Children's Bureau ExpressNovember 2016 | Vol. 17, No. 8

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on National Adoption Month
November's CBX highlights the 2016 National Adoption Month initiative, as well as other resources for professionals working to help children and youth find forever homes.

  • November Is National Adoption Month
  • Open Adoption With Gay and Lesbian Parents
  • Study Examines the Effect of State Policies on Rates of Adoption
  • Webinar Highlights Importance of Effective Response Systems for Diligent Recruitment

News From the Children's Bureau
We highlight the 2016 Adoption Excellence Awards, new guidance from the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, newly released Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data, and more.

  • Adoption Excellence Awards 2016
  • Number of Children in Foster Care Increases for the Third Consecutive Year
  • New Joint Guidance on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act
  • Standardized Safety and Risk Assessments and Tribal Communities
  • Collaborations for Strengthening Families and Improving Outcomes
  • Treating Pregnant Women With Opioid Use Disorders
  • CB Website Updates

Child Welfare Research
This month's CBX features a guide to help practitioners use cost analysis tools to quantify the economic benefits of child abuse prevention programs, as well as a report exploring recent work by a multiservice organization that offers an array of supportive and therapeutic services for children affected by trauma.

  • Quantifying Cost Benefits of Prevention Services
  • Fidelity of Trauma Treatment in Under-Served Communities

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

  • Special Initiative Month: National Runaway Prevention Month and Homelessness Awareness
  • Policy Briefs on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
  • Delivering Services to Refugee Families

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

  • Toolkit for Supporting Transgender Youth in the Workforce
  • Toolkit for Transitioning Foster Youth

Training and Conferences

  • National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center Webinar Series
  • Conferences

Spotlight on National Adoption Month

November Is National Adoption Month

Every year, there are more than 100,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system waiting for permanent families. This year's National Adoption Month theme, "We Never Outgrow the Need for Family—Just Ask Us" focuses on supporting professionals in beginning and reengaging older youth in conversations about adoption. Permanent family connections are critical for older youth to have legal and emotional support as they transition into adulthood and strive for achievement, growth, and well-being. However, older youth in foster care are less likely to find permanent homes and may age out of care to face independence without any secure, lifelong connections.

The 2016 National Adoption Month website features tools and resources aimed at increasing adoption of older youth currently in foster care. The website includes an entire section dedicated to providing adoption and permanency-related resources and tips for families, including families considering adoption and families that have adopted. The website also supports child welfare professionals in preparing families for adoption and talking with older youth who may feel they are too old to be adopted. Youth, families, and professionals can also visit the website to do the following:

National Adoption Month, funded each November by the Children's Bureau, is a partnership between AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway. Visit the National Adoption Month website throughout November at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/.
 

Related Item

The Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG) created a framework to help guide its work with eight sites across the United States in developing evidence-based models to address the prepermanency and postpermanency support and service needs of children and youth in foster care. Read more in August's CBX.

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Spotlight on National Adoption Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4836


Open Adoption With Gay and Lesbian Parents

Much has changed in adoption over the last several decades to offer greater adoption options for children and parents. Two encouraging trends—one toward openness in communication between birth and adoptive parents (open adoption) and another toward removing barriers to adoption for lesbian and gay prospective parents—are the topic of a recent article from the Donaldson Adoption Institute. Authors David Brodzinsky and Abbie Goldberg examined data from the 2015 Modern Adoptive Families Study to compare survey responses from 880 heterosexual, lesbian, and gay male adoptive parents about the extent of their contact with their child's birth family.

Their findings, which also compared private agency and child welfare adoptions, showed the following:

The authors highlight the significant percentage of postadoption contact in both private and child welfare adoptions in this recent survey, noting that these percentages (85 and 75 percent, respectively) are a substantial increase from postadoption contact found in the 2007–2008 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. They suggest that these increases may indicate continuing trends for open adoption from both types of agencies.

Given these trends, the authors offer the following practice guidelines for open adoption with gay and lesbian parents:

Practice Guidelines Supporting Open Adoption in Families Headed by Lesbian and Gay Male Parents: Lessons Learned From the Modern Adoptive Families Study, by David Brodzinsky and Abbie Goldberg, is available on the Donaldson Adoption Institute website at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DAI_MAFReport2.pdf (669 KB).

 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Spotlight on National Adoption Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4837


Study Examines the Effect of State Policies on Rates of Adoption

In most cases, when a child has been placed in out-of-home care, the State child welfare agency must make reasonable efforts to reunify the child with his or her family. If, after making this effort, it becomes clear that a child cannot be returned home safely, the State must take timely action to find an alternative, permanent home for the child, with an adoptive home as the preferred permanency goal. A new publication from The Center for State Child Welfare Data, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, examines whether differences in State adoption policy can explain State-to-State differences in the rate of adoption.

A key step in the adoption process is the termination of parental rights (TPR). Federal statute lays out specific criteria that permit TPR. To expedite permanency for children who cannot return home safely, several of the criteria, sometimes referred to as "fast track" criteria, involve egregious behavior on the part of parents that releases States from the obligation to work toward reunification. States have the discretion to build on this framework, and many States' laws do provide additional grounds for TPR or provide for shorter timeframes for initiating a TPR action.

The Chapin Hall study looks at two specific questions:

For the study, data from Chapin Hall's Multistate Foster Care Data Archive were used to calculate each State’s adoption rate. The study population included 214,286 children from 20 States who entered foster care for the first time between 2006 and 2007, with outcomes through December 31, 2011. Of the 20 States in the study, 15 had 11 or more "fast track" exceptions listed in their State adoption laws; 5 of these listed as many as 18 to 20. Most States follow the "15 out of the last 22 months" timeframe found in Federal statute; only six States had a shorter timeframe.

The analysis revealed that, for the most part, these stronger policies do not lead to their intended outcomes. States with more "fast track" exceptions did not have faster adoptions than those that had fewer, and States with shorter length-of-stay standards did not finalize adoptions any faster than States with longer timelines.

Testing the Effect of Fast-Track Adoption Policy on Adoption Rates is available at https://fcda.chapinhall.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/adoption-policy_web-final.pdf (71 KB).
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Spotlight on National Adoption Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4838


Webinar Highlights Importance of Effective Response Systems for Diligent Recruitment

Comprehensive diligent recruitment of foster and adoptive families can improve placement stability and permanency for children and youth in and/or adopted from foster care. An integral component of the diligent recruitment process is an effective response system, and the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) at AdoptUSKids released a webinar focused on the importance of implementing quality response systems for replying to questions from prospective foster and/or adoptive families.

Webinar presenters offer lessons learned from implementing such systems, in addition to:

In addition to the webinar PowerPoint, the NRCDR also has made available a publication, Is Your Response System Family Friendly?, and an agency self-assessment for identifying the strengths and areas of improvement in existing response systems.

The webinar, First Impressions: The Power of an Effective Response System, and accompanying materials are available at http://www.nrcdr.org/webinars/response-systems.
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Spotlight on National Adoption Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4839


News From the Children's Bureau

Adoption Excellence Awards 2016

Each year, the Children's Bureau announces the winners of the Adoption Excellence Awards as part of its celebration of National Adoption Month in November. Since 1997, the Children's Bureau has presented the Adoption Excellence Awards to honor States, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families for outstanding achievements in providing stable, permanent homes for our nations' children in foster care. For 2016, nine Adoption Excellence Awards were approved in four categories by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families' Commissioner Rafael López.

The 2016 Adoption Excellence Awards were presented to the following:

In the category of Family Contributions:

In the category of Individuals/Professionals:

In the category of Media/Social Media/Public Awareness of Adoption From Foster Care:

In the category of Child Welfare/Judicial Systemic Change:

To read more about the Adoption Excellence Awards and award winners, including past years' winners, visit the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/adoption-excellence-awards.
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4854


Number of Children in Foster Care Increases for the Third Consecutive Year

Newly released data show the number of children in foster care nationally has increased for the third year in a row.

Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data released by the Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), show a continued increase in the numbers of children in foster care. After declining more than 20 percent between fiscal years (FY) 2006 and 2012 to a low of 397,000, the number of children in foster care increased to 428,000 in FY 2015. This represents a 3.4-percent increase from FY 2014, when States reported 414,000 children in foster care.

Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of States reported an increase in the numbers of children entering foster care from 2014 to 2015. The five States with the largest increases were Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Arizona, and Minnesota; these five States were also among the States with the largest increases between 2013 and 2014.

Although there is variation in how States report factors that contribute to foster care cases, it appears that parental substance use may have contributed to the growth in the child welfare population. From 2012 to 2015, the percentage of removals where parental substance use was cited as a contributing factor increased 13 percent (from 28.5 percent in 2012 to 32.2 percent in 2015)—the largest percentage increase compared to any other circumstance around removal. Though ACF's efforts to improve State reporting have likely contributed to the overall rise in cases, the greater prevalence of parental substance use among cases may also explain some of this increase. In addition, neglect as a circumstance around removal also increased from 56.4 percent to 60.7 percent over the same time period.

"The national number of children in foster care is still far below where it was 10 years ago, but any increase is cause for concern, and we've now seen increases for the past 3 years," said Mark Greenberg, HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families.

Officials at the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) interviewed child welfare directors in States experiencing the highest increase in foster care numbers, and State officials informed ACYF what the data suggest: a rise in parental substance use is likely a major factor driving up the number of children in foster homes. Citing opioid and methamphetamine use as the most debilitating and prevalent substances used, some State officials expressed concern that the problem of substance use is straining their child welfare agencies.

State child welfare directors also emphasized that recent trends in substance abuse are sometimes affecting entire families and neighborhoods, making a child's placement with relatives an unviable option. Increased collaboration across service providers and community leaders will be necessary to address this rising challenge.

"The increases we are seeing in the foster care population, and the rise of parental substance use as a contributing factor, is not limited to one or two States—this is a concern across the country," said Rafael López, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. "Investing in prevention, treatment, and innovative approaches is critical to keeping children safe and families together and strong. We can, and must, do better."

One such approach is the Children's Bureau's regional partnership grants program, which specifically focuses on improving the safety, permanency, and well-being of children who have been removed from the home as a result of parent or caregiver substance use. The President's FY 2017 budget request includes an expansion of the regional partnership grants from $20 million to $60 million annually to improve the well-being of children and families affected by substance abuse. Families who participated in previous regional partnership grants projects experienced enhanced outcomes, including successful recovery, increased number of children remaining at home, increased reunification rates, decreased recidivism, and dramatic differences in the rate of children who returned to out-of-home care as compared to families who did not participate in the regional partnership grants projects.

Because too many Americans with substance use disorders do not get the treatment and care they need, the President's FY 2017 budget request calls for $1.1 billion in new funding to help make sure everyone who seeks treatment can get it.

"ACYF and SAMHSA's partnership through the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare is focused on helping the child welfare and behavioral health systems work together to create coordinated, multisystem approaches to care that can prevent the need for children to enter the foster care system," said HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Principal Deputy Kana Enomoto. "With an emphasis on recovery for pregnant and parenting women and their families, we're supporting the development of policies and guidelines to address the full spectrum of intervention opportunities—from prepregnancy, prenatal, and postpartum treatment, and continuing throughout a child's development."

The FY 2015 AFCARS report, including a table showing reasons for removal from home, is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/afcars-report-23. Trends since 2006 in foster care and children adopted with child welfare agency involvement are available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/trends-in-foster-care-and-adoption-fy15.

All ACF news releases, fact sheets and other materials are available on the ACF news page. Follow ACF on Twitter for more updates.
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4855


New Joint Guidance on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

On October 19, 2016, the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint guidance letter to State and local child welfare systems on the requirements of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. The guidance aims to ensure that child welfare systems know about their responsibilities to protect the civil rights of children and families. The guidance is part of an ongoing partnership between the departments to help child welfare agencies protect the well-being of children and ensure compliance with Federal nondiscrimination laws. Last year, the departments issued guidance on the intersection of child welfare requirements and title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Additional information on the new guidance is available in English and Spanish at the following links:
 
English: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/departments-justice-and-health-and-human-services-issue-joint-guidance-child-welfare-systems
 
Spanish: https://www.justice.gov/espanol/pr/el-departamento-de-justicia-y-el-departamento-de-salud-y-servicios-humanos-emiten-una-gu
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4853


Standardized Safety and Risk Assessments and Tribal Communities

The child welfare field has seen the increased development and use of standardized tools to improve the assessment of child safety and risk for child maltreatment in families. However, most tools are less useful with American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) families because they fail to accommodate and integrate AI/AN cultural and family values. A recent Research to Practice Brief from the Administration for Children and Family’s (ACF's) Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) traces the evolution of child safety and risk assessments in child welfare, describes the different types of assessments, discusses the importance of integrating AI/AN values into tools used with Tribal families, and provides examples of how five Tribes developed or adapted child safety and risk assessments.

The brief's authors note that, since the 1980s, family assessments have moved away from traditional case studies and toward more structured assessments. Today's child welfare agencies most often use safety and risk assessment tools that are strength based and include both safety and risk components. But few of these tools accommodate the unique cultural elements of AI/AN communities, such as the safety factor that results from the extensive involvement of family and community members in parenting children and the risk factors that may result from Tribal adverse events or trauma.

Some Tribes have developed unique approaches to address the lack of culturally relevant safety and risk assessments, and this research brief cites five examples:

The authors conclude that these examples of Tribal approaches to safety and risk assessments provide some promise for the potential to improve child welfare decision-making in AI/AN communities.

Find Child Safety and Risk Assessments in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities, by Kim Keating, Brandie Buckless, and Pirkko Ahonen, on the OPRE website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/safetyassessmentbrief2016_b508.pdf (411 KB).

 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4840


Collaborations for Strengthening Families and Improving Outcomes

The Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) recently announced a number of new public and private sector commitments focused on strengthening families and improving outcomes for youth in foster care. The exciting new opportunities were announced at the 20th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.   

These commitments are made possible through collaboration among five Federal departments, multiple private foundations, and university researchers:

 For more information, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/20th-nccan-closing-plenary.


 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4841


Treating Pregnant Women With Opioid Use Disorders

Noting the sharp increase in the use of opioids across the country, even among pregnant women, a new guide highlights the benefits of a coordinated, multisystem approach to providing services to address this emerging epidemic within this vulnerable population. The guide outlines a variety of causes of opioid misuse and dependence, as well as its effects: an increase in child welfare caseloads created by the number of infants and young children entering foster care, in addition to hospital reports of infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS is defined as the pattern of effects associated with opioid withdrawal in newborns.

The guide presents specific information on the treatment of pregnant women with opioid use disorders, approaches implemented by organizations across multiple disciplines, a framework to organize these approaches in communities, and a practice guide for community planning.

Five opportunities for intervention are outlined in the framework:

The authors note that a collaborative approach, while showing promising results where implemented, can be challenging to establish for reasons such as competing priorities, unmet training needs, use of different terminologies, limits on time and resources, information gaps, and more. To counter some of these challenges, the guide provides a list of questions to ask when establishing joint planning, as well as a description of a collaborative team, including a steering committee, a core team, and work groups.

The guide was developed by the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

A Collaborative Approach to the Treatment of Pregnant Women With Opioid Use Disorders is available at https://ncsacw.samhsa.gov/resources/opioid-use-disorders-and-medication-assisted-treatment/default.aspx.  

 

Related Item

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare announced the 2017 Policy Academy: Improving Outcomes for Pregnant and Postpartum Women With Opioid Use Disorders, and Their Infants and Families, which will be held February 7–8, 2017, in Baltimore, MD. Applications for participation in the Policy Academy are due Friday, November 4, 2016, at 5:00 p.m., PDT. For questions about this opportunity or the application process, please contact Amanda Kellerman at akellerman@cffutures.org or 714.505.3525.
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4842


CB Website Updates

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.

Recent additions to the site include:

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

 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4843


Child Welfare Research

Quantifying Cost Benefits of Prevention Services

A new guide is available to help practitioners use cost analysis tools to quantify the economic benefits of child abuse prevention programs. The guide's authors note that cost analysis can go a long way toward demonstrating the long-term societal value of investing in programs to prevent child maltreatment.

The Practitioner's Guide to Cost Analysis: First Steps and Cost Analysis Case Study from Children's Trust Fund of Missouri is the result of interviews conducted by the University of Kansas' Center for Public Partnerships and Research on behalf of the FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) to better understand the use of cost analysis in CBCAP programs. The University of Kansas interviewed CBCAP leads in 10 States, which were chosen based on a State's readiness for cost analysis. This was determined by a State's prior experiences with cost analysis work, its ongoing use of robust evaluation procedures, and its involvement in public-private partnerships and sustainability planning.

The June 2016 guide discusses how to achieve stakeholder buy-in, how to access and streamline data collection and processing, and how to communicate and use results. The guide points out that effective cost analysis will answer the following questions:

In closing, the guide references a case study by the Children's Trust Fund of Missouri, which showed that prevention services offered through Missouri's CBCAP program saved millions of dollars by cutting down on the need for hospitalizations, child welfare services, and law enforcement. Access the guide at http://friendsnrc.org/jdownloads/Cost%20Analysis/cost%20analysis%20guide%20final.pdf (376 KB).
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4844


Fidelity of Trauma Treatment in Under-Served Communities

A comprehensive service model for treating trauma-affected children and families points to the need for reliable and low-cost tools to improve the fidelity of evidence-based practices and the challenges of doing so in community-based settings. Improving Service Delivery for Children Affected by Trauma—An Implementation Study of Children's Institute, Inc. is a recent project of MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and education policy research group that seeks to improve the well-being of low-income populations.

The August 2016 MDRC report explores recent work by the Los Angeles-based Children's Institute, Inc. (CII), a multiservice organization that offers an array of supportive and therapeutic services for children affected by trauma, including physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, or violence in the community. CII relies on evidence-based practices to treat children's mental health needs, provides classes for parents and caregivers to help them care for their children, offers early child care and Head Start programs, and sponsors youth activities to create protective factors in its communities.

The study was designed to evaluate CII's service model and its delivery of evidence-based practices, including a fidelity study of its Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT). The study concluded that:

The fact that CII therapists were not able to offer all of TF-CBT's required treatment components—consistent with findings from other community-based studies—leads the study authors to point to the need for "robust and low-cost tools to help providers deliver evidence-based treatments with fidelity." MDRC President Gordon L. Berlin writes in the preface that the report "adds to the understanding of the challenges of implementing evidence-based practices in community-based settings, where the highly specified protocols of these practices meet the realities of providing services in high-needs and under-sourced communities."

The report is available at http://www.mdrc.org/publication/improving-service-delivery-children-affected-trauma.
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4845


Strategies and Tools for Practice

Special Initiative Month: National Runaway Prevention Month and Homelessness Awareness

Every year, thousands of youth become homeless for myriad reasons—including running away from home or foster home. These youth often experience trauma that can have lifelong effects.

November has been recognized as National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) since 2002. This year's NRPM theme, "Friends Helping Friends," centers on how youth, parents, family members, and other concerned adults can help youth through tough times by being a friend who provides trust, support, and care.

Additionally, November 12–20 is National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week (H&H Week). Held every year the week before Thanksgiving, it is a time to remind us to think about what we are thankful for and be aware of those who are experiencing hunger and homelessness in our community. The National Coalition for the Homeless urges people to reach out help end hunger and homelessness in their communities through activism and local government. Visit http://nationalhomeless.org/about-us/projects/awareness-week/ to learn more about H&H Week and what you can do to help.

Visit the NRPM website at http://www.1800runaway.org/runaway-prevention-month/ to learn more about how you can help support youth and teens. From national and local events to spreading the word on social media, encourage your community to #EndYouthHomlessness.
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4846


Policy Briefs on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

The Center for the Study of Social Policy released two policy briefs—one for practitioners and one for policymakers—exploring the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) visa. The briefs note that the recent influx of migrant children to the United States, particularly from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico, requires specific support services and professionals to address the unique trauma and well-being needs of this vulnerable population.

The SIJS is highly sought after for migrant children because it is specifically designed for those who cannot return to their home country due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. However, the U.S. State Department has placed a temporary hold on issuing visas for children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador due to the high number of applicants. SIJS visas will be immediately available for children and youth from Mexico with the start of the new fiscal year (October 1, 2016).

Both briefs outline the process for securing an SIJS visa and defines terms, including special immigrant juvenile, unaccompanied child, lawful permanent residency, and title IV-E funding.

The brief for practitioners outlines the implications of the State Department's hold on SIJS visas, specifically the impact on children and youth involved with child welfare. Federal law prohibits immigration status from being a barrier to receiving services; however, permanent resident status is required in order to receive federally funded foster care or adoption subsidies. This brief also outlines recommendations for promoting the well-being and permanency of children and youth.

The brief for policymakers outlines options at the Federal and State level for supporting migrant children and youth. For instance, the brief suggests Federal policymakers advocate for alternative options such as deferred action, Parole in Place, and Temporary Protected Status, all of which are available to children and youth with approved SIJS petitions and who are awaiting visa availability.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence: Guidance for Policymakers to Protect Children and Youth From Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico in the Absence of Visa Availability is available at http://www.cssp.org/policy/other-resources/SIJS-Fed-States.pdf (1.17 MB).

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence: Guidance for Practitioners to Protect Children and Youth From Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico in the Absence of Visa Availability is available at http://www.cssp.org/policy/other-resources/SIJS-Fed-Practitioners.pdf (2 MB).
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4847


Delivering Services to Refugee Families

Understanding the perspectives and unique needs of families from refugee backgrounds is an essential component in delivering effective, culturally responsive services. Best Practices Guide for Working with Families from Refugee Backgrounds in Child Welfare, produced by the Center for the Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW), is designed to help frontline workers understand the strengths and protective factors, different cultural norms, and unique challenges and barriers involved when working with families from refugee backgrounds.

Through an extensive literature review and interviews with refugee families, this best practices guide explains how resettlement into a new culture influences child and family welfare. For example, refugees' prior experiences often facilitate a variety of factors that aid families in the resettlement process, like strong social support and the belief in one's ability to cope. This resource also provides practical tips for utilizing these inherent protective factors, as well as addressing the unique challenges that are associated with refugee families.

These tips include the following:

Access Best Practices Guide for Working with Families from Refugee Backgrounds in Child Welfare on the CASCW website at http://cascw.umn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/BestPractices.pdf (153 KB).

 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4848


Resources

Toolkit for Supporting Transgender Youth in the Workforce

Life experiences of transgender youth may be marked by rejection and discrimination, specifically when seeking and gaining employment. A new guide for case managers, Transgender Youth Employment Toolkit, addresses some common job-related challenges and presents ideas and activities to prepare and support transgender youth entering the workforce.  

The guide is intended to help employment caseworkers tailor and strengthen service delivery to transgender youth; however, its contents may also be applicable to other youth-serving professionals. For instance, the toolkit outlines terminology pertaining to gender identity, including a key vocabulary, best practices for employers, and indicators of transgender friendly workplaces.

Specifically, the toolkit emphasizes the importance of treating transgender clients with respect by using correct gender pronouns and educating employers about sensitive models for working with transgender employees to facilitate the development of nondiscriminatory and all-inclusive protocols. 

Some of the relevant areas explored in this toolkit include:

A list of community agencies and online resources that professionals may share with their transgender clients is also provided.

Developed as a part of a Transition to Work pilot project in the Los Angeles area and based on lessons learned over a period of 9 months, the Transgender Youth Employment Toolkit is the product of a collaboration between the Los Angeles LGBT Center, University of California at Los Angeles' Community Based Learning Program, the City of Los Angeles Workforce Development Board, and the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department.

The Transgender Youth Employment Toolkit is available here at https://lalgbtcenter.org/social-service-and-housing/transgender/t2w.

 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4849


Toolkit for Transitioning Foster Youth

There are more than 400,000 children and youth in our nation's foster care system, and more than 23,000 of those in care are aging out. Transitioning to adulthood can bring with it a host of challenges. As such, a new toolkit from the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Labor provides youth and youth-serving professionals with tips and resources for navigating the many systems with which they'll have to interact.

The toolkit was designed for use by both youth in and youth formerly in foster care who are in the process of transitioning to independent living and adulthood. It also was designed for the supportive adults involved with these youth, including foster and/or adoptive parents and kinship caregivers, caseworkers, educators, and others. Information on transition planning, job searches and career support, financial management, and housing and transportation services are provided. Two appendices outline organizations serving youth in and formerly in foster care and information about State tuition waivers and vouchers, respectively.

The Foster Care Transition Toolkit is available on the U.S. Department of Education’s website at http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/foster-care/youth-transition-toolkit.pdf (1 MB). 
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4850


Training and Conferences

National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center Webinar Series

Before closing its doors after 25 years on September 29, 2016, The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) hosted a 2-day webinar series that focused on lessons learned from AIA grantees. AIA grantees shared their findings from working with young families affected by substance use and/or HIV. Each webinar highlights the practices grantees developed and/or implemented to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, and the health and stability of families impacted by substance use and/or HIV.

The agendas topics for each day were as follows:

Day one:

Day two:

To access the webinar series, visit http://aia.berkeley.edu/training/online/lessons-learned/.
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4851


Conferences

Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through February 2017 include:

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

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 at https://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/.
 

Issue Date: November 2016
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=181&articleid=4852



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