Children's Bureau ExpressSeptember 2010 | Vol. 11, No. 7

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?
This month, CBX spotlights Round Two of the CFSRs, beginning with an introduction from a consultant to the Federal CFSR Team. The other four articles focus on promising State practices noted by the visiting CFSR Team or Regional Offices. Read about how States are implementing change to improve outcomes for children and families.

  • Wrapping Up Round Two
  • Florida's Court Improvement Program
  • Three States Build Father Engagement
  • Quality Assurance in Missouri
  • Child and Family Team Meetings Improve Utah Outcomes

News From the Children's Bureau
Find links to the latest news, including recent postings to the Children's Bureau website and other Federal news, a site visit report from a CB-funded grantee, the latest from the T&TA Network, and more.

  • Children's Bureau Brochure Debuts
  • Site Visit: Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project
  • Updated and New Waiver Reports
  • Early Outcomes From the Building Strong Families Project
  • State Department Adoption News
  • Updates From the T&TA Network
  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

Child Welfare Research
Child welfare news brings you research and reports on some of the most critical issues in the field, including alternative response and privatized services.

  • Update on Alternative Response in Ohio
  • Privatization Efforts in Two States

Strategies and Tools for Practice
CBX links you to information for transitioning youth—including a toolkit and information about a leadership advisory team, recommendations from teachers about helping children in foster care, and guidelines on Family Group Decision Making.

  • FosterClub Transition Toolkit Helps Youth Map Futures
  • FGDM Guidelines From American Humane
  • Teachers Advise on Helping Foster Children
  • Maine's Youth Leadership Advisory Team

Resources

  • Handling Crossover Cases in Child Welfare and Juvenile Delinquency
  • Pregnancy Prevention Resources
  • ZERO TO THREE Spotlights Home Visiting
  • Supervision Issues and Family Service Procurement

Training and Conferences

  • Fatherhood Engagement Training
  • Online Classes for Working With Young Families
  • Online Adoption Courses
  • Conferences

Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?

Wrapping Up Round Two

September is an exciting month for the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). It not only marks the end of Onsite Reviews for this calendar year but also the end of Round 2.  By September 30, all 52 jurisdictions will have completed Onsite Reviews. At present, 30 jurisdictions have an approved Program Improvement Plan (PIP), with the remainder in various stages of development. One State has completed its Round 2 PIP, with six additional States scheduled to complete their 2-year implementation periods by the end of this calendar year.

This has been an exciting period for not only the CFSR but also child welfare. The CFSR continues to impact child welfare and provides a catalyst for improved practice. While child welfare has always been a challenging and changing profession, the CFSR has been a major factor contributing to consistency, accountability, and setting the standard for child welfare practice improvement nationwide. 

A noted accomplishment of the CFSR process is renewed Federal, State, and community partnerships to better address the issues facing families and children who are involved in the child welfare system. Many States have realized tremendous success in improving practice within their community, while others must overcome challenges, especially in areas related to Permanency 1 and Well-Being 1.

As will be noted in the following articles highlighting practice issues in six States, change is occurring on multiple levels. It will be noted in issues related to moving toward family-centered practice through father and family involvement, the establishment of a practice model, accountability through a quality assurance process, and the working relationship between the child welfare agency and court. If a theme could be identified from these articles, it would be that there is a culture of change within child welfare. We are proud that the CFSR is a catalyst for and supportive of change, as it is only through change that improvements will be made to better the lives of the nation's children and families.

By Don Adams, ICF International, Consultant to the Federal CFSR Team

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2955


Florida's Court Improvement Program

Since 1995, Florida's Dependency Court Improvement Program (CIP) has been working with courts and child welfare partners to improve the child welfare process. So, when the State completed its second Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) in 2008, it was only natural that CIP staff would use the CFSR results to examine ways in which the courts could have a more positive impact. Reviewing the results of each CFSR item with a broad lens, the staff developed a strategic plan—a court-related Quality Improvement Plan (QIP)—that reflected the State's own Program Improvement Plan.

This QIP became the CIP's action plan for the next 18 months. CIP staff, working closely with the Florida multidisciplinary Dependency Court Improvement Panel, chaired by the Honorable Jeri B. Cohen, carried out a number of strategic initiatives:

The dependency court benchbook is being revised to include all of the developments that came out of the QIP. The book will be released later this year.

Having completed their QIP, Florida's CIP staff are not slowing down. The CIP office, which includes 15-16 staff, has a number of other projects, including:

Guided by the steadfast and creative leadership of Judge Cohen, coupled with the QIP as the roadmap, the recent work of the CIP and the statewide panel has begun to show positive results. According to Sandy Neidert, Senior Court Operations Consultant, "We know from anecdotal evidence that more children are now coming to court." Another benefit of the CIP work has been the increased pride that dependency court judges show in their work. As the CIP has provided more opportunities for training and networking, these judges and magistrates have begun to share more information with each other and to participate in the CIP's pilot programs and model court programs.

Florida's CIP staff continues to work with courts across the State, developing resources and implementing new programs, evaluating their results, and sharing their best practices. Read about their latest initiatives and access their resources on Florida's Office of Court Improvement website:
www.flcourts.org/gen_public/family/familycourts.shtml

Other State resources are available on the CIP page of the National Resource Center for Legal and Judicial Issues website:
www.abanet.org/abanet/child/home.cfm

Many thanks to Sandy Neidert, Senior Court Operations Consultant, for providing the information for this article.

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2960


Three States Build Father Engagement

In response to the CFSRs and as part of a greater effort to increase family engagement, a number of States have developed a range of innovative practices to engage fathers and paternal relatives in the lives of their children involved with the child welfare system. Kansas, Texas, and Kentucky are three States experiencing the benefits of their efforts to engage fathers.

Kansas
Kansas has made changes in both policy and practice that have begun to show positive results in father engagement. As part of the State's 2008 Program Improvement Plan (PIP), Kansas Children and Family Services (CFS) implemented measures designed to change the culture around caseworkers' views of fathers and to encourage child welfare workers to reach out to fathers. These measures included:

In addition to these measures, CFS is a member of the Kansas Fatherhood Coalition, a group of private organizations and public agencies seeking to improve fathers' involvement with their children. The Coalition sponsors an annual Fatherhood Summit that spotlights the important role that fathers play in their children's lives. This year the Coalition plans to sponsor a fatherhood track at the Parent Leadership Conference in the fall. The Coalition also provides training and tools for father engagement, and it gives CFS a connection with other groups that have similar goals of father involvement.

Early outcomes show that the Kansas CFS efforts to engage fathers are working. Statistics on fathers' weekly visits, assessed needs, and services provided all show an upward trend. In addition, relative placement has increased, as workers now consider paternal relatives as a resource for children in out-of-home care. Kansas CFS plans to build on these early successes with father engagement to continue to improve outcomes for all children and families.

Texas
Texas has strengthened its commitment to involving fathers in their children's lives, and this emphasis permeates all aspects of child welfare practice in the State. In early 2009, Texas created the State-level position of Fatherhood Program Specialist to spearhead this commitment. The Fatherhood Program Specialist coordinates the overall State effort, and this coordination involves visiting jurisdictions throughout the State, reviewing policy, reaching out to fatherhood groups to establish partnerships, organizing conferences and roundtables, facilitating trainings, and making presentations about the importance of father involvement.

One of the initial hurdles has been changing the mindset of child welfare professionals, court personnel, and even families who might not think to reach out to fathers and paternal relatives when a child enters the child welfare system. In changing this mindset, Fatherhood Program Specialist Kenneth D. Thompson, Sr., thinks that it's especially important to let fathers tell their own stories. "We invite fathers who've successfully navigated the child welfare system and gotten custody of their kids to speak at Judiciary Roundtables. Judges can hear directly from fathers about the struggles they've encountered in trying to get custody of their children. The judges are impressed with the fathers' stories, and the fathers feel affirmed because they've had the opportunity to share their experiences in a public forum."

Texas has initiated a number of specific reforms and activities to strengthen father engagement with the child welfare system and support fathers' involvement with their children, including:

Frontline workers have been very receptive to the new emphasis on fathers, appreciating the positive impact that fathers and paternal relatives can have on their children. Workers are encouraged to listen to fathers who talk about their own upbringing, since this often provides clues to the types of support fathers need in developing good relationships with their children.

Thompson echoes this philosophy, noting that, "We want to have a generational impact. We want to break cycles in which fathers were not involved or included. If we can help fathers become part of their children's lives, we're setting the stage for positive father involvement for the next generation."

Kentucky
After the State's most recent Child and Family Services Review (CFSR), Kentucky's Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) made a renewed commitment to engage parents—especially fathers—when families become involved with the child welfare system. Meeting with child welfare workers, partners, stakeholders, and judiciary personnel, DCBS staff focused on defining "reasonable efforts" to involve fathers, as well as refining policy and implementing processes that would promote fathers' engagement by child welfare workers. DCBS took a systemic approach so that changes were made across processes as well as across agencies, regions, and service areas.

A number of specific changes were devised to encourage fathers' optimal participation in their children's lives, including:

"Kentucky's work on family and father engagement has also dovetailed nicely with our State's response to the Fostering Connections Act, as we work to help children and youth connect with family members," comments Gretchen Marshall, DCBS Branch Manager. "Our emphasis is on frontloading the efforts to engage fathers so that workers are looking for fathers and paternal relatives before a child enters foster care. And we've experienced a real shift in workers' attitudes so that our frontline workers welcome the involvement of fathers and paternal relatives as additional resources and connections for children."

Looking ahead, Kentucky DCBS plans to continue its work on father engagement, tracking and evaluating outcomes so that the best tools, policies, and practices can be implemented to help workers find and engage fathers whenever possible.

Many thanks to the following people who provided information for this article:

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2956


Quality Assurance in Missouri

In 2005, the Children's Division (CD) in the Missouri Department of Social Services set out to achieve accreditation through the Council on Accreditation (COA). Along the way, the Division built a comprehensive quality assurance (QA) system that today involves every member of the child welfare workforce, as well as consumers and stakeholders.

The Division began with the establishment of a QA unit—with a State-level manager and regional QA specialists—to deal with numbers, data, and analyses and to create a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) system. In 2007, a QI unit was added to help managers implement changes that came out of the CQI. Today, the CQI structure draws on a wide variety of components to monitor cases and processes and ensure accountability across the entire Division. These CQI components include:

In cases where feedback needs to be provided (such as peer record reviews), data are entered into a database, and a report is generated and shared with the appropriate recipients. Regional QA Specialists regularly monitor local outcomes from the various data sources and identify trends to bring to the attention of local managers regarding areas needing improvement. Other components, such as outcome reports, are made available through the CD intranet so that all workers can access them.

An important tool for the CQI process is the Plan of Change form. QI staff introduced the form around the State as a way to document planned change. A completed form includes action steps for change, as well as a timeline. It can be used by a supervisor to help a worker make changes or by a manager to help a supervisory unit implement change.

Has all of the hard work paid off? In January of this year, the CD's achievements were recognized when Missouri's Children's Division became fully accredited—one of only seven States to do so. The accreditation process was a painstaking effort that required each of the State's 45 circuits to meet all of the COA's 800+ requirements. In order to maintain the accreditation, the Division has built a maintenance plan into its CQI.

The Missouri Children's Division doesn't plan to slow down its QA process just because accreditation has been achieved. Instead, the Division is looking toward a number of new improvements. One of the biggest changes will be the Results-Oriented Management (ROM) digital dashboard application. In partnership with Casey Family Programs, the State will make the ROM accessible to all workers, so that everyone will have access to data at all levels.

This is another step in integrating data into the child welfare culture and ensuring that data drive the decisions that are made through the CQI process, leading to better safety and permanency outcomes for Missouri's children.

To learn more about Missouri's Children's Division, visit the website:
www.dss.mo.gov/cd

Or, contact Susan Savage, Deputy Director of the Children's Division, at Susan.K.Savage@dss.mo.gov.

Many thanks to Susan Savage, Deputy Director of the Children's Division, Meliny Staysa, QA Unit Manager, and Linda Miller, QI Unit Manager, who provided the information for this article.
 

 

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2958


Child and Family Team Meetings Improve Utah Outcomes

Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings have transformed child welfare practice in Utah, moving the State's Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) toward more family-centered practice and changing the culture of child welfare service delivery. In response to a lawsuit brought against the State in 1993, DCFS instituted a number of reforms, including the adoption of a practice model and the use of CFT meetings, which began in 2000. DCFS initially explored several teaming models, finally settling on the CFT, which employs the case manager as the initial meeting facilitator.

Over the last 10 years, the use of CFT meetings has saturated statewide practice. Caseworkers in every region of Utah know and expect that they will be building a team around a family. "It's how we do business," said Practice Improvement Coordinator Jeff Harrop. Caseworkers receive 9 weeks of training on the Utah Practice Model including 24 hours on teaming and issues such as how to handle difficult situations in a team meeting. Caseworkers also are mentored by experienced workers until they are comfortable with the process.

CFT meetings are used with families whose children have been removed as well as families receiving in-home services. The first meeting can occur within a few days of DCFS involvement or child removal. Prior to the first meeting, the caseworker reaches out to all family members and other people important to the child and family so that everyone can participate as part of the team. The caseworker takes care of the logistics, including addressing any barriers posed by distance, language, safety, or other issues.

The agenda at an early CFT meeting includes:

While caseworkers initially facilitate meetings, a youth, parent, or foster parent ideally takes on the facilitator role at subsequent meetings. Later CFT meetings focus on updating the family's long-term view (enduring safety and permanency), reporting on progress toward plan objectives, and updating the assessment and Child and Family Plan. Later meetings also incorporate new team members—such as therapists, teachers, and other service providers—as the family's supports and team grow. Meetings are held as often as the case demands or at least every 6 months as a family stabilizes.

DCFS conducts internal reviews to measure the impact of CFT meetings on outcomes, using indicators directly and indirectly tied to teaming. Results, as tracked in a database, have been positive. In addition, good teaming has been related to strong performance on assessing, planning, and intervening.

While Utah's DCFS has had success with CFT meetings, the State's recent Child and Family Services Review helped DCFS identify challenges related to engaging fathers and paternal relatives. Caseworkers are sometimes reluctant to bring a parent or relatives into CFT meetings if they have not been involved in a child's life. One way the State has started to address this challenge is through the placement of kinship specialists at the State level and in all five regions. The specialists support caseworkers, assist with locating and involving kin, and provide support to kin regarding available services.

While DCFS staff will continue to revise and improve the CFT process, they are pleased with the changes that teaming has brought about over the last decade. Not only do CFT meetings facilitate shared decision-making and distribute the burden of the work, but they also enable families to do their own problem-solving and provide parents and youth with the skills and resources they need to succeed after they leave the child welfare system.

Many thanks to Linda Wininger, Director of Program and Practice Improvement; Jeff Harrop, Practice Improvement Coordinator; and Aude Bermond Hamlet, Practice Improvement Coordinator, Utah Division of Child and Family Services, for providing the information for this article.

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2959


News From the Children's Bureau

Children's Bureau Brochure Debuts

The Children's Bureau has a new full-color brochure to inform professionals and the public about its history, mission, and activities. Download the brochure to find out more about the Bureau's involvement in research, funding, monitoring, and special initiatives that promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children and families.

The Children's Bureau: A Legacy of Service . . . A Vision for Change is available on the CB website:

www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/aboutcb/cb_brochure.pdf (1,854 KB)

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2948


Site Visit: Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project

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. These leaders are selected from States, counties, Tribes, and/or State regions that have a high number of children of color awaiting adoption and/or high disproportionality rates. These emerging leaders are also provided mentors from their agency who work with them as they complete 12 months of job-related project assignments (Action Research Projects), which increase their technical expertise as well as their leadership capacities.  

As a result of his participation in MALDI, Kory Murphy, an operations analyst for the Oregon Department of Human Services, developed the Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project in order to spread awareness of racial disparity and disproportionality, reduce the impact of bias on child welfare decision-making, and improve outcomes for Oregon's children and families. The project's goals include developing a data-based dialogue through which workers and managers can:

Another crucial part of MALDI training focuses on community involvement. As part of this project, Oregon's Department of Human Services and Commission on Children and Families is working with Casey Family Programs to address disproportionality statewide. The Governor also has appointed a multiethnic, multidisciplinary Task Force on Child Welfare Racial Equity. The task force has assembled 80 community members and leaders in eight pilot counties to create community-based action plans and long-term strategies to address disproportionality. The local plans have six Safe and Equitable Foster Care Reduction Goals to be met by 2011.

Learn more by visiting:

For more information on the Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project, contact Kory Murphy at kory.murphy@state.or.us

The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: http://www.childwelfare.gov/management/funding/funding_sources/resource_center.cfm

Related Items
CBX last wrote about MALDI in "Emerging Leaders Contributing to the Adoption Field" (December 2008/January 2009) and "Increasing Minority Leadership in Child Welfare" (September 2007).

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2951


Updated and New Waiver Reports

New and updated reports on the Children's Bureau (CB) website provide the latest information on State demonstration projects funded through Federal waivers of certain provisions of titles IV-E and IV-B. Beginning in mid 1990s, the waivers allowed States to use their IV-E and IV-B funding for innovative child welfare programs that promoted safety, permanency, and well-being for children and families.

Twenty-four States received waivers, implementing a variety of programs that included:

New Waiver Report
Summary of Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Demonstrations is a new report that provides information on 11 State programs of financial support for the legal guardians of children formerly in foster care. The report looks at key outcomes in terms of permanency rates, placement duration, maltreatment recurrence, placement disruptions and foster care reentry, and child well-being. It also examines the factors that influenced outcomes.

The report notes that the demonstration projects have contributed to the national acceptance of subsidized guardianship as a permanency option for children and youth. As the waiver projects wind down, States have the option to continue supporting guardianship programs under the Federal title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program established as part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.

Read the full report on the CB website: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/2010/summary_sg2010.htm

Updated Waiver Reports

Three reports on the CB website provide updated information on waiver demonstration projects:

All of these reports plus additional information on waiver demonstration projects are available on the CB website:
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/index.htm#child

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2949


Early Outcomes From the Building Strong Families Project

As part of its ongoing research on strengthening families and healthy marriage, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently released reports on the implementation and early impact of the Building Strong Families (BSF) project. The BSF project was launched in 2002 to develop, implement, and test voluntary interventions aimed at strengthening the relationships of unmarried couples with children and improving child well-being. BSF programs were implemented in eight locations across the country, offering relationship skills education and other support services to unwed couples who were recent or expectant parents. The new OPRE reports address the program's design, services, and participation, and they present early findings on the stability and quality of couples' relationships.

The Building Strong Families Project: Implementation of Eight Programs to Strengthen Unmarried Parent Families provides details on several aspects of the design and implementation of the project to date, including:

The Building Strong Families Project: Strengthening Unmarried Parents' Relationships: The Early Impacts of Building Strong Families presents outcomes for couples 15 months after they applied for the program. The outcomes studied include relationship status and quality, conflict management, parenting strategies, and father involvement. The report presents several major findings:

The authors suggest that future analyses addressing child well-being and long-term outcomes for couples may provide a more complete picture of the overall effects of the BSF project.

In addition to the newest reports, the OPRE website includes BSF reports from 2006 and 2008 addressing employment and the early phases of project implementation. View or download all BSF reports on the OPRE website:

www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/strengthen/build_fam
 

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2954


State Department Adoption News

Special Advisor for International Children's Issues Named by the State Department
Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs has been appointed to fill the newly created position of Special Advisor to the Office of Children's Issues. A long-time advocate for children, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton created this new foreign policy position to address intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction. In her work on these issues, Special Advisor Jacobs will actively engage with foreign government officials to protect the welfare and interests of children.

The Office of Children's Issues, located within the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, assists parents, children, and families in matters related to intercountry adoption and international parental child abductions. It serves as the U.S. Central Authority for both the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

More information about the Office of Children's Issues is available on the State Department website:

www.adoption.state.gov or www.travel.state.gov/childabduction

Trafficking in Persons Report
The State Department has released the Trafficking in Persons Report 2010. The report, compiled by the U.S. Department of State, documents the efforts being made around the world to stop human trafficking and protect victims. The contents include descriptions of the types of trafficking, including forced child labor, unlawful use of children as soldiers, and child sex trafficking; relevant international conventions; and narratives about current conditions and enforcement efforts in individual countries.

The report can be found on the State Department website:

www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2010
 

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2950


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: September 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2953


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!
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2952


Child Welfare Research

Update on Alternative Response in Ohio

The team selected to help plan, implement, and evaluate an alternative response pilot study in 10 Ohio counties has produced a final report recommending that alternative response be adopted in all 88 Ohio counties. The report concludes the 18-month pilot study conducted between July 2008 and January 2010 and presents information about the project, findings, and recommendations for the Supreme Court of Ohio's Subcommittee on Responding to Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency.

The recommendation for statewide implementation of alternative response is based on several key findings from the pilot study:

The report offers additional recommendations to support statewide implementation of alternative response, including changes to State statutes, increased State and county infrastructure and capacity-building, effective State and county partnerships, and changes to practice.

Ohio Alternative Response Pilot Project Final Report of the AIM Team
, by Caren Kaplan and Amy Rohm, is available on the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy website:

www.law.capital.edu/adoption/AR/Section%201%20AIM%20Final%20Report.pdf (2.37 MB)

Other reports and materials related to the Ohio project, including an executive summary of the final report, are also available on the website:

www.law.capital.edu/adoption/AR

Related Item
Children's Bureau Express last wrote about alternative response in Ohio in "Ohio Implements Alternative Response Pilots" (February 2010).

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2963


Privatization Efforts in Two States

As part of the growing trend in child welfare for greater accountability, many jurisdictions have turned to privatized child welfare services that involve performance-based contracting. A recent report from Casey Family Programs analyzes the privatization efforts of Florida and Kansas, the only two States that have fully privatized their child welfare systems (other than investigations).

As part of the Casey study, interviews were conducted with leaders and private provider staff directly involved with each of the targeted privatization initiatives. In Florida, the consensus among those interviewed was that the Federal IV-E waiver was a critical component of their successful privatization efforts. The waiver provided flexibility in the funding, which allowed for innovative practices essential to improvement, including Florida's reduction of children in out-of-home care. Other Florida outcomes included an increase in adoptions and decreases in caseloads and staff vacancy rates.

Interviews and data from Kansas showed that statewide privatization resulted in a slight decrease in the number of children in out-of-home care and more sizeable decreases in the number of children in residential placement and in the average length of time children spent in out-of-home care. Adoptions from foster care in Kansas also increased.

Themes considered key to implementing a successful privatized system included:

The report also provides information on the historical background of the Florida and Kansas initiatives, a summary of challenges and lessons learned during the transition process, the benefits of privatization, and performance and fiscal outcomes. The full report, An Analysis of the Kansas and Florida Privatization Initiatives, and an executive summary can be found on the Michigan Federation for Children and Families website:

www.michfed.org/analysis_kansas_and_florida_privatization_initiatives_april_2010

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2962


Strategies and Tools for Practice

FosterClub Transition Toolkit Helps Youth Map Futures

FosterClub, a national network supporting young people in foster care, has developed the FosterClub Transition Toolkit to help youth develop a plan for transitioning into adulthood. The toolkit encourages youth to prepare their individual plan with the supportive adults involved in their lives, such as foster parents, teachers, or mentors, and is designed to help youth assess their assets, identify resources, and plan for life after foster care. The toolkit also provides a "Readiness Scale" for youth to track their progress in the following 10 areas:

FosterClub's toolkit supports the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, which requires that all States develop an individual transition plan for the foster youth during the 90-day period before a youth leaves foster care.

To download the Transition Toolkit, visit:

www.fosterclub.com/files/transition_toolkit.pdf (3,847 KB)

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2965


FGDM Guidelines From American Humane

American Humane Association and the Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) Guidelines Committee have released Guidelines for Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare, a publication intended to increase understanding of FGDM and to encourage FGDM's integration throughout the child welfare system. FGDM refers to the practice of inviting family members of a child or youth involved in the child welfare system to participate fully in meetings and collaborate on case plans regarding a child's safety, permanency, and well-being. 

The new guidelines explain what FGDM is and the potential FGDM has to improve outcomes for children and families. The main topics of the guidelines include:


Visit American Humane's website to download the publication:

www.americanhumane.org/assets/docs/protecting-children/PC-fgdm-guidelines.pdf (1,039 KB)

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2967


Teachers Advise on Helping Foster Children

A long-running California initiative that aims to improve education quality and outcomes for children in foster care has published a suite of new reports and resources. The initiative, Ready to Succeed: Improving Educational Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care, is a partnership among the Stuart Foundation, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, and Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc., formed to promote collaboration between the education and child welfare systems. The group's latest releases include two reports.

Ready to Succeed in the Classroom: Findings From Teacher Discussion Groups on Their Experiences and Aspirations Teaching Students in the Foster Care System is a new report based on six teacher discussion groups in three California counties. The groups addressed the experiences of children at every grade level, including those in alternative schools. The resulting report includes discussion on:

Grappling With the Gaps: Toward a Research Agenda to Meet the Educational Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care is based on interviews with 12 foster care experts with a wide variety of experience with children and youth in foster care. The report includes discussion and experts' opinions on:

The collaborative has also produced a series of four "discussion cards," each with a different target audience (teachers, schools, districts, and communities), that provide tips on how to help foster children succeed in school.

To find out more about the Ready to Succeed initiative and access the reports and other resources, visit the website:

http://www.stuartfoundation.org/OurStrategy/vulnerableYouthInChildWelfare/Initiatives/ReadyToSucceed.aspx

Related Item

Children's Bureau Express
last wrote about the Ready to Succeed initiative in "Connecting to Improve Education for Children in Foster Care" (February 2009).

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2964


Maine's Youth Leadership Advisory Team

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) developed the Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT) to bring together young people involved in the child welfare system and create opportunities for them to learn and practice leadership and advocacy skills. YLAT, in partnership with DHHS and the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, encourages youth members to join their peers to advocate for system reform, advise policymakers, and contribute to the efforts of improving outcomes for children and youth in Maine's child welfare system. Youth are recruited from foster care, trained, and then provided with leadership opportunities and supported throughout this process.

To mark the 10th anniversary of YLAT, the publication Youth Leadership Advisory Team: An Innovative Approach to Systems Improvement was produced in March 2010. Written by Marie Zemler Wu, Penthea Burns, Marty Zanghi, and Dianna Walters, the report presents the YLAT program model to both aid other jurisdictions considering a similar approach and to help guide the YLAT team as they prepare for the future.

The authors conclude that YLAT has benefited youth in Maine in the following ways:

This publication was funded by a grant from the Innovations in American Government Award, a program of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It is available on the YLAT website:

http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/Publications/CYF/YLAT-innovative-approach-to-systems-improvement.pdf (338 KB)

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2966


Resources

Handling Crossover Cases in Child Welfare and Juvenile Delinquency

The need for collaboration and coordination among public agencies, attorneys, judges, and court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers involved in crossover cases is the focus of the March 2010 issue of the Judges' Page Newsletter. Crossover cases are those involving children and youth who have a case in the dependency court as well as the delinquency court. Crossover cases may also include children and youth who have committed a status offense or a child in need of care or supervision (CHINS) offense. In some States, the same court will have jurisdiction over both kinds of cases. In other States, there are two court systems involved with different judges having jurisdiction. In this newsletter, experts from the field discuss cross-systems approaches to handling these cases that can help ensure that youth receive needed services and supports.

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

www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5852947/k.E589/March_2010.htm

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2968


Pregnancy Prevention Resources

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has new resources for those who work with teens in foster care. A DVD and discussion guide, A Crucial Connection: Working Together to Address Teen Pregnancy Among Youth in Foster Care, are now available for child welfare and health-care professionals, foster parents and caregivers, and teens in foster care or transitioning from care. The 9-minute video spotlights teens talking about early childbearing and also presents statistics on the number of teens in foster care who become parents. The accompanying guide provides discussion questions for different audiences. Access both on the National Campaign website:

www.thenationalcampaign.org/fostercare/crucialconnection.aspx

The National Campaign website has a section devoted to youth in foster care that includes research, resources for foster care workers and for youth, a blog, and more:

www.thenationalcampaign.org/fostercare/default.aspx

One of the newest resources is a downloadable brochure from the Virginia Roundtable on
Teen Pregnancy Prevention for Youth in Foster Care, Fostering Connections: Improving Access to Sexual Health Education: Policy Recommendations to Enhance Success and Sustainability for Youth in Out-of-Home Care:
 
www.thenationalcampaign.org/fostercare/PDF/VA_FC_PolicyRecommendations.pdf (480 KB)

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2969


ZERO TO THREE Spotlights Home Visiting

A recent edition of The Baby Monitor, an online newsletter published by the ZERO TO THREE Policy Network, focuses on resources to help States and professionals learn more about using home visiting to support families during a child's first years of life. Home visiting has gained national visibility due, in part, to new Federal funding established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to help States develop, implement, and expand evidence-based home visiting programs.

This edition of The Baby Monitor connects professionals with ZERO TO THREE resources such as:

The Baby Monitor also regularly features Federal and State policy updates on issues affecting infants and toddlers and their families, as well as new publications and resources from related national and State organizations.

Visit the ZERO TO THREE website to read this July 12, 2010, edition of The Baby Monitor, or subscribe by joining the ZERO TO THREE Policy Network:

www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/newsletters/special-edition-on-home.html

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2971


Supervision Issues and Family Service Procurement

Recent issues of Practice Notes, produced by the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program, explore the topics of excellence in supervision (June) and finding appropriate services for clients (May).

Supervisory practices that can develop staff and improve satisfaction and performance are key ingredients to improved outcomes for families. The June issue of Practice Notes includes articles with tools to strengthen practice and engage caseworkers and families, ways to enhance a unit's performance through partnerships, and developing supervisory skills and best practices.
www.practicenotes.org/v15n3.htm

The May issue of Practice Notes addresses the role of the caseworker as a consumer of services for families. Child welfare professionals need the ability to identify and secure high-quality services for children and families in many areas. Articles on this topic cover the following:

www.practicenotes.org/v15n2.htm
 

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2970


Training and Conferences

Fatherhood Engagement Training

American Humane is offering a training institute on Family Engagement and Father Involvement to provide innovative, in-person training. The institute covers:

The training institute uses a curriculum with a strong research basis (see www.abanet.org/child/fathers/research.shtml) and includes agency self-assessment to gauge father-friendliness of the agency culture. When possible, it also includes a panel of fathers to discuss real-life challenges and successes when working with the child welfare system.

For more information, visit the American Humane webpage:

www.americanhumane.org/protecting-children/conferences-trainings/childrens-division-training-institutes.html

Or contact Paul Frankel, Research Project Manager: paulf@AmericanHumane.org
 

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2973


Online Classes for Working With Young Families

The College of Education and Human Development (CEED) at the University of Minnesota is accepting registrations for fall online classes. Several classes deal with supporting families with young children. Fall 2010 classes include:

For more information and registration, visit the CEED webpage:

www.cehd.umn.edu/ceed/profdev/onlinecourses/default.html

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2974


Online Adoption Courses

Adoption Learning Partners provides an array of web-based educational adoption resources for child welfare professionals, adoptive and prospective adoptive parents and families, and adopted individuals. The interactive, e-learning courses are designed to increase each individual's understanding of domestic, international, and foster care adoption, as well as the joys and challenges associated with each.

Currently featured on the website is the Hague Package, which provides coursework that meets the Hague training requirements for parents pursuing intercountry adoption.

In addition to the variety of online courses, Adoption Learning Partners also provides training and tools for adoption professionals, a number of articles and papers that may be downloaded, webinars, and a community forum.

For more information, including a full list of courses, fees, and credit hours, visit the Adoption Learning Partners' website:

www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/index.cfm

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2972


Conferences

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

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on Child Welfare Information Gateway:

http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm

Issue Date: September 2010
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=119&articleid=2975



Articles in Children's Bureau Express are presented for informational purposes only; their inclusion does not represent an endorsement by the Children's Bureau or Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Children's Bureau Express does not disclose, give, sell, or transfer any personal information, including email addresses, unless required for law enforcement by statute.


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