Children's Bureau ExpressMay 2013 | Vol. 14, No. 4

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
As of September 30, 2011, there were 400,540 children and youth in foster care, many of whom were between the ages of 12 and 17. Youth who exit foster care without permanent families or connections are at risk for myriad negative outcomes. The theme for the 2013 National Foster Care Month is "Supporting Youth in Transition." This month, CBX highlights a higher education program for transitioning youth, a tool for evaluating youth connectedness, and other information about foster care.

  • May Is National Foster Care Month
  • Higher Education Aids Transition to Independence
  • Evaluating Youth Connections
  • Keeping Siblings in Care Connected
  • The Public's Perception of Foster Care
  • Federal Foster Care Supports
  • Electronic Information Exchange for Foster Care

News From the Children's Bureau
Two new Funding Opportunity Announcements have been made available by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, and we also feature the new CB Centennial Timeline.

  • Funding Opportunity Announcements
  • CB Centennial Timeline Launches
  • Annual State Child Welfare Expenditures
  • New Division, Newsletter at OPRE
  • New! From CB

Training and Technical Assistance Updates
Learn about the QIC-EC's Project DULCE, the use of customer service practices to increase the retention and recruitment of foster parents, adoptive parents, and kin, and other updates from CB's T&TA Network.

  • Project DULCE for At-Risk Infants, Families
  • Customer Service and Resource Family Retention
  • More Updates From the T&TA Network

Child Welfare Research
CBX points to research about relationship education programs for youth in foster care, the health and social consequences of adverse childhood experiences, and other news from the child welfare field.

  • Social Consequences of Adverse Experiences
  • Evaluating Home Visiting Programs
  • Youth Relationship Education in Foster Care
  • Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Uninterrupted Scholars Act Factsheet
  • Lifelong Families Practice Tools
  • Fatherhood Engagement Guide
  • Family Drug Court Best Practices
  • Managing Personal Assistance Services

Resources

  • National Runaway Safeline
  • Transition Tips for Youth, by Youth
  • Resources for Preventing Burnout
  • Connecticut's Fatherhood Matters Initiative
  • Children in Dependency Court Hearings

Training and Conferences

  • Newsletter Focuses on Father Engagement
  • Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children
  • National Certification of Parent Leaders
  • Conferences

Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

May Is National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize those who enhance the lives of children and youth in foster care. The Children's Bureau—together with its information service, Child Welfare Information Gateway, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, the National Resource Center for Youth Development, Voice for Adoption, and the National Association of State Foster Care Managers—supports National Foster Care Month through a website on Child Welfare Information Gateway.

The theme for the 2013 National Foster Care Month is "Supporting Youth in Transition." This year's newly designed website features real-life stories of children and youth in foster care and the adults who have made a difference in their lives. These stories highlight ways in which everyone can enrich the lives of children and youth in foster care. The website's Promote section also provides a variety of tools to help organizations, agencies, and individuals spread the word about National Foster Care month.

As part of this year's initiative, Child Welfare Information Gateway is releasing three publications focused on supporting youth in transition:

These resources and more are available on the National Foster Care Month initiative website:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3855


Higher Education Aids Transition to Independence

As of December 2011, the State of Michigan was overseeing the care of 13,893 children in out-of-home care, the seventh highest foster care population in the United States. A critical area of concern for those who work with this population is supporting youth who age out of foster care, a group that typically struggles to attend and graduate from college. A new program at Wayne State University (WSU) aims to improve higher education retention and graduation rates for transitioning youth.

The Foster Care and Higher Education Transition to Independence Program (TIP) provides mentoring, coaching, and other support services to WSU youth who were in foster care on or after their 14th birthday and not adopted before their 16th birthday. Founded in the fall of 2012 and funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Human Services, TIP is one of nine foster care and higher education programs in the State. It is modeled after Michigan State University's FAME Program. Angelique Day, TIP Director and an Assistant Professor at WSU's School of Social Work, said TIP is one of the largest and most aggressive programs with regard to enrollment rates and the level of comprehensive services provided to students.

In the fall of 2012, Wayne State University enrolled 482 students who identified as being a "ward of the court" as identified by the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid. Of those students, 110 identified as being in out-of-home care on or after their 13th birthday. TIP is actively serving 84 young people this semester who meet the definition—from the John H. Chaffee Foster Care Independence Program—of youth aging out of foster care and under the age of 25. "Most students enrolled in college become ineligible for title IV-E funded DHS services after their freshman year but are no less in need of intense student support services to ensure they maintain enrollment in school and persist to graduation," said Day.

On average, youth in care move to new foster families three times per year, and these moves often result in a change of school. Because it takes time to recover academically after each school change, many children in foster care lose ground. This is also true for TIP recruits. "Many of the young people in foster care in Wayne County are extremely old for their grade, including several 17-year-olds who are enrolled in the ninth grade," Day said.

She added that TIP is unique because the core service team consists of professionals with personal histories in foster care. "TIP uses an empowerment model that emphasizes leadership and coaching to assist students to see their foster care status as an asset rather than a deficit in obtaining their career goals." She said TIP is the foster care and higher education program with the most established community-based partnerships, allowing the university to provide a cost-effective program.

Child Safe Michigan provides support with mentor training and for faculty and staff who serve as mentors. The 313 Project, an initiative of Michigan Children's Law Center, provides free legal consultation and representation to TIP students. PNC Bank provides financial counseling and financial literacy training to students. The Big Family of Michigan and the Michigan Faith-Based Communities Coalition for Foster Care Youth support the program by providing care packages to youth during finals week, in addition to Christmas and birthday gifts. Anyone can volunteer to provide services to the program, Day said, including help with care packages.

"The average population doesn't think about how meaningful care packages are to students on campus who see roommates getting them," Day said. "Many of our students say they don't even check their mailboxes because they're always empty. A care package during finals week is an important part of the normal college experience, and it makes students feel like someone cares about their success." 

Although the program is in its infancy, it already is achieving positive results. A review of administrative data of students who enrolled in TIP in the fall of 2012 suggests that the program has successfully maintained 84 percent of youth through the winter 2013 term. "These results are very promising," Day said. "They are well above the average retention rates of other first-generation, low-income students who enroll at Wayne State University."

She added that WSU is embracing TIP and improving educational outcomes for kids in care as a university responsibility, not just a child welfare responsibility: "The largest percentage of kids in care are in Wayne County—nearly 50 percent of the population are there—and we are an institution located in Detroit. It's our obligation to take on this issue and take the responsibility seriously. This program was created as an institutional reaction to that need."

Special thanks to Angelique Day, M.S.W., Ph.D., Assistant Professor Wayne State University School of Social Work and TIP Project Director, for providing information for this article.
 

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3856


Evaluating Youth Connections

While achieving legal permanence for youth in care—through reunification, adoption, or guardianship—is important, achieving lifelong emotional and relational permanence with caring adults also is vital to youth well-being. The Center for Advance Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) and Anu Family Services, a Treatment Foster Care Agency, developed a tool to help child welfare professionals measure the relational permanence of the youth with whom they work.

With the Youth Connections Scale (YCS), professionals can evaluate, on a scale from zero to 100, the following domains:

CASCW's implementation guide provides workers and agencies with information on developing a YCS pilot program, the Youth Connection Scale, implementation instructions, scoring instructions and a scoring guide, a tracking sheet for measuring results, and resources for additional support.

Measuring Relational Permanence of Youth: The Youth Connections Scale Implementation Guide is available on the CASCW website:

http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/cascw/attributes/PDF/YCS/YCSImplementation.pdf (1 MB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3858


Keeping Siblings in Care Connected

EPIC 'Ohana, a Hawaiian nonprofit that works to transform child welfare practice to better protect children, strengthen families, and enhance the health of communities, recently released the video Brothers and Sisters: Keeping Siblings in Foster Care Connected. In it, youth formerly in foster care discuss their personal stories, the benefits of being placed with their siblings and, conversely, the struggles associated with sibling separation. Recommendations for maintaining sibling connections in foster care are also presented.

The 9-minute video is available on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9uoqOWHosg

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3860


The Public's Perception of Foster Care

While most Americans have a largely positive attitude toward the nation's foster care system, they view it as less important than other serious social issues. These attitudes and the overall perception of foster care in the United States is the focus of a study published in a recent issue of Children and Youth Services Review.

Just over 300 respondents completed a phone survey on a range of questions pertaining to their general knowledge of foster care. The survey consisted of 55 questions, 15 true-false questions about general foster care knowledge, 27 questions assessing attitudes about foster care and foster families, and 3 comparison questions that examined the relative importance of foster care among other social issues. Findings include the following:

The authors note that without an accurate understanding of the public's knowledge and perception of foster care, it is difficult to debunk negative stereotypes, promote positive policies, and recruit prospective foster families. For example, a majority of survey respondents agreed to the falsehood that foster parents receive a salary in addition to funds to provide for children's basic needs.

"Public Perception of the Foster Case System: A National Study," by C. Leber and C. Winston LeCroy, Children and Youth Services Review, 34(9), 2012, is available for purchase via ScienceDirect:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740912001855

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3859


Federal Foster Care Supports

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by youth transitioning out of foster care, the Federal Government funds a number of programs to help current and former youth in care make the transition to adulthood. These programs are discussed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where author Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara provides background information on the characteristics of youth in foster care and an overview the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP).

For example, the report explains CFCIP funding of State programs that provide Independent Living services—such as assistance in obtaining a high school diploma or career exploration—to youth who are likely to age out of foster care or who were adopted or placed in a kinship guardianship after age 16. The Chafee Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program separately authorizes discretionary funding for education and training vouchers for eligible youth to cover their cost of postsecondary education (until age 23).

The report's appendix provides a summary of the characteristics and outcomes of youth who are or were in foster care compared to youth in the general population; a second appendix lists funding data for the CFCIP.

CRS provides policy and legal analysis exclusively to Committees and Members of the U.S. Congress. Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background and Federal Programs is available on the U.S. House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee 2012 Green Book website:

http://greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/2012/RL34499_gb.pdf (475 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3861


Electronic Information Exchange for Foster Care

Children in foster care are more likely than their peers to have significant physical health, psychological, behavioral, or academic problems, but delivering medical, psychological, dental, and educational services to these children remains a challenge. In a new white paper, author Beth Morrow, Director of Health IT Initiatives at the Children's Partnership, explores the potential of electronic records for the exchange of vital information and coordination of care to improve outcomes.

Evidence shows that an electronic exchange of information can facilitate better coordination of care across systems, yielding more cost-effective medical care and reduced prescription errors. Currently, many localities capture health and education records for children in care in "health and education passports," but these records generally are kept only in paper form. In this format, it can be difficult to keep records up to date and available when a service provider needs access. The author provides examples from six States where the use of electronic records has reduced costs and improved outcomes.

Benchmarks for developing electronic records exchanges that will offer secure access to health, education, and dependency information for doctors, educators, caregivers, and other service providers are also provided. In addition, specific recommendations on the roles that governments and advocates can play in the development of these systems are discussed.

Electronic Information Exchange: Elements that Matter for Children in Foster Care was published by the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC) and is available on the SPARC website:

http://www.firstfocus.net/sites/default/files/Electronic%20Information%20Exchange-%20Elements%20that%20Matter%20for%20Children%20in%20Foster%20Care.pdf (519 KB) 
 

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3862


News From the Children's Bureau

Funding Opportunity Announcements

The Administration on Children, Youth and Families announced two new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for fiscal year (FY) 2013.

Information about planned FY 2013 FOAs is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants Forecast website:

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/hhsgrantsforecast/

To find the Children's Bureau's FOA forecasts, go to the forecast website and enter the title or Funding Opportunity Number (FON) in the search box. Please check the forecast site regularly, as forecasts are subject to change.

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3852


CB Centennial Timeline Launches

April 9, 2012, marked the 100th anniversary of the Children's Bureau. Exciting activities have taken place throughout the centennial year, and will continue through 2013, to honor the Bureau's legacy of protecting children and strengthening families. The most recent resource highlighting the Bureau's 100 years of work is the newly launched Timeline.

The Children's Bureau's Timeline provides a century of Bureau accomplishments, milestones, legislation, and other key events that shaped the evolution of child welfare in America. 

Check out the interactive Timeline on the Children's Bureau's centennial website:

https://cb100.acf.hhs.gov/childrens-bureau-timeline

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3854


Annual State Child Welfare Expenditures

Each year, States are required by the Social Security Act to submit to Congress a report of planned and actual spending for child welfare programs. The law also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to synthesize the information and provide national totals for spending from the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program (title IV-B, subpart 1) and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (title IV-B, subpart 2). The most recent numbers have been made available in the Annual Report to Congress on State Child Welfare Expenditures Reported on the CFS-101: 2012.

For fiscal year (FY) 2012, estimated expenditures for the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program included the following: 

Promoting Safe and Stable Families estimates for FY 2012 included:

The annual report also includes actual State expenditures for these programs for FY 2009. Annual Report to Congress on State Child Welfare Expenditures Reported on the CFS-101: 2012 is available on the website for the Administration for Children and Families:

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cfs_101_report_to_congress_for_2012.pdf  (567 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3850


New Division, Newsletter at OPRE

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families announced a reorganization to form a third division. OPRE now consists of the Division of Economic Independence, the Division of Child and Family Development, and the newly formed Division of Family Strengthening. The reorganization announcement was made via the agency's first newsletter.

The newsletter, titled OPRE, announced the new structure, introduced readers to Division leaders, and featured new reports and grants awarded. Recent OPRE research includes two National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) Spotlight reports:

These reports and more are available on the OPRE website:

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre

Sign up for the OPRE newsletter:

http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001uL6aNbggBXIXgGmIWq0jlg%3D%3D

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3851


New! From CB

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:

For news from the Administration for Children and Families, read the latest entries in its blog, The Family Room:

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog

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

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

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3853


Training and Technical Assistance Updates

Project DULCE for At-Risk Infants, Families

The Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC) currently funds four research and demonstration projects to seek new methods of preventing child maltreatment and improving child development and family strengths. One of these is Project DULCE: Developmental Understanding and Legal Collaboration for Everyone, based in Boston, MA, at the Boston Medical Center. In a recent video, Project DULCE's Principle Investigator, Dr. Robert Sege, discusses the value of the project and its impact on families, sharing the stories of two mothers who brought their infants to the center for medical services.

A collaborative effort among the Boston Medical Center, Project LAUNCH, Healthy Steps, and Medical-Legal Partnership| Boston, Project DULCE serves families with infants between the ages of birth and 6 months. The project connects families to family specialists with knowledge of child development and legal issues. Project staff work with families to help them understand their children's developmental needs and screen for problems, offer support regarding legal issues, and connect families to ongoing services.

In the video, Dr. Sege explains how a family specialist helped one mother understand that her baby's normal behavior was not medically problematic. Another specialist helped a mother receive benefits for which she was unaware she was eligible. By providing these services in a primary care setting, Project DULCE hopes to better reach families and offer supports to improve their resilience and promote optimal child development.

Learn more about Project DULCE on QIC-EC's website:

http://www.qic-ec.org/projects/boston

View the video on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8WfiZutPdc

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3865


Customer Service and Resource Family Retention

The kinds of interactions that occur between a resource family and child welfare agency staff, as well as the way a family perceives they are being treated, can often affect whether the family is willing to continue working with an agency. The National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) at AdoptUSKids developed a guide to help child welfare agencies use customer service concepts to improve their recruitment and retention efforts and provide a more positive experience for foster, adoptive, and kinship families.

The guide defines good customer service within the context of child welfare and offers principles for the application of these concepts to child welfare work. The roles of foster, adoptive, and kinship families as both customers and partners are also discussed. The guide provides a framework for customer service in child welfare that emphasizes processes, relationships, and organizational commitment to good service and encourages agencies to ask the following questions:

An example of an implementation process for good customer service and several tools for agency assessment and development of standards and practices also are included. Access Using Customer Service Concepts to Enhance Recruitment and Retention Practices through NRCDR's website:

http://www.adoptuskids.org/_assets/files/using-customer-service-concepts-to-enhance-recuitment-and-retention-practices.pdf (849 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3866


More 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 2013
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3883


Child Welfare Research

Social Consequences of Adverse Experiences

Highlighting the findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, a special issue of the Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community focuses on using ACE research to inform public policies on the lifelong effects of ACE. Seven articles by a variety of authors explore the convergence of public policy, neuroscience, and social sciences under ACE research.

ACE is a collaboration between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente's Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego, CA. It is the largest ongoing examination of the correlation between childhood maltreatment and adult health and well-being outcomes. Data are collected from more than 17,000 participants undergoing regular health screenings who provide information about childhood experiences of abuse and neglect, and findings show that certain experiences are risk factors or causes for various illnesses and poor health.

In the special issue's introduction, Heather Larkin, Joseph Shields, and Robert Anda suggest that the ACE study and its findings have created a shared language among the social services, mental health, substance abuse, neurobiology, and other fields within the research community. Furthermore, these authors contend that service systems addressing ACE consequences independently pose great challenges, and they call for a more integrated framework, funding, and interventions. The issue's articles highlight work being done to accomplish this goal. 

For example, one article highlights legislation in the State of Washington to reduce adverse childhood experiences. The article outlines the legislation, and the authors—Washington State legislators—pose questions to researchers to inform next steps.

"The Health and Social Consequences of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Across the Lifespan: An Introduction to Prevention and Intervention in the Community," by Heather Larkin, Joseph J. Shields, and Robert F. Anda, Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 40(4), 2012, is available for purchase:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wpic20/40/4

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3867


Evaluating Home Visiting Programs

The Affordable Care Act increased investments in Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation programs, making evaluating program effectiveness more important than ever. A new publication presents the results of an evaluation of a home visiting program in Pennsylvania, as well as a discussion of the challenges inherent in designing and conducting reliable evaluation studies. In Evaluation of Maternal and Child Home Visitation Programs: Lessons From Pennsylvania, author Meredith Matone and other researchers at the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia discuss their experiences in conducting an evaluation of the Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program.

The Pennsylvania NFP program includes 24 agencies, operating in 40 of the State's 67 counties, that serve a racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse client base. Nurses visit mothers in their homes during pregnancy and for up to 2 years postpartum and provide parent education using a standardized curriculum. The PolicyLab evaluation compared 6,000 NFP clients to 17,000 first-time mothers who were economically and demographically similar but who had not enrolled in NFP. The study indicated that over time, NFP mothers showed slightly better outcomes in the areas of pregnancy spacing, prenatal smoking cessation, and child injuries in the first 2 years of life.

The paper also discusses the challenges of evaluating real-life programs and compares the strengths and pitfalls of different evaluation methodologies to inform evaluation efforts in other States. Four key program evaluation concepts are also presented.
 

Evaluation of Maternal and Child Home Visitation Programs: Lessons From Pennsylvania is available on the PolicyLab website:

http://policylab.us/images/pdf/PolicyLab_E2A_NFP_and_evaluation_Final.pdf (1,219 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3868


Youth Relationship Education in Foster Care

Research shows that many teens in foster care engage in risky sexual behavior, such as having sex for the first time at a young age and using contraceptives incorrectly. Adolescence is a confusing time for anyone, and it can be especially difficult for youth in care who lack strong relationships with caring adults who can provide sound relationship advice. A research brief from Child Trends explores the research on and evaluation of relationship education programs for youth in foster care.

Research shows that relationship skills can be learned; however, there is a clear gap among relationship education programs that specifically target children and youth in care. To fill this gap, the authors suggest implementing a tiered approach to services that integrates relationship education components into existing services, particularly teen pregnancy prevention services.

Child Trends examined dozens of programs targeting both youth in care and other vulnerable populations with similar risk factors. Existing programs include:

The authors developed a logic model depicting key program elements critical for success and that could be used as a tool for designing, planning, implementing, and evaluating relationship education programs.

Putting Youth Relationship Education on the Child Welfare Agenda: Findings from a Research and Evaluation Review, by Mindy Scott, Kristin Anderson Morre, Alan Hawkins, Karin Malm, and Martha Beltz, is available on the Child Trends website:

http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2012_12_01_FR_RelationshipEduc.pdf  (811 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3863


Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption

In January 2011, UNICEF estimated that the global orphan population had increased to more than 150 million children, up from 132 million in 2008, with 18 million orphaned by both parents. In comparison, there are 900,000 Americans seeking to adopt and approximately 10,000 intercountry adoptions in the United States every year.

In light of declining intercountry adoption rates and the increasing number of orphaned children worldwide, American author and Professor Christopher Balding of Peking University Graduate School of Business in Shenzhen, China, set out to shed light on this growing disparity. His article appears in the March 2013 issue of Adoption Advocate, a publication by the National Council for Adoption.

Balding utilizes data from the 2006–2008 National Survey on Family Growth (conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the USAID/UNICEF Demographic and Health Surveys, and United Nations and U.S. Census Bureau statistics. He examined the dangers faced by orphaned children across the world, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The article discusses the dire consequences—for children—of restricting or closing intercountry adoption programs and the gap between the number of orphans who lack safe, permanent families and the number of international adoptions that occur in the United States. Data and a graph that underscores this orphan crisis are also presented. 

"Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who Wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted" is available on the National Council for Adoption website:

https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/publications/adoption-advocate-no-57.html

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3869


Strategies and Tools for Practice

Uninterrupted Scholars Act Factsheet

A factsheet from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education provides information on recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to allow information sharing about children and youth in care. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA), which was signed by President Obama in January 2013, amended FERPA to make it easier for child welfare agencies to obtain the education records of children and youth with whom they work.

FERPA, enacted in 1974, protects the privacy of students' education records, giving certain rights to parents. The law, however, often created problems for children in foster care by prohibiting child welfare professionals from accessing to educational information. The two-page factsheet explains, in a question-and-answer format, why information sharing is important, what changes were made to FERPA to allow information sharing, and why these changes were necessary. Links to additional Legal Center resources also are provided.

The Legal Center was formed in 2007 by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, the Education Law Center and the Juvenile Law Center. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act: How Do Recent Changes To FERPA Help Child Welfare Agencies Get Access To School Records? is available on the Legal Center's website:

http://www.fostercareandeducation.org/portals/0/dmx/2013/02/file_20130211_145758_xjnFqt_0.pdf (75 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3870


Lifelong Families Practice Tools

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's former direct-service agency, Casey Family Services, developed and tested a foster care practice model titled Lifelong Families. The practice model is intended to improve practice within private child welfare agencies to achieve permanency for children and youth in foster care. In addition to the many resources related to the practice model—including a brochure and a video—Annie E. Casey recently released a practice toolkit. The toolkit contains a case planning tool, a permanency team process grid, a supervisory tool, and other materials.

The toolkit is available on the Annie E. Casey website:

http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid={28123D47-0363-46B4-A592-974FCCB07FA7}

A webpage dedicated to Lifelong Families contains related resources and materials:

http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/PublicationsSeries/LifelongFamiliesModel.aspx

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3871


Fatherhood Engagement Guide

The North Carolina Department of Social Services, the State agency responsible for child welfare programs in North Carolina, released a new guide, Best Practice Guide for Engaging Fathers and Non-Residential Parents. This guide offers recommendations and tools for implementing or improving practices aimed at engaging fathers within child welfare and other child-serving systems.

The guide offers an overview of father engagement and explores the positive impacts the presence of fathers has on child well-being and healthy development. In addition, the guide offers recommendations for improving practices to engage fathers in case planning and family-team meetings within the child welfare system. Unique parenting opportunities are explored, such as within military families, same-sex couples, incarcerated parents, and more. Finally, the guide provides a "Father Friendly Check-Up," an assessment tool designed by the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System, National Fatherhood Initiative, American Humane Association, and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law. This assessment tool is designed to identify current practices and encourage additional father involvement in programs.

Best Practice Guide for Engaging Fathers and Non-Residential Parents is available on the NC Division of Social Services' website:

http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/best_practices_pilot/misc/Practice%20Guide%20for%20Fatherhood%20Engagement.pdf (518 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3872


Family Drug Court Best Practices

As part of its peer-to-peer technical assistance programs, the Center for Children and Family Futures (CCFF) is highlighting examples for conducting successful family drug court programs. The new Family Drug Court (FDC) Peer Learning Court Program showcases national best practice models through five mentorship sites.

The courts selected as FDC Peer Learning Courts use evidence-supported practices and exhibit strong partnerships with child welfare, substance abuse, and other entities within the social services community. The five sites include:

More information about the five mentorship sites and the FDC Peer Learning Court Program is available on the CCFF website:

http://www.cffutures.org/projects/family-drug-court-peer-learning-court-program

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3873


Managing Personal Assistance Services

The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) released a toolkit for youth with disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood. The toolkit is aimed at helping youth with disabilities manage Personal Assistance Services (PASs), including effective communication and time management, as well as understanding the differences between personal and job-related PASs. Materials in the toolkit include sample worksheets, questions, and charts, in addition to stories from youth and their families.

Making the Move to Managing Your Own Personal Assistance Services (PAS): A Toolkit for Youth With Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood is available on the NCWD/Youth website:

http://www.ncwd-youth.info/PAS-Toolkit

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3874


Resources

National Runaway Safeline

The National Runaway Switchboard recently changed its name to the National Runaway Safeline. The nation's leading resource for runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth changed its name in January 2013 to reflect the many ways youth can connect with services. The new name is the result of a comprehensive evaluation and feedback from focus groups with stakeholders and youth. In fact, many youth said they were unfamiliar with the term "switchboard."

The group's mission and services remain the same. For more information, visit the National Runaway Safeline:

http://www.1800runaway.org/national-runaway-safeline/

Related Item

Children's Bureau Express featured the National Runaway Safeline, formerly the National Runaway Switchboard, and its free, online curriculum for teens and families, in the September/October 2011 issue:

https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=129&sectionid=6&articleid=3290

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3876


Transition Tips for Youth, by Youth

A toolkit produced by Pathways RTC provides advice for youth from youth who have transitioned out of foster care to independent living or who are preparing to transition. The authors interviewed youth about a variety of topics, including finances, employment, health care, transportation, relationships, self-advocacy, and more.

The toolkit is divided into two sections, (1) a section with quotes from youth concerning the life areas about which they felt underprepared or uninformed prior to their transition out of care, such as "When it comes to money, I was never told...," and (2) suggestions for young people about how to succeed in transition. A list of barriers to successful transition and a list of myths and stereotypes about foster care also are provided.

The Pathways RTC program is sponsored by Portland State University's Regional Research Institute and School of Social Work. Things People Never Told Me is available on the Pathways RTC website:

http://www.pathwaysrtc.pdx.edu/pdf/proj2-ThingsNoOneToldMe.pdf (905 KB)

Related Item

Pathways RTC produced a tip sheet for service providers working with transitioning youth that explores competencies necessary for transition service providers working with young people with mental health difficulties. Tips on Core Competencies for Transition Service Providers is also available on the Pathways website:

http://www.pathwaysrtc.pdx.edu/pdf/projPTTC-CoreCompetenciesSvcProviders.pdf (247 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3857


Resources for Preventing Burnout

The current economic climate is reducing social service budgets and increasing stress on social workers. Tribal STAR, a program of the Academy for Professional Excellence at the San Diego State University School of Social Work, provides a number of resources for helping child welfare professionals recognize burnout and practice self-care. The resources are intended to help Tribal and non-Tribal workers recognize the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue and seek help.

With the increased attention paid to child and family well-being, Tribal STAR notes the need for workers to model well-being. In addition to a press release outlining the need for such resources, Tribal STAR's webpage includes:

For more information, or to access these materials, visit the Tribal STAR website:

http://theacademy.sdsu.edu/TribalSTAR/resources/burnout.html

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3878


Connecticut's Fatherhood Matters Initiative

In a new issue of Common Ground, the online newspaper of the New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors, author Douglas Howard highlights the Connecticut Department of Children and Families' (DCF's) Fatherhood Matters Initiative.

In 2007, statewide data suggested that fathers, compared to mothers, are statistically less likely to have their needs assessed and met when their families are receiving child welfare services. DCF launched the Fatherhood Matters Initiative as an integral part of its Program Improvement Plan—a Federal requirement to improve child welfare services in areas identified by the State's Child and Family Services Review. Howard identifies several relevant areas in case practice guiding the fatherhood work, including assessing the needs and strengths of fathers within a holistic assessment of family functioning and establishing Fatherhood Engagement Leadership Teams in regional offices to support the initiative. Several participating fathers have responded positively, volunteering to partner with DCF to plan trainings.

In addition to fatherhood engagement, this issue of Common Ground includes articles about:

Common Ground is available on the Judge Baker Children Center, Harvard University, website:

http://jbcc.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/galleries/common_ground_july_2012.pdf  (4 MB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3875


Children in Dependency Court Hearings

Research shows that children who attend their dependency hearings are more likely to trust the decisions made by the judge than children who have been excluded from such hearings. This topic is the focus of a new technical assistance bulletin from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).

NCJFCJ recommends that children of all ages be present at dependency hearings unless the judge decides there are compelling reasons to exclude them. Common concerns from judges, as well as solutions to address those concerns, are presented in the brief. Information on best practices for bringing children to court and the benefits of having the child present at the hearing—including providing the judge the opportunity to observe the child, speak to the child, and to ask questions—are also presented.

The brief provides specific policy recommendations for dependency court practice, and the appendix includes a series of judicial benchcards with developmental information to guide age-appropriate engagement of children at hearings.

Seen, Heard, and Engaged: Children in Dependency Court Hearings is available on the NCJFCJ website:

http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/CIC_FINAL.pdf (194 KB)

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3877


Training and Conferences

Newsletter Focuses on Father Engagement

The February 2013 issue of Training Matters, a publication of the North Carolina Department of Social Services (NC DSS) Child Welfare Services Statewide Training Partnership, provides information and resources on strengthening father engagement. Issue highlights include a best practices guide, national and State resources, and suggestions for interviewing nonresident fathers.

The new issue is available on the Training Matters website:

http://trainingmatters-nc.org/

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3879


Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children

The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center is offering an online curriculum on the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC). The ICPC was written in 1960 and set the standard for ensuring the safe and stable placement of children across State lines. The ICPC determines who is legally and financially responsible for a child placed in another State and establishes supervisory requirements for foster care and adoption services to the child and family.
The training covers:

The curriculum is available on the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center website:

http://www.pacwcbt.pitt.edu/Curriculum/205ICPC.htm

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3880


National Certification of Parent Leaders

The National Center on Shared Leadership and Parents Anonymous Inc. will sponsor the National Certification of Parent Leaders, July 22–15, 2013, in Ontario, Canada. The certification program aims to enhance families and communities by inspiring and empowering parent and shared leadership.

The national certification is rooted in research-based and results-oriented learning competencies on leadership for parents in any role dedicated to strengthening families. The early registration deadline is May 31, 2013. Registration and additional information is available on the Parents Anonymous website:

http://www.parentsanonymous.org/

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3881


Conferences

Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through August 2013 include:

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

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

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

Issue Date: May 2013
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=146&articleid=3882



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.


Contact us at cb_express@childwelfare.gov.

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