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Children's Bureau ExpressDecember 2017/January 2018 | Vol. 18, No. 9

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on Safety and Decision-Making
Read about the two domains recently added to the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General and Reunification Services, how predictive risk modeling can ameliorate the shortcomings of the current approaches to risk assessment and decision-making used by child protective services, and the Children's Bureau's Child Welfare Virtual Expo Learning Experience and its resources to help improve the quality of assessments and best practices for data-informed decision-making.

  • Two Domains Added to the NCFAS G+R
  • Predictive Risk Modeling in Context
  • Child Welfare Virtual Expo 2017 Learning Experience

News From the Children's Bureau
We highlight a recent brief from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation that describes the service models of the first cohort of programs that implemented the Evaluation of Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking Demonstration Project as well as a list of the latest updates to the Children's Bureau website.

  • Evaluating Service Models for Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking
  • CB Website Updates

Child Welfare Research
Read a report that aims to improve data reporting on children and families based on 41 key indicators of important aspects of children's lives, such as family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. We also point to a resource that discusses estimates of poverty among children in foster care compared with children living with grandparents or other relatives and children living with their parents.

  • Key National Indicators of Child Well-Being
  • Estimates of Poverty Among Children By Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure

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.

  • National Family Preservation Network Celebrates 25 Years
  • Eight Reasons to Use a Partnership When Providing Support Services
  • Helping Maltreated Children Understand and Recognize Emotions

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

  • Adopting an Older Child
  • Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress Toolkit for Health-Care Providers

Training and Conferences

  • Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life
  • Conferences

Spotlight on Safety and Decision-Making

Two Domains Added to the NCFAS G+R

Recent research has fueled increasing interest among child welfare practitioners on the effects of trauma on families and children in the child welfare system. Adverse experiences (e.g., emotional, physical, and sexual abuse), emotional and physical neglect, and forms of family dysfunction (e.g., domestic violence, substance use, mental illness) leave a lasting impact on family functioning and well-being.

An article in the Journal of Public Child Welfare discusses the two new trauma-focused domains of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General and Reunification Services (NCFAS G+R). The two new domains are trauma and posttrauma well-being, which were added to help child welfare workers provide children and their families with trauma-informed supports and services that connect the fields of public health, mental health, and social work.

The assessments conducted with these domains are intended for use during in-home visits as well as other practice settings. To determine the efficacy of the trauma and posttrauma domains, a field test was conducted over 6 months in three states with long-standing, high-fidelity family preservation programs and that had previous experience using the NCFAS scales. States were instructed to apply the trauma domain to all families and not just those who already had a history of trauma to ensure that the trauma domain was capable of assessing both inclusion and exclusion of previous and reoccurring trauma. The posttrauma domain was used at closure only for families whose responses were below baseline for at least one item on the trauma scale.

The reported findings include the following:

Trauma-informed practice can mitigate the effects of adverse experiences for children and families in the child welfare system. According to the article, the recently added NCFAS G+R domains of trauma and posttrauma work as intended, making them valuable tools for working with this vulnerable population.

"Psychometric Properties of the Trauma and Post-Trauma Well-Being Assessment Domains of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General and Reunification Services (NCFAS G+R)," by Raymond S. Kirk (Journal of Public Child Welfare, 9), is available at http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wpcw20/9/5?nav=tocList.

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Spotlight on Safety and Decision-Making
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5045


Predictive Risk Modeling in Context

Child maltreatment, both chronic and acute, is a growing concern within the field of child welfare. Of the 6.6 million children referred to child protective services (CPS) in the United States in 2014, 702,000 were found to be victims of abuse or neglect. However, an understanding of how to best screen for maltreatment and serve those affected by maltreatment is still a work in progress.

An article in Children and Youth Services Review assesses the strengths and weaknesses of current risk assessment tools used by CPS professionals. The article then describes how predictive analytics or predictive risk modeling (PRM) can ameliorate the shortcomings of these current approaches.

Currently, two general categories of tools have been developed to help standardize CPS risk and safety assessments. Theoretical tools, which are guided by a theoretical approach, look at child maltreatment identified by experts through clinical experience or research. The risk factors are then combined into an instrument or scale that CPS workers and others can use to help them gather information during assessments. Actuarial tools examine risk factors that are empirically related to maltreatment. These risk factors are then validated statistically. Although both tools have been adopted by CPS agencies, they carry limitations, such as being prone to operator error during application and interpretation as well as often containing subjective measures that require clinical judgment to score.

The article describes PRM as the application of data mining, modeling, and analytical techniques to existing data to find patterns and make predictions. As such, PRM can address the shortcomings of other assessment tools in the following ways:

The authors conclude that PRM, when used in combination with careful clinical practice, shows promise in the field of child protection as an effective and reliable risk assessment tool.

"Risk Assessment and Decision Making in Child Protective Services: Predictive Risk Modeling in Context," by Stephanie Cuccaro-Alamin, Regan Foust, Rhema Vaithianathan, and Emily Putnam-Hornstein (Children and Youth Services Review, 79), is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740917300452#!.
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Spotlight on Safety and Decision-Making
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5046


Child Welfare Virtual Expo 2017 Learning Experience

The Children's Bureau's Child Welfare Virtual Expo 2017 Learning Experience provides child welfare professionals with resources to help improve the quality of assessments and best practices for data-informed decision-making as well as promote dialogue, critical thinking, and practice improvement.

Based on the Virtual Expo 2017, the on-demand Learning Experience includes the following four modules:

The learning modules include learning activities, personal stories, and supplemental resources, and most sessions can be used to earn continuing education units. A free registration is required to access the Learning Experience.

To learn more about the Child Welfare Virtual Expo 2017 Learning Experience, visit https://learn.childwelfare.gov/content/2017-child-welfare-virtual-expo-0.

Related Item

The Capacity Building Center for States released Decision-Making in Child Welfare for Improved Safety Outcomes, which describes the need to explore evidence-based approaches to current safety decision-making practices, the relationship between decision-making factors and tools commonly used to support agencies in improving safety outcomes, and more. To read this brief about strategies to improve decision-making and safety, visit http://bit.ly/2zeq2sw.
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Spotlight on Safety and Decision-Making
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5047


News From the Children's Bureau

Evaluating Service Models for Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking

A recent brief from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes the service models of the first cohort of programs that implemented the Evaluation of Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking (DVHT) Demonstration Project. This cross-site evaluation took place from October 2014 through September 2016 in Maricopa and Pima Counties, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; and New York City and included five primary components: assessment, partnership expansion, case management expansion, project implementation, and evaluation.  

The goals of the evaluation included the following:

The evaluation used a mixed-methods approach that included interviews with project staff and partners, case narrative interviews with case managers, observation of project partnership meetings, and review of project documents and materials to gather data on each site's program.

Findings from the DVHT project suggest that this initial cohort successfully collaborated with community partners to conduct outreach and training, identify survivors, provide comprehensive case management and direct services, and connect clients to resources and services in their communities. In addition, although the programs shared some similarities, the lead organizations had diverse backgrounds, target populations, and partnerships, which resulted in the implementation of unique approaches to service delivery.

The brief, Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking Demonstration Projects: Service Models of the First Cohort of Projects, is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/resource/domestic-victims-of-human-trafficking-demonstration-projects-service-models-of-the-first-cohort-of-projects.
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5048


CB Website Updates

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

Recent additions to the site include the following:

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

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5058


Child Welfare Research

Key National Indicators of Child Well-Being

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, or the Forum, has produced a report that centers on 41 key indicators of important aspects of children's lives in seven domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. The report, America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017, aims to improve data reporting on children and families; make data available in an easy-to-use, nontechnical format; foster discussions among stakeholders; and more.

The highlights of the 2017 report include the following:

The report, America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017, is available at https://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/index.asp.
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5049


Estimates of Poverty Among Children By Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure

Research shows that children and families involved with child welfare are disproportionately poorer, and children in foster care are largely drawn from families living at or below the poverty level. Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), the article "Poverty Among Foster Children: Estimates Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure" provides estimates of poverty among children in foster care compared with children living with grandparents or other relatives and children living with their parents. (Grandparents or other relatives can serve as kinship foster parents, but this study relied on caregivers' self-designation of the relationship [e.g., grandchild, foster child] to categorize the families.)

The sample of children was gleaned from the Current Population Survey's Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which is an annual household survey that includes information on sources of income as well as other characteristics. The children were all under the age of 18 at the time of the survey, with an average age of 8.5 years among children in foster care and those living with their parents. Children living with their grandparents or other relatives were slightly older (9.1 and 10.5 years, respectively). Children who lived with their parents were predominantly White, whereas children living in foster care were predominately African-American. Poverty was determined using the SPM poverty thresholds, which take into account  the core necessary expenses faced by families in the United States, such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities, as well as other necessary expenditures.

The report's findings include the following:

"Poverty Among Foster Children: Estimates Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure," by Jessica Pac, Jane Waldfogel, and Christopher Wimer (Social Service Review, 91), is available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5484162/pdf/nihms865172.pdf (425 KB).
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5050


Strategies and Tools for Practice

National Family Preservation Network Celebrates 25 Years

This year, the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN), which was established in 1992, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. NFPN's mission is to preserve vulnerable families and prevent unnecessary out-of-home placements of children through four initiatives in the areas of family preservation, reunification, father involvement, and assessment.

NFPN has worked tirelessly throughout the last 25 years to uphold its mission of keeping families together through research and training efforts that have made them national leaders in developing and testing family assessment tools; developing training materials for frontline workers on father involvement; and linking cutting-edge research, tools, and resources to direct services. NFPN has conducted six research projects that have demonstrated the effectiveness of intensive family preservation and reunification services, leading to an 80 percent success rate nationwide. In addition, NFPN provides a comprehensive, research-based father involvement curriculum for frontline workers that aims to keep fathers involved in case planning, visitation, and placement decisions.

NFPN has collaborated with over 50 organizations to bring research findings, resources, trainings, and technical assistance to family-serving agencies. NFPN collaborated with Dr. Ray Kirk from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, to further develop assessment tools that measure family functioning, such as the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale, which has been included in NFPN's research projects on family preservation and reunification. Today, NFPN's assessment tools, which are available online at http://www.nfpn.org/, are used in the child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, behavioral health, education, and other systems, including over 1,000 agencies nationwide as well as in 20 countries.

NFPN is also the national voice for Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS), which is a model of services used in the child welfare system in most states to help keep families together. NFPN has recently developed a continuous quality improvement (CQI) instrument to assess, sustain, and enhance the quality of IFPS on state and local levels. This tool helps providers assess current levels of effectiveness and also areas needing improvement. The CQI-IFPS Instrument (http://www.nfpn.org/assessment-tools/cqi-ifps-instrument) provides resources, including information on the benefits of family preservation interventions and quality assurance, a tally sheet for conducting specific case studies, and instructions for how to utilize the tool effectively.

In 25 years, NFPN has matured from being grant dependent to self-sufficient through the sales of tools, trainings, and technical assistance. Although NFPN's main focus continues to be on the child welfare system, it has greatly expanded its services to include the juvenile justice, mental and behavioral health, home visiting, and education systems.

In looking toward the next 25 years, NFPN plans to continue assisting states with reinvigorating and expanding family preservation and reunification programs and services; provide resources, training, and technical assistance to prevention programs; and bring more resources and trainings to rural areas.

Related Items

More information about NFPN and IFPS can be found in the following previous issues of CBX:

Resources for Family Reunification Services, May 2009, Vol. 10, No. 4

Intensive Family Preservation Services Toolkit, September 2009, Vol. 10, No. 7

Father Involvement Course for Continuing Education Credits, February 2010, Vol. 11, No. 1

Meeting CFSR Standards of Father Involvement, October 2010, Vol. 11, No. 8

New IFPS Survey Available, February 2012, Vol. 13, No. 1

Father Involvement Curricula, April 2012, Vol. 13, No. 3

Optimizing Father-Child Visits, May 2012, Vol. 13, No. 4

Engaging Reluctant Families Training, August 2012, Vol. 13, No. 7

Intensive Family Preservation Services Turns 40, May 2014, Vol. 15, No. 5

New Research on Family Reunification, June 2014, Vol. 15, No. 6

Tool for Quality Intensive Family Preservation Services, March 2015, Vol. 16, No. 2

Trauma and Well-Being Assessment Tool, June 2015, Vol. 16, No. 5

Nationwide Survey Celebrates 40 Years of IFPS, April 2016, Vol. 16, No. 3

Reviewing 15 Years of Father Involvement Initiatives, July/August 2017, Vol. 18, No. 5
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5051


Eight Reasons to Use a Partnership When Providing Support Services

Partnerships among public, state, tribal, and territorial agencies and nonprofit and other community-based organizations can be beneficial in implementing and sustaining programs and support services for adoptive, foster, and kinship care families.

A tip sheet from AdoptUSKids lists the following eight benefits public agencies can see from partnering with nonprofit organizations:

Public Agencies Don't Need To Do It Alone: Eight Reasons to Use a Partnership When Providing Support Services to Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Care Families is available at http://nrcdr.org/_assets/files/NRCDR-org/8-reasons-to-partner-with-others.pdf (88 KB).
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5052


Helping Maltreated Children Understand and Recognize Emotions

Maltreatment has been shown to stunt a child's ability to recognize and understand the emotions of others, which can lead to difficulties in navigating and cultivating interpersonal relationships, such as parent-child and peer relationships.

The Practice Notes issue, "Helping Maltreated Children Understand and Recognize Emotions," provides suggestions for child welfare workers and others who interact with children who have been maltreated, including the following:

The issue also includes a case example as well as reflection questions child welfare workers can keep in mind as they work with children with a history of maltreatment, such as "How can you bring this research/information to your work team(s) or into supervision?" and "What are some examples you've seen in your work that might be explained by children misreading facial emotional cues?"

"Helping Maltreated Children Understand and Recognize Emotions" is available at https://www.cascw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/PracticeNotes_rev.WEB_.pdf (339 KB).
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5053


Resources

Adopting an Older Child

When adopting an older child, the adoptive family should understand that the child may feel abandoned, distrustful, fearful, and resistant to accepting his or her place in the adoptive family. These feelings can stem from previous experiences with birth families or from their time in foster care.

The article Adopting an Older Child from the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange discusses ways adoptive parents can mitigate the transition from being a child in foster care to being a child in a forever family. The article reviews different emotions and situations that newly adopted older children might express, such as grief and a sense of separation or abandonment. The child may also express behavioral issues, such as lying, stealing, and bed wetting.

The article offers suggestions for countering negative behaviors and emotions in the following ways:

The article also discusses the importance of helping the child gain an understanding of his or her past experiences and the ways he or she came to be with the new adoptive family.

Adopting an Older Child is available at http://bit.ly/2zePfDe.
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5054


Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress Toolkit for Health-Care Providers

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers the Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress Toolkit, which is a set of tools intended for medical professionals to help them effectively assess and treat medical traumatic stress in children. The toolkit centers on the D-E-F Protocol for trauma-informed care, which focuses on helping providers respond to distress, offering emotional support, and providing family-centered care for children who have experienced trauma and their families.

The toolkit includes an introduction to traumatic stress as it relates to children facing illness, injury, and other medical issues; practical tips and tools for health-care providers; and handouts for parents that present evidence-based tips for helping their child cope. The toolkit also features the stories of two children, Tommy and Maria, as composite cases to illustrate the ways the toolkit materials could be useful to providers at different points in the continuum of care.

Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress Toolkit is available at http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/pediatric-medical-traumatic-stress-toolkit-for-health-care-providers?utm_source=Youth.gov&utm_medium=Announcements&utm_campaign=Resource.
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5055


Training and Conferences

Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life

The National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds is offering a series of online training courses, called Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work: A Resource for Action, to support the implementation of the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework.

The seven-part curriculum includes the following courses, which each take about 2 hours to complete:

The online training also includes a global glossary, short instructional videos, downloadable outlines, and more. A certificate of completion is given at the end of each course.

Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work: A Resource for Action is available at http://www.ctfalliance.org/onlinetraining.htm.
 

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5056


Conferences

Upcoming national conferences and events on child welfare and adoption include the following:

December

January

February

Issue Date: December 2017/January 2018
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=192&articleid=5057



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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