Children's Bureau ExpressJuly/August 2008 | Vol. 9, No. 6

Table of Contents
 

Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision

  • ACYF Focuses on Collaboration to Support Foster and Homeless Youth
  • The Shared Youth Vision: Collaboration at All Levels
  • New Website on Youth Permanency Grantees
  • Family Search and Engagement Steps
  • Convening on Youth Permanence
  • Preventing Youth Disconnectedness
  • Permanency Planning Resources
  • Child Welfare and the McKinney-Vento Act

News From the Children's Bureau

  • New Child Welfare Outcomes Report Released
  • Promising Practices in Diligent Recruitment of Foster and Adoptive Families
  • Innovative Recruitment Strategies: The Latino Family Institute
  • Resources for Diligent and Targeted Recruitment
  • Legislative Background of the Multiethnic Placement Act
  • Developing Models for Workforce Recruitment and Retention
  • Collaboration Leads to Culturally Responsive Curriculum
  • Building on the Strengths of Rural Child Welfare Practice in North Carolina
  • Final Days to Apply for CB Grants
  • The Source Focuses on Economic Self-Sufficiency
  • National Youth in Transition Database Webinar Materials
  • National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect Call for Abstracts
  • Strengthening Marriages and Families Affected by Incarceration
  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

Child Welfare Research

  • Your Program Can Help Child Welfare Research

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Guide for Advocates on the Co-Occurrence of Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment
  • Strengths-Based Child Welfare Practices

Resources

  • Professional Development Series for Youth Workers
  • DVD on Family Violence
  • Forum for Youth Launches New Website
  • IASWR Listserv for Social Workers
  • Promoting Adoption of Children From Foster Care

Training and Conferences

  • Enhancing Leadership in Child Maltreatment
  • Adolescent Permanency Training for Supervisors
  • Conferences

Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision

ACYF Focuses on Collaboration to Support Foster and Homeless Youth

Collaboration among youth-serving programs is a growing movement that promises to expand support for youth and broaden the population of youth who can be served. Focusing on this collaboration, the 14th National Pathways to Adulthood Conference on Independent Living and Transitional Living, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), brought together representatives of these programs from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Held in Pittsburgh on May 14-16, the conference highlighted collaborations between Independent Living Programs (ILPs) funded by ACYF's Children’s Bureau and the Transitional Living Programs (TLPs) funded by ACYF's Family and Youth Services Bureau. The 624 participants represented ILPs, TLPs, runaway and homeless youth programs, and various service organizations for children and youth.

Joan Ohl, Commissioner of ACYF, delivered a keynote presentation at the conference on collaboration among youth-serving agencies at all levels—from the community to the Federal level—to help at-risk youth who are transitioning to adulthood. Commissioner Ohl provided more detail on the collaboration between the ILPs and the TLPs. While ILP grants are designated for youth in foster care (or formerly in foster care), TLP grants target homeless and runaway youth. Clearly, the needs of both sets of youth are pressing and, in many cases, overlapping. These needs include support with housing, education, employment, health care, and daily living skills.

Given the similar needs addressed by these two types of funding, collaboration between ILPs and TLPs seems both logical and cost-effective. This type of partnership can lessen the "silo effect" that limits the impact of so many funding streams. To promote this ILP/TLP collaboration, address service gaps, and avoid duplication in services for these at-risk youth, ACYF is focusing on three goals:

Commissioner Ohl has appointed Linda Reese-Smith to oversee the ILP/TLP collaboration initiative and coordinate these efforts at the national level. According to Ms. Reese-Smith, there are several examples of these collaborations around the country, but they do not always know about each other. One of her goals is to identify examples of successful ILP/TLP collaborations and disseminate that information so that other programs may learn from these innovators.

After all, youth who end up on the street because of abuse in the home are not usually concerned about the origin of the funding that helps them find housing, enroll in a GED program, access health care, or find a job; what is important to them is that they receive the support they need to make a successful transition to adulthood.

For more information on the ILP/TLP initiative, including specific examples of collaborative programs, read the May 2008 issue of The Exchange, published by the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth:
http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov/tools/publications

If you know of a successful ILP/TLP collaboration or would like additional information on this initiative, contact Linda Reese-Smith at linda.reesesmith@acf.hhs.gov.

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2114


The Shared Youth Vision: Collaboration at All Levels

Imagine a collaboration that extends from some of the largest Federal agencies down through State and community service programs, all focused on helping the most vulnerable youth make a successful transition to adulthood. That's the mission of the Shared Youth Vision, an initiative that grew out of a 2003 White House Task Force Report on Disadvantaged Youth. Citing the need for better coordination and communication among youth-serving agencies, the report led to the Shared Youth Vision so that "the Nation's neediest youth will acquire the talents, skills, and knowledge necessary to ensure their healthy transition to successful adult roles and responsibilities." The initiative places a special emphasis on ensuring that youth are educated and prepared to join the workforce.

The Federal partnership among the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, and others promotes collaborative approaches to serving youth through outreach and the development of strategies, training, and tools and resources. Since 2004, the Shared Youth Vision has sponsored Regional Youth Forums, technical assistance initiatives, Regional meetings, and other opportunities for States and local jurisdictions to make connections and exchange ideas. A series of webinars have focused on self-assessment tools for youth-serving organizations, promising practices from the field, and resource and gap mapping.

In 2006, the Federal partnership funded 16 States to begin Shared Youth Vision collaborations and activities at the State and local levels. State teams, mirroring the Federal partnership, have worked for the last 2 years to plan and implement statewide Shared Youth Vision activities to serve the neediest youth. More recently, these funded States have begun to mentor other States in beginning their own Shared Youth Vision collaborations and activities. An implementation study is underway, as States continue to expand their partnerships to reach out to the most vulnerable youth and ensure that they make successful transitions to adulthood.

The original 16 State teams were drawn from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Utah. New States now being mentored include Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

State teams have implemented pilot programs that focus on a variety of system reform efforts, ranging from sharing data and information to leveraging resources. When gaps in service are identified, teams seek new partners, public or private, to fill the gaps. Youth in foster care should be the big winners of these activities, since the majority of State teams have selected these youth as their target population.

To provide training and technical assistance to these efforts, the Federal partnership selected the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development to set up a Solutions Desk portal and serve as a general resource. The Solutions Desk also hosts monthly dialog calls, publishes a monthly e-newsletter, and maintains a listserv. The web portal is now available for all States to share information, find resources and help for their youth collaborations activities, and post policy questions directly to the Federal Partnership. Visit the web portal at
www.nrcys.ou.edu/yd/solutionsdesk.

For one example of a State's Shared Youth Vision initiative, visit the Minnesota Shared Youth Vision Activities website:
www.deed.state.mn.us/youth/SYV/SYV.htm

To read more about the Shared Youth Vision at the Federal level, visit the website:
www.doleta.gov/ryf/

Dorothy Ansell at the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development contributed to this article.

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2115


New Website on Youth Permanency Grantees

A new website highlights the accomplishments of the grantees in the Children's Bureau Youth Permanency Grant cluster. The 5-year grants were awarded in 2005 to nine organizations to implement effective open adoption programs for youth and sibling groups. The website features the progress of the grantee projects and includes:

Grantees have demonstrated success in connecting youth to permanent families through reunification, relative placement, and open adoption. The diversity of projects lends variety to the number and type of resources available on the new website, and this information may be useful to multiple programs in child welfare. New resources and updates will continue to be added to the website as they are developed by the grantees.

Announcement of the new website was made in May by three Children's Bureau National Resource Centers:

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2116


Family Search and Engagement Steps

In recent years, child welfare professionals have increasingly focused on the importance of permanent connections for older youth who might otherwise age out of foster care into an uncertain adulthood. A new guide outlines the steps to identifying, locating, and engaging family members who may offer permanency to youth in foster care. The premise of the guide is that there may be relatives who would gladly adopt or support youth currently in long-term group or foster care, if they just knew about them. In Six Steps to Find a Family: A Practice Guide to Search and Engagement, author Mardith J. Louisell builds on the family search and engagement model, designed to find permanent relationships for youth by helping adults make realistic decisions about their involvement in a youth's life.

The guide outlines steps for agencies in this process:

The guide also includes a number of resources to be used in family finding and engagement, including forms, checklists, sample letters, phone scripts, and tips for searching and for talking to youth about permanency.

The guide was developed by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) and the California Permanency for Youth Project and is available for download on the NRCFCPPP website:

www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/SixSteps.pdf (PDF - 2,899 KB)

Related Item

Children's Bureau Express most recently wrote about locating family members in "Improving Relative Search and Engagement" (May 2008).

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2126


Convening on Youth Permanence

The 2008 National Convening on Youth Permanence brought together youth leaders from around the country to discuss the theme "Families for Life: Powerful, Possible, and a Priority for Youth in Foster Care." The Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs sponsored the May 2008 conference at which attendees shared ideas for improving public policies and practices to achieve the goal of providing every child with a permanent family connection.

Resources from the Convening are now available on the website and include the full program and PowerPoint presentations from plenary and workshop sessions. The wide variety of sessions covered such topics as promising strategies to promote youth permanency, programs for targeted youth, and serving emancipated youth. Other publications produced as part of the Convening include a report on creative funding strategies and a team planning guide that provides discussion questions to help communities strategically plan ways to achieve better outcomes for youth and families.

Additional resources to be released in the coming months include a summary of themes and lessons generated from the Convening, video and audio clips, and more. Visit the official website for the National Convening on Youth Permanence:

www.youthpermanence.org/materials/

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2127


Preventing Youth Disconnectedness

A white paper by the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy takes a new perspective on youth disconnectedness by focusing on ways to prevent disconnection in the first place and engage youth before it is too late. The study examined youth in New York State about to age out of the child welfare or mental health systems and at risk of becoming disconnected or disengaged from society. In 2005, 8 percent of New York's 16-19 year olds were not working and not in school.

To address these daunting challenges, the Schuyler Center convened two workgroups with key stakeholders that included agency representatives, advocates, and city youth. The workgroups formulated a series of principles for preventing youth disconnectedness, including:

The workgroups also made 18 recommendations to promote cross-system collaboration, including the establishment of a central coordination point, more training for human services workers, and empowerment of youth. The paper cites three initiatives as examples of successful cross-system collaboration:

To read Disconnected Youth: An Answer to Preventing Disengagement, by Jenn O’Connor, visit:

www.scaany.org/documents/disconnected_youth_whitepaper_000.pdf (PDF - 239 KB)

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2128


Permanency Planning Resources

The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) offers a wealth of resources on permanency planning for youth. Susan Dougherty, Information Specialist at the NRCFCPPP, compiled the following list of webpages:

Many of the other NRC "Hot Topics" are relevant to the process of achieving permanency for the young people involved with child welfare systems. Visit the list:
www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/information.html

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2129


Child Welfare and the McKinney-Vento Act


The McKinney-Vento Act was passed to ensure educational rights and protections for homeless children and youth, including those awaiting foster care placement. The act addresses such issues as:

The rights of children in foster care may differ, depending on a State or jurisdiction's interpretations of eligibility. However, every school district has a local education agency liaison for homeless education who can discuss eligibility requirements.

Child welfare professionals may want to familiarize themselves with the following resources on the McKinney-Vento Act:

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: Spotlight on Youth Permanency and the Shared Youth Vision
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2130


News From the Children's Bureau

New Child Welfare Outcomes Report Released

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Welfare Outcomes 2002-2005: Report to Congress, the seventh in a series of reports designed to inform Congress, the States, and the public about State performance on delivering child welfare services. The Child Welfare Outcomes report provides information about State performance on seven national child welfare outcomes related to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children involved in the child welfare system. The outcomes reflect widely accepted performance objectives for child welfare practice.

The first six Child Welfare Outcomes reports presented data for each State regarding 12 measures developed by the Department to assess State performance relevant to the seven national child welfare outcomes. The current report includes data on the 12 original outcome measures as well as four composite measures (including 15 individual measures) recently developed for the second round of the Child and Family Services Reviews that began in March 2007.

Highlights of the recent report include:

The report can be found on the Children's Bureau website:

www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/index.htm#cw

Issue Date: July/August 2008
Section: News From the Children's Bureau
URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=1575


Promising Practices in Diligent Recruitment of Foster and Adoptive Families

Recruiting foster and adoptive parents who reflect the race and ethnicity of the children in foster care not only helps agencies meet Federal requirements, it also is a hallmark of best practice in child welfare. The Federal Government helps States promote and support diligent recruitment in three main ways:

As a result of these kinds of efforts by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau, a number of promising practices have emerged in the area of diligent recruitment.

Training and Technical Assistance

Among members of the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network, the Collaboration to AdoptUsKids provides the bulk of T&TA on diligent recruitment. AdoptUsKids provides onsite T&TA to States, maintains a national online photolisting of children who need families, and offers resource materials for States and agencies on recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents. The website also includes Spanish-language information about the adoption process and children in the foster care system, and AdoptUsKids has sponsored public service advertising campaigns to publicize its Spanish-language information and increase awareness about adoption among Latino families.

In its T&TA capacity, AdoptUsKids focuses on both the macro and micro issues of recruitment, encouraging States to look at their children and youth data, including age, race, ethnicity, locale, and other needs, to determine placement resource gaps. By comparing their child and family data, States can determine which communities and family characteristics need to be targeted to meet their diligent recruitment goals for all children and youth they serve. By going a step further and using marketing techniques to ascertain lifestyle characteristics of targeted families, it is possible to tailor recruitment messages and methods to reach families in the communities where they live, work, and worship. Implementing recruitment in specific zip codes and neighborhoods and developing community, business, and faith-based partnerships may then help States enhance their diligent recruitment outcomes.

AdoptUsKids also focuses its services on helping States support foster and adoptive families through the process of licensing and/or approving and retaining existing resource families. AdoptUsKids has developed Recruitment Response Teams to assist States in supporting families who call in response to the National Ad Campaign. Through T&TA, AdoptUsKids can help a State and/or Tribe build capacity to recruit, support, and retain specifically targeted populations of families, such as Hispanic, Native American, and/or African-American resource families, and then follow up to help the State maintain and improve its efforts.

In a complementary effort, the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Adoption provides adoption T&TA to States, focusing on helping agencies provide culturally responsive services. The NRC encourages agencies to use a holistic systems perspective that focuses on all the components of their child welfare system. In providing T&TA, the NRC helps States enhance cultural competence of child welfare professionals and engage communities of color and faith-based groups. The NRC also provides guidance to Children's Bureau grantees implementing adoption demonstration projects and encourages minority leadership through the establishment of the Minority Adoption Leadership Development Institute (MALDI). MALDI participants are drawn from States in which minority children are overrepresented in the child welfare system. The focus of MALDI is to develop leaders who can help their States address the overrepresentation through such initiatives as diligent recruitment.

(See the related article in this issue, "New Website on Youth Permanency Grantees".)

Child Welfare Monitoring

The Children's Bureau conducts the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) to monitor State compliance with Federal laws regarding child welfare, including desired outcomes for child safety, permanency, and well-being. State child welfare systems are evaluated on 45 items, one of which (item 44) requires States to have a plan for diligent recruitment of adoptive and foster parents. States that are not in compliance develop a Program Improvement Plan to address needed changes to improve outcomes for children and families.

In the first round of the CFSRs, 18 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico received a rating of "Strength" for item 44 and their diligent recruitment process. Their CFSR Final Reports relate a number of strategies used by these jurisdictions to recruit foster and adoptive parents who reflect the ethnicity and race of children in foster care, which include:

Funding Opportunities

States and other jurisdictions, as well as agencies, universities, and other nonprofit groups, have received Children's Bureau Adoption Opportunities (AO) Discretionary Grants to improve adoption outcomes for children in foster care. In a number of cases, these grants have been used to support diligent recruitment efforts. Several examples follow, each one illustrating a creative promising practice:

  • A 2002 AO grant to Loving Homes of Denver, CO, funded the Me and My Shadow Program. This mentoring program focused on recruiting and matching mentors to Hispanic youth awaiting adoption. In a number of cases, the mentoring relationship led to adoption. The recruiting component of the program included publicity efforts at Hispanic churches and community events and in the local media.
  • The DePelchin Children's Center in Houston, TX, received an AO grant in 2002 to fund Creating Adoption Neighborhoods. Using social marketing in predominantly African-American rural neighborhoods, the project began with an outreach campaign designed to send the message that "adoption is the norm." The campaign involved easy access to parent training for interested families and well-publicized information about adoption and supports for families. Early evaluations documented both growing awareness of the value of adoption, as well as increased foster and adoptive placements in targeted neighborhoods.
  • In 2002, Another Choice for Black Children of North Carolina used its funds to start Project MECCA (Men Embracing Children Collectively Through Adoption), which focused on recruiting married and single African-American men to become adoptive parents. During the first year, the project focused on extensive outreach to the community, including sharing information in places like barbershops and churches. Other recruitment efforts included a Black Male Summit, mentoring programs, and community service activities.
  • A 2003 AO grant to the Virginia Department of Social Services involved working with the Virginia One Church One Child Program, partnering with more than 300 churches to find homes for African-American and other children in foster care.
  • Spaulding for Children of Houston, TX, received a 2003 AO grant to oversee the Rural Adoption Partnership to reach out to prospective families in rural areas, especially the majority Hispanic population. Recruitment and support services were designed to be culturally sensitive and available in Spanish. The partnership included involvement with Catholic parishes, missions, and other religious institutions in targeted communities.
  • In 2008, the Children's Bureau announced a new AO grant specifically for diligent recruitment (www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/closed/HHS-2008-ACF-ACYF-CO-0046.html). Grantees will collaborate with AdoptUsKids to develop and incorporate diligent recruitment programs "for a range of resource families for children in foster care, including kinship, foster, concurrent and adoptive families."

    Issue Date: July/August 2008
    Section: News From the Children's Bureau
    URL: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=96&articleid=2096


    Innovative Recruitment Strategies: The Latino Family Institute

    A number of programs have received Adoption Opportunities grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau to carry out demonstration projects designed to improve outcomes for children adopted from foster care. One highly successful program highlighted here illustrates how these grants can be used to find permanent families for specific groups of children, in this case—Latino children in Los Angeles.

    In 2000, the Latino Family Institute (LFI) received a 3-year grant from the Children's Bureau to place 40 Latino children with families. By the end of the project period, the results spoke for themselves: 69 Latino children had been placed in adoptive homes, and 198 prospective Latino families had been recruited. In addition, the awareness of the need for adoptive homes had been heightened in the Latino community, and more than 200 child welfare professionals had received training on using culturally responsive approaches to recruitment and placement.

    Some of the strategies used by LFI included:

    Since the end of funding, LFI has continued to provide adoption services and was able to expand programs after receiving additional Federal grants. In 2005, LFI opened a new office following the award of the Abandoned Infants Assistance grant targeting families impacted by substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. In 2007, LFI finalized 76 adoptions. Currently, LFI conducts the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program in California and Puerto Rico.

    According to Maria Quintanilla, executive director of LFI, much of the success of the recruitment program stems from addressing and overcoming barriers that may have precluded Latino families from adopting in the past. By identifying both organizational and cultural barriers, LFI is able to educate and empower these families. In an article on removing these barriers, Ms. Quintanilla offers a number of recommendations to other agencies, including: