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April 2024Vol. 25, No. 3Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

This issue of CBX highlights National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the importance of working together to support and strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. We also feature a message from Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg focused on the commitment to a customized approach to prevention that treats preventative family support as an inalienable right. Also included are the latest resources and publications for professionals and the families they serve.

Issue Spotlight

  • What's Up That Stream? A Message From the Associate Commissioner

    What's Up That Stream? A Message From the Associate Commissioner

    Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg

    Recently, I had the opportunity to share a story about when I became a kin caregiver a few years ago. I mentioned that, even though I was working for the local child welfare agency, child protection professionals still came to my home to interview me and inspect the physical condition of the child. I knew they were coming, but I didn’t know when. I recalled being cooperative but feeling annoyed, slightly offended, and nervous.

    Child protective services (CPS) has never knocked on my door unexpectedly for any reason. Often, I wonder how I might react if I ever felt the real fear of a parent threatened with separation from their child. Knowing what I know about myself, I’d immediately call someone I trust who has knowledge and authority. I can say for sure—without any hesitation—that my first two questions would be “What should I do?” and “What are my rights?” 

    Sadly, there have been too many tragedies and too many children lost to abuse. Even one abused child is one child too many. As adults, we must do everything we can to prevent children from being harmed. This is primarily the parent’s responsibility, but it also falls to the extended family and community. As child welfare professionals, we are in a constant state of readiness. We are vigilant, even hyperalert, to prevent the next catastrophe because the previous ones never leave our minds. We commit wholeheartedly to prevention even if we sometimes struggle with what it really means.

    There is no single preventative solution. Unless we understand that it must be customized, prevention can be elusive. One person may need access to SNAP, two people may need affordable housing and, another person may need affordable child care. What I need may not be what she needs. What she needs may not be what they need. For prevention to work, unfettered access to a comprehensive array of options must exist. 

    Lest we forget, in our Nation, we have certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do those rights extend to access to SNAP, housing, and child care? Or is there an invisible line in the invisible sand?

    So, in a hypothetical scenario where CPS is knocking on my door, I’m asking what I should do and what my rights are now, but I’m also wondering what should have happened before this point? Should I have had access to the customized support I needed somewhere up that “stream” we always reference? What supports did I have the right to ask for? 

    At the Children’s Bureau, we are working on addressing those issues. We are supporting states’ implementation of their prevention plans and supportive kinship care policies. We’ve also proposed rules that would allow federal support for legal representation to prevent foster care involvement, and we’ve put funding directly into the hands of communities that are crystal clear about what primary prevention means for them. We don’t have it all figured out, but we are listening.

    As we celebrate National Child Abuse Prevention Month, let’s commit to a customized approach that treats preventative family support as an inalienable right.

  • April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Every April, the Children’s Bureau, together with Child Welfare Information Gateway and other partner organizations, observes National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM), a time dedicated to raising public awareness of child abuse and neglect and recognizing the importance of communities working together to support and strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

    This year, NCAPM continues the theme “Doing Things Differently: Moving From the Challenge to the Change,” which urges us to intentionally explore, engage, and invest in innovative ideas to transform the way we partner with families to deliver services and supports. The campaign also continues to be grounded in the Children's Bureau's commitment to do the following:

    • Promote equity in state child welfare systems
    • Develop and enhance the child welfare workforce
    • Support kinship caregivers
    • Prevent children from coming into foster care
    • Ensure youth leave care with strengthened relationships, holistic supports, and opportunities

    Visitors to this year’s campaign webpage will find a variety of information and resources:

    • View and download a copy of the 2023/2024 Prevention Resource Guide, which serves as a key resource and tool for community-based providers who work to prevent maltreatment and promote family well-being. It's rooted in protective factors and provides concrete examples of evidence-based and promising practices and strategies gathered from those with lived expertise, federal partners, Children's Bureau-funded grant recipients, communities, and others who are working to support families.
    • Explore a collection of videos in the multimedia gallery. Several new additions include the Capacity Building Center for State’s video “Reflecting on Racial Equity and Prevention-Focused Systems” and the FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention’s Sharing the Journey: Voices of Parent Leaders video series.
    • Learn about the protective factors in this Child Welfare Information Gateway publication and consider using these conversation guides, available in English and Spanish, to engage caregivers in personalized conversations about the protective factors.
    • Access the outreach toolkit for graphics, social media posts, a virtual meeting background, and more that can be used in digital communications and to supplement community awareness efforts.

    Visit the NCAPM webpage on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website to learn more.

  • Leveraging the Family First Prevention Services Act to Strengthen Supports for Children and Families

    Leveraging the Family First Prevention Services Act to Strengthen Supports for Children and Families

    Child Trends interviewed child- and family-serving agencies and organizations in six states to compile a report on current efforts to prevent child maltreatment and promote well-being in families with infants and toddlers and how states are using the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) to support their efforts. The report also explores facilitators and challenges that states are facing in their efforts to promote holistic well-being for families and prevent maltreatment and entry into foster care. There were four key findings from the report:

    • Prevention efforts—from development to funding to implementation—vary widely across states and communities.
    • States have an innovative range of services designed to meet the unique needs of families with young children, but they are not available in every state or in every county or region within states.
    • Each state is working to promote equity and incorporate parent voices in their prevention planning and implementation.
    • While FFPSA plays a unique and important role in overall prevention efforts, states report implementation challenges.

    FFPSA provides an opportunity for states to use different funding streams to help build a more robust prevention system at all levels of prevention (primary, secondary, and tertiary), with a focus on moving supports as upstream as possible. While FFPSA provides new opportunities for agencies, it also requires creative thinking and partnering across systems to achieve their goals.

    All states expressed their enthusiasm and commitment to increasing families' access to prevention services, coordinating with cross-system partners to expand services, and using their available resources creatively. The report included recommendations for state leaders working to improve and expand their prevention services:

    • Reduce silos across and between agencies and their partners.
    • Increase supports specifically designed to meet the needs of families with very young children.
    • Promote equity in policies and practice and bring parents with lived expertise into decision-making roles.
    • Facilitate the use of FFPSA in their overall prevention efforts.

    Find the full report, Using the Family First Act to Grow and Nurture Support Systems for Families of Young Children: A Look at Promotion, Prevention, and Family First Act Implementation in Six States, on the Child Trends website.

  • Barriers Facing Providers of Culturally Responsive Services

    Barriers Facing Providers of Culturally Responsive Services

    The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) published a brief highlighting the barriers faced by community organizations that are working to provide antiracist, culturally responsive, and strengths-based supports to children and families. Culture Is Healing: Removing the Barriers Facing Providers of Culturally Responsive Services examines providers in nine states: Arizona, California, Florida, Hawai'i, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington. CSSP interviewed service providers, which included a mix of those directly involved with the child welfare system and those who were not.  

    From these interviews, CSSP had five main findings:

    • Communities need culturally rooted services because they face intergenerational trauma from racism, cultural stigma, and systemic neglect.
    • Providers regard attentiveness to culture as important for program success.
    • Providers struggle to navigate restrictive evidence-based requirements.
    • Evaluators who are unfamiliar with the community can lead to culturally inappropriate evaluations.
    • Excessive state requirements and bureaucracy harm providers' ability to offer services.

    Policymakers can also find recommended actions to invest in the development and evaluation of culturally responsive services, increase support for culturally responsive services, and improve partnerships with providers. Some of the recommendations include the following:

    • Engage community members to define and identify promising practices using community-defined evidence.
    • Provide longer-term flexible funding for general operating support.
    • Foster more cooperative relationships with community-based organizations and reduce administrative barriers.

    An accompanying webinar is also available. The 90-minute webinar features a discussion with leaders from community service providers in three states about the barriers they face, such as the state and federal funds being tied to certain evidence criteria and the challenges of building evidence and working within the restrictions of "evidence-based" standards.

    Related item: To learn more about how culture can be a protective factor, read the Associate Commissioner's message from April 2023, which references the guide Culture Is Prevention: We Are All Connected. The guide from the Tribal Information Exchange highlights how traditional tribal practices and cultural values can be used to create a more holistic approach to prevention. It also provides examples of successful prevention programs that use cultural components.

  • Webinar on Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences

    Webinar on Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences

    A webinar from the Annie E. Casey Foundation explains how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect lifelong health outcomes and provides strategies for preventing ACEs. "Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences: Creating Safe and Nurturing Environments" shares expanded definitions of ACEs at the family and community levels. It also explores how negative outcomes can potentially be reduced or mitigated.

    ACEs are associated with negative health outcomes, ranging from health conditions and risk behaviors to socioeconomic challenges. Positive childhood experiences are one way to help children build resilience and have a direct effect on health outcomes. The webinar lists six strategies to prevent ACEs and details actions and policies that support prevention:

    • Strengthen economic supports for families.
    • Promote social norms that protect against violence and adversity.
    • Ensure a strong start for children.
    • Teach skills.
    • Connect youth to caring adults and activities.
    • Intervene to lessen immediate and long-term harms.

    The presentation slides are available for download. Additional resources for preventing ACEs and promoting positive childhood experiences are also available, such as an infographic on the science of ACEs and training modules from a public health approach.

    Recent Issues

  • May 2024

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

  • March 2024

    Spotlight on Diversity and Racial Equity in Child Welfare

    Spotlight on Diversity and Racial Equity in Child Welfare

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 listing of the latest additions to the Children's Bureau website.

Training & 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.

Child Welfare Research

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

  • Study Examines County-Level Associations Between Food Insecurity and Child Maltreatment Risk

    Study Examines County-Level Associations Between Food Insecurity and Child Maltreatment Risk

    Child welfare literature often suggests there is a connection between food insecurity and child maltreatment risk. A new county-level analysis aims to build on existing literature and expand findings to general populations, given that many previous studies are limited to urban, low-income, high-risk populations.

    The 2023 analysis in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence is the first to report county-level associations between food insecurity and child maltreatment risk, according to the researchers. It features data that cover more than 96 percent of U.S. counties from 2009 to 2018. Researchers gathered data from national sources, including child maltreatment risk records, community food insecurity estimates from Map the Meal Gap, and census data. Researchers examined food insecurity and child maltreatment risk by analyzing both within-community longitudinal changes (within-effects) and intercommunity differences (between-effects).

    In looking at between-effects, researchers found higher food insecurity was significantly associated with increased child maltreatment risk, with findings being consistent by age, sex, maltreatment type, and urbanicity. Within-effects indicate that food insecurity rates and child maltreatment risk rates differed significantly by urbanicity. Increased food insecurity was associated with increased maltreatment risk in large urban areas, but not in small urban and rural counties.

    Researchers discuss data implications in the analysis, including the following:

    • The study provides evidence supporting community-based interventions in food-insecure communities to address high rates of food insecurity and child maltreatment.
    • The study provides evidence supporting a positive community-level relationship between food insecurity and child maltreatment reporting in the general population, indicating the potential benefits of large-scale policy efforts to lower food insecurity rates.
    • Food insecurity screening among professionals working with children and families may help with early intervention among families who are at risk.
    • Multidisciplinary efforts between nutrition, child welfare, public health, medical, and educational professionals may promote health and well-being among families.

    The analysis also indicates that more research is needed to do the following:

    • Understand protective and risk functions of urban-rural contexts
    • Consider the racial and ethnic contexts of food insecurity
    • Understand what drives longitudinal changes in child maltreatment risk rates

    For more information, read the study analysis in "Community Food Insecurity and Child Maltreatment Reports: County-Level Analysis of U.S. National Data From 2009 to 2018."

  • Home Visiting Programs as Child Maltreatment Prevention

    Home Visiting Programs as Child Maltreatment Prevention

    Home visiting programs can equip new parents with the tools and support they need to provide safe, loving homes for their children. A 2022 issue brief from Casey Family Programs explores the evidence that home visiting programs can be effective in reducing child maltreatment.

    There are different types of home visiting programs, but generally, a nurse or social worker conducts regular visits with expecting parents and parents of young children to provide information and guidance about parenting skills, maternal and child health, child development, and more. According to the brief, a strong body of evidence indicates there are many benefits to home visiting programs, including the following:

    • Preventing child maltreatment
    • Supporting child and maternal health
    • Supporting child development and school readiness
    • Improving economic self-sufficiency
    • Promoting positive parenting practices

    The brief outlines several home visiting models that have specifically demonstrated a reduction in child maltreatment:

    • Health Access Nurturing Development Services
    • Healthy Families America
    • Nurse-Family Partnership
    • Parents as Teachers
    • Promoting First Relationships
    • SafeCare

    While these programs differ in structure, duration, and frequency, there are some commonalities across each model. All programs teach parenting skills, help with referrals to address postpartum depression, help with navigating community services, screen children for developmental delays, and facilitate early diagnosis and interventions. The brief details specific information about each program, including its population of focus, program duration, and maltreatment outcomes.

    More information is available in the brief, Are Home Visiting Programs Effective in Reducing Child Maltreatment?


    Related item: The Capacity Building Center fort States recently released the new resource Programs and Services in Approved State Prevention Program Plans, which provides a snapshot of the title-IV-E-approved services and programs that jurisdictions are implementing. Data is sorted by program name, type of service, Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse rating, and location.

  • Using Human-Centered Design to Improve Human Services Programs

    Using Human-Centered Design to Improve Human Services Programs

    A recent brief from the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation explores how human-centered design may be used to address complex challenges faced by child welfare agencies and other human services sectors. Human-centered design is a problem-solving approach that involves working with those who will eventually use the solution. In a child welfare context, this could involve partnering with families to improve programs the families will ultimately use.

    Originating in the technology sector, human-centered design in human services is a novel concept, according to the brief. However, considering the complex challenges faced by the humans services sector, human-centered design may promote effective, efficient, and compassionate service delivery. Some challenges in human services that human-centered design may help address include funding constraints, leadership and staffing problems, operating under competing demands, and changing regulatory requirements.

    The brief defines human-centered design as a process and mindset, differentiates it from similar design and problem-solving approaches, and describes how the process is currently being used in human services. It outlines six key principles of human-centered design:

    • Understand who the end users are and their perspectives
    • Engage with end users throughout a process
    • Test solutions and revise them based on end user feedback
    • Use an iterative, not linear, approach and revisit earlier steps as needed
    • Consider the full context and experience of the end user and the solution  
    • Collaborate across disciplines

    The brief includes three case examples that provide details on the use of human-centered design in human services: the Multnomah Idea Lab in Oregon, the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit in Pennsylvania, and the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Early Childhood and the Kentucky Division of Child Care.

    The report, A Review of Human-Centered Design in Human Services, is available on the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation's website.

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.

  • Interactive Desk Guide Outlines Evidence-Based Programs to Support Families

    Interactive Desk Guide Outlines Evidence-Based Programs to Support Families

    Chapin Hall's Evidence-Based Programs Desk Guide 2023 describes evidence-based programs that have been rated as "well-supported" by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse. It is designed to help caseworkers connect families with evidence-based programs or practices related to mental health treatment, substance use prevention and treatment, and in-home parent skill-based programs.

    The 39-page, interactive guide features 17 programs and services organized alphabetically:

    • Brief Strategic Family Therapy
    • Familias Unidas
    • Families First (Utah Youth Village Model)
    • Family Check-Up
    • Functional Family Therapy
    • GenerationPMTo – Group
    • Guiding Good Choices
    • Healthy Families America
    • Homebuilders – Intensive Family Preservation and Reunification Services
    • Intercept
    • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
    • Motivational Interviewing
    • Multisystemic Therapy
    • Nurse-Family Partnership
    • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
    • Parents as Teacher
    • Strong African American Families

    The guide includes a page for each program that provides a program overview and details eligible participants, program goals, bulleted quick facts about the program for families, and cultural relevance. It also includes a fillable page for each program where guide users can add agency- and state-specific information about relevant assessment items, how to make a referral, and current service providers for the program.

    The guide is available on the Chapin Hall website.

  • Advocacy Tool Provides Guidance on Supporting Kinship Families

    Advocacy Tool Provides Guidance on Supporting Kinship Families

    In February 2024, Generations United, the ABA Center on Children and the Law, and Think of Us released Kinship Unity Action Agenda, an advocacy tool with guidance on supporting kinship families. The tool is an amalgamation of ideas and action items stemming from a February 2023 gathering of national advocates led by Generations United’s National Center on Grandfamilies.

    During the convening—the fifth in a series held since 1997—professionals, those with lived experience, and others identified key policy opportunities to ensure the diverse and unique needs of kinship families are met. The resulting action agenda incorporates feedback from the gathering and additional focus groups to comprehensively reflect the needs and concerns of kin caregivers. It builds on recommendations in the 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers.

    The action agenda is a comprehensive tool featuring a summary of results from the kinship unity convening, goals, accomplishments, core values, principles, and priorities. The priorities are encompassed by the umbrella priority that government systems are held accountable to prioritize and support kinship families. In addition to this overarching priority, the agenda outlines several collective action priorities:

    • Ensure kin caregivers receive equitable financial and other support.
    • Ensure policies meet kin caregivers' basic needs.
    • Integrate lived experience into policy review, design, and implementation.
    • Ensure racial, ethnic, and cultural equity.
    • Respect and support tribal sovereignty.
    • Ensure that child welfare systems value and support kinship families.
    • Ensure kin caregivers have high-quality, affordable legal representation.
    • Work to improve the public narrative on kinship care.
    • Develop specialized programs to support kin caregivers.
    • Enhance research related to kinship care and use it to address inequities.

    Generations United released a video to accompany the agenda, explore its key highlights and priorities, and elevate testimonies from lived experts. Presentation slides from the video are also available.  


In this section, we present 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 Emphasizes Value of Parent Voice

    New Resource Emphasizes Value of Parent Voice

    A new webpage from ZERO to THREE explores how integrating parent voice into child welfare policy and practice can help families and children involved in the child welfare system.

    It focuses on the perspectives of parent leaders from the ZERO to THREE Safe Babies program. Parent leaders are parents who have lived experience navigating the reunification process within the child welfare and family court systems, no longer have open cases, and now exemplify personal and family stability. For these reasons, parent leaders are uniquely qualified to do the following:

    • Provide guidance and support to families currently involved in the child welfare system
    • Affect positive system change at the community, state, and national levels by contributing their and representing a collective parent voice to help shape and transform programs and services

    The resource links to a new ZERO to THREE publication, which emphasizes the notion that parent leaders are essential for strong child welfare systems. It also presents valuable insights from several parent leaders, one of whom appears in a short, 2-minute video highlighting the importance of parent voice.

    To learn more, visit the ZERO to THREE website.

  • What'sOK? Help for Teens and Young Adults

    What'sOK? Help for Teens and Young Adults

    What'sOk is a child sex abuse prevention website and helpline for young people that aims to deter sexually harmful behaviors. This resource, offered by Stop It Now!, provides a platform that empowers individuals to voice their questions and concerns, find support, and learn about accountability, responsibility, and safety for themselves and other children and youth.

    What'sOk offers free, confidential help and resources tailored to youth and young adults concerned about their own or another person's sexual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Resources cover a variety of topics such as understanding dating and relationships, boundaries and consent, sexual content and media, and more.

    Visitors to the site can also explore the blog, which provides answers to common questions and some real questions and experiences, shared with permission and anonymity, from teens and young adults who reached out to What'sOk.

    For an overview of the development of this prevention resource, see this article from the Association for the Treatment & Prevention of Sexual Abuse. To learn more, visit the What'sOk website.

Training and Conferences

Find trainings, webinars, workshops, 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.