Children's Bureau ExpressDec 2004/Jan 2005 | Vol. 5, No. 10

Table of Contents
 

News From the Children's Bureau

  • HHS Honors 17 Groups, Individuals for Adoption Excellence
  • Latest U.S. Adoption Statistics Show Increase in Public Agency Adoptions, While Total Numbers Remain Constant
  • Preventing Teen Homelessness: You Gotta Believe!
  • Permanence Framework and Measures for Youth

Child Welfare Research

  • Adjustment in Child Welfare Adoptions--A Comparison
  • Measuring Strengths-Based Service Delivery
  • Children Find Permanence in Subsidized Guardianship
  • Parents Anonymous® Seeks Co-sponsors for National Parent Leadership Month

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Implementing an Evidence-Based Parenting Program in Dependency Drug Court

Resources

  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Advocacy Centers
  • Substance-Exposed Newborns and the Law
  • Recruiting and Hiring for Human Services
  • Challenge Grants for Building Projects
  • Grantseeker Training Institute in February
  • New Standards of Practice for Agency Attorneys

Training and Conferences

  • Tutorials on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare
  • Conferences

News From the Children's Bureau

HHS Honors 17 Groups, Individuals for Adoption Excellence

On November 23, 2004, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced 17 Adoption Excellence Award winners that had a role in increasing the number of foster children placed in permanent homes.

"The people and organizations we honor today have shown selfless devotion to children and youth who need a permanent family," Secretary Thompson said. "They don't just talk about it; they do it. By taking personal action, they have enriched their own lives as well as the lives of many American children."

Given annually since 1997, the awards honor States, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families for their accomplishments and efforts to increase the adoptions of foster children. The awards grew out of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, which provided financial incentives for States to increase adoptions, made safety the paramount consideration for determining placement, and mandated swifter time frames for permanent placement decisions.

In fiscal year 2003, some 50,000 children were adopted from public child welfare agencies. Of the 523,000 children in the foster care system in the United States today, more than 118,000 are available for adoption. Of these children, 64 percent are over age 5, with the average age being 8 years old. Twenty-eight percent are black and 16 percent are Hispanic.

The award winners were chosen by a committee representing nonprofit adoption agencies, child welfare and adoption advocates, adoptive parents, foundations, businesses, and State and Federal offices.

"As we commemorate National Adoption Month this November, we show our appreciation for a group of extraordinary Americans who have gone out of their way to make sure kids in foster care have stable, loving homes," said Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., HHS assistant secretary for children and families. "Their deeds clearly demonstrate compassion in action."

For a complete list of award recipients, see the full press release on the HHS website at http://archive.acf.hhs.gov/news/press/2004/adoption_awards.htm.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=907


Latest U.S. Adoption Statistics Show Increase in Public Agency Adoptions, While Total Numbers Remain Constant

While the total number of adoptions in the United States has stayed relatively constant from year to year (ranging between 118,000 and 127,000 since 1987), the percentages of different types of adoptions have changed dramatically since 1992, according to a report released recently by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC), a service of the Children's Bureau. Figures from 2000 and 2001 indicate that private, independent, kinship, and tribal adoptions make up a much smaller percentage of total adoptions than in 1992. The percentage of public agency and intercountry adoptions, on the other hand, has increased.

The report, How Many Children Were Adopted in 2000 and 2001?, attempts to estimate the number of children adopted in each of the States during those 2 years and uses those numbers to estimate the composition and trends of all adoptions in the United States.

Key findings include:

No single agency is charged with collecting data on all adoptions. This report is based on data collected by the National Center for State Courts' Court Statistics Project, which collects data by calendar year and State fiscal years for the total number of adoptions processed through courts. The report cautions, however, that these figures are incomplete because (1) some parents who adopt in a foreign country choose not to file in a U.S. court and (2) adoptions sometimes cannot be separated from other civil petitions when courts report.

A factsheet listing highlights from the report can be found on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_adoptedhighlights.cfm. The full report is available at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_adopted/.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=881


Preventing Teen Homelessness: You Gotta Believe!

Homelessness is a reality for many youth who "age out" of foster care without a connection to a permanent family. Yet child welfare and adoption agencies--and even the teens themselves--are sometimes reluctant to see teens as good candidates for adoption. You Gotta Believe! (YGB) is slowly changing that perception in Suffolk County, a suburban county right outside of New York City, by successfully finding permanent homes for teens, including those coming from congregate care facilities.

YGB's Teen Homelessness Prevention Project is a federally funded program to place teenagers ages 12 and older into permanent families before their discharge from foster care. In the first 2½ years of a 4-year grant, the program is achieving what many believed to be impossible. So far, staff have recruited 67 families for adoption classes, certified 23 of those families, and placed 19 teens (10 from congregate care) and 7 of their younger siblings and cousins into permanent homes.

Some keys to their success include:

For more information about YGB and the Teen Homelessness Prevention Project, contact:

Pat O'Brien, Project Director
You Gotta Believe!
1728 Mermaid Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11224
(800) 601-1779 or (718) 372-3003

Note: This program was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant #90-CO-0961. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from official Children's Bureau site visits.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=899


Permanence Framework and Measures for Youth

The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) has posted two documents designed to guide child welfare agencies in their permanency planning for young people. The first, "Permanence for Young People Framework," proposes six key components for identifying and supporting permanent family relationships for young people in out-of-home care:

The second document, "Permanence for Young People Measures," proposes seven measures agencies can use to track their progress in establishing permanence for youth.

Both the Framework and the Measures were developed at a June 2004 conference sponsored by the NRCFCPPP (at the time, the NRC for Foster Care and Permanency Planning) and Casey Family Services. Both documents are available on the NRCFCPPP website at www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/permanence-for-young-people.html.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=2160


Child Welfare Research

Adjustment in Child Welfare Adoptions--A Comparison

Children adopted from child welfare show some differences in their adjustment when compared to the adjustment of children adopted domestically as infants and those adopted in intercountry adoptions. In addition, all adopted groups show some differences in their adjustment when compared to birth children. These are some of the findings of a study designed to increase the available data about children adopted from child welfare and their needs.

Parents of 1,340 children adopted from child welfare, 89 from intercountry adoptions, 481 from domestic infant adoptions, and 175 birth children completed extensive surveys to assess their children's adjustment at home, in school, and in the wider community, as well as their children's mental and physical health. All children were age 6 years and older at the time of the survey.

The overall findings reflected much of the previous adoption literature in showing both the positive experience of adoptive families across all adoption types, as well as the challenges faced by many adoptive families when compared to birth families. On almost every measure, adoptive families reported higher percentages of problems than did birth families, and the highest level was found in children adopted from child welfare. However, parental satisfaction among all adoptive groups was high, and 93 to 95 percent of parents indicated they would adopt their child again.

The researchers note that there are many emotional issues that may be associated with behavior problems in children in all types of adoptions. While the level of problems was found to be highest in those adopted from child welfare, followed by those in intercountry adoptions, there is a need for early intervention and postadoption services for all of these families, addressing the full range of child and family needs. Differentiating the problems that are more common in each group may help in the planning of postadoption services.

The full text of this article, " A Comparative Study of Child Welfare Adoptions with Other Types of Adopted Children and Birth Children," can be found in Volume 7(3) of Adoption Quarterly. Information on subscribing can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wado20#.U2lE2c6tKyc.

Related Item

Another article about comparing different adoption groups, "Study Explores Use, Helpfulness of Post-Adoption Services," appeared in the June/July 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=897


Measuring Strengths-Based Service Delivery

A new tool for measuring strengths-based service delivery may help workers evaluate early childhood and family support programs to determine whether the programs reflect a true strengths-based perspective.

Two studies were conducted with parents who had children enrolled in Early Head Start programs. The first study resulted in the development of the Strengths-Based Practices Inventory (SBPI), a 16-item inventory based on measuring four factors: Empowerment Approach, Cultural Competency, Staff Sensitivity-Knowledge, and Relationship-Supportive.

The second study examined whether strengths-based practices, as measured by the SBPI, were associated with specific parent outcomes. Parents with children in Early Head Start completed the SBPI when their children were 14 and 24 months old; parents were also assessed for engagement, participation, efficacy, empowerment, and parenting competence. Results showed that certain SBPI factors were related to family engagement, frequency of services, empowerment, competency, and the home environment. Some of the correlations were stronger at 24 months than at 14 months.

The authors suggest that the SBPI is a reliable and valid measure of strengths-based practices in voluntary early childhood and family support settings. It also may be used to assess whether staff practices are congruent with a strengths-based philosophy. The SBPI has not been tested in nonvoluntary settings such as child protective services.

"The Strengths-Based Practices Inventory: A Tool for Measuring Strengths-Based Service Delivery in Early Childhood and Family Support Programs" was published in the July-September 2004 issue of Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services. Information about subscriptions can be found at http://alliance1.org/fis.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=898


Children Find Permanence in Subsidized Guardianship

Permanence could be established for many children currently in long-term foster care with grandparents or other relatives if States established subsidized guardianship programs for these children, according to a new report from Fostering Results.

The report uses data from the 2002 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) to show that approximately 19,250 children currently live with relatives in long-term foster care, and a court has determined that neither adoption nor reunification are options for these children. The underutilized option of legal guardianship with their relative caregivers would seem to provide the permanence that these children need while reducing the need for the child welfare system and court to monitor the placement. Unfortunately, guardianship is not an option for children in these cases if their relatives cannot afford to raise them without foster care subsidies. According to the report, establishing subsidized guardianship programs for these children would meet their permanence needs, as well as the needs of the caregivers for financial support.

Seven States have been given waivers by the Federal Government to experiment with using some of their Title IV-E funds for subsidized guardianship programs. In these programs, the States provide a monthly stipend to relatives who become guardians of children who had been in foster care; the amount of the stipend is equal to or less than the foster care payment, and approximately half of the amount comes from Federal funds. In addition, 17 States have established subsidized guardianship programs using TANF or other State funds.

Preliminary results from these programs show that the amount of the stipend impacts permanency rates. In programs that paid legal guardians at the same rate as foster parents, there was a much higher rate of guardianship establishment than in programs that paid guardians significantly less than foster parents. For instance, Illinois, which subsidized guardians at the same rate as foster parents, saw a 42 percent decrease in children in long-term foster kinship care from 1999 to 2001. In comparison, Maryland, which reimbursed guardians at half the rate of foster parents, saw only a 24 percent decrease. In addition, the Illinois program found an overall increase in permanency achievement through adoption, guarianship, or reunification (78 percent in the experimental group compared to 72 percent in the control group); in Maryland the permanency difference was negligible. Programs that were able to use Title IV-E funds were more successful as a whole than the State-funded programs.

The Administration's proposed Child Welfare Program Option would allow States the option to receive their Title IV-E foster care funding as a flexible grant for a period of 5 years. States choosing this option would be able to use the funds for a wider range of child welfare activities, including subsidized guardianships, while continuing to meet child protection standards. Read more about the Child Welfare Program Option in "HHS Assistant Secretary Testifies Before Congress on the President's Child Welfare Proposal" from the August 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

The recommendations of Fostering Results for the Federal Government to provide funds for subsidized guardianship echo those made in May 2004 by the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. These recommendations are accompanied by suggestions for eligibility limitations and other restrictions that focus on ensuring the safety and well-being of the children involved.

Fostering Results is a public education and outreach campaign established by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to the Children and Family Research Center at the School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This report, "Family Ties: Supporting Permanence for Children in Safe and Stable Foster Care With Relatives and Other Caregivers," can be found at www.fosteringresults.org/results/reports/pewreports_10-13-04_alreadyhome.pdf. (Editor's note: Link no longer active)

Related Items

Read more about funding for kinship care in the following Children's Bureau Express articles:

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=895


Parents Anonymous® Seeks Co-sponsors for National Parent Leadership Month

In February 2005, National Parent Leadership Month will once again provide the opportunity for parents to be recognized by a broad spectrum of organizations and communities for their leadership to improve families and neighborhoods. Parents Anonymous® Inc. is seeking public and private organizations working in the areas of social services, education, juvenile justice, child care, mental health, and health, as well as businesses and public officials at the national, State, or local level to join as co-sponsors to promote this initiative.

The purpose of National Parent Leadership Month is to:

The first National Parent Leadership Month was launched in February 2004. Governors, mayors, and boards of supervisors all across the country signed proclamations and resolutions declaring February to be National Parent Leadership Month. In addition to generating news coverage on radio and television, many co-sponsors recognized parents at special events or conferences and in feature stories published in newsletters and on websites.

To help partners organize activities and outreach opportunities this year, Parents Anonymous® Inc. has developed an extensive online toolkit. The toolkit, designed for use by both professionals and parent leaders, contains resources to assist organizations in educating neighbors, colleagues, the media, and public officials about National Parent Leadership Month. The toolkit includes:

Copies of the toolkit can be accessed on the Parents Anonymous® Inc. website at http://parentsanonymous.org/assets/NPLM_TK_All.pdf (PDF - 866 KB). If you are planning to celebrate National Parent Leadership Month or if you have any questions, please contact Meryl Levine, MSSA, at (909) 621-6184, ext. 220 or by email at mlevine@parentsanonymous.org.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Child Welfare Research
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=906


Strategies and Tools for Practice

Implementing an Evidence-Based Parenting Program in Dependency Drug Court

Substance-abusing parents have different needs from other CPS-involved families. In order to meet these unique needs, Miami's Dependency Drug Court (DDC) has instituted a comprehensive approach to service provision that includes an interdisciplinary plan to help the whole family, as well as a parenting program, intensive case management and monitoring, communication across systems facilitated by a DDC caseworker, a high level of involvement on the part of the judge, and continual assessment. This program provides a promising model of holistic comprehensive services for substance-abusing parents.

Based on Miami's experience in implementing the DDC, the program identified the following essential components for developing an effective parenting program for substance abusing families:

An article on this program, "Parenting in Dependency Drug Court," is available in the Summer 2004 issue of the Juvenile and Family Court Journal. The article is accessible for a fee at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1755-6988.2004.tb00164.x/abstract.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Strategies and Tools for Practice
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=900


Resources

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Advocacy Centers

Administrators of child advocacy centers (CACs) have a new resource for evaluating their programs. The National Institute of Justice has recently published a comprehensive manual for program evaluations, focusing on the membership standards of the National Children's Alliance. A Resource for Evaluating Child Advocacy Centers is designed to meet the needs of CAC administrators for tools that specifically address CAC assessment.

Early chapters in the book introduce evaluation concepts and discuss the importance and benefits of program assessment. Separate chapters provide step-by-step guidance for three major types of evaluation:

There are also chapters on planning an evaluation, recruiting participants, collecting and analyzing data, and preparing the evaluation report.

First developed in the mid-1980s in response to criticism that child sexual abuse investigations were sometimes as harmful to children as the abuse itself, CACs use multidisciplinary teams, child-friendly facilities, and standardized procedures to minimize system-induced trauma to victims. Hundreds of CACs have been established to realize these goals, but whether they are succeeding has not been empirically evaluated. The development of this manual may help to promote more widespread evaluation.

This publication is available through the National Institute of Justice website, as a downloadable PDF document at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/192825.pdf (PDF - 1,812 KB)

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=2154


Substance-Exposed Newborns and the Law

The Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 requires States to have policies and procedures for health-care providers to notify child protective services (CPS) of cases of suspected prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs and to develop a "plan of safe care" for such infants. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), through their Children's Policy Initiative, has released a new publication that looks at how this new Federal requirement may potentially impact States by increasing the number of cases, presenting challenges to service delivery systems, and showing the need for multi-agency cooperation. The publication, Substance-Exposed Newborns: New Federal Law Raises Some Old Issues, describes the Federal requirements and provides an overview of existing State laws for reporting child abuse.

The paper also addresses the role of CPS and the place of prevention in reducing substance-exposed births. The wide range of CPS responses to substance-exposed newborns is noted, and the example of a community-based prevention program is provided. An appendix contains the text of State laws that require reporting of substance-exposed newborns.

This publication is available from the NCSL website at www.ncsl.org/print/cyf/newborns.pdf (PDF - 115 KB).

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=2155


Recruiting and Hiring for Human Services

"Assume nothing and take a fresh look" is the advice offered to agencies struggling with workforce issues in the lead article of Hired for Good, a newsletter that advocates quality human services through innovative human resource management. The lead article suggests that recruitment strategies should focus on getting new workers on the job as quickly as possible and ensuring that these new hires know what to expect. Specifically, the article provides advice for agencies to:

Other articles in the newsletter address job analysis, interview questions, a quiz on human resource management strategies, supporting new employees, and performance measurement.

Hired for Good is published by the Center for the Study of Social Policy and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It can be downloaded at www.cssp.org/uploadFiles/10071_HiredforGood_fnl.pdf (PDF - 105 KB).

Related Items

The topic of recruiting and retaining workers was previously addressed in the following issues of Children's Bureau Express:

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=2156


Challenge Grants for Building Projects

The Kresge Foundation offers challenge grants to support the construction or renovation of facilities, purchase of real estate, or purchase of major equipment or an integrated system. These "bricks and mortar" grants are made to tax-exempt, charitable organizations in a wide variety of fields such as human services, health care, higher education, and public affairs. Governmental agencies also are eligible to apply.

In reviewing proposals, the foundation emphasizes:

Competitive proposals typically request grants ranging from one-fifth to one-third of the balance to be raised to complete the capital campaign. In dollars, this often ranges from $150,000 to $600,000. Applications are accepted year-round, with grants approved four times each year in March, June, September, and December.

Visit www.kresge.org for more information.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=2157


Grantseeker Training Institute in February

Learn about all aspects of the fundraising process at the Foundation Center's Grantseeker Training Institute. The training will be held at the Foundation Center in New York City from February 14 to February 18, 2005, and will cover the following topics:

The cost of the training is $795, and all participants receive free publications and 2 weeks of complimentary access to the online directory. Space is limited to 25 attendees. Visit the Foundation Center website for more details: http://fdncenter.org/marketplace/catalog/product_training.jhtml?id=prod520001&navCount=1&navAction=push (Editor's note: Link no longer active).

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=2158


New Standards of Practice for Agency Attorneys

In an effort to provide guidelines for improving both the quality of child welfare agency legal representation and the uniformity of practice across the country, the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Legal and Judicial Issues has released Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Child Welfare Agencies. The standards, written with the help of practicing agency attorneys and child welfare professionals from different jurisdictions, are divided into the following five categories:

The 27-page publication is available from the National Resource Center website:

http://apps.americanbar.org/child/rclji/agency-standards.pdf (296 KB)

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Resources
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=2159


Training and Conferences

Tutorials on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare

The first of four free online tutorials on substance abuse and child welfare is now available on the website for the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW). This tutorial, "Understanding Child Welfare and the Dependency Court: A Guide for Substance Abuse Treatment Professionals," is an interactive series of five modules designed to provide comprehensive information on child welfare to professionals who treat substance abuse clients with children.

Over the next few years, three more tutorials will be made available. These will be aimed at providing information to child welfare workers, judicial officers, and legislators and will serve to facilitate cross-systems work in child welfare and substance abuse treatment. Each tutorial is designed to take about 4 hours to complete. Upon completion, a certificate will be available that can be submitted for continuing education units.

For more information about the tutorials and to access the first tutorial, go to the NCSACW website at https://www.ncsacw.samhsa.gov/training/default.aspx.

Related Item

The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention recently produced a fetal alcohol spectrum disorders video package for women in substance abuse treatment programs to raise awareness about the effects of alcohol on pregnancies. The video, "Recovering Hope: Mothers Speak Out About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders," features mothers whose children were affected by alcohol during their pregnancy, as well as experts who discuss the range of disabilities and intervention services. For information about the video package (Item CR 69), call (800) 729-6686 or visit http://fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/publications/recoveringHopeIntro.aspx.

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=903


Conferences

Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through April 2005 include:

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found in the Conference Calendar on Child Welfare Information Gateway: www.childwelfare.gov/calendar

Issue Date: Dec 2004/Jan 2005
Section: Training and Conferences
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=60&articleid=904



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