Children's Bureau Express05 2003 | Vol. 4, No. 4

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

  • Resources for National Foster Care Month
  • Bipartisan Commission Launched to Address Foster Care Outcomes
  • Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Face Uphill Climb to Adulthood
  • Experts Convene to Promote Permanence for Older Children, Adolescents
  • Review Finds Little Evidence to Support Institutional Care

News From the Children's Bureau

  • Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series, Third Edition
  • New State Fact Sheet Series: National Resource Center for Youth Development
  • Tips for Applying for Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants

Child Welfare Research

  • Unclear Whether ASFA Speeds Adoption, Slows Reunification
  • Brief Outlines Proper Uses (and Misuses) of Social Indicators

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Family Visitation Program Receives National Recognition
  • Alternatives for Accessing Mental Health Services for Children

Resources

  • Guides Help Youth in Foster Care Manage Their Money

Training and Conferences

  • Coordinated Resources for Life Skills Training
  • Conferences

Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

Resources for National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, a time when communities across the nation honor America's more than 133,000 foster families and recognize the approximately 556,000 children in foster care. Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to celebrate the foster families who provide safe, stable, and supportive homes for children and youth who are unable to live with their birth families.

Goals of Foster Care Month include:

The Casey National Center for Resource Family Support distributes a toolkit to support these goals. The kit includes ideas for recognizing foster parents and social workers, tools for reaching out to reporters, materials for working with businesses and elected officials, fact sheets, graphics, and more. Download the entire kit as a Zip file (www.casey.org/cnc/foster_care_month/toolkit_download.htm -- this link is no longer available). Or request a hard copy by calling (888) 295-6727 or sending an email to cncinfo@casey.org while supplies last. (Include your name, mailing address, and the number of Foster Care Month toolkits you would like.)

National Foster Care Month is a joint effort of Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support; the National Foster Parent Association; the Child Welfare League of America; the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the National Foster Care Coalition; National CASA; and the National Association of Social Workers. For more information, visit www.fostercaremonth.org.

Other foster care resources on the Web:

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=638


Bipartisan Commission Launched to Address Foster Care Outcomes

Launched May 7, the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care will develop practical, bipartisan recommendations to improve outcomes for children in foster care. The commission will focus on two key issues:

"The Pew Commission will develop very specific policy recommendations to improve foster care and related services, so that these vulnerable children can live safely in permanent homes and have a better chance to grow to be successful adults," says Commission Chairman Bill Frenzel, a 20-year veteran of Congress and former Ranking Minority Member of the House Budget Committee.

Chairman Frenzel, currently a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, is joined by Vice Chairman William H. Gray, III, currently President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Negro College Fund and former House Majority Whip and House Budget Committee Chairman. Additional members of the Commission include some of the nation's leading child welfare experts, heads of State and local child welfare agencies, prominent judges, social workers, foster and adoptive parents, and former foster youth.

The Commission is supported through a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute in Washington, DC. It will convene its first meeting in May 2003 and issue its final report and recommendations in 2004. For more information about the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, visit http://pewfostercare.org.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=650


Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Face Uphill Climb to Adulthood

A recent Child Trends research brief, Youth who "Age Out" of Foster Care: Troubled Lives, Troubling Prospects, details the complex issues around children aging out of the foster care system, including:

The general premise of the brief is that without the extended support most families provide young adults, youth leaving foster care face enormous challenges in building successful lives. "They are less well prepared educationally, have a harder time embarking on a productive career, are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to be involved in the legal system."

The author outlines some approaches to help children overcome this harsh reality. First, of course, would be to reduce the number of children entering care and increase the number of children adopted from foster care. Second, he outlines the need for additional independent living programs. Finally, the author discusses the need for more structured foster care services.

Some promising practices that were identified include:

The brief can be viewed or downloaded from the Child Trends website at www.childtrends.org/files/FosterCareRB.pdf.

Related Items

A new website specifically for youth aging out of the foster care system, http://www.fyi3.com/index.cfm, has been developed by FosterClub(www.fosterclub.com) with support from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. The site seeks to empower foster youth ages 14 to 22 to become involved, informed, and independent.

Read about supports for youth aging out of foster care in "Experts Convene to Promote Permanence for Older Children, Adolescents," "Guides Help Youth in Foster Care Manage Their Money," and "Coordinated Resources for Life Skills Training" in this issue of Children's Bureau Express.

Also see these related articles in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=639


Experts Convene to Promote Permanence for Older Children, Adolescents

As part of its Youth Permanency Project, the Stuart Foundation hosted a convening of experts in April 2002 to explore permanence as a way to address the difficulties often experienced by children who age out of the foster care system.

This meeting built on a 1999 Permanency Think Tank at the National Resource Center for Youth Development (see Related Items at the end of this article). Participants in the convening:

Since the convening, work groups have met to address issues of policy, practice, and funding in California and Washington (where the Stuart Foundation concentrates its funding) and on a national level. A second, larger group met on April 10 and 11, 2003, to hear about the work groups' progress and discuss possibilities for ongoing funding.

A summary of the 2002 proceedings can be found on the Stuart Foundation website at www.stuartfoundation.org/convening.html.

For more information, contact Pat Reynolds-Harris at (510) 562-8472 or patrh@sbcglobal.net.

Related Items

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=640


Review Finds Little Evidence to Support Institutional Care

Institutional care is not an essential component of the child welfare system for the majority of children, concludes a recent report. Institutions vs. Foster Homes: The Empirical Base for a Century of Action, by Richard Barth of the Jordan Institute for Families at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reviews the existing evidence and finds little to recommend group care.

The review considers four outcome measures for children in institutional care and finds:

From these findings, the author concludes policy makers and practitioners should emphasize the development of alternative forms of care, such as foster care and therapeutic foster care (rather than residential treatment centers), and receiving centers (rather than centralized emergency shelters). The author did find group care may work as a temporary placement for specific groups of youth, such as youth who have run away from foster care, those who are destructive or self-destructive, or youth "stepping down" from a more restrictive form of care to a family-based setting.

Download the complete report in PDF format from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill website at http://ssw.unc.edu/jif/events/GroupCare.pdf.

Related Item

For another view on congregate care for foster children, read "Options for Children in Long-Term Out-of-Home Placements" in the March/April 2001 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Spotlight on National Foster Care Month
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=641


News From the Children's Bureau

Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series, Third Edition

Since the late 1970s, the Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series has provided a foundation for understanding child maltreatment, as well as the roles and responsibilities of practitioners in the fields of child abuse prevention, identification, investigation, assessment, and treatment. The manuals in the forthcoming third edition address new legislation, practice innovations, and systems reform efforts, and provide comprehensive information to help practitioners deal with the increasingly complex issues facing children and families today.

The first manual in the series, A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice, describes the activities involved in the child protection process and offers guidance on how various community members can work together effectively to protect the safety, permanency, and well-being of children. It is now available online in both HTML (http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/usermanuals/foundation/index.cfm) and PDF (http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/usermanuals/foundation/foundation.pdf) formats. A limited number of CD-ROMs containing the full text of the manual also are available.

To obtain a print copy or CD-ROM of this publication, contact:
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
Phone: (800) 394-3366 or (703) 385-7565
Email: nccanch@caliber.com

The second manual in the series, Child Protective Services: A Guide for Caseworkers, will be available shortly, with other manuals to follow. For additional information about the User Manual Series visit http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/profess/tools/usermanual.cfm. For information about other child abuse and neglect publications and resources, visit the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=1962


New State Fact Sheet Series: National Resource Center for Youth Development

The University of Oklahoma, National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) is excited to provide a new, comprehensive State-by-State listing of policies, resources, and services for older youth. NRCYD, in partnership with the National Foster Care Coalition, has created a Web-based fact sheet for each State, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, including:

You can access these pages at www.nrcys.ou.edu/NRCYD/state_home.htm.

NRCYD is a service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Resource Center increases the capacity and resources of States and Tribes to help youth in care establish permanent connections and achieve successful transitions to adulthood. NRCYD's objectives are to help States and Tribes:

The Center bases its technical assistance and training around the four core principles of youth development, collaboration, cultural competence, and permanent connections. For more information, visit the NRCYD website at www.nrcys.ou.edu/nrcyd.htm.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=649


Tips for Applying for Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants

Sally Flanzer, former director of the Division of Data, Research and Innovation at the Children's Bureau, offers these top 10 reasons applicants for Children's Bureau discretionary grants do not receive high scores or do not "win" awards. Make sure these items don't happen to you, to help ensure a fair assessment for your application.

  1. The application is not responsive to the announcement.
  2. The application is sent to the wrong address or is received after the deadline.
  3. The application is longer than the page limits, and the "excess" pages (which are not copied and supplied to reviewers in order not to give anyone an unfair opportunity to provide more information than anyone else) contained the "meat" of the application or, at least, information that was needed to meet the criteria.
  4. The application is messy; the font is too small or the margins too narrow (in an effort to squeeze more information into the application); the narrative contains poor grammar or spelling errors; or the material is presented in an order different from that suggested by the announcement. Because peer reviewers read up to a dozen applications, anything that makes it more difficult to read is likely to result in a lower score.
  5. The proposal is good but not innovative. It re-creates the wheel and does not expand the knowledge base. Reviewers feel that whatever is proposed is already "known" by the field. Reviewers are unlikely to give the application a high score unless they believe that from this award the field is likely to "find out" something new.
  6. For demonstration applications, the proposal is a thinly veiled vehicle to deliver services rather than a "test" of a new service delivery model or set of services. Children's Bureau discretionary dollars are not for service delivery alone.
  7. For research applications, the proposal is a thinly veiled vehicle to deliver services.
  8. The writer seems unfamiliar with the specifics of child welfare, child abuse and neglect, adoption, and/or foster care and neglect. Because peer reviewers represent many disciplines, they seem particularly careful to remember that they are reviewing awards within a child welfare context. Lack of sophistication about the current state of child welfare in general does not bode well for the likelihood that the proposal will be successful in producing results that will be applicable in the real world of child welfare and child protective services agencies or professional development programs.
  9. For research applications, the statistical methods proposed are insufficient to test the hypotheses.
  10. The application is not responsive to the announcement. (This can't be said enough!)

For more information about Discretionary Grant Programs, visit the Children's Bureau website at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs/discretionary.htm.

Related Item

For more grant resources or information about becoming an ACYF grant reviewer, visit the April 2003 edition of Children's Bureau Express or the ACYF Grant website at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/grantreview.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=647


Child Welfare Research

Unclear Whether ASFA Speeds Adoption, Slows Reunification

A recent study explores the impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) on adoptions of children from foster care. The briefing paper, Adoption Dynamics: The Impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act by Fred H. Wulczyn of the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, reports the following findings:

The study included data from the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive on children who first entered foster care between 1990 and 1999 in nine States: Alabama, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. A full-text version of the briefing paper is available on the HHS website at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/fostercare-issues02/ASFA/index.htm.

ASFA was signed into law in November 1997. Key provisions tighten the definition of reasonable efforts to preserve the family, require reasonable efforts to achieve permanency, specify a timeframe for commencing termination of parental rights, and provide incentives to States for increasing the number of completed adoptions. The full text of ASFA can be found at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=162. 140.64.21&filename=publ89.105&directory=/ diskc/wais/data/105_cong_public_laws.

Related Items

Read more about ASFA in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=642


Brief Outlines Proper Uses (and Misuses) of Social Indicators

When used properly, statistical data can be a powerful tool. However, a new research brief issued by Child Trends warns that one form of data, social indicators, should be used cautiously to avoid false claims.

Social indicators are statistics that track patterns and trends over time (e.g., the percentage of adults with HIV/AIDS, or changes in standardized test scores in a school district from year to year). Social indicators help policy makers and practitioners:

Proper use of indicators requires the use of an appropriate population (e.g., if studying low income children, make sure that all the data used are on children that meet the definition of "low income"); appropriate geographic level (e.g., county, State); and indicators that accurately reflect the concepts they are trying to measure.

However, social indicators cannot point to specific causes of social change. For example, data may indicate that binge drinking among college students has declined, but these data give no clues as to why this occurred. Based on this data alone, a program addressing binge drinking could not claim credit for the decline, nor could it be said (using indicator data alone) that a program is ineffective. Only experimental research can determine a program's effectiveness.

The full brief is available on the Child Trends website at www.childtrends.org/files/SocialIndicatorsRB.pdf. Child Trends is a research organization focused on children's issues.

Related Items

Read more about indicators of child well-being in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=643


Strategies and Tools for Practice

Family Visitation Program Receives National Recognition

Research indicates children in foster care (even long-term) benefit from contact with family members. One effort to strengthen court-separated families, Families Together, was recently selected as a finalist for the 16th annual Innovations in American Government Award by the Institute for Government Innovation at the Kennedy School of Government.

A unique public-private partnership between the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) and the Providence Children's Museum, Families Together facilitates biweekly visits to the museum for shared learning and play. In this nontraditional setting, families experience a stimulating environment and caseworkers are able to gain a more complete understanding of each family. Families Together staff are placed in each CYF regional office to help caseworkers prepare for visits, helping them move from being passive observers to actively helping parents gain a better understanding of their role and take responsibility for meeting their children's needs.

For more information about this program, contact:
Joanne Lehrer, Chief of Staff
Department of Children, Youth and Families
Phone: (401) 528-3575

For more information about the Innovations in American Government awards program, visit the Institute for Government Innovation website at www.innovations.harvard.edu.

Additional resources about family visiting:

Related Item

For more about the Families Together program, see "State Agency, Children's Museum Forge Partnership to Strengthen Family Visitation" in the June 2000 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=645


Alternatives for Accessing Mental Health Services for Children

A report released in April by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates in 2001 alone more than 12,700 children were placed in the child welfare system simply because their families did not have the insurance or resources to access mental health treatment for them. Once in the State's custody children become eligible for Medicaid, which covers a wide range of services. However, this practice does not always work--foster care systems also can face difficulties accessing limited treatment slots for seriously mentally ill children--and it can be emotionally devastating for families.

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law recently released a report on States' options for increasing access to mental health care without forcing parents to relinquish custody. The report, Avoiding Cruel Choices: A Guide for Policymakers and Family Organizations on Medicaid's Role in Preventing Custody Relinquishment, discusses two options:

Currently, only 12 States use either option to cover mental or emotional disorders. The report includes information about how TEFRA or the H&CB waiver can benefit States, and four companion fact sheets provide information for States and families interested in learning more about these options.

The report and fact sheets can be obtained on the Bazelon website at www.bazelon.org/issues/children/publications/TEFRA/index.htm.

The GAO report, Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice: Federal Agencies Could Play a Stronger Role in Helping States Reduce the Number of Children Placed Solely to Obtain Mental Health Services, can be accessed on the GAO website at www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-397.

Related Item

Read more about mental health services for foster children in "New Jersey Taking Integrated Approach to Mental Health Needs of Children and Families" in the January 2002 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=644


Resources

Guides Help Youth in Foster Care Manage Their Money

Each year, approximately 20,000 young people "age out" of the foster care system in their late teens or early twenties. They are faced with the daunting tasks of finding a job and a place to live, not to mention managing their money. The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the National Endowment for Financial Education have teamed up to produce the Foster Youth Money Guide Series, which covers, in plain language, some of the financial information that every young person needs.

The series includes:

You can download a copy of the Foster Youth Money Guide series from the Annie E. Casey Foundation or order online at www.aecf.org/publications/browse.php?filter=7.

Related Items in This Issue:

Read more about resources for youth aging out of foster care in "Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Face Uphill Climb to Adulthood" and "Coordinated Resources for Life Skills Training" in this issue of Children's Bureau Express.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=1963


Training and Conferences

Coordinated Resources for Life Skills Training

A coordinated set of online resources from Casey Family Programs helps professionals and caregivers work together to teach youth the skills they need to live successfully on their own. The website, www.caseylifeskills.org, contains three components: the Ansell-Casey Life Skills Assessment (ACLSA), a Life Skills Guidebook for professionals, and Ready, Set, Fly! A Parent's Guide to Teaching Life Skills. Each resource can be used independently or with the others to develop a customized life skills teaching plan for youth ages 8 and up.

Also included are a manual for using the ACLSA and Guidebook, and age-appropriate activities for the program's six topical areas:

Casey has authorized three independent organizations to offer training on how to use the Casey Life Skills tools and how to use ACLSA data for outcomes assessment or evaluation studies. Find more information about these life skills resources and training opportunities at www.caseylifeskills.org.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=648


Conferences

Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through August 2003 include:

June

July

August

Further details about national and regional child welfare conferences can be found in the "conferences" section on the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/profess/conferences/index.cfm.

Further details about national and regional adoption conferences can be found in the "conferences" section on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website at http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/general/conferences/index.cfm.

Issue Date: 05 2003
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=41&articleid=637



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