Children's Bureau ExpressMay 2010 | Vol. 11, No. 4

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
This month, CBX spotlights National Foster Care Month and its "Partnering With Families and Youth to Achieve Permanency" message. Four articles focus on CB-funded Adoption Opportunities grantees and their work with youth, while other articles link to information on the Family to Family initiative and placement stability.

  • May Is National Foster Care Month!
  • Finding the Youth Voice in the Permanency Process
  • Using Qualitative Interviews to Evaluate Youth Permanency
  • Making the Case for Permanency With Youth, Workers, and Families
  • Logic Model for Youth Permanency
  • Evaluating the Family to Family Initiative
  • Placement Stability in Foster Care

News From the Children's Bureau
The May issue of CBX brings you news about the Adoption Excellence Award nominations and the newly appointed directors for five HHS Regions, CB-funded grantee syntheses and a grantee site visit, the latest from the Training & Technical Assistance Network, and more.

  • Children's Bureau Service Wins Citizen Service Award
  • Nominations Open for Adoption Excellence Awards
  • HHS Announces Five More New Regional Directors
  • Syntheses of CB Grant Clusters Debut on Web
  • Site Visit: Leadership Training Promotes Family Group Conferencing
  • Site Visit: Child-Specific Recruitment for African-American Children
  • Updates From the T&TA Network
  • NIS-4 Finds Race Differences in Child Maltreatment Rates
  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

Child Welfare Research
Research from the child welfare field includes the latest look at finding the right balance for group care, accessing postadoption services, and family therapy in kinship care.

  • The Benefits of Reducing Reliance on Congregate Care
  • Survey Shows Postadoption Services Needs
  • A Family Therapy Model for Grandfamilies

Strategies and Tools for Practice
CBX provides tools and examples of programs for recruitment of families, risk assessment, drug use and mental health services for parents, and advocacy for youth.

  • Recruiting Adoptive Families in Rural Communities
  • Assessing Child Safety With Domestic Violence
  • Intensive Services for Addicted Parents
  • Questions About Advocating for Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Foster Care

Resources

  • Intercountry Adoption of U.S. Children
  • Chronic Neglect Virtual Series
  • Schools and Refugee Child Welfare

Training and Conferences

  • Supporting Families With Substance Use and Mental Health Issues
  • Syllabus for Working With LGBTQ Youth
  • Conferences

Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

May Is National Foster Care Month!

During May, organizations across the country observe National Foster Care Month by raising awareness about the 463,000 children and youth in foster care and the caring adults who make a difference in their lives. Social workers, foster parents, mentors, volunteers, and many others play an important role in helping children and youth build lasting connections and achieve permanency. Many of these adults offer services and supports to families to promote reunification or, when that isn't possible, adoption, guardianship, or other permanent connections for children and youth.

This year, the theme of the National Foster Care Month website on Child Welfare Information Gateway is "Partnering With Families and Youth to Achieve Permanency." Geared to child welfare and related professionals, the website includes information and resources from the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network to help policymakers, administrators, managers, and caseworkers provide better permanency services for children and families involved with the child welfare system. The website also features stories of youth who have successfully achieved permanency, highlighting the importance of youth having lifelong connections to people who are important to them.

www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth

The National Foster Care Month website from Casey Family Programs and its partners offers a wealth of information and encourages the public to get involved in the lives of youth in foster care, including:

www.fostercaremonth.org

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2874


Finding the Youth Voice in the Permanency Process

In 2005, the Children's Bureau funded nine demonstration projects through an Adoption Opportunities grant, "Improving Permanency Outcomes by Developing Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact With Family Members." The following article draws on lessons learned from these Youth Permanency projects about engaging youth and listening to the youth voice.

Youth who have spent a long time in the foster care system—sometimes, much of their lives—may be understandably dubious when a new worker invites them to participate in their own permanency plan. Until that point, they may never have been given a chance to control their own future.

Engaging these youth and giving them some control over what happens to them is part of the goal of the nine Children's Bureau-funded Youth Permanency projects. The projects offer new hope to youth who are in danger of aging out of the foster care system with no permanent connection to a caring adult. The projects' permanency workers have found a number of ways to help the youth overcome their past trauma and disappointment so that they are open to new permanency options.

One way to gauge a teen's readiness for permanency and to open the discussion about permanency options is through the use of a written scale. The It's Up to Me ReConnect Project developed an instrument to assess feelings and attitudes at various points in the permanency process. When youth first enter the program, they complete the Openness to Permanency Scale, which assesses issues of family loyalty and self-esteem in order to measure their willingness to be adopted. The scale is administered again 6 months and 1 year later, as well as when the youth leaves the program, so that changes in attitude can be followed and discussed. The instrument not only provides insight to the permanency worker and caseworker, but it often helps the youth articulate feelings that may have remained unexpressed until that point. The scale can help youth realize that their feelings are normal and are shared by many others in their situation, and it may provide a springboard for the youth to talk about feelings about permanency.

Discussing with youth how they feel about permanency is the first step toward engaging teens in that process. Giving them some control is another way to increase their involvement and to build their comfort level. For instance, permanency workers found that teens were responsive to these kinds of questions:

Giving teens options and respecting their choices can build their confidence and participation in their own permanency process. Some of the other ways that the Youth Permanency projects are able to give youth a voice include:

Ultimately, youth in foster care are like any other youth teetering on the brink of adulthood. They are learning to make their own decisions, but they need loving adults to guide and support them. The Youth Permanency projects are able to engage youth by giving them choices about their permanency options while providing them with guidance and support so that they leave foster care with permanent connections to loving adults.

For more information about Project ReConnect, including all of the tools developed for the project, and the other Youth Permanency Projects, visit the National Resource Center for Adoption:

[Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]

For an overview of the work of the projects, view this PowerPoint from the Children's Bureau's 2009 Agencies and Courts conference:

[Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]

 

Many thanks to Dona Abbott, Director, and Mary Banghart Therrien, Evaluator, from the It's Up to Me ReConnect Project, who provided the information for this article.
 

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2870


Using Qualitative Interviews to Evaluate Youth Permanency

In 2005, the Children's Bureau funded nine demonstration projects through an Adoption Opportunities grant, "Improving Permanency Outcomes by Developing Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact With Family Members." The following article describes the mixed-method evaluation process used with the Family Builders by Adoption Dumisha Jamaa Project.

The Dumisha Jamaa Project, based in Alameda County, California, uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection strategies to evaluate the success of the project and to create a fuller picture of the experiences of the youth, families, and workers involved in the project. Project partners include Family Builders' permanency workers—who are co-located in the county agency offices—and supervisors, the county caseworkers and administrators, and the evaluator. The partners meet on a monthly basis, and this regular communication contributes to the effectiveness of the project.

While county staff focus on casework management, the Dumisha permanency workers can devote their time to finding families and establishing permanent connections for youth. They use a variety of techniques to locate family members and other potential connections, including file mining, Internet searches, genograms, and family group conferences. In addition, permanency workers conduct both youth-specific and general recruitment to find families. Some of their methods have included the Heart Gallery photography exhibit, short television spots, Internet photolistings, and matching events.

Early in the project, the evaluator worked with project staff to develop several quantitative measures. Youth complete the Youth Self-Efficacy Measure, the Social Support Scale, and the Youth Permanency Measure when they enter the program and annually thereafter. Permanency workers and permanent adults identified by youth complete slightly different versions of the Permanency Measure. Responses to all these instruments are analyzed to measure any changes in attitudes and connections over time, as youth participate in the project.

In order to provide a more complete picture of the project and of the youths' journey to permanency, the evaluation process also includes a qualitative component. The evaluator conducts qualitative interviews with youth, permanent parent(s), permanency workers and other project partner staff. To date, all seven Family Builders' Dumisha permanency workers and four project partner staff have completed face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. The evaluator has also conducted 13 youth interviews and 8 permanent parent interviews. While the interview process is ongoing, a number of interesting themes have emerged from the interviews.

For instance, permanency workers shared some common thoughts about best practices and lessons learned in achieving permanency for older youth:

Many youth who have been interviewed expressed their appreciation for the chance to be heard and for the work of their permanency workers. The interviews shed light on their feelings about family and permanency, for instance:

Interviews with adults who have become permanent connections to youth revealed some lessons they had learned in the process:

The evaluator will continue conducting interviews with youth, parents, and project partners in order to provide the most complete picture of the project's achievements and lessons learned. Using a mixed-methods approach to evaluation, with both quantitative and qualitative data, of this project has been important to learning best practices for older youth in search of permanency.

For more information about the Dumisha Jamaa Project, visit the National Resource Center for Adoption website:

www.nrcadoption.org/youthpermanencycluster/fbba.html

Many thanks to Michelle Rosenthal of the Edgewood Institute for the Study of Community-Based Services, Evaluator of the Dumisha Project, for providing the information for this article.
 

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2871


Making the Case for Permanency With Youth, Workers, and Families

In 2005, the Children's Bureau funded nine demonstration projects through an Adoption Opportunities grant, "Improving Permanency Outcomes by Developing Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact With Family Members." The following article draws on lessons learned from these Youth Permanency projects about changing attitudes.

One of greatest barriers to finding families for older youth in foster care is the common belief that teenagers are not adoptable. Prospective families may shy away from older youth, workers may be caught in a mindset that focuses only on preparation for independent living and emancipation, and even the youth themselves may reject the possibility of adoption. The Youth Permanency grantees sought new approaches to address these myths about adopting teenagers and identified successful practices for changing attitudes about permanency for older youth.

Youth often have mistaken ideas about what adoption means. In many cases, no one has discussed adoption with them, or the youth rejected the idea early on and no one ever introduced the subject again. In addition, they may have experienced rejection and instability in foster care and may be understandably reluctant to trust any promise of permanence.

Some approaches that the Youth Permanency grantees identified for changing youths' attitudes about adoption included the following:

Caseworkers may not be aware of permanency potential for youth. There are still workers who think that youth don't need families, or the workers don't view permanent placements as a priority. Youth Permanency grantees found a number of useful strategies for changing workers' attitudes, including:

Families may be reluctant to consider adopting older youth. Grantees found the following strategies useful in overcoming this reluctance:

And there is one strategy that helps change attitudes of youth, workers, and families: Providing them with examples of successful adoptions of youth. Showcasing families and youth who can talk about their successful adoptive experiences is the best way to demonstrate the potential of youth permanency.

For more information about the Youth Permanency grantees, visit their webpages:

http://www.nrcadoption.org/resources/ypc/grantee-projects

Many thanks to Susan Punnett of Kidsave in Washington, DC, and to Pat Dudley of You Gotta Believe! in New York City for providing the information for this article.

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2872


Logic Model for Youth Permanency

In 2005, the Children's Bureau funded nine demonstration projects through an Adoption Opportunities grant, "Improving Permanency Outcomes by Developing Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact With Family Members" (the Permanency cluster). The following article describes the development and purpose of the cluster's logic model.

The Children's Bureau routinely requires applicants for funding to include a logic model as part of their application. This requirement helps the applicants—and later, the grantees—articulate how their funded activities relate to their desired outcomes. The logic model describes the resources that will be required, the planned program activities, and what the program intends to achieve (commonly called "outcomes").

The nine grantees in the Children's Bureau's Permanency cluster all developed their own logic models as part of their grant applications and were familiar with the benefits of this process. So, about 2 years into their funding period, when they found that they needed a good visual way to explain what the cluster as a whole was doing, they turned to a new logic model. Using the nine individual logic models, an overall logic model was developed for the whole cluster. It included the factors and processes common to the individual grantees.

The resulting logic model included six types of components:

This logic model continues to provide a good backdrop for the work of the cluster and is an important visual representation of the process that the grantees follow to achieve permanency for youth. The format of the logic model emphasizes both the wide range of activities as well as the common goals of the nine grantees, demonstrating that there are many ways to increase permanency for older youth in foster care.

To view the Permanency cluster's logic model, visit the National Resource Center for Adoption website:

www.nrcadoption.org/youthpermanencycluster/logic.html

Many thanks to Kate Lyon, of James Bell Associates, who provided the information for this article and serves as a technical assistance provider for the cluster.

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2873


Evaluating the Family to Family Initiative

Family to Family began in 1992 as a systems change initiative to create more family-centered, neighborhood-based foster care services. Over the years, States and communities involved with Family to Family have achieved many positive outcomes, such as increasing the number of family foster care homes, reducing the number of placements in institutional settings, and reducing the overall number of children in care. In order to build upon those successes, the Annie E. Casey Foundation spent the last 3 years focusing on 15 anchor sites (in 5 California counties and 10 other States or communities) to further improve the Family to Family initiative and to evaluate its impact at both the child and system levels.

A recent report from the Foundation details the phases of Family to Family since its inception and examines the anchor sites' implementation of four core strategies:

Because previous evaluations found that communities experience the greatest outcomes when all four strategies are fully implemented and functioning together, the Foundation focused its recent efforts on providing technical assistance to the 15 anchor sites in order to improve their development and integration of the core strategies. The evaluation report examines the sites' implementation efforts as well as child and family outcomes related to safety, permanency, family and community connections, and quality of care.

The anchor sites also identified several agency factors that impacted the implementation of Family to Family, such as strong and consistent leadership, the substantial realignment of staff resources, and broad participation by managers, staff, and community partners. The report includes several lessons learned and recommendations for the Family to Family initiative.

The full report, Evaluation of the Anchor-Site Phase of Family to Family, by Lynn Usher, Judith Wildfire, Daniel Webster, and David Crampton, is available on the Annie E. Casey Foundation website:

www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid={0B379E86-3BD9-4FAF-A3B2-96845501B2B7}

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2875


Placement Stability in Foster Care

A number of studies have established a connection between frequent moves in foster care and poorer outcomes for children and youth. A new action brief released by PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia analyzed the results of the first year of a longitudinal Children's Stability and Well-Being Study that looked at placement histories of 450 children in the Philadelphia child welfare system. The report, Securing Child Safety, Well-Being, and Permanency Through Placement Stability in Foster Care, lists four major findings related to placement stability:

The action brief offers several policy recommendations tied to these findings and to the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The Act recognizes the importance of placement stability for children’s safety and well-being, and it requires greater accountability to prevent discontinuity in schooling and the receipt of medical care.

Securing Child Safety, Well-Being, and Permanency Through Placement Stability in Foster Care, by Kathleen Noonan, David Rubin, Robin Mekonnen, Sarah Zlotnick, and Amanda O’Reilly, is available on the PolicyLab website: 

http://policylab.us/index.php/publications/evidence-to-action/45-policylab-position-paper.html

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2876


News From the Children's Bureau

Children's Bureau Service Wins Citizen Service Award

The Children's Bureau recently won the prestigious Citizen Service Award, presented annually to government agencies that have achieved excellence in customer service and citizen engagement. The General Services Administration (GSA) award recognized the Children's Bureau for its Child Welfare Information Gateway, citing Information Gateway's social media outreach campaign, including the use of Facebook, YouTube, and LiveChat, to connect child welfare professionals and citizens to information and resources.

The award was presented on April 13 at a GSA conference. LaChundra Lindsey, who serves as the Federal Project Officer for Information Gateway, was on hand to receive the award, along with Joe Bock, the Children's Bureau Deputy Associate Commissioner, and Jane Morgan, Children's Bureau Director of the Capacity Building Division.

This is the third year that GSA has presented the awards, and Information Gateway was one of three winners, along with the Federal Student Aid Information Center and the TV Converter Box Coupon Program.

Read the full press release:

www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?pageTypeId=10430&channelId=-24825&P=&contentId=29552&contentType=GSA_BASIC

For more information, visit the GSA webpage on the Citizen Service Award:

www.usaservices.gov/aboutus/citizen_service_award.php

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2867


Nominations Open for Adoption Excellence Awards

Each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) presents Adoption Excellence Awards to recognize individuals, families, and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to providing safe, permanent, and loving homes for children in foster care. Winners are those who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, and dedication in helping children from foster care rebuild their lives and achieve permanency.

Nominations are now open for the 2010 Adoption Excellence Awards, and completed nomination packets are due by July 12, 2010. Nominees may be individuals and organizations, including States, public agencies, universities, Tribes, courts, families, faith-based organizations, businesses, and more. Awards will be made in nine categories:

Nomination packets will be reviewed by a national panel of recognized adoption experts, including members of State and Federal agencies. The review panel will make recommendations for awards to the ACF Commissioner. Winners will be selected on the basis of 10 criteria, including collaboration, innovation, and community involvement.

Everyone interested in making nominations, including self-nominations, is invited to visit the Children's Bureau website for more information:

www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/current_initiatives/aeawards.htm

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2893


HHS Announces Five More New Regional Directors

On April 6, 2010, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the appointment of five new HHS Regional Directors, who will act as Secretary Sebelius's key representatives in working with Federal, State, local, and Tribal officials on health and social service issues. The new directors are:

Read the HHS press release on the website: www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/04/20100406c.html

For contact information about the HHS Regional Offices, visit: www.hhs.gov/intergovernmental/regional/index.html#v

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2878


Syntheses of CB Grant Clusters Debut on Web

Child Welfare Information Gateway has added a new feature to its website: discretionary grant syntheses. The Children's Bureau awards discretionary grants for research and program development to State, Tribal, and local agencies; faith-based and community-based organizations; and other nonprofit and for-profit groups. Selected clusters of grants funded under a single program announcement have been the subject of site visit reports and brief syntheses to document knowledge gained through the projects. The syntheses describe grantees' common challenges, strategies, outcomes, and lessons learned.

The first synthesis to be posted to Information Gateway's website discusses the knowledge gained through the Field Initiated Training Projects for Effective Child Welfare Practice With Hispanic Children and Families grant cluster. Between 2004 and 2007, four grantees conducted innovative projects designed to address the needs of Hispanic children and families. This synthesis is based on the grantees' final reports and other materials.

The new online synthesis is available in a printable PDF, as well as an easy-to-read tab format, which is organized into the following sections:

The online syntheses join the online site visit reports already available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. Visit the Discretionary Grant Outcomes and Lessons Learned webpage to access both the syntheses and site visit reports:

www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/funding/funding_sources/cbreports.cfm

Find the Hispanic Children and Families online synthesis here:

www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/funding/funding_sources/synthesis/#page=summary

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2866


Site Visit: Leadership Training Promotes Family Group Conferencing

The goal of the National Child Welfare Leadership Institute (NCWLI) is to build leadership skills in mid-level managers in public and Tribal child welfare agencies to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. Participants select a topic for change in their agencies and receive support throughout the training process about how to implement the change effort.

Nominated by the Vermont Department for Children and Families, Ruth Houtte, a director in 1 of the 12 district offices in the Family Services Division (FSD), participated in the training provided by NCWLI. Ms. Houtte's topic for change was to implement family group conferencing (FGC) in her St. Johnsbury District Office.

During her NCWLI session, Ms. Houtte developed a vision statement for FGC in her district, which she later presented to her staff. This was important to determine whether staff values were in line with those embedded in this practice, to air any resistance if it existed, and to create buy-in for the change. After hearing staff input and having internal discussions, the district office decided to incorporate FGC into its case practice, initially with cases involving teens.

There was minimal resistance to the practice change, with most staff in agreement with the FGC approach and values; some saw it as being very much in line with their social work roots. St. Johnsbury staff reported that they believe that FGC has helped establish or reestablish family relationships, increased the options available to families, opened the lines of communication between the families and the agency, and led to positive outcomes that would not have been possible using a traditional child welfare approach.

The NCWLI training also had an impact on a larger scale. In addition to introducing FGC in her district office, Ms. Houtte helped support a broad system change effort, including incorporating family engagement throughout FSD. This systemwide reform effort was spurred on by the State's 2007 Child and Family Services Review and subsequent Program Improvement Plan and was driven by the agency's Transformation Plan, which was written by Deputy Commissioner Cindy Walcott, along with input from staff. As part of her contribution to promoting broad system change, Ms. Houtte co-chaired the Transformation Steering Committee, which oversaw how various workgroups coordinated the change process. Ms. Houtte also co-chaired workgroups that developed the Vermont Family Time Policy and Guidelines and the FSD Practice Model. The NCWLI training helped her structure committee meetings efficiently and advance the process effectively. 

Ms. Houtte said that NCWLI was one of the most amazing experiences of her professional career. She was able to use what she learned immediately on her return to the agency, and she received a lot of support and consultation from NCWLI staff in her work.

For more information, contact Ruth Houtte, District Director, FSD, Vermont DCF at ruth.houtte@ahs.state.vt.us

The full site visit report is posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
http://www.childwelfare.gov/management/funding/funding_sources/sitevisits/vermont.cfm

For more information on NCWLI, visit the NCWLI website: http://www.ncwli.org

National Child Welfare Leadership Institute is funded by the Children's Bureau, CFDA #93.648.This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2865


Site Visit: Child-Specific Recruitment for African-American Children

In 2005, the Children's Bureau's National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA) established the Minority Adoption Leadership Development Institute (MALDI) to enhance the leadership skills of minority adoption leaders from around the country. Florida's Department of Children and Families enrolled an adoption leader, Minnie Jenkins, in MALDI, and Ms. Jenkins was able to return to her State and apply her new skills to develop an adoption program for older African-American children.

The program she created, All Things Are Possible: No Limits Adoption Recruitment for African-American Children, involved child-specific recruitment for 10 African-American youth, aged 9 and older. Ms. Jenkins provided training and technical assistance to the youths' case managers to help them with recruitment and with preparing the youth for adoption. She developed a number of tools, including:

The child-specific recruitment plan included many ideas for identifying potential families, updating the youths' files, and using a variety of media to promote the youth and make his or her story known to as many families as possible. Ms. Jenkins helped the case managers implement the plans, serving as a mentor and resource. By the end of the project, two youth had finalized adoptions, one sibling group of three had been placed with an adoptive family, one sibling group of three had been matched with a preadoptive family, and two children still did not have identified families.

The success of this program led the State to take the program statewide with a project called The 100 Longest Waiting Teens Project: A Family for Every Teen. In this new project, case managers used the tools and practices from the All Things Are Possible program to recruit families for 104 Florida teens who had been in foster care for most of their lives. One year after this new project had launched, 49 of the 104 teens (13 years of age and over) had achieved permanence. Recruitment activities are continuing for those remaining.

At a 3-day statewide adoption conference designed to celebrate both of these programs, case managers were able to share their success stories with other professionals and to disseminate information about the programs. A national adoption expert provided training and workshops on realistic adoption. In addition, the State agency used the opportunity to announce a new program that will use the same techniques to identify permanent connections for youth who have been assigned a permanency goal of APPLA (Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement).

For more information on MALDI and the NRC for Adoption, visit the website:
www.nrcadoption.org/maldi/index.html

To find out more about the All Things Are Possible and the 100 Longest Waiting Teens projects, contact:

To read the full site visit report, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: http://www.childwelfare.gov/management/funding/funding_sources/

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2892


Updates From the T&TA Network

The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2877


NIS-4 Finds Race Differences in Child Maltreatment Rates

The most recent implementation of the National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, the NIS-4, found race differences in maltreatment rates, with Black children experiencing maltreatment at higher rates than White children in several categories—differences that were not found in any of the previous NIS reports. A new research paper from the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE), Supplementary Analyses of Race Differences in Child Maltreatment Rates in the NIS-4, reports on efforts to understand this finding. The report considers possible reasons why the NIS-4 results diverged from the findings in earlier cycles and uses multifactor logistic modeling to reanalyze the NIS-4 data in order to isolate whether and how race contributed to maltreatment risk, independent of the other important risk factors that correlated with race.

In the report, authors Andrea J. Sedlak, Karla McPherson, and Barnali Das examine two possible explanations for why the NIS-4 found statistically reliable race differences in rates of some categories of child maltreatment. They conclude that the finding is at least partly a consequence of the greater precision of the NIS-4 estimates and partly due to the enlarged gap between Black and White children in economic well-being. Socioeconomic status is the strongest predictor of maltreatment rates, and incomes of Black families have not kept pace with incomes of White families since the NIS-3 data of 1993. However, the authors caution that the findings are qualified by the limitations of the predictors that were available for analysis.

The NIS is a periodic Federal effort that utilizes data from both child protective services (CPS) agencies and community professionals who encounter maltreated children during the course of their work to provide estimates of the number of children who are abused and neglected in the United States. The NIS integrates the cases obtained from the multiple sources, generating national estimates of the numbers of abused and neglected children that include both those who receive the attention of CPS agencies and those who do not. The NIS-4 provides data from 2005-2006. Previous reports covered the years 1980, 1986, and 1993.

The report is available for download on the OPRE website:
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/abuse_neglect/natl_incid/reports/supp_analysis/nis4_supp_analysis_race_diff_mar2010.pdf (1.47 MB)

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2868


New! On the Children's Bureau Site

The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.

Recent additions to the site include:

Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2869


Child Welfare Research

The Benefits of Reducing Reliance on Congregate Care

Reducing States' reliance on congregate care for children in the child welfare system has potential benefits for both child well-being and child welfare costs. A new report, Rightsizing Congregate Care: A Powerful First Step in Transforming Child Welfare Systems, describes how the Annie E. Casey Foundation worked with Louisiana, Maine, New York, and Virginia to reduce reliance on congregate care. Each State implemented changes in at least two of the following five identified levers of change:

The report includes an analysis on the outcomes associated with these implementation efforts. It suggests that a reduced reliance on congregate care leads to better outcomes for children and families; children tend to spend more time in family settings and less time in institutional settings. Furthermore, reducing congregate care use supports community-based services that strengthen neighborhoods and provides cost savings that can be re-invested into evidence-based family supports. The report also indicates that reforming congregate care can lead to larger systems transformations, as evidenced by reductions in the number of children in foster care in areas where the levers of change are implemented.

The full report is available on the Foundation website:

www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid={746C0E30-2578-49CA-AE60-CB07CB6E02F9}

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2880


Survey Shows Postadoption Services Needs

Postadoption services can help families who have adopted a child from foster care, through private adoption, or internationally. However, not all families can access postadoption services, and a lack of services may have negative effects on the child or family's well-being and may also increase the chances of adoption disruption or dissolution. To address this concern, the New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children (NYSCCC) conducted an assessment of the State's postadoption services to determine what services were currently available to families and to identify service gaps. The Final Report: Parents and Professionals Identify Post Adoption Services Needs in NYS provides a summary of the findings of this assessment and offers recommendations for future services. A copy of the survey instrument is also available.

The survey was conducted from December 2009 to January 2010 and included foster and adoptive parents and professionals working with these populations from 13 postadoption service programs that served 20 counties. NYCCC developed a 10-question survey, which was posted online and distributed electronically to these target audiences. A total of 451 questionnaires were completed.

The survey found that the most commonly used services for families were parent groups, mental health services, and education and training. When asked about services they needed that were not available, the most common answers were respite care, teen groups, and kid groups.

Participants were also asked about the barriers they face in accessing services. The following are the top four barriers faced by parents and professionals:

The survey findings clearly indicate that postadoption services are needed in the State, and service delivery needs to be improved. NYCCC makes the following recommendations for adoption agencies:

The full report is available on the NYSCCC website:

http://nysccc.org/adoption/post-adoption-services/postadoptsurvey (743 KB)

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2879


A Family Therapy Model for Grandfamilies

Many of the 1.5 million children being raised by their grandparents have suffered some family-related trauma that led to them living with their grandparents. This trauma may have been caused by abandonment, abuse or neglect, parental drug dependence, domestic violence, or mental health conditions that reduced a parent's ability to care for a child. These same traumatic events may cause grandparents to suffer from grief and trauma.

An article published in Children and Youth Services Review suggests that interventions that target both grandchild and grandparent within a family therapy model may be most effective for promoting healing in grandfamilies. The article, "Trauma, Attachment, and Family Therapy With Grandfamilies: A Model for Treatment," proposes that attachments formed between grandparent and grandchild often facilitate healing for both. The article introduces an attachment-based model of family therapy and discusses how family therapy can be used to facilitate attachment healing, moderate family trauma, and even disrupt generational patterns of dysfunctional relationships. Rather than focusing on increasing the grandparent's parenting skills, the model focuses on increasing the mutual attachment of grandparent and grandchild through healthy interactions and attachment experiences.

While the authors suggest that practitioners treating grandfamilies must acknowledge the unique characteristics of the family constellation, there are some common issues that should be assessed as part of the therapy:

"Trauma, Attachment, and Family Therapy With Grandfamilies: A Model for Treatment," Children and Youth Services Review, 32(1), was written by Deena D. Strong, Roy A. Bean, and Leslie L. Feinauer, and is available for purchase online:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.06.015

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2881


Strategies and Tools for Practice

Recruiting Adoptive Families in Rural Communities

Recruiting adoptive parents in rural areas requires a specific type of marketing approach. The staff of Northeast Ohio Adoption Services (NOAS) have written a step-by-step recruitment guide that demonstrates how the principles of marketing can be applied to family recruitment in rural areas and how building community partnerships provides access to adoptive families.

Over the course of a 6-year Federal Adoption Opportunities grant, the agency worked with four rural counties, with four goals in mind:

Targeted marketing, according to the NOAS recruitment guide, was the most fundamental program component. By researching the lifestyles and demographic factors of families in the rural counties of Ohio, including those who had adopted in the past, staff determined how to be successful in recruiting families. Direct mail was found to be the most beneficial target marketing source, followed by a brochure and the NOAS website.

In marketing social change, NOAS strove to inform Ohioans about the number of children waiting to be adopted and to reach prospective parents on an emotional level. Tools used for the social marketing campaign included direct mail, newspaper ads, bus signs, and a radio PSA.

Child-specific recruitment proved to be a powerful tool. Faces and stories of actual children waiting to be adopted were used in marketing pieces such as "Faces of Adoption" posters and 60-second recruitment commercials.

Informational meetings, adoption workshops, and preadoption classes were a few of the remote recruitment services NOAS used to reach the targeted communities. Staff used fliers, ads in community newspapers, and coupon mailers to create awareness of information sessions. Over the course of the grant, the agency received over 1,800 inquiries about adopting and placed 64 children for adoption.

Recruiting, Preparing, and Supporting Successful Adoptive Families—A Step-by-Step Recruitment Guide to Educate and Empower Agencies for Recruiting Adoptive Families in Rural Communities was written collaboratively by NOAS staff. The guide also serves as the final report for their grant, the Rural Targeted Community Outreach Federal Adoption Opportunities Grant from the Children's Bureau.

The guide can be downloaded from the NOAS website:

http://noas.com/admin/reports/NOAS%20RTCO%20Recruitment%20Guide.pdf (7,700 KB)

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2885


Assessing Child Safety With Domestic Violence

Enhancing the safety of children involved in domestic violence situations is the focus of a new factsheet from the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). Promising Approaches: Working With Families, Child Welfare and Domestic Violence provides guidelines to mandated reporters about assessing safety and risk in order to determine when to file a report of concern.

While mandated reporters in Massachusetts do have a responsibility to file reports when a child is endangered by domestic violence, not every circumstance involving domestic violence merits intervention by the child protection system. In fact, a report may create additional risks of harm for a child and the caregiver. Mandated reporters can use the questions provided in this factsheet to help them assess risk factors and determine whether a report is merited or whether it is more appropriate to connect the family to social services, counseling, battered women's programs, or other family or community supports. Approaches to how to file a report in a manner that enhances the family's safety also are provided.

The factsheet is available on the DCF website:

www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dss/promising_approaches_publication.pdf (568 KB)

 

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2884


Intensive Services for Addicted Parents

Oregon's Intensive Treatment and Recovery Services (ITRS) initiative offers a range of intensive treatment options for parents with drug or alcohol addictions so that children can remain with their parents. A factsheet from the State's Addiction and Mental Health Services division describes the program and its success thus far.

ITRS was funded by Oregon's 2007 legislature, and its goal is simple: Help keep families together by giving the parents the treatment they need. The legislature has appropriated funds for the following services:

The initiative's impact is already being seen by the families using their services. ITRS helps parents learn parenting and relationship skills as well as helping them learn how to manage their addiction and other challenges.

The factsheet, Intensive Treatment and Recovery Services Initiative, is available on the Oregon Department of Human Services website:

www.oregon.gov/DHS/addiction/publications/fact-sheets/itrs.pdf  (746 KB)

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2883


Questions About Advocating for Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Foster Care

Pregnant and parenting teens in foster care face multiple challenges. Findings from a 2009 study by Chapin Hall of more than 4,500 pregnant and parenting Illinois teens in foster care identified several concerns: late or no prenatal care, investigations for child maltreatment and children placed in foster care, lack of education, and mothers having two or more children.

According to Advocacy for Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Foster Care, a factsheet from the Healthy Teen Network and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, practitioners can help address such challenges when they understand the legal rights of these youth. The factsheet answers common questions posed by practitioners on topics such as:

Advocacy for Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Foster Care is available on the Healthy Teen Network website:

www.healthyteennetwork.org/vertical/Sites/%7BB4D0CC76-CF78-4784-BA7C-5D0436F6040C%7D/uploads/%7BA1D4E6CF-9E51-4AF9-B2E0-B0BF06DEF04B%7D.PDF (199 KB)

Related Items

The Healthy Teen Network is a national organization focused on adolescent health and well-being with an emphasis on teen pregnancy prevention, teen pregnancy, and teen parenting. The Healthy Teen Network’s new Evidence-Based Resource Center supports organizations looking to implement evidence-based or innovative approaches to reduce teen pregnancy by providing training in evidence-based programs for trainers and facilitators; technical assistance on program selection, implementation, evaluation, and more; and resources for all aspects of evidence-based programs and promising programs.

http://healthyteennetwork.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B5E80FC23-E52F-4B64-8E81-C752F7FF3DB6%7D

The Chapin Hall study, Pregnant and Parenting Foster Youth: Their Needs, Their Experiences, by Amy Dworsky and Jan DeCoursey, is available online:

www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/Pregnant_Foster_Youth_final_081109.pdf (1.4 MB)

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2882


Resources

Intercountry Adoption of U.S. Children

Since the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption of 1993 entered into force for the United States in April 2008, new regulations govern the adoption of children from the U.S. foster care system by families in other countries ("outgoing" intercountry adoption). A recent Judges' Page Newsletter addresses the complex issues that face judges and other child welfare professionals dealing with this type of intercountry adoption.

The articles included in this issue highlight the following topics:

The Judges' Page Newsletter is a publication of the National CASA Association in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. It is available online:

www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5720841/k.1EB7/January_2010.htm

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2887


Chronic Neglect Virtual Series

The American Humane Association, in partnership with the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, is now offering the Chronic Neglect Virtual Series (CNVS) as a new way for child welfare workers and related professionals to collaborate to help advance practices and policies on chronic neglect. CNVS provides registered participants with a virtual community center to discuss successes and challenges in working with families impacted by chronic neglect. The month-long virtual discussion period is followed by a web conference featuring guest speakers that will address current research and field-based experiences.

CNVS currently offers sessions on two themes:

Participants should register as a team of three to six key individuals in their community, such as child welfare administrators, supervisors, frontline workers, training coordinators and/or community partners (e.g., public health nurses, judicial officials). Visit the American Humane website to register or for more information:

www.americanhumane.org/protecting-children/programs/chronic-neglect
 

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2888


Schools and Refugee Child Welfare

School personnel may need specific guidance when addressing child welfare and family issues with immigrant and refugee families. A new toolkit from Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS), Refugee Child Welfare: Guidance for Schools, the third in a series of toolkits for the schools, was created to help school staff address these concerns.

In all States, teachers and school staff are mandated reporters and must report suspected child maltreatment to child welfare authorities. Although this mandated reporter responsibility should make children safer, it may also make refugee families fearful of teachers. Furthermore, some apparent signs of neglect or abuse may be the result of traditional cultural practices, learned behaviors from the refugee experience, or the need for education about U.S. practices. BRYCS created this resource to help teachers distinguish resettlement challenges and cultural differences from child maltreatment and to consider resources for refugee families facing such challenges.

Some specific challenges that refugee parents are likely to face include the following:

The toolkit provides information on steps that teachers and school personnel can take to help strengthen refugee families and connect these families to supportive community services.

BRYCS is a project of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services and is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement. The toolkit is available on the BRYCS website:

www.brycs.org/documents/upload/ChildWelfare-FAQ.pdf (347 KB)

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2886


Training and Conferences

Supporting Families With Substance Use and Mental Health Issues

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) has developed an online training designed to educate pre-service and in-service child welfare professionals about substance abuse and mental health disorders affecting families involved with the child welfare system. The training package consists of the following six modules:

Each 2-3 hour module contains an agenda, training plan, training script, PowerPoint presentation, case vignettes, handouts, and reading materials.

NCSACW is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Visit the NCSACW website to access this free training:

www.ncsacw.samhsa.gov/training/toolkit

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2890


Syllabus for Working With LGBTQ Youth

The National Association of Social Workers and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund have developed a curriculum to help child welfare practitioners improve out-of-home care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Moving the Margins: Training Curriculum for Child Welfare Services With LGBTQ Youth in Out-of-Home Care provides training on building the capacity, awareness, and skills of social workers and other child welfare practitioners.

The curriculum is divided into modules so that trainers can tailor the classes for students with varied levels of understanding, prior knowledge, and job responsibilities. The first half of the curriculum focuses on cultural competency for those who are new to working with LGBTQ clients, staff, and peers. It is a 2.5-hour training in values clarification that addresses, among other topics, strategies to balance personal views and professional responsibilities if the two are in conflict.

The second half of the curriculum focuses on building skills. Each module explores situations LGBTQ clients often face in out-of-home care. The modules include scenarios for small-group discussions, role-playing, and learning labs.

The complete 156-page curriculum is available in a PDF file (2,620 KB): 

http://data.lambdalegal.org/publications/downloads/mtm_moving-the-margins.pdf

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2889


Conferences

Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through August 2010 include:

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on Child Welfare Information Gateway:
http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm

 

Issue Date: May 2010
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&articleid=2891



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