brain and works its way to the front, so that the last part of the brain to reach "full connectivity" is the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain that can affect impulses and risk taking, decision-making, organizational skills, judgment, and empathy—all traits and abilities that can be challenging for adolescents.

In addition, each brain region is more active during childhood and adolescence than later in life, making the capacity to learn higher when the individual is younger. However, this also means that adolescent brains are more susceptible to learning negative behaviors, such as being more vulnerable to addiction, the effects of substance use, or stress and other mental health issues. Parents and other adults can apply this knowledge toward their interactions with adolescents. 

"The Power of the Adolescent Brain With Frances Jensen" is available at http://youth.gov/feature-article/power-adolescent-brain-tag-talk.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4987


Changing Trends in U.S. Family Dynamics

The dynamics of the family unit have changed significantly since the 1960s, with an upswing in the number of complex families that include multiple adult parents across households, stepfamilies, and single-parent households. This—as well as the decline of marriage and the rise in cohabitation, divorce, and childbearing outside of marriage—can lead to unstable home environments for the children within these families across racial and ethnic groups, levels of education, and socioeconomic status. Research shows that complex and unstable family environments are detrimental to children's development and can lead to unmet care needs, financial instability, and even poverty.

The Population Bulletin report, Understanding the Dynamics of Family Change in the United States, highlights these changing trends in family structure and provides an up-to-date overview of key demographic research on the state of marriage, cohabitation, divorce, repartnering, childbearing, and the processes of family change, as well as the challenges in designing programs to promote child and family well-being. These challenges include addressing the barriers and disincentives to marriage, such as a combined income in marriage often leading to a decrease in benefits from programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also referred to as food stamps. 

The ever-evolving family dynamic has a significant impact on how programs are tailored to help families; therefore, it is important to keep abreast of and accurately measure the composition, size, and living arrangements of complex families to ensure they are provided with the support they need to thrive. 

The full report, Understanding the Dynamics of Family Change in the United States, is available at http://www.prb.org/pdf16/prb-population-bulletin-71.1-complex-families-2016.pdf (720 KB).
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4988


Strategies and Tools for Practice

Foster Care Alumni Discuss Transitioning From Care

"Young People Transitioning From Foster Care" is part of the CaseyCast podcast series produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This podcast focuses on the experiences of two foster care alumnae, Samanthya Amann and Brittany Hunter, who are also young fellows from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. In the interview, Amann and Hunter share the challenges they faced and the supports they used when they transitioned out of foster care, as well as their ideas on how to make the transition from foster care a smoother one.

According to Amann and Hunter, there are four primary challenges youth face while transitioning out of foster care:

To offset some of these obstacles to self-sufficiency, Amann and Hunter suggest that agencies partner with housing initiatives to provide transitioning youth with housing options that do not require a minimum credit limit since most youth in foster care have no credit. In addition, child care stipends would allow transitioning youth to obtain employment or continue their education, which can lead to better employment, housing, and financial security.

To learn about more about Samanthya Amann and Brittany Hunter and their views on leaving foster care, see the CaseyCast episode at http://www.aecf.org/podcast/how-can-we-help-former-foster-youth-succeed-ask-them/.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4989


Workforce Development Planning & Assessment Toolkit

The Workforce Development Planning & Assessment Toolkit, produced by the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, is a companion resource to the Workforce Development Framework (WDF). The toolkit applies the principles of the WDF to an agency setting and offers a comprehensive approach to creating a workforce development roadmap through the following three steps:

The Workforce Development Planning & Assessment Toolkit is available at http://wdftoolkit.ncwwi.org/index.html.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4991


Finding and Supporting Adoptive Families for Children in Foster Care

According to recent estimates, there are approximately 111,820 children waiting to be adopted in the United States, and more than half of the parents of these children have had their parental rights terminated. These statistics stress the urgent need to identify new strategies to find permanent placement for children in foster care as well as provide pre- and postadoption supports and services to the foster, kinship, and unrelated families who have chosen to adopt these children.

A special issue of the journal Adoption Quarterly includes articles that answer questions about how agencies find families for children needing placement; the experiences of these families and children before and after adoption; and the most effective recruitment, preparation, and retention strategies for families seeking to adopt from foster care.

The first article in the issue, "Factors Associated With Adoption and Adoption Intentions of Nonparental Caregivers," addresses the characteristics of nonparental caregivers who never considered adoption, those who considered but were not planning to adopt, those who are planning adoption, and those who actually adopted. The authors found that nonparental caregivers may be more likely to consider adoption if the caregiver is not related to the family and child, if financial assistance is available, or if a child welfare agency is involved in the adoption. Another article, "Preparing and Partnering With Families to Support the Adoption of Children from Foster Care," focuses on the effectiveness of a preplacement education and preparation curriculum, or PREP, for prospective foster and adoptive parents. The PREP curriculum is designed to educate prospective foster and adoptive parents about prenatal substance exposure, with the goal of increasing the likelihood that they consider adopting children in foster care who have been affected by prenatal substance exposure.

Other articles in the issue highlight the barriers to adoption, factors that influence how child welfare professionals depict foster children in photolistings of children awaiting adoption, kinship adoption and outcomes for children formerly in foster care and who were adopted by relatives, and more. This issue serves as a valuable tool for agencies, child welfare professionals, and other service providers by highlighting emerging trends and recent research findings on adoptions from care as well as imparting promising solutions for reducing the number of children waiting for adoptive families.

"Finding, supporting, and maintaining adoptive families for children in foster care," edited by E.E. Madden & R.G. McRoy, Adoption Quarterly, 20(1), 2016, is available at http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wado20/20/1.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4997


Resources

Evidence-Based Treatments for Depression in Children and Youth

The webinar "Evidence-Based Treatments for Depression in Children and Youth," presented by Christopher Bellonci, M.D., medical director of the National Technical Assistance Network for Children's Behavioral Health, is the first of the Clinical Distance Learning Series webinars. This webinar focuses on evidence-based treatment for behavioral disorders in children and youth, specifically for the two most common depressive disorders in children—major depressive disorder and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

Depression is characterized as the presentation of five or more depression symptoms over the same two-week period that can cause significant distress or functional impairment. These symptoms must include depressed mood and loss of pleasure in almost all activities, which in children may manifest as irritability rather than sadness. Other symptoms may include significant changes in weight and appetite, sleep issues, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty in processing thoughts and decision-making, and suicidal ideation. In children, depression can manifest as a lack of interest in play-based or sports activities, a gloomy outlook, low self-esteem, and mood swings.

Research has shown that depression can appear in preschool age children as young as 3 years old, with about a 2 percent rate of occurrence in children ages 2–5. In school-age children between ages 7 and 15, 2 percent of boys and 4 percent of girls were diagnosed with depression in 2016. In adolescents, however, the rate rises to approximately 11 percent among those ages 12–17 (in 2014), with onset most likely at puberty and the incidence peaking in their 20s.

The webinar suggests using diagnostic interviews as well as screening tools such as the Patient Health Questionnaire for Adolescents (which is available for free from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force), the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Children's Depression Inventory to diagnose depression in children and adolescents. These screening tools allow clinicians to determine treatment options and next steps.

Treating depression in children and adolescents can be difficult and requires cooperation between the child, his or her family members, and the clinician. Treatment approaches recommended in the webinar differ depending on age and development. For preschool age children, Dr. Bellonci suggests a dyadic developmental approach that focuses on working with the child and his or her parents together. For school-age children and adolescents, cognitive-behavioral therapy has proven to be rather effective.

To learn more and to view the webinar, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65qasq15S8w&feature=youtu.be.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4992


School Climate Improvement Resource Package

The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments has developed the School Climate Improvement Resource Package (SCIRP) to help schools and districts improve educational environments for students. Research has shown that students are more likely to engage in the curriculum, develop positive relationships, and demonstrate positive behaviors when they are in an environment that is safe, supportive, accepting, and conducive to learning and thriving.

This resource package is divided into six parts:

The SCIRP is available at https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/scirp/about.
 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4993


Training and Conferences

Training for Adoption Competency

The Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) curriculum was designed exclusively for mental health professionals by the Center for Adoption Support and Education in collaboration with a national advisory board consisting of adoption experts. TAC was created to train mental health professionals to help alleviate some of the challenges of adoption, such as children's intellectual and social functioning, children's ability to form attachments to their adoptive families, previously experienced early abuse and neglect, and prior foster care placements.

TAC has an in-depth clinical focus and is designed to build and strengthen clinical skills. The TAC training is based on competency, manualized to make it easy to replicate, and rigorously evaluated through pilot testing and replication evaluation. The two components of TAC are the TAC curriculum, which is a 12-module, 72-hour in-home and classroom-based training program, and the TAC case consultation component, which consists of six case consultation sessions over the course of six months to support the transition from learning to practice.

The following are examples of the learning objectives of the TAC training:

Students who complete the training can receive either an Advanced Clinical TAC Certificate if they successfully completed the classroom training and the case consultation component or a Basic TAC Certificate if they only completed the classroom training.

To learn more about TAC or to register for training, visit http://adoptionsupport.org/adoption-competency-initiatives/training-for-adoption-competency-tac/.

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4994


Conferences

Upcoming national conferences and events on child welfare and adoption in July and August 2017 include the following:

July

August

 

Issue Date: July/August 2017
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=188&articleid=4995



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