Children's Bureau ExpressJune 2022 | Vol. 23, No. 5

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on Reunification
This edition of CBX features resources on reunification and the importance of supporting families as they work toward their reunification goals. Read a message from Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg about how we should listen to the lived experiences of parents who have experienced separation from their children through out-of-home care and be transformational in the way we work to keep families together. This issue also includes valuable resources for professionals and the families they serve.

  • Try Something Different
  • The Impact of COVID-19 on Reunification for Child Welfare-Involved Families
  • The On the Way Home Reunification Program
  • Moms Matter: Encouraging Moms to Reach Their Reunification Goals

News From the Children's Bureau
In this section, find the latest news, resources, and publications from the Administration for Children and Families, the Children's Bureau, and other offices within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as a brief listing of the latest additions to the Children's Bureau website.

  • Learning How to Engage Dads and Paternal Relatives in Child Welfare: The Fathers and Continuous Learning in Child Welfare Project
  • Pride Month Spotlights the Work of the National Quality Improvement Center for LGBTQ2S Youth
  • Evidence-Building Evaluation Strategies for Untested and Promising Child Welfare Programs
  • NTDC Expands Parenting Paradigm to Help Foster, Kinship, and Adoptive Parents Better Understand Their Role
  • CB Website Updates

Training and Technical Assistance Updates
This section features resources and updates from the Children's Bureau's technical assistance partners to support practices and systems that improve the lives of children and families.

  • Prevention Planning Roundtable: Communicating With Partners About Prevention
  • Updates From the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Partners

Child Welfare Research
In this section, we highlight recent studies, literature reviews, and other research on child welfare topics.

  • Framework for Systems Reform Addresses Racial Disproportionality
  • Brief Details Findings About Coordinated Services Approaches in Child Welfare

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

  • The Implications of Family-Based Versus Institutional Care for Foster Children
  • Relationships as a Support for Reunification

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

  • New Resource Helps Adults Talk With Youth About Mental Health
  • Guide Offers Support for Caregiver Well-Being

Training and Conferences
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.

  • Online Course Provides Parenting Strategies to Promote Reunification
  • Conferences

Spotlight on Reunification

Try Something Different

Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg

Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Phoenix and spend a whole day in fellowship with members of the Black community there. My plane landed and I headed straight to the "Keeping Families Together" convening, which was coordinated by a local community-based organization called Our Brother Our Sister. The purpose of the event was not only to discuss the drastic disproportionality of Black children and youth in foster care in Arizona, but it was also a call to action to end family separation and do everything possible to safely reunite families that have been separated by the foster care system.

The convening included several substantive presentations, but what stayed with me the most was the "lived experience panel." The panel included one father who recounted a devastating close call with the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS). His daughter was nearly taken into care as a result of, as I understand it, a misunderstanding about her medical follow up. He told his story through his tears. One young woman talked about her experience of being taken into foster care with her younger sister, with whom she was very close, and then being separated from her sister while in foster care. She wanted to protect her little sister, but she couldn't. She cried, too. Another woman spoke about reaching out to DCS for help with one of her children and receiving that much-needed help; however, some years later, she reached out to DCS again for help but instead her children were taken away. Her story of betrayal cuts deep. Finally, there was a mother who had been reunified with two of her children but is in the middle of a fight to have her other children returned. She asked, "How is it that I am able to parent two of my children but not all of my children?" Her struggle continues.

I want to mention that I was sitting at a table right in front of the panel, so I had an unobstructed view of their pain—and sitting two seats to my right was the director of Arizona DCS. What was so heartening about this community-led conversation was that we were not operating in factions. We were all there—federal and state governments, external partners, and impacted community members—actively engaged in tough listening. Shortly after hearing from the panel, I was invited to join a conversation about how to move Arizona toward transformational change. I retreated to a conference room with community leadership, the director, and the executive director of an organization that has demonstrated success in keeping children out of foster care and bringing families together. This particular organization puts parents with lived experience at the center of the solution. Parents can help parents. We left the conference room with a plan in place to try something different.

June is National Reunification Month. Make a commitment to try something different. Let's be transformational in the way that we work together to reunite families.  

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Spotlight on Reunification
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6043


The Impact of COVID-19 on Reunification for Child Welfare-Involved Families

COVID-19 has been a source of disruption and stress for families and systems and has significantly changed the way child welfare operates in its day-to-day business. At the start of the pandemic, many courts and child welfare agencies suspended or reduced in-person family time, which is a critical part of the reunification process and has several benefits to attachment and well-being. Family time also provides an opportunity for child welfare workers to assess the progress of birth parents in meeting reunification goals. To help mitigate the challenges to in-person visits, many agencies implemented virtual family time to their clients' case plans. However, meeting virtually can have its own set of challenges since some families may not have easy access to technology and the internet or have children who are too young to engage online or have special needs. 

The article "The Impact of COVID-19 on Child Welfare-Involved Families: Implications for Parent–Child Reunification and Child Welfare Professionals" in Developmental Child Welfare features a mixed-methods study that used survey data gleaned from 196 child welfare professionals from August to September 2020. The study looked at the impact COVID-19 has had on birth and foster parents, children, and child welfare professionals as well as its implications and associated challenges for parent-child contact and reunification though the perspectives of child welfare-involved professionals. 

This study aimed to answer three questions:
  1. How has COVID-19 impacted the work lives and responsibilities of child welfare-involved professionals?
  2. How has COVID-19 impacted child welfare-involved families from the perspective of the professionals who work with them?
  3. How do the perceived impacts vary by professional role (i.e., child welfare worker, therapist, attorney)?
The study found that most participants had increased anxiety about the safety of the families and children they serve (77 percent) and about their own protection and safety from the virus (55 percent). Almost a quarter (23 percent) experienced or feared job loss, and 15 percent reported an increase in their caseloads. The survey also explored the impact of COVID-19 on reunification speed and planning and other concerns participants had. Several themes about what participants believed were undermining reunification outcomes emerged from the responses:
When reviewing the results of the survey, it is important to remember that most participants had a fairly homogenous racial, educational, and gender makeup, which may have impacted their reflections. Child welfare and related professionals, leaders, and administrators can use this survey to reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected both their workforce and the families they serve, whether workers have the same concerns now, and where attention can be focused. 
 
To learn more, read the study, "The Impact of COVID-19 on Child Welfare-Involved Families: Implications for Parent–Child Reunification and Child Welfare Professionals." 
 
Related Articles
 
Find information on what COVID-19 has revealed about racial differences in child welfare and child well-being in the following articles:
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Spotlight on Reunification
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6025


The On the Way Home Reunification Program

On the Way Home (OTWH) is a 12- to 14-month reunification program aimed at addressing the transition needs of middle and high school youth who have—or who are at risk of having—emotional and behavioral disorders after staying in residential care, as well as their caregivers. Because this population of youth has unique educational and family-based transition challenges, the OTWH program provides 12 months of reunification support after youth are discharged from a residential care home. The program modifies and integrates three interventions: Check & Connect, Common Sense Parenting, and homework support. Services are provided by a trained OTWH consultant in the family's home as well as in the school and community.

The program has three main goals to help promote youth home stability and prevent school dropout:

Youth and families work with trained consultants for an average of 2 hours per week. 
 
For more information on the program, including training and implementation information, visit the OTWH page on the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare website.
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Spotlight on Reunification
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6026


Moms Matter: Encouraging Moms to Reach Their Reunification Goals

Moms Matter, a webpage produced by Fostering Great Ideas, provides resources and information for mothers working toward reunification with their children. The page presents a video from the perspective of a mother working to reunite with her children, access to a peer-led support groups and online communities, and referrals to local resources. Moms Matter uses a peer-to-peer approach, utilizing group discussions and certified peer-support specialists to help mothers progress through their treatment plans by breaking them into small, manageable tasks as well as working on skills development. 

The webpage also includes information about a 13-week curriculum, Elevate U, to help mothers work on their parenting and life skills and recovery from any addiction issues and trauma. According to the Moms Matter page, 90 percent of children with mothers in the program reunify each year compared with 49 percent in the general population. 

Explore the Moms Matter webpage for more information.

Related Items

For information on fatherhood initiatives, reunification, and programs aimed at supporting fathers involved with child welfare, visit the following:
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Spotlight on Reunification
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6028


News From the Children's Bureau

Learning How to Engage Dads and Paternal Relatives in Child Welfare: The Fathers and Continuous Learning in Child Welfare Project

Written by Matthew Stagner, project director on the FCL Project and vice president at Mathematica, and Roseana Bess, deputy project director on the FCL project and principal researcher at Mathematica

Evidence suggests that positive father involvement can improve a range of well-being outcomes for children. Father involvement is also associated with reduced likelihood of entry into foster care, shorter periods of time in foster care, and increased rates of reunification.

Despite the potential for positive impacts of father involvement, systematic reviews of strategies to engage fathers and paternal relatives in child welfare cases reveal little empirical evidence to guide practice. In addition, despite increased emphasis on engaging fathers and paternal relatives, the hoped-for improvement in outcomes has not been realized. This project, entitled Fathers and Continuous Learning in Child Welfare (FCL), attempts to fill this gap and address the longstanding challenge of engaging fathers and their relatives in the child welfare system.

Mathematica and the University of Denver are conducting a project under contract with the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Family Assistance and the Children's Bureau are key partners.

The project involves two phases: a pilot study and an evaluation testing the use of the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) to strengthen the engagement of fathers and paternal relatives with children involved in the child welfare system. Six improvement teams representing five state or county public child welfare agencies were recruited to participate. The BSC, developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, involves the use of Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles for rapid, small tests of change. Participating sites tracked and reported on specific measures and monitored progress and improvements over time. In addition, sites collaborated within and across sites, through learning sessions, conference calls, and other systematic means of communication for shared learning. Experts in father engagement and child welfare systems supported the sites.

Based on shared learning and small tests of change, sites developed approaches to attempt to spread change throughout their agency and partners. This work built knowledge about how collaborating with system partners and continuously using data to make improvements in engagement strategies can create a child welfare culture that thinks about and engages fathers and paternal relatives. Our evaluation, involving web surveys of staff and partners as well as site visits, will be completed in 2023 and will focus on understanding what changes have endured and possibly spread throughout the system.

This project started in September 2017 and will run through September 2023.  Two publications are currently available:
 
 
Related Item  
 
"Piloting Continuous Learning to Engage Fathers and Paternal Relatives in Child Welfare" (Children's Bureau Express, September 2021, Vol. 22, No. 8)
 
 

 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6044


Pride Month Spotlights the Work of the National Quality Improvement Center for LGBTQ2S Youth

This June during Pride Month, we acknowledge the work that the National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability, and Permanency for LGBTQ2S Children and Youth in Foster Care (QIC-LGBTQ2S) has done for youth in foster care who identify as LGBTQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, and Two Spirit). QIC-LGBTQ2S is a Children's Bureau-funded program lead by the the Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. During the course of 5 years, QIC-LGBTQ2S partnered with four implementation sites (Allegheny County, PA; Michigan; Cuyahoga County, OH; and Prince George's County, MD) to develop, implement, and evaluate several best practices and programs for LGBTQ+ youth and their families. In addition to developing these programs, the implementation sites also engaged in several initiatives to create policies and SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression) data-collection initiatives.

This June, QIC-LGBTQ2S highlights the following resources to support LGBTQ2S youth and families:

 
For more information, visit the National SOGIE Center website.
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6042


Evidence-Building Evaluation Strategies for Untested and Promising Child Welfare Programs

With the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act, which provides optional and time-limited title IV-E funding to state and tribal child welfare agencies for programs designated as "promising," "supported," or "well-supported," the child welfare system has placed increasing emphasis on the evaluation and implementation of evidence-based services and programs to help support families and children with child welfare involvement. As such, resources such as evidence clearinghouses have become more instrumental in taking programs and services from development to implementation to evaluation. Although child welfare organizations sometimes face challenges in building evidence for promising programs and services, child welfare evidence clearinghouses, such as the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, are available to help service providers collect and document the evidence for and benefits of programs and practices that serve children and families.

A recent brief from the Children's Bureau highlights the key elements and evaluation criteria of clearinghouses that are most relevant to child welfare, factors that figure into whether a program or practice should be submitted for review, evaluation designs to consider when building evidence, how to determine organizational capacity to conduct a rigorous evaluation, and the initial planning steps for evaluating and implementing a program or service. The brief also defines what a clearinghouse is, why it is beneficial for a program to obtain a clearinghouse rating, how to go about building evidence, and next steps.

To learn more, read the brief, Evidence-Building Evaluation Strategies for Untested and Promising Child Welfare Programs.

 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6029


NTDC Expands Parenting Paradigm to Help Foster, Kinship, and Adoptive Parents Better Understand Their Role

Written by April Dinwoodie 

 
Becoming a foster, kinship, or adoptive parent to children from backgrounds of loss, separation, and trauma is a transformational experience that requires ongoing learning and development. Perhaps one of the biggest areas of difficulty that parents who foster encounter is understanding their role related to reunification and specifically how they are supposed to engage with the child's family.
 
As a result of this need, the National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents (NTDC) has dedicated two of its classroom-based trainings to this topic: "Reunification – The Primary Permanency Planning Goal" and "Foster Care – A Means to Support Families." "Preparing for and Managing Visitation," one of the 15 NTDC right-time trainings that allow parents to guide their learning outside of classroom-based training, also helps to prepare families as they navigate visits in support of reunification.
 
The classroom-based theme, "Reunification – The Primary Permanency Planning Goal," helps prospective families learn about their role in relation to the following:
Other relevant classroom-based themes include "Foster Care – A means to Support Families" and "Maintaining Children's Connections With Siblings, Extended Family Members, and their Community." While there are specific themes related to reunification, the importance of connections to the child's family is woven throughout the entire curriculum.  
 
The right-time theme, "Preparing for and Managing Visitation," helps parents do the following:
The following is what parents that participated in the curriculum had to say: 
NTDC draws on the knowledge of those with lived experience while challenging the existing perceptions and parenting beliefs of those who are just starting their journey in becoming a foster or adoptive parent. NTDC guides families through a process of self-reflection through the use of a self-assessment. Participants rate their level of comfort and skill based on characteristics and competencies that research indicates are critical for foster and adoptive families.  
 
They then participate in classroom training that utilizes both self-directed and transformative learning to further develop their understanding of the needs of the children and youth coming into their home and how they may need to adapt their parenting strategies to build relationships that support the well-being of all. The final component of NTDC is right-time training, which is available to families as they grow with the child and face additional parenting challenges after placement and postadoption, supporting ongoing learning and application.
 
Available this June, NTDC is a modern educational approach to engaging and educating prospective and current foster, kinship, and adoptive parents. Informed by research and highlighting the voices of parents, professionals, and youth, the NTDC offers transformational, multimedia training experiences that help families understand their role in caring for children and builds new and necessary parenting skills that ultimately expand the parenting paradigm. 
 
Contact Sue Cohick for more information at scohick@spaulding.org.
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6030


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: June 2022
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6031


Training and Technical Assistance Updates

Prevention Planning Roundtable: Communicating With Partners About Prevention

The Capacity Building Center (CBC) for States developed the Prevention Planning Roundtable series of discussions that aim to support agencies and other child welfare stakeholders in their efforts to build a common understanding of prevention through intentional communication based on authentic partnerships as well as to define the role of the child welfare system in strengthening families and communities. These discussions are part of the CBC for State's Prevention Planning Into Action suite of prevention-focused resources.

One of the videos in this series, "Prevention Planning Roundtable: Communicating With Partners About Prevention," features six brief videos that highlight roundtable conversations with leaders from Kentucky, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Washington as they discuss successful communications approaches and how they build partnerships and collaborate with other stakeholders in the development and implementation of prevention plans. In addition, the video's webpage provides the following discussion prompts based on this and previous roundtable discussions:

The video can be paired with the Building Capacity to Address Common Challenges planning tool to explore strategies on how to communicate with partners about prevention. 
 
To learn more, visit the CBC for State's Prevention Planning Roundtable video series and the Prevention Planning Into Action resources.
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6032


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

The Children's Bureau 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 these partners: 
 
Child Welfare Information Gateway   
What Is Child Welfare? A Guide for Disaster Preparedness and Response Professionals
Working With Children, Youth, and Families on Disaster Preparedness
Embedding Equity Into Disaster Preparedness Efforts in Child Welfare
Using Your Voice: A Guide for Youth on Participating in Case Planning
Prioritizing Youth Voice: The Importance of Authentic Youth Engagement in Case Planning
Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website for more.
 
Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative  
Capacity Building Center for States
Strategic Planning in Child Welfare: Integrating Efforts for Systems Improvement
"Spotlight on Helping Families Thrive"
Tribal Information Exchange of the Capacity Building Center for Tribes 
Strategic Planning [Webpage]
Voluntary Agreements [Webpage]
ICWA-Related Documents [Webpage]
Visit the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative website for more.
 
Children's Bureau Learning & Coordination Center (CBLCC)
"Addressing the Systemic Inequities That Stand in the Way of Children's Well-Being" [Digital dialog]
Visit the CBLCC website for more.
 
AdoptUSKids
"Trauma Responsive Practice for Child Welfare Professionals" [Webinar]
Tool for Assessing and Improving Tribal Support Services
"Recruitment Alone Isn't Enough"
Visit the AdoptUSKids website for more.
 
National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN)
Monthly Office Hours
Summer Training Webinar Series
Visit the NDACAN website for more.
 
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) 
"Advancing Workplace Equity" [Webinar]
Visit the NCWWI website for more.
 
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD)
"Addressing the Disconnects Between HR and Child Welfare"
"Political Skill"
Visit the QIC-WD website for more.
 
National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW)
"Identification and Notification" [Webinar]
"Plans of Safe Care Data and Monitoring" [Webinar]
"Building Community Support to Prevent Family Involvement in the Child Welfare System" [Webinar]
Visit the NCSACW website for more.
 
James Bell Associates
"Equity in Child Welfare Evaluation" [Podcast]
Evaluation of A Father's Place, Prince George's County (Fatherhood FIRE)
Visit the James Bell Associates website for more.
 
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Training and Technical Assistance Updates
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6033


Child Welfare Research

Framework for Systems Reform Addresses Racial Disproportionality

A recent article in the International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy, and Practice proposes a framework to guide systems change in child welfare, with a goal of improving outcomes for children and families of color. The article, "A Connectedness Framework: Breaking the Cycle of Child Removal for Black and Indigenous Children," begins with an overview of the history of child removal, with a specific focus on Alaska Native, American Indian, and African-American children. These populations share a history of forced child removal through residential boarding schools and slavery, and they continue to be disproportionately overrepresented in the child welfare system.

The authors recommend transforming the child welfare system to one that is based on community-driven efforts and relationality, rather than child removal, using a framework inspired by the Indigenous Connectedness Framework. The Indigenous Connectedness Framework highlights mechanisms for building and maintaining healthy relationships to family, community, environment, ancestors/future generations, culture/spirit, and self. The article's proposed Connectedness Framework for Systems Change features similar concepts to apply to child welfare systems.   

The article concludes with the following recommendations for a different approach to child welfare: 
For more information, read "A Connectedness Framework: Breaking the Cycle of Child Removal for Black and Indigenous Children."
 
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6034


Brief Details Findings About Coordinated Services Approaches in Child Welfare

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 details findings from the Assessing Models of Coordinated Services (AMCS) study. The brief describes lessons learned and examples gathered during interviews with leaders from 18 coordinated services approaches.

A coordinated services approach is an effort by a program, agency, or organization that involves coordinating services for children and families through partnerships. These approaches can occur at both the state and local levels. 

During the interviews, the AMCS research team identified key themes about coordination and partnerships. The following are some of the key takeaways from the interviews: 

Read more about these takeaways, as well as specific examples of state and local coordinated services approaches in the brief, "Supporting Families Through Coordinated Services Partnerships."
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6035


Strategies and Tools for Practice

The Implications of Family-Based Versus Institutional Care for Foster Children

A recent brief explores the role of institutional care for children in foster care, outlining reforms made under the Family First Prevention Services Act that limit the financing of these residential facilities. In the brief, the authors argue that children fare better in family settings than in institutional care. The brief links to several reports and studies that document the overuse and harm of institutional care for children in foster care. It also points to evidence that family-based care contributes to improved well-being. Since children sometimes have behavioral needs that cannot be provided for in a family setting, the writers argue that there are appropriate circumstances for children to receive residential treatment.

The brief outlines two recommendations associated with these findings:

The brief was developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children's Defense Fund, FosterClub, Think of Us, and the Youth Law Center.
 
Read the brief, "The Path to Well-Being for Children and Youth in Foster Care Relies on Quality Family-Based Care," for more information, including links to relevant studies and reports.  
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6036


Relationships as a Support for Reunification

Written by the Capacity Building Center for States

When the difficult decision is made that removal is necessary to ensure a child's safety, reunification—as quickly and safely as possible—is the primary goal. Family reunification is more likely and more successful when child welfare supports are rooted in authentic relationships and focused on building family strengths. As agencies continue striving to improve their services, it is necessary to keep this question in mind: How can agencies better support families during reunification? 

The relationship between a family and a caseworker, as well as the relationship between child welfare and other social service providers, are key components in successful reunification. Investing in these relationships can build a strong and resourced team dedicated to a family's success. The team's ability to build strong relationships based on mutual trust depends on support from agency leaders. Child welfare professionals who are trained to first focus on a family's strengths can better serve and more authentically engage families when they are rooted in a belief that, with the right support, families can grow stronger together and have better reunification outcomes. 
 
How Can Agencies Better Support Caseworkers and Families During Reunification?
 
Child welfare leaders and agencies share responsibility with the caseworker for improving a family's reunification experience. Strong relationships and mutual trust are the main pillars of successful reunification. Something as simple as returning a phone call can be the first step in a relationship based on mutual respect. Consider the following actions to help better support both caseworkers and the families they serve:
 
Prioritize Families and Relationship Building   
 
Authentic relationships between caseworkers and families take time and trust. Building rapport and leveraging family expertise require agency leadership that prioritizes families and makes it possible for caseworkers to partner with families. Consider the following questions as you work to create space for trusting relationships:
For more information about data sharing between systems to improve outcomes, refer to Facilitating Cross-System Collaboration: A Primer on Child Welfare, Alcohol and Other Drug Services, and Courts.
 
Dedicate Resources for Strength-Based Training and Supervision
 
There is an inherently uneven power dynamic between child welfare professionals and parents. Striving to mitigate that power dynamic and work in partnership can support reunification efforts. Consider the following questions as you work to bolster strength-based practice:
Agencies and Courts: Putting Families Front and Center Activity and Discussion Guide includes strategies to incorporate a family-focused, strengths-based approach to reunification training and practice. 
 
Maximize Community Connections
 
Leveraging community resources and forming partnerships with community-based organizations can ease budgetary constraints to provide extra concrete supports while providing families with more holistic support for faster and more successful reunification. Consider the following questions as you work to build out a continuum of care with community partners:
Watch "National Foster Care Month: Post-Reunification Supports and Prevention of Reentry Into Out-of-Home Care" for strategies, examples, and lessons learned to promote reunification and prevent reentry. 
 
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6037


Resources

New Resource Helps Adults Talk With Youth About Mental Health

The Child Mind Institute, a national nonprofit focused on children's mental health, recently launched the California Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids project to provide free, evidence-based resources that families and educators can use to teach children and youth about mental health and wellness, how to manage emotions and use healthy coping skills, and the importance of self-care. Many children involved with child welfare experience mental health issues. This project can help families involved with child welfare that have children with mental health issues.

The project presents a series of videos and supplemental study guides that are organized by audience (parent, educator, and student) and further tailored by age group (elementary, middle, and high school). The videos focus on the following foundational mental health skills:

Each 5- to 7-minute video captures the authentic, lived experiences of a diverse cast of individuals in an age-appropriate question-and-answer format. The videos and supplemental print materials are also available in Spanish.
 
To learn more, visit the California Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids project webpage on the Child Mind Institute website.
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6038


Guide Offers Support for Caregiver Well-Being

Whether a caregiver is a birth, foster, adoptive, or grandparent, the role can be as challenging as it is rewarding. The stress associated with caregiving can lead to burnout, which can adversely affect relationships and one's capacity to provide care. 

Alia released Caregivers Guide to Wellbeing to highlight the importance of self-care and support and inspire caregivers—including those caring for children or adults—by providing them with the knowledge, encouragement, and manageable techniques needed to increase their well-being and joy.

Following a brief introduction and overview, the guide is divided into five parts that reflect the key principles of a well-being-focused lifestyle and culture:
Each colorful and easy-to-follow section provides key questions, considerations, and an opportunity for guided reflection and simple activities. 
 
Caregivers Guide to Wellbeing was developed by Alia with funding from the Carlson Family Foundation. 
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6039


Training and Conferences

Online Course Provides Parenting Strategies to Promote Reunification

An online course for family treatment court (FTC) teams from the Center for Children and Family Futures discusses how quality parenting time can support reunification efforts in FTC. The course features a short video outlining the core concepts, a video recording from a live discussion that took place in October 2021, and other materials and resources. The discussion video features subject matter experts and FTC members, and the resources include a team discussion tool to help FTC teams assess their strengths and challenges.

There are four learning objectives of the course: 

The course, "Putting the Pieces Together: Harnessing the Power of Parenting Time to Strengthen the Parent-Child Relationship and Support Reunification Efforts in Your Family Treatment Court," is available on the Center for Children and Family Futures website.
 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6040


Conferences

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

 
June
July
August
 

 

Issue Date: June 2022
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=238&articleid=6041



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