Children's Bureau ExpressMarch 2021 | Vol. 22, No. 3

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on Youth Transitioning Out of Care
This edition of CBX highlights youth transitioning out of care and the challenges they face as they begin their journey to independent living and adulthood. Read spotlight articles on how the COVID-19 pandemic has created even more obstacles for these youth, ways to ensure their financial well-being as they navigate living on their own, and the importance of acquiring education and skills to be self-sufficient and independent.

  • The Experiences of Older Youth in and Aged Out of Foster Care During COVID-19
  • Ensuring the Financial Well-Being of Youth Transitioning From Care
  • Helping Youth Prepare for the Transition to Adulthood
  • Education and Skills Training May Ease the Transition to Adulthood for Youth Exiting Care

News From the Children's Bureau
Read a report about a survey conducted by Child Welfare Information Gateway to find out how child welfare professionals, legal professionals, and social work students access and disseminate child welfare information as well as a brief listing of the latest updates to the Children's Bureau website.

  • Report Highlights Results From the 2020 National Child Welfare Information Study
  • CB Website Updates

Training and Technical Assistance Updates
We feature a new communications guide that aims to help improve the way child welfare agencies and organizations disseminate information, a learning experience from the Capacity Building Center for States based on the stories of those with lived experience with the child welfare system, and a brief listing of the latest updates from the Children's Bureau's technical assistance partners.

  • NCWWI Communications Guide
  • Capacity Building Center for States' "Then and Now" Videos and Discussion Guide
  • Minority Professional Leadership Development Program Seeks Transformational Leaders
  • Updates From the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Partners

Child Welfare Research
We highlight a report on child maltreatment and the response to it during the COVID-19 pandemic and a brief that discusses the intersection of child welfare and human trafficking.

  • Using Data to Understand Trends in Maltreatment and the Response to It During COVID-19
  • Foster Care Runaway Episodes and Human Trafficking

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

  • Using a Trauma-Informed Approach With Parents of Color in Family Court
  • Engaging Families in Congregate Care

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.

  • iFoster Partners With Learn to Be to Offer Free Tutoring
  • Tips for Helping Older Children and Teens Adjust to Adoptive Homes

Training and Conferences

  • New Training Program for Foster and Adoptive Parents
  • Conferences

Spotlight on Youth Transitioning Out of Care

The Experiences of Older Youth in and Aged Out of Foster Care During COVID-19

COVID-19 has had a large impact on all levels of society. It has exposed weaknesses in systems and exacerbated disparities among the most vulnerable. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on older youth in foster care and those who have recently aged out. This population often has intersecting vulnerabilities and too often lack concrete and social supports, resulting in them struggling with their well-being and security.

The Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research released a report, The Experiences of Older Youth In & Aged Out of Foster Care During COVID-19, that explores the experiences of older youth in and who had recently aged out of foster care during COVID-19 and seeks to develop actionable solutions to improve the well-being of this population. The development of the questions for the study was guided by a poll from FosterClub and outcomes from the National Youth in Transition Database survey. The report discuses survey responses from almost 300 youth about their experiences with housing, employment, food and economic security, physical and mental health, and social connections over the course of 1 month during the pandemic.

The survey found that COVID-19 had a negative impact for half or more of participants on housing, finances, food security, employment, educational progress, and mental health. The center used these results to inform practice and policy recommendations that would contribute to improving the well-being, safety, and health of these youth, including the following:

The center recommended five actions for child welfare agencies to take:

The report includes a literature review, discussion of results, and additional recommendations.

 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Spotlight on Youth Transitioning Out of Care
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5756


Ensuring the Financial Well-Being of Youth Transitioning From Care

When youth begin the transition to independent living and adulthood, it is required that they have a transition plan in place at least 6 months before their 18th birthday. It is during this time that financial education can be most beneficial. A recent article on the MoneyGeek website aims to help youth aging out of care achieve financial security and self-sufficiency by addressing the roadblocks they may face and providing solutions, resources, and tools to help them overcome those challenges.

The article lists the five financial roadblocks youth aging out of care face and solutions for each:

To learn more about how youth exiting care can maintain financial stability and security as they enter independent living, read the article "Financial Empowerment for Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care."


 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Spotlight on Youth Transitioning Out of Care
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5757


Helping Youth Prepare for the Transition to Adulthood

Youth who at risk of transitioning out of care because of their age may face many challenges. Some may not have had access to the same supports that their peers not in care have had and may be lacking in skills that will help them live successful, thriving, and independent lives as adults. Others may have had adverse childhood experiences that negatively affected their development. Foster parents play a crucial role in ensuring these youth learn the skills they need and in being a source of positive, stable support after their time in foster care has ended. FosterClub created an online course, "Helping Youth Prepare for the Transition to Adulthood," to better prepare foster parents for that role.

This course consists of five steps to help educate foster parents on the importance of helping youth build a strong foundation for a successful transition to adulthood. In this course, parents are expected to learn about the unique challenges that youth in foster care can face when exiting care, how they can mitigate some of these challenges, resources available to them, and the vital role that they play in helping youth in foster care prepare to transition to adulthood. Those who take this course are expected to do the following:

The FosterClub course is free and worth 2.5 credit hours.
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Spotlight on Youth Transitioning Out of Care
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5758


Education and Skills Training May Ease the Transition to Adulthood for Youth Exiting Care

Attaining an education and obtaining employment play an important role in the transition to adulthood for most young people. This is especially important for youth in foster care. Compared with their peers who have not been involved with child welfare, youth in care often face lower levels of educational attainment and higher levels of unemployment or underemployment.

According to a recent article from Child Trends, youth who receive educational aid and employment skills training, as well as other needed services and supports, are more likely to achieve their educational and employment goals. The article discusses findings from a recent National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) report to Congress showing that young people transitioning out of foster care at certain time points (ages 17, 19, and 21) reported low rates of employment and educational attainment. Based on these NYTD findings, researchers at Child Trends analyzed how employment and education outcomes are connected over time using the same time points. They found that three-quarters of young people who received educational aid were connected to education and/or employment at all three time points, compared with 41 percent of respondents who did not receive educational aid. In addition, 59 percent of youth who reported receiving employment skills training were connected to better outcomes at all three time points, compared with 47 percent of young people who did not report receiving employment skills training. The article also emphasizes how education and employment attainment can ease the transition to adulthood and boost outcomes for youth exiting foster care.

To learn more about the NYTD study and the Child Trends analysis, read the article "Education and Skills Training May Ease Transition to Adulthood for Young People Involved in Foster Care."
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Spotlight on Youth Transitioning Out of Care
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5759


News From the Children's Bureau

Report Highlights Results From the 2020 National Child Welfare Information Study

Child Welfare Information Gateway, with funding from the Children's Bureau, conducted a research study to better understand how child welfare professionals access information and use technology within their practices.

For this study, researchers surveyed 4,134 participants, including child welfare professionals from public in private agencies as well as tribal organizations, legal professionals, and social work students. Respondents were asked about their ability to access child welfare information online; their methods for searching for information; if and how often they received child welfare information, regardless of whether they were searching for it or not; whether they shared information with coworkers or other relevant professional contacts; and their use of mobile devices and social media.

Key findings of the study include the following:

Read the full report, How Child Welfare Professionals Access, Use, and Share Information: Results From the National Child Welfare Information Study, to learn more.
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5760


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: March 2021
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5761


Training and Technical Assistance Updates

NCWWI Communications Guide

The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) released a communications guide that aims to help improve the way child welfare agencies and organizations disseminate information in an effort to build public support, strengthen the workforce, improve partnerships, increase community collaboration, and enhance perceptions.

The guide focuses on the following topics:

To read more about the importance of communication in changing the narrative surrounding child welfare work, read NCWWI Communications Guide: How to Advance Organizational Goals Through Effective Messaging, Storytelling, and Public Relations.
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5762


Capacity Building Center for States' "Then and Now" Videos and Discussion Guide

The Capacity Building Center for States offers a video learning experience featuring firsthand accounts from adoptive parents, kin caregivers, and a young adult who was formerly in foster care about their involvement with the child welfare system. Each individual featured in the series has two videos that were taken several years apart in order to identify actions and services that made a difference as well as missed opportunities for what might have been helpful.

The series aims to spur on discussions about the following topics:

The series is intended for foster care and adoption program managers, supervisors, training managers, and recruitment and licensing specialists to support group learning or individual coaching with child welfare workers and current or potential resource parents. Those who participate in the course can earn continuing education units in social work, clinical psychology, counseling, and marriage and family therapy.

To learn more about this learning experience and to watch the videos, visit the Center for States website for Then and Now: Looking Back and Moving Forward in Support of Children, Youth, and Families.
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5763


Minority Professional Leadership Development Program Seeks Transformational Leaders

The Minority Professional Leadership Development (MPLD) program at AdoptUSKids is accepting applications from candidates for the upcoming cohort now through June 7. This fellowship is designed for emerging leaders working in child welfare. It includes hands-on experience, exposure to national experts, and mentorship opportunities. If travel permits, the MPLD program will begin with a 3-day kickoff celebration in Washington, DC, in October 2021.

To learn more about the MPLD program and to get an application, visit the AdoptUSKids website.
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5771


Updates From the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Partners

CB funds several technical assistance centers to provide professionals with tools to better serve children, youth, and families.

The following are some of the latest resources from CB's technical assistance partners:

Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website for more.

Visit the FRIENDS website for more.

Visit the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative website for more.

Visit the AdoptUSKids website for more.

Visit the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect website for more.

Visit the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute website for more.
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5764


Child Welfare Research

Using Data to Understand Trends in Maltreatment and the Response to It During COVID-19

COVID-19 has created circumstances that have increased many families' stress levels, such as stay-at-home orders; job loss; or other health, economic, or social stressors. There is also a concern that children being home from school diminishes their exposure to adults who might detect and report maltreatment and there will be a spike in reports once they return to school. A Chapin Hall issue brief used data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System, and other sources to analyze trends and respond to concerns of a surge in maltreatment reports that could overwhelm the child welfare system once children and youth return to school full time.

Based on monthly maltreatment report data from 2018, the researchers determined that hotline reports from education personnel typically return to their typical levels each fall when children return to school rather than increase to higher than typical levels. They also acknowledge, though, that there is a higher risk of child maltreatment during the pandemic and that additional community-based concrete supports may be needed. The data analyzed in this report led to the creation of the Latent Event Simulator—a tool that can be used to help plan system responses.

The issue brief also includes recommendations for adaptive system changes, including the following:

Read the Chapin Hall issue brief, COVID-19 and Child Welfare: Using Data to Understand Trends in Maltreatment and Response, to learn more.

 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5765


Foster Care Runaway Episodes and Human Trafficking

Evidence continues to emerge to support the relationship between running away from foster care and sex trafficking victimization. There are promising programs and approaches to reduce the risk of a youth running away and their subsequent risk of being trafficked. The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, published a brief that summarizes and expands on a 2019 report to Congress that covers the child welfare system's response to child sex trafficking. It discusses some of the possible reasons that youth run from care, statistics of those who run, factors to consider when looking at the numbers, and evidence about the correlation between youth in foster care running from care and sex trafficking victimization.

Taking findings across multiple studies, the brief finds that there are several factors that contribute to a youth's risk of running away, including age, sex, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and others. However, there are also factors that decrease runaway behavior, such as placement in a family-like setting. There are several promising evidence-informed approaches to preventing and reducing the risk of youth running from care. The brief highlights two research-informed programs—Behavior Analysis Services Program and Children and Residential Experiences. Both programs resulted in reductions in runaway incidence rates. 

To learn more, read Examining the Link: Foster Care Runaway Episodes and Human Trafficking.
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5766


Strategies and Tools for Practice

Using a Trauma-Informed Approach With Parents of Color in Family Court

Shifting to more trauma-informed practices in family court has been shown to improve outcomes for families. A report presented on the Rise website details the importance of using a trauma-informed approach in working with child welfare-involved parents, especially families of color, who may have had negative experiences with courts that resulted in systemic distrust.

Intended for family court officers and child welfare professionals, the report provides introductory information on a trauma-informed approach and the impact of language in the courtroom. At its core, a trauma-informed approach involves a shift away from asking "What is wrong with you?" to asking "What happened to you?" Principles of this approach include safety, collaboration, and empowerment.

The report emphasizes the importance of using this approach when working with families of color. Most parents who get involved with family courts in urban areas are people of color from the lower socioeconomic strata of American society. As such, many of these parents have faced personal trauma, community violence, societal racism, and exclusion from economic opportunity. As court settings often foster tense and confrontational encounters, systems that are not trauma-informed run the risk of retraumatizing these parents.

In addition to an overview of trauma-informed approaches, the report includes the following:

Read the full report, Supporting Families of Color: How Racial and Complex Trauma Affect Parents of Color Navigating Family Court During the Time of COVID and Beyond, to learn more.

 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5767


Engaging Families in Congregate Care

Written by the Capacity Building Center for States

Engaging and empowering families as partners and decision-makers has the potential to improve child welfare quality and outcomes (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016). While family engagement is a valued practice in child welfare and has steadily increased over time, the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) emphasizes the importance of family connections across the child welfare continuum and establishes a set of engagement requirements for qualified residential treatment programs (QRTPs). To create a family engagement culture, programs should reach out to families, include them in their child's treatment, and provide 6 months of family-based supports after discharge (Children's Bureau, 2018).

The literature makes a strong case for this approach. Family engagement in congregate care settings is linked to shorter stays in care and increased reunification (Hess, 2003). Children and youth who have frequent contact with their families adjust more easily to out-of-home care, experience less depression and increased well-being, have an increased sense of normalcy, and have fewer behavioral challenges (McWey et al., 2010).

The information and tips below are adapted from the Capacity Building Center for States' forthcoming publication, Congregate Care in the Age of Family First: Family Engagement, which is designed to help state agencies, QRTPs, and other child welfare stakeholders understand the family engagement requirements of the FFPSA and thoughtfully plan for meaningful partnerships with families and youth in residential treatment programs.

Engaging Families in Congregate Care

Child welfare agencies can help QRTPs meet FFPSA requirements and meaningfully engage families throughout the course of treatment. They consider how QRTPs engage families along the following touch points:

Planning for Family Engagement

Engaging families in congregate care requires vision and organizational commitment highlighted in policy and practice, along with workforce development.

Articulating a Vision and Organizational Commitment

Creating a vision for family engagement in collaboration with youth and families sets the tone for authentic partnership.

Building Workforce Readiness

Supporting meaningful family engagement through staffing and clinical practice embeds family-centered practice and support for authentic partnership.

Thoughtful planning for family engagement takes work, but by partnering with each other—and with families—agencies and QRTPs can increase the likelihood of a more positive experience and improved child and family outcomes.

Want to Learn More?

The Center for States' forthcoming 2021 series, Congregate Care in the Age of Family First, will offer more strategies for implementing FFPSA provisions in a congregate care setting. (Visit the Center for State's website for updates). Agencies can also work with the Center for States to develop and implement successful approaches to family engagement. Visit the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative Liaisons webpage to find your state's tailored services liaison.

References

Children's Bureau. (2018). Information memorandum: ACYF-CB-IM-18-02. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/policy-guidance/im-18-02

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Family engagement: Partnering with families to improve child welfare outcomes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f-fam-engagement/

Hess, P. (2003, October). Visiting between children in care and their families: A look at current policy. The National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning. http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/visiting_report-10-29-03.pdf 

McWey, L., Acock, A., & Porter, B. (2010). The impact of continued contact with biological parents upon the mental health of children in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1338–1345. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.05.003
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5772


Resources

iFoster Partners With Learn to Be to Offer Free Tutoring

iFoster, a nonprofit that serves children in foster care, recently partnered with Learn to Be, an organization that provides one-on-one virtual tutoring for students, to provide free tutoring for its members. The free, virtual program is accessible via a Chromebook, laptop, or desktop. To sign up, a caregiver, social worker, or someone familiar with the child can fill out an enrollment form for the program. Most students are matched with a tutor within 24 hours. iFoster prioritizes referrals made by and on behalf of its members. However, signing up for a membership is free.

Since the partnership launched in November, iFoster members have received almost 3,000 minutes of free tutoring in various subjects.

For more information, visit the iFoster website or contact iFoster at 855.936.7837 or support@ifoster.org.

 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5768


Tips for Helping Older Children and Teens Adjust to Adoptive Homes

When integrating an older child into their home, adoptive families can use several strategies to ease the transition. While necessities such as food, shelter, and education are all important, there are various other areas of focus that can help an older child or teen adjust to their new home.

The AdoptUSKids article "How to Help an Older Child or Teen Adjust to Your Home" shares the following tips for helping adopted children acclimate:

To learn more, read "How to Help an Older Child or Teen Adjust to Your Home."  
 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5773


Training and Conferences

New Training Program for Foster and Adoptive Parents

The National Training and Development Curriculum (NTDC) is a new training program for foster and adoptive parents. The curriculum provides potential foster and adoptive parents with information and strategies for parenting a child who has experienced trauma, separation, or loss. It also provides parents with access to information and resources postplacement.

The program, which was funded by the Children's Bureau, is based on research and input from experts, families who have experience with fostering or adopting children, and children who have experienced foster care or adoption.

There are three components of the NTDC program:


For more information, visit the NTDC website.


 

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5774


Conferences

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

March

April

May

Issue Date: March 2021
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=224&articleid=5770



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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