CBX spotlights two Permanency Innovations Initiative grantees in Kansas and California that are working with youth in long-term foster care. Other articles highlight statistics, characteristics, and outcomes of older youth in foster care, as well as promising interventions.
- Kansas Intensive Permanency Project
This article spotlights one of the six grantees funded last year by the Children's Bureau through the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) to test innovative approaches to finding permanency for youth experiencing long-term foster care.
Children in foster care experience much higher rates of mental health problems than children in the general population. In Kansas, 76 percent of all children in long-term foster care (LTFC) have a serious emotional disturbance (SED). These children have more placements and remain in LTFC longer than non-SED children. Many of the available interventions for this population focus on the children's behaviors and mental health needs but do not provide sufficient services and supports for the birth families. This can contribute to barriers to reintegrating the child with the birth family, such as a diminished bond between the child and family and difficulty managing problematic child behaviors. To counter this trend and facilitate permanency, the Kansas Intensive Permanency Project (KIPP), which is part of the Children's Bureau's Permanency Innovations Initiative, will deliver in-home, parent-focused services to families of children with SED who are in the foster care system.
KIPP is a partnership between the University of Kansas, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services, and the four private, nonprofit providers of foster care in the State: Youthville, TFI Family Services Inc., KVC Behavioral HealthCare Kansas Inc., and St. Francis Community Services. After more than 200 hours of research, the project selected the Parent Management Training–Oregon Model (PMTO) as its key intervention. PMTO (http://www.isii.net/) is an evidence-based intervention designed to enhance parenting, including helping parents manage the behavior of their children. The model is not specifically designed for families of children with SED, but it has been used with this population.
This project, which is in the early months of implementation, will include the random assignment of families into either the treatment group, which will receive PMTO services, or the control group, which will receive services as usual (e.g., foster care case management). Birth families throughout the State are eligible to participate if the removed child is between the ages of 3 and 16 and has been designated as having an SED. If a family has been selected for the treatment group, a KIPP clinician will be assigned to provide PMTO services soon after the child's removal. KIPP's intensive services will focus on:
- Increasing positive parenting
- Decreasing coercive parenting practices
- Increasing community resources and supports
- Decreasing problem behaviors in the children
- Preparing the family for reunification
- Increasing the number and quality of parent-child visits
PMTO allows for the development of a self-sustaining infrastructure in Kansas. The PMTO purveyor is training staff in Kansas about the model, with PMTO certification for a clinician generally taking 12 to 18 months, and eventually the project will develop its own trainers. To enhance sustainability, the KIPP Steering Committee also will try to secure dedicated funding for the initiative.
KIPP's implementation plan has been approved by the Children's Bureau, and the project is scheduled to begin providing services in mid-November 2011. Project staff are eager to provide these necessary services to enhance permanency for children in Kansas with SEDs and to provide information about this type of intervention to the broader child welfare field. Erin Stucky, president of KVC Behavioral Healthcare, noted, "As the leaders in child welfare in the State of Kansas, we are so eager to watch the KIPP program unfold. We have spent countless hours meeting, brainstorming, researching, discussing and creating a plan to make it happen. We haven't feared the potential barriers that have and will come our way. We know that we have developed the best program, selected the best intervention, and trained the best staff to make this program a success."
Many thanks to the following members of the KIPP Steering Committee for providing information for this article: Becci Akin, Stephanie Bryson, Chad Childs, Shirley Dwyer, Vickie McArthur, and Erin Stucky.
- Serving LGBTQ Children in LA Child Welfare
This article spotlights one of the six grantees funded last year by the Children's Bureau through the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) to test innovative approaches to finding permanency for youth experiencing long-term foster care.
Although it is not known how many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) children and youth are involved with the child welfare system, their safety, permanency, and well-being often are negatively affected because of their sexual identity. They frequently encounter harassment and mistreatment by peers and staff, homophobia, family rejection, a lack of appropriate and available services, and a lack of knowledge about how to serve this population. Additionally, LGBTQ children and youth in foster care often experience additional and more unstable placements and are placed in group homes more often than their heterosexual peers (Mallon, 2011).
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center (http://laglc.convio.net/) seeks to address barriers to permanency for LGBTQ children and youth through its RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower) Initiative, which is part of the Children's Bureau's PII. The center's existing core services for youth include drop-in and housing services, as well as mentoring and other positive youth development programs for LGBTQ youth. Center staff report that approximately 50 percent of the more than 60 youth who visit the drop-in center each day have been in the foster care system.
The RISE project has completed its planning year, which was required for all PII grantees, and its staff are excited to begin pilot testing the interventions they have developed and providing project services to LGBTQ children and youth in 2012. RISE is composed of the following:
- Outreach: RISE staff are drafting two protocols to help educate caseworkers and placement agency workers about how to discuss sexual identity issues at a developmentally appropriate level. One protocol will be for children ages 3 to 10, and the other will be for youth ages 11 to 17. The protocols also will include how workers can maintain privacy and confidentiality, whether and how to document any self-disclosures, how to ensure the child or youth is safe, and how to let RISE staff know if a child or youth self-identifies as LGBTQ and agrees to participate in the project.
- Identification: The project is developing a computer-based survey focused on youth development and will ask questions about identity (including, but not exclusively, sexual orientation and gender identity) and safety issues. Initially, the survey will be administered annually to youth in 4 of L.A.'s 18 local offices, with additional offices to be included later. All youth in those offices will be asked to complete the survey regardless of whether they are or are perceived to be LGBTQ. All data will be de-identified to maintain the youths' confidentiality. This information hopefully will help shape agency practice and inform the field about the numbers and experiences of LGBTQ youth.
- Care Coordination Teams (CCTs): RISE will provide wraparound-like services to LGBTQ youth in order to strengthen or build their family networks, which include their immediate birth families and an extended network of family and friends, and achieve permanency at one or more of the following levels: durable family connections, emotional permanency, and legal permanency. The project expects many of the youth receiving CCT services to be referred to the initiative by RISE partner agencies and county offices. Project staff will work with the families in the treatment group to increase family support for the youth, decrease family rejection, and help them be more affirming of the youth's sexual identity. They also will help the families better understand the risks and resiliencies of LGBTQ youth. Project staff will be careful not to reject the family's value system; rather, they will work with the family to show how the youth's sexual identity can be compatible with it.
- Training and Coaching Institute (TCI): The TCI will be the mechanism through which RISE trains and coaches caseworkers and others about the other three components.
RISE staff feel that the CCT services may require a shift in thinking among caseworkers and service providers. LGBTQ youths' parents, often due to their prior rejection of the youth, usually are not viewed as potential permanency resources, whereas this project aims to reconnect LGBTQ youth with their families when appropriate and possible.
As the project moves into its pilot testing phase, Curt Shepard, Director of Children, Youth & Family Services at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, expressed his enthusiasm for this project's potential. "With the RISE Initiative, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been given a profoundly important opportunity. If we succeed in reaching our goals, we will have found ways to hasten the progress down the path to permanency for LGBTQ children and youth in foster care. What we envision is nothing short of a sea change in the way the child welfare system cares for LGBTQ children and youth."
Mallon, G. P. (2011). Permanency for LGBTQ youth. Protecting Children, 26(1), 49–57. Retrieved from http://www.americanhumane.org/assets/pdfs/children/protecting-children-journal/pc-26-1.pdf
Many thanks to Curt Shepard and Lisa Parrish, RISE Project Director, of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center for providing the information for this article.
- Independent Living Program Evaluations Released
Four new evaluations of John Chafee Foster Care Independence Programs (CFCIP) highlight the need for continued research on the resources available to transitioning youth to improve outcomes. Each of the programs centers on youth preparing to transition from foster care to independence.
The evaluations, which are mandated by the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, were conducted by the Children's Bureau and the Urban Institute and its partners—the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and the National Opinion Research Center. They focus on Independent Living programs in California and Massachusetts between September 2001 and September 2010. Both short- and long-term impacts were evaluated, with a primary focus on assessing effectiveness on key outcomes, including increased educational attainment; higher employment rates and stability; greater interpersonal and relationship skills; reduced pregnancy rates; and reduced delinquency and crime rates. Participating youth were assigned to either intervention or control groups and surveyed at three points over the course of the evaluation via interviews and focus groups.
The four programs evaluated include the following:
- The Independent Living Employment Services Program (IL-ES) is modeled on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families work development assistance and is an encouragement-based model. The evaluation sample consisted of 254 youth who turned 16 between September 2003 and July 2006 or who entered care during that time and were already 16.
- The Massachusetts Adolescent Outreach Program for Youths in Intensive Foster Care (Outreach) assists foster youth in preparing to transition from care by pairing participants with an Outreach worker to focus on obtaining a high school diploma, gaining employment, and continuing education while avoiding teenage pregnancy, incarceration, and homelessness. The 194 participants were required to have a service plan goal of independent living or long-term substitute care.
- The Early Start to Emancipation Preparation (ESTEP)-Tutoring Program offered one-on-one tutoring to improve reading and math skills of foster youth aged 14 and 15 who were 3 years behind their grade levels in either subject. Of the 445 youth in the analytical sample, more than 61 percent of ESTEP participants received an average of 18 hours of math and 17 hours of reading tutoring.
- The Life Skills Training (LST) Program was a 5-week series of 10 3-hour classes held twice a week in 19 community colleges. The program focused on education, employment, daily living, interpersonal, social, and computer skills. In the LST group (234 participants), 70 percent attended at least one class and 65 percent graduated.
While each program failed to demonstrate significant outcomes improvement, each gained valuable insight for future research needed to understand the types of services available to transitioning youth and the effectiveness of those services. The Outreach evaluation specifically sheds light on the need for research on the connection between receiving assistance and achieving outcomes.
The reports can be downloaded from the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation website:
- Support for Foster Youth Improves Educational Outcomes
The emotional and physical problems experienced by many youth in foster care, coupled with a lack of information sharing between child welfare systems and school districts, often hinders school performance for these youth. However, when youth receive comprehensive supports, there is a direct and positive impact on educational success.
A special issue of Insights, a newsletter by the California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership, looks at factors associated with academic success for youth in foster care in California, highlighting new data systems that link educational outcomes and foster care information. Four strategies for providing comprehensive support to youth are highlighted:
- Educational champions for youth
- Collaboration among agencies and systems
- Focused leadership from agencies
- On-campus support programs for youth in college
The issue includes recommendations for school administrators, public agencies and community partners, and State policymakers to address the educational needs and improve outcomes for children in care.
The fall 2011 edition of Insights is available on the California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership website:
- The Importance of Social Capital for Foster Youth
Social capital refers to the network of social relationships and networks that support healthy development. Research shows that young people who have strong, positive connections to family and the community are less likely to engage in unhealthy risk-taking and more likely to grow into caring, confident, and competent young adults. Yet, for youth in foster care, developing and maintaining social capital can often be disrupted and hindered. A new issue brief, Social Capital: Building Quality Networks for Young People in Foster Care, looks at sources of social capital and makes recommendations for policy and practice that can support healthy social relationships and networks for youth.
The issue brief identifies four major sources of social capital for young people: family, school, neighborhood, and peers. Frequently, children removed from their families are placed with families or in settings outside their communities, often necessitating changing schools. So, all four areas of social relationship can be disrupted in the course of out-of-home care. Family social capital is especially critical for youth aging out of foster care as the strength of social networks can impact their ability to establish adult relationships and find their place in society.
The brief presents specific recommendations for improving child welfare policy and practice, including:
- Strengthening family social capital through engaging the youth and family members in case and permanency planning and supporting sibling connections throughout a youth's time in foster care
- Retaining the social capital developed at school by keeping youth in their original school whenever possible and helping youth who must change school build new social capital
- Maintaining a youth's community social capital by keeping youth in one community; placing youth in family-based settings; connecting young people with a wide range of adults, such as faith-based or cultural mentors, job mentors, and school counselors
- Building peer social capital by supporting healthy connections with peers
The issue brief is number two in a series from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. It is available on the website:
- Number of Emancipating Youth Declines, Percentage Rises
According to recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data, the number of youth aging out of the foster care system dropped from a high of 29,730 youth in 2007 to approximately 27,850 youth in 2010. This follows a 10-year increase of nearly 70 percent between 1998 and 2007. However, this recent drop does not reflect the overall percentage of youth emancipated from care, which sits at roughly 11 percent compared to slightly more than 7 percent in 2001.
Details about recent trends for youth in foster care are available in a new brief from Fosteringconnections.org that specifically highlights:
- Placement settings for youth in foster care
- Length of stay in foster care
- Outcomes for youth who age out of care
- State variations for youth who age out of care
The paper also analyzes the impact of the Fostering Connections Act, especially the provision that allows States to offer to extend assistance to youth beyond the age of 18.The brief, written by Marci McCoy-Roth, Kerry DeVooght, and Megan Fletcher of Child Trends, is an update to a December 2009 brief and can be found here:
- Meeting Needs, Improving Outcomes for Youth in Long-Term Care
A new report by the Carsey Institute, Long-Term Foster Care—Different Needs, Different Outcomes, presents research on the characteristics and needs of children who remain in foster care for long periods. Data for the report stem from the long-term foster care sample of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) that included 727 children who had been in out-of-home care for 1 year at the time of initial sampling—between July 1998 and February 1999—and whose placement was preceded by reports of abuse and neglect.
The brief looks at children's outcomes 4 years after entering out-of-home care and the characteristics of the children and their placement settings. Understanding specific characteristics, such as age and behavioral and emotional problems, can help identify barriers to permanence and suggest possible specialized services to reduce negative outcomes.
Key findings include:
- Four years after removal, only 5 percent of children aged 15 to 18 were adopted, compared to 61 percent of children aged 3 to 5.
- Emotional problems were increasingly common among children in care. Twenty-seven percent of children aged 11 to 18 exhibited clinical levels of emotional problems and 41 percent in the same age group exhibited clinical levels of behavioral problems.
- Children with emotional and behavioral problems were more likely to be in foster care. Thirty-two percent of children with emotional problems and 35 percent with behavioral problems were in foster care, compared to just 19 percent of children without these problems.
- Children with emotional or behavioral problems were less likely to reunite with parents. Among children with emotional problems, 19 percent reunited with families, compared to 31 percent of children without emotional problems. Eighteen percent of children with behavioral problems reunited with families.
The report also suggests that States could better meet the needs of this population by opting to provide foster care for eligible youth up to age 21 under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008. Currently, only 11 States offer extended care. Research indicates that the financial benefits to States outweigh costs of possible burdens to the community that often result from youth who transition out of care at age 18.
The full report, by Wendy A. Walsh and Marybeth Mattingly, is available for download on the Carsey Institute website:
http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publications/IB-Walsh-Long-Term-Foster-Care.pdf (588 KB)
- Permanency Strategies for Older Youth
The percentage of youth emancipating from foster care has been steadily increasing. In 2010, 11 percent of exits from foster care were through emancipation. Many of these youth struggle with negative outcomes such as poor educational attainment, incarceration, and early parenthood. Despite benefits mandated by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, many Federal and State programs fail to adequately provide for this population.
A new report from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, Never Too Old: Achieving Permanency and Sustaining Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care, by Jeanne A. Howard and Stephanie Berzin, provides background information and statistics on emancipation of youth from foster care, examines the social and policy context, and reviews the litany of poor outcomes that these youth often face across different domains. Later chapters highlight best practices and strategies by reviewing the different permanency options, including adoption, subsidized guardianship, reinstating parental rights, and helping youth make other permanent connections. The authors provide examples of successful permanency programs around the country.
The report makes a number of policy and practice recommendations, not just for achieving permanency, but for helping youth develop lasting connections necessary for a healthy transition to adulthood. Recommendations include:
- Policy and practice should reflect current knowledge from the field, and recent innovations should be tested for effectiveness in achieving permanency.
- Efforts should be increased to recruit, support, and utilize relatives as a source of permanency.
- Efforts should be made to further develop and assess practices that reduce the amount of time children remain in care without permanence.
- True permanency goals should be established for every youth in care.
Research needs to be significantly expanded to better understand policies and practices that promote youth permanence and well-being.
The full report along with an executive summary can be accessed on the Adoption Institute website:
Spotlight on Child Welfare Data and Technology
Spotlight on Tribal Child Welfare
News From the Children's Bureau
The sixth article in our Centennial Series examines the impact of the women's movement and the role of women's clubs in the Progressive Era. We also feature several new resources from HHS, including a report on first-round data from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being.
- Reports Examine NSCAW II Baseline Data
A series of new reports presents the first round of data from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II). NSCAW II is a longitudinal study that examines the functioning, service needs, and service use of children who come in contact with the child welfare system.
Researchers collected data between March 2008 and September 2009 on a sample of 5,873 children ranging in age from birth to 17.5 years at the time of sampling. Interviews were conducted with children, caregivers, and child protective services investigators. This initial data collection will serve as a baseline for the full study. The resulting five reports examine various aspects of the well-being of children involved with child welfare agencies, including information about the abuse or neglect that brought the child into the study, characteristics of the child's family, and children's exposure to violence.
The five Baseline Reports currently available include:
- Introduction to NSCAW II provides an overview of the history of the study, a discussion of the study methodology, and a summary of the characteristics of children and caregivers who participated in the baseline data collection effort.
- Child Well-Being describes the well-being of children during the baseline data collection, including their physical and mental health, substance use, sexual behavior, illegal activity, cognitive development, academic achievement, and social competence.
- Maltreatment describes the characteristics of maltreatment in reports of child abuse or neglect, as well as parents' and children's descriptions of violence or aggression toward the child.
- Caregiver Health and Services describes the health, well-being, and services received by caregivers.
- Caseworker Characteristics, Child Welfare Services, and Experiences of Children Placed in Out-of-Home Care describes child and family contact with investigative caseworkers and the child welfare system, including descriptions of the investigative caseworkers, the service needs of the children and families, and their interaction and satisfaction with the caseworker and child welfare system.
The study is sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The reports, prepared by RTI International, are available on the OPRE website:
- Supporting Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers
Twelve programs around the country were funded beginning in FY 2007 under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage, and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers and Their Partners (MFS-IP) grant program. Grantees are using funds to develop services to foster positive family relationships, improve outcomes for children, and reduce recidivism for fathers. Research briefs from the national evaluation of these grantees highlight strategies that combine traditional approaches with innovative efforts to build collaborations between the criminal justice system and human services agencies to strengthen father-child relationships, coparenting, child-family visitation, and communication.
Research Brief #5, Parenting From Prison: Innovative Programs to Support Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers, describes the grantees' challenge of finding curricula addressing the specific needs of incarcerated fathers. Many programs adapted parenting courses not specific to this population, and four grantees developed and implemented original curricula.
Keeping FAITH, established by the RIDGE Project in Ohio, developed original curricula focused on fathering from prison, teaching participants how to give advice without being controlling, and dealing with children who struggle with communication. Fathers Connecting With Children, a New Hampshire program, developed a course to guide fathers through scenarios that prepare them for reuniting with children after release.
Grantees spent considerable time focused on the importance of coparenting, and all programs offered family strengthening and relationship-building services. Recruiting coparents was a challenge, and strategies for addressing that challenge included:
- Contacting coparents through multiple means
- Emphasizing to coparents the benefits for the child or children
- Providing participation supports such as transportation assistance, child care, etc.
Find the link to this research brief and previous research briefs from the National Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage, and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers and Their Partners here:
- Centennial Series: The Women's Movement in the Progressive Era
This is the sixth article in our Centennial Series, as we count down to the Children's Bureau's 100th anniversary in April 2012. These articles address some of the social issues, practices, and policies at the turn of the last century that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, domesticity defined American women's lives. They were expected to maintain the homes to which they had no legal claim, relinquish earned wages to their husbands, and rear the children. Eager to look beyond their home life and gain power and authority within their communities, women, as early as 1830, formed social organizations known as women's clubs. These groups, consisting mostly of middle-class homemakers, centered on protecting mothers and children, explored all issues related to health and welfare, and drove social change (Tucker, 2004).
The Progressive Era's maternal reform movement was referred to as domestic politics. Women began to realize they could take part in politics, become activists who championed change, and still be good mothers to their children (Lindenmeyer, 1997). The common thread through each of the clubs and their missions was the focus on moral issues.
The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), formed in 1874, was established after a group of women recognized the heightened risk of domestic abuse and violence after men's alcohol consumption. They rebelled against saloon owners in Ohio, New York, and other States, and their revolt temporarily shut down thousands of saloons. By 1901, every State had implemented a public school program informing children of the dangers of alcohol. The WTCU was widely recognized as one of the most influential women's groups of the time, recording some 150,000 members (National Women's History Museum, n.d.).
In 1897, Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst founded the National Congress of Mothers (Parent Teacher Association, n.d.)—which would later become the National Parent Teacher Association—that spearheaded the early well-baby campaigns. As part of these campaigns, free wellness evaluations by health care professionals were offered in the hopes of combating the nation's high rate of infant mortality (Lindenmeyer, 1997). The National Congress of Women believed mothers were both responsible for and capable of eradicating the threats to the safety and well-being of their children (Parent Teacher Association).
Women's clubs and their campaigns promoted several social reforms under the name of "social housekeeping" that later led to:
- Programs to improve maternal and infant health
- Kindergarten classes
- Shorter work days and safer working conditions for women
- The Pure Food and Drug Act
In 1905, Florence Kelley published Some Ethical Gains through Legislation, which proposed the creation of a Federal commission composed of health-care professionals and social workers concerned with the mental and physical conditions of children. She suggested the group focus its efforts on a birth registration, infant mortality, child labor, and other issues regarding child welfare. Kelley and her associate, Lillian Wald, worked with the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) to organize a national effort calling for the creation of a Federal bureau. The NCLC then called upon other groups to write persuasive letters to help promote the creation of the Children's Bureau, including the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the National Congress of Mothers, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the National Consumers' Leagues (Lindenmeyer, 1997). A victory was won when the Children's Bureau was founded in 1912 and Julia Lathrop was appointed head of the Bureau by President Taft.
Lathrop had been an active member of the Chicago Women's Club and often spoke to women's organizations on behalf of children. Jane Addams, a close friend of Lathrop's, said Lathrop "learned to explore women's organizations for that moral enthusiasm which she constantly needed to back her official undertakings" (Addams, 1935).
The Progressive Era's maternal reform movement proved that women could be stewards of political and social change. The voluntary women's organizations gave women a united voice in a male-dominated world, provided support for its members, and helped secure social reforms still in effect today.
Adams, J. (1935) My friend, Julia Lathrop. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Costin, L. (1983). Two sisters for social justice, a biography of Grace and Edith Abbott. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Lindenmeyer, K. (1997). A Right to childhood, the U.S. Children's Bureau and child welfare, 1912-46. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
National Women's History Museum (n.d.). Retrieved 10 October, 2011, from http://www.nwhm.org
Parent Teacher Association. (n.d.). Retrieved 28 October, 2011, from http://www.pta.org/1170.htm
Tucker, J. S. (2004). Another mothers' movement, 1890 to 1920, the role of women's voluntary organizations in Progressive Era social reform. The Mothers Movement Online. Retrieved 11 October, 2011, from http://www.mothersmovement.org/features/maternal_movement/print.html
- Using a Trauma-Informed Approach With Youth
Many homeless youth have histories of trauma and abuse, parental neglect, and exposure to family violence. Research shows that young people who suffer from traumatic stress can benefit from treatment that recognizes the central role of trauma in defining their experiences and behaviors.
A recent issue of the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth (NCFY) online newsletter, The Exchange, centers on trauma-informed practice with youth, noting that such an approach refocuses the intervention from exploring "What's wrong with you?" to "What happened to you?" The newsletter features interviews with a frontline case manager, a director of youth programs, and a trauma survivor offering their personal perspectives on the positive impact of trauma-sensitive policies and procedures.
Based on the guiding principles of acceptance, safety, and self-empowerment, the trauma-informed approach builds a client's trust in the use of supports and treatment services and minimizes the chances of retraumatization. As reflected in the three articles included in this special issue, fundamental to facilitating survivors' capacity for healing and recovery is the need to recognize individual trauma triggers and responses.
The first article, "The Case of Youth on Fire: A Trauma-Informed Transformation," explores how a project funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has prompted a complete review of procedures and staff training at Youth on Fire, a Cambridge, MA, drop-in center for homeless and street youth. The result is a more nurturing and safer environment where the staff feel more cognizant of the origins of trauma and young people are better able to exercise personal choice in seeking and engaging in services.
The second article, "Trauma-Informed Care: Tips for Youth Workers," stresses the principle of collaboration and the sharing of power and decision-making between the provider and the client, prioritizing choice and control. "A Client’s Perspective on Trauma-informed Care" focuses on the experience of a survivor of abuse and neglect who moved from unsuccessful rehabilitation to a successful trauma-informed approach.
This issue of The Exchange is available for download on the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth website:
- New! On the Children's Bureau Site
The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.
Recent additions to the site include:
- Promising Approaches: Virginia—The Promising Approaches webpages provide short program descriptions that come to light as a result of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) or Program Improvement Plans (PIPs). Programs are listed by State and by general topic area. Virginia's Ambassadors Program (for recruiting permanent connections for youth) and Respite Care for Intact Families Program are described: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring/promise/states.htm#round2
- Foster Care Title IV-E Review—The schedule for IV-E reviews for fiscal year 2012 is now available: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring/general_info/iv-e_fy2012.pdf (129 KB)
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
The Children's Bureau T&TA Network section in this issue of CBX features an article on the QIC PCW wrap-up and a resource for working with children of parents with HIV.
- More Updates From the T&TA Network
The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:
- The Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center (ACCWIC) posted "Facing Reality: What It Takes to Implement Systems Change," the video for the first webinar in a series of webinars highlighting lessons learned from implementation efforts throughout the country.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway completed a new searchable database, State Guides and Manuals. Consisting of materials generated by States and counties, the database is organized under topics and audiences and offers multiple ways to access, filter, sort, and amass information from original documents.
- The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) produced a research-to-practice brief, Service Engagement and Retention for Women With Substance Use Disorders, which addresses the needs of pregnant and parenting women with substance abuse issues and the needs of practitioners who work with these families.
http://aia.berkeley.edu/media/pdf/brief_engagement.pdf (1.03 MB)
- The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) compiled information on current approaches in 33 States to train and support child welfare supervisors and made that information available online. NRCOI also can create customized summaries to fit specific supervision needs.
- The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) will present the second in a series of webinars on recruitment. "Competency-Based Recruitment, Screening, and Selection: Strengthening Workforce Capacity, Retention, and Organizational Resiliency" is scheduled for December 14, 2011. Register here:
- The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) is accepting applications for its 2012 Summer Research Institute. The deadline for applications is January 30, 2012.
- The National Resource Center for In-Home Services (NRC In-Home) posted the first of three webcasts on services for pregnant and parenting youth, "Policies for Pregnant and Parenting Teens In or Exiting Substitute Care." Cohosts for the meeting included T&TA Network members from the National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention and National Resource Center for Youth Development.
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) posted the webcast "Parenting Older Adolescents." NRCPFC Executive Director Gerald Mallon spoke with Mary Keane, a New York State foster and adoptive parent, and Aileen Rosario, one of Keane's daughters.
NRCPFC produced a toolkit for programs, States, and Tribes that expands on several aspects of kinship care practices affected by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.
- The National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents (AdoptUSKids) redesigned its website. Multicolored headings provide easy navigation, and nearly every subject page has a topical video. The section for adoption professionals offers several new tip sheets and other free resources for recruiting and retention, free consulting services to public child welfare agencies, instructions for using the AdoptUSKids photolistings, and a link to the clever new public service announcements.
- The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) published its newsletter, eUpdate, which includes articles about financial education and the first National Youth in Transition Database technical assistance meeting.
- The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health (the Center) will host a webinar December 15, 2011, "Linking Primary Care and Systems of Care: Innovation at the State and Community Levels to Support the Social and Emotional Well Being of All Children." Register online:
- The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) posted its latest newsletter featuring the article "Engaging Families One at a Time Builds a Strong, Family-Driven System in Delaware" and other articles about innovative and promising activities in system of care communities.
TA Partnership also announced the publication of a paper on ethnic and racial perspectives on family-driven care, Closing the Gap: Cultural Perspectives on Family-Driven Care.
- The Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center (ACCWIC) posted "Facing Reality: What It Takes to Implement Systems Change," the video for the first webinar in a series of webinars highlighting lessons learned from implementation efforts throughout the country.
- Strategies to Help Children Who Care for Parents With HIV
Many impoverished HIV-infected parents rely on their older children to care for younger siblings, do housework, and even bring in extra money. These "parentified" children are often fearful of external supports and can suffer, with their parents, from poverty, stigma, and isolation.
A new issue brief from the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA), Addressing the Needs of Parentified Children of HIV Positive Parents, focuses on intervention strategies and provides child welfare professionals with research results and recommendations for working with these families.
Research shows both negative and positive outcomes associated with parentification. While parentified children often have educational difficulties, limited social and leisure activities, and trouble forming friendships, studies also show positive outcomes in some parentified children, including family stability, better adaptive coping skills, and having a valued and culturally supported role in Latino and African-American families.
Most children carrying the stresses of adult responsibilities and parents who are ill can benefit from outside support and resources. The report offers recommendations for caseworkers to consider as well as a list of interventions shown to improve outcomes when working with parentified children. Among the suggested interventions are the following:
- Offer the family parenting resources such as monitoring the children's friends and activities outside the home and ways to develop simple family routines for stability
- Provide economic supports such as school supplies, child care, food, and public benefits
- Assess the family thoroughly to customize the specific services it needs
- Advocate for policy initiatives such as funding for services to HIV-negative children, greater coordination of services, and safe sex and substance abuse prevention programs to preteens
Addressing the Needs of Parentified Children of HIV Positive Parents is available on the AIA website:
- QIC PCW Wraps Up, Releases Reports on Public-Private Partnership
The National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services (QIC PCW) is wrapping up its 5-year project and releasing new reports highlighting the importance of collaboration between the private and public child welfare sectors.
Funded in 2005, the QIC PCW is a cooperative agreement between the Children's Bureau and the University of Kentucky College of Social Work, the University of Louisville, and Planning and Learning Technologies. The QIC was tasked with igniting a national dialogue about collaborative problem-solving and the varying ways in which States contract with private agencies for services. The QIC researched best practices for managing relationships and evaluated the impact of performance-based contracting and quality assurance systems on organizational, practice, and client outcomes within a public/private partnership.
Crystal Collins-Camargo, Project Director, said the project brought to light the importance of collaboration between the sectors to improve outcomes. "The most important thing we learned is that this is really about collaboration between the sectors and the challenges in strengthening those partnerships. The focus was less on privatization and more on how these sectors can work together to fill each State's needs to best improve outcomes." Examples of that collaborative problem-solving can be found in the QIC's newest reports.
Strategic Planning Regarding Public/Private Partnership in Child Welfare: Lessons Learned From Five States highlights the findings from a 2-day strategic planning process during which the QIC facilitated and provided technical assistance specific to the needs of each participating State. Attendees were required to bring leaders/stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. Workgroups focused on goals set by each State to develop a foundation for relationship building, clearly define roles, and create a communications plan for moving their partnership forward. The strategic planning session armed child welfare leaders with concrete strategies for improving system partnerships.
Portrait of Private Agencies in the Child Welfare System: Principal Results from the National Survey of Private Child and Family Serving Agencies focuses on the characteristics and experiences of private agencies in the child welfare system. This first-ever national portrait of private agencies was not an easy task, according to Collins-Camargo:
"There is no centralized source of agencies serving the child welfare population, how to contact them, or data regarding them," Collins-Camargo said. "Each State had a list of agencies they contract with, but that data is not pulled together anywhere. Our study is limited, still, by the fact that the only way we could find the agencies was to go through Child Welfare League of America, the Alliance for Children and Families, and National Organization of State Associations for Children chapters and their respective memberships."
Compounding these challenges was the fact that many agencies do not necessarily identify themselves as child welfare agencies but rather as umbrella human services agencies because they provide other services such as mental health services. Collins-Camargo said the survey helped the QIC learn what the field didn't know about the role of the private sector in the child welfare system.
"We know a fair amount about the public child welfare system, the role those agencies play, and all the data that’s come out of CFSRs. We only know a little—and most of that knowledge is anecdotal—about the private sector agencies serving child welfare clients, and yet they play such a large role."
The survey and subsequent report highlight important information such as the size of private agencies, staffing patterns, experience levels of agency leaders, the types of services they provide, and perceptions regarding their relationships with the public sector and other service systems.
Collins-Camargo added that the report helps dispel myths about private agencies. "I was a big public sector advocate, having worked in that system for years, and didn't know much about the private sector before we began our work at the QIC. We have so many beliefs from one sector to the other, but it's very clear that both sides want the same outcomes, and it is possible to do collaborative problem-solving to improve our work with children and their families."
When asked what is next for privatization, Collins-Camargo said, "It's a moving target. People don't even agree on what privatization means. What the future is, though, is changing the conversation to talk about partnership, service quality, and making decisions about the responsibility of both sectors in different aspects of the service array based on needs and strengths of the State or locality."
Portrait of Private Agencies in the Child Welfare System: Principal Results from the National Survey of Private Child and Family Serving Agencies can be found here:
Strategic Planning Regarding Public/Private Partnership in Child Welfare: Lessons Learned from Five States can be found here:
The QIC's final Executive Summary also is available for download on its website:
Many thanks to Crystal Collins-Camargo, QIC PCW Project Director for providing the information for this article.
This month, CBX looks at a comprehensive family assessment program in Minnesota and successful strategies for implementing EBHV initiative programs.
- Site Visit: A Model for CFAs in Ramsey County, MN
Ramsey County (MN) Community Human Services Department (RCCHSD), funded through a 2007 Children's Bureau grant, is implementing a comprehensive family assessment (CFA) program to develop a more consistent, holistic, family-centered, and culturally responsive approach to in-home and out-of-home child welfare assessment. The CFA model is grounded in two practices: strengths-focused practice, whereby caseworkers help families identify and build on their strengths, and critical thinking and analysis, which caseworkers use to gather and assess information and design a case plan that is most likely to change behaviors.
From training to supervision to documentation, nearly every phase of RCCHSD's assessment program has been redesigned, incorporating the new CFA model in the following ways:
- Intake staff receive ongoing training to conduct child safety assessments and develop safety plans that focus on the specific parental behaviors that must change to eliminate risk and ensure protection. Safety is assessed in several areas within the family, including physical and mental health, income and housing, parenting style, kinship supports, etc., which results in a more organized and thorough method of evaluation.
- Program staff receive ongoing training to focus on the family's functioning to determine the underlying causes of behaviors that put the child at risk, and this assessment forms the basis for case plans—developed through a 10-step process in five stages—targeting parental behaviors requiring change.
- Supervisors and coaches aid critical thinking and analysis that creates awareness and promotes responsibility so that workers can come to conclusions on their own, which enhances their competence.
RCCHSD's assessment of family functioning focuses on parents' protective capacities. These include the skills and resources on which the family can draw to keep children safe. Three types of protective capacities are assessed:
- Cognitive Protective Capacity assesses parents' awareness and understanding of their protective roles and ability to assess threats and recognize children's needs.
- Emotional Protective Capacity assesses the relationship between parents' motivation to protect children based on the emotional bond and their connection with and compassion for children.
- Behavioral Protective Capacity assesses parents' protective actions in the face of their own needs and/or physical capabilities.
RCCHSD recognizes that engaging families means responding to and building an understanding of varying cultural needs and sensitivities. More than 50 percent of families—and more than 70 percent of children—receiving services are persons of color. In order to be culturally responsive to all children and families, the CFA implementation team has embraced the county's antiracism initiative and developed core principles that foster an environment conducive to the multicultural backgrounds of its clients and workers.
Staff turnover, time constraints, documentation quality, and engagement with fathers are among the few implementation challenges; however, RCCHSD has reviewed details of each challenge and devised plans to address them through training. The many successful strategies of CFA implantation include, but are not limited to:
- A gradual phase-in of the CFA model for Intake and Program workers before a formal training to provide workers with a foundation of key terms, concepts, and strategies, enabling greater retention of new practices
- Increased information transfer between Intake and Program staff to allow for more cohesive case files and stronger case planning
- Ongoing case planning to incorporate successes and progress as a direct result of family-centered case plans based on behaviors and family functioning over compliance
For more information about this project, contact Dr. Jenny Gordon, Ramsey County Project Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
The Model for Comprehensive Family Assessments is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award #90-CA-1753).This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.
- Cross-Site Study Evaluates Evidence-Based Home Visiting Initiative
Building Infrastructure to Support Home-Visiting to Prevent Child Maltreatment: Two Year Findings From the Cross-Site Evaluation of the Supporting Evidence-Based Home Visiting Initiative highlights successful strategies from the first 2 years of the Children's Bureau-funded initiative taking place across 15 States. The study evaluates the progress of 17 grantees in developing necessary infrastructure and service delivery systems for implementing new or enhancing existing evidence-based home visiting program models.
Each grantee selected one or more home visiting models for first-time implementation in its State or community or chose to enhance, adapt, or expand existing programs. Site visits or telephone interviews were conducted with grantees to collect data on State-level implementation, the initiation of home visiting services, and/or infrastructure development to support home visiting.
The report discusses the ways grantees planned and collaborated with other organizations to achieve common goals. In addition, separate chapters describe:
- How grantees used their planning and collaborative capacity to create new infrastructure and/or strengthen existing infrastructure
- Grantees’ experiences hiring and training staff, recruiting and enrolling families, and conducting home visits
At the end of 2 years, home visiting had begun at all 15 sites where grantees had planned to initiate or continue home visiting, and families were enrolled and receiving services through the programs. Future publications will examine the final 3 years of the 5-year grantee projects.
The report was developed by Mathematica Policy Research and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and funded by the Children's Bureau. The report and other evaluation resources can be found on the Supporting Evidence Based Home Visiting website:
CBX features new reports on using the Incredible Years program in child welfare, participatory evaluation in Indian Country, and the impact of social networks on implementation of evidence-based practices.
- Evaluating the Incredible Years Parenting Training Program
While parent education and training programs are often used by child welfare systems, little is known about the programs' effectiveness in preventing maltreatment. In addition, many programs have not been subjected to evaluation, and documentation regarding implementation challenges is often lacking. To foster widespread adoption of evidence-based practice models that improve outcomes in child welfare, an article in Children and Youth Services Review asserts that more process evaluation must occur and it must occur prior to effectiveness studies.
"Getting With the (Evidence-Based) Program: An Evaluation of the Incredible Years Parenting Training Program in Child Welfare" describes a project that tested this theory by conducting both an implementation and outcomes evaluation—simultaneously—of the Incredible Years Parenting Training Program (IY) as applied for the first time in two child welfare agencies in New York State. While proven effective in improving child behavior, the IY program was not designed with child welfare families as the target population and, therefore, serves as a perfect model for the authors' hypothesis.
Qualitative staff interviews and parenting behavior surveys showed that program participation was associated with decreased parental distress, defensive responding, dysfunctional parent-child interactions, child difficulty, and total stress and with increased empathy and social support. The authors discuss the effectiveness of IY in the context of child welfare.
The article, by Lyscha Marcynyszyn, Erin Maher, and Tyler Corwin, was published in Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 33.
- Methods of Evaluating Child Welfare in Indian Country: An Illustration
Many American Indian Tribes and Nations share in the belief that mainstream Western research largely overlooks the importance of Tribal approaches and voice. In response to this problem, researchers from the National Indian Child Welfare Association, Prevent Child Abuse America, and Purdue University Calumet explored the use of participatory evaluation—research that focuses on the culturally competent principle of community engagement. "Methods of Evaluating Child Welfare in Indian Country: An Illustration," recently published in Child Welfare, describes their research, details its strengths and difficulties, and presents a practice model for other agencies.
The researchers spent nearly 2 years developing a web-based survey for Indian youth ages 18 to 25. The survey collected participants' experiences as children and teens, allowing researchers to examine the relationship among victimization, delinquency, and protective factors for this population. A youth advisory group and institutional review boards ensured an ethical approach.
Article highlights include:
- Research staff participated in focus groups conducted by Tribal community liaisons, and there was some confusion about procedure, showing that true equality between participants can create uncertainty of roles.
- Collaboration between three disparate agencies sometimes produced difficulties in communication and decision-making; however, these challenges were addressed early and often by team members, which resulted in a strong and positive working relationship by project's end.
- The study inherently provided buy-in for individuals in the Indian community, and this valuable role increased the chances of peer participation.
- Project partners became familiar with the skills and approaches necessary to work efficiently with others of varying backgrounds.
The project resulted in a culturally appropriate online survey, the results of which will inform child welfare practice and future research in the lives of children, teens, and young adults in Indian Country.
"Methods of Evaluating Child Welfare in Indian Country: An Illustration," by Patricia Carter, Terry L. Cross, Javier Diaz, Kathleen Fox, Laura John, Thomas Pavkov, and Ching-Tung Wang, was published in the March/April 2011 (Vol. 90, No. 2) issue of Child Welfare and is available for purchase online:
- How Networks Affect the Decision to Implement an EBP
A recent study published in Implementation Science explored how child welfare and other agency managers make the decision to implement an evidence-based practice (EBP). Thirty-eight administrators from 12 California counties were interviewed about multidimensional treatment foster care (MTFC), an EBP that can reduce out-of-home placement in group and residential care, substance abuse, and behavioral and emotional problems in foster youth. MTFC was gradually being implemented throughout the State.
In their interviews and through a web survey, the administrators also answered questions about their motivations to implement MTFC in their county, people who might influence their decision or other work-related decisions, their thoughts about collaboration, and similar topics.
The findings suggested that social networking positively affected the implementation of MTFC in two ways:
- Through successful collaborations
- By providing the information and support necessary for implementation
The data revealed that the administrators were part of networks based on their work roles, responsibilities, geography, and friendship. Their networks included people in the same agency and county, counterparts in other agencies, community-based providers, and community advocates. These networks exposed the administrators to information that influenced their decision to implement MTFC.
The counties that tended to be further along in their implementation of MTFC were larger and urban and received more "nominations" by others in their network. They also tended to have greater connectivity across counties.
The study's authors discuss their findings in terms of the contexts in which networks influence the implementation of EBPs.
The complete study, "Social Networks and Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices in Public Youth-Serving Systems: A Mixed Methods Study," by Lawrence Palinkas, Ian Holloway, Eric Rice, Dahlia Fuentes, Qiaobing Wu, and Patricia Chamberlain, was published in Implementation Science in September 2011 (Vol. 6:113) and is available on the journal website:
- Improving Outcomes for Native Families
The California Disproportionality Project has produced the Implementation Toolkit for the American Indian Enhancement (AIE) Project to improve outcomes for American Indian/Alaska Native families and children in the child welfare system by assisting agencies in complying with the Indian Child Welfare Act.
The toolkit provides action steps and guidance on reaching the following outcomes:
- Reduced entries of American Indian/Alaska Native children into the foster care system
- Increased reunification of American Indian/Alaska Native families
- Decreased length of stay of American Indian/Alaska Native children in foster care
- Decreased time to permanence for American Indian/Alaska Native children
Seven tool sets provide advice on engagement and communication; assessment; planning; training, coaching and transfer of learning; evaluation; and funding resources. Other toolkit features include a factsheet, talking points for leadership, and a 12-minute video highlighting why workers should ask every child and family receiving services if they have American Indian or Alaska Native heritage. The "Faces" video also provides direction on culturally sensitive ways to inquire about ancestry.
For more information, visit the California AIE Project website:
- Team Decision-Making Toolkit
As part of its ongoing effort to develop model toolkits for implementing child welfare programs, the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) has launched its Team Decision Making (TDM) Implementation Toolkit. The toolkit webpage includes information on TDM and on constructing and maintaining a TDM program.
TDM is designed to improve workers' and agencies' decision-making ability so that children are removed only when necessary for their own safety. It incorporates a strong family engagement component and helps identify appropriate interventions for children and families.
The TDM Implementation Toolkit is comprehensive guide that includes eight sections:
- Defining the intervention
- Engagement and communication
- Planning for implementation
- Special considerations
- Tools to support staff
Other tools include sequencing suggestions that model TDM implementation in 15 steps, beginning with Assessing the Existing Process and ending with Preserving High Standards. Each step is described in terms of what the agency needs to do; supporting documents are included. A webpage of frequently asked questions offers answers to dilemmas about who should be included, timing of meetings, and more.
Find the TDM Implementation Toolkit on the CalSWEC website:
CBX last wrote about CalSWEC's toolkits in "Implementation Toolkits" (September/October 2011).
- Special Issue on Parent Leadership and Family Engagement
The fall 2011 issue of the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter (VCPN) focuses on to the theme of strengthening family engagement and promoting parent leadership in child welfare. The issue includes an array of articles on the benefits of and challenges to family engagement, different approaches at the three levels of involvement—case level, peer-support level, and the systems level—and promising practices. Articles spotlight the Circle of Parents program for parent support and the Bridging the Gap program, which brings together foster and birth parents. An article on promoting father engagement underlines research on the benefits of father involvement and provides resources on locating, recruiting, and engaging fathers.
While geared toward Virginia agencies, the bulk of the articles have relevance for agencies around the country.
The Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, sponsored by the Virginia Department of Social Services' Child Protection Unit, is available on the James Madison University website:
- A Call for Child-Witness Court Preparation Programs
A child's experience with the justice system can be terrifying, and the fear may hinder a child's ability to testify truthfully and effectively in court. A recent issue of CenterPiece, the official newsletter of the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC), discusses the importance of court preparation for children required to testify. Author Jodie Walker, Executive Director for the Adams County, PA, Children’s Advocacy Center, draws on her nearly 20 years of work and research in this area to provide recommendations for preparing child witnesses.
A comprehensive preparation program, according to Walker, is designed to decrease stressors that may hinder credible testimony by children. "Preparation is necessary as children are ill-prepared for the demands of being a witness, simply due to their inherent vulnerability, age, limited social awareness, lack of life experiences, and naive understanding of the criminal justice system." These limitations, in turn, dictate that goals of a successful child-witness program:
- Demystify the court process through education
- Reduce fear and anxiety about testifying through stress-reduction techniques
- Empower children through emotional support
The article also features the five components of a good preparation and support program: education, role play and practice, relaxation and anxiety management, court accompaniment and support, and debriefing and follow-up.
"If I'm 'The Party,' Where's the Cake?: The Need for Comprehensive Child-Witness Court Preparation Programs," was published in the August 2011 (Volume 3, Issue 1) issue of CenterPiece and is available on the NCPTC website:
http://ncptc.nonprofitoffice.com/vertical/Sites/%7B8634A6E1-FAD2-4381-9C0D-5DC7E93C9410%7D/uploads/CenterPiece.NL.Vol3.Iss1.pdf (2.96 MB)
- Internships for Foster Youth
The following two programs offer summer internships for youth in or formerly in foster care:
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is accepting applications for its 2012 summer internship program. The program places youth in 2-month internships in Washington, DC, in the offices of the U.S. Congress. Many expenses are paid. Applicants must have spent at least 24 consecutive months in foster care during any point in their lives and must have completed four semesters of schooling at an accredited institution of higher learning, such as a college, university, or vocational school, by the start of the internship on May 29, 2012.
The application deadline is January 6, 2012. For more information and to access the application, visit the CCAI website:
The FosterClub All-Star application for summer 2012 will be available on January 1, 2012. Youth who have spent time in foster care will be selected from among the applicants for a summer internship with FosterClub and assist in planning and facilitating Independent Living Teen Conferences and other foster care and child welfare events held throughout the country.
- Fostering Connections-From Vision to Implementation
Youth emancipating from foster care with no permanent family connections face a number of hardships that the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 was designed to target.
The July 2011 issue of The Judges’ Page newsletter, with the theme "Fostering Connections to Success—From Vision to Implementation" presents an array of articles that address many of the child welfare issues targeted by the act. Articles focus on Independent Living services, the importance and impact of the Fostering Connections legislation on sibling groups and Native American families, and advocacy for older youth. In one article, a former foster youth shares her story, while others present publications/checklists, programs, trainings, and research associated with the act.
The Judges’ Page is a publication of the National CASA Association in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and is available on the National CASA website:
- Educating Children to Prevent Abuse
Speak Up Be Safe (SUBS), a safety and child abuse prevention education program from the Monique Burr Foundation, is available through a new website. The Foundation aims to launch SUBS in every Florida elementary school by 2015, meeting a State statute that requires all schoolchildren to have primary prevention training. The new site includes a plan of expansion, information about the program, news, an opportunity to donate to the cause, and resources for:
Each Resources page offers safety, prevention, and child abuse and neglect reporting resources specific to each audience. Resource topics include signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect, impact of abuse and neglect, reporting child abuse, and developing a safety plan with your child.
Visit the Foundation website:
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.
- Trauma-Informed Practice in the Training Environment
Multiplying Connections created "Walking the Walk: Modeling Trauma Informed Practice in the Training Environment," a two-page resource guide to help train staff who work with children and families affected by trauma. The guide provides specific principles of trauma-informed practice and explains how each is essential for professional development. The principles of practice are:
- Creating safety
- Maximizing opportunities for choice and control
- Fostering connections
- Managing emotions and promoting self-reflection
The guide also provides suggestions for integrating each principle into customized training modules.
The resource can be found on Multiplying Connections' website:
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through March 2012 include:
- SSWR 16th Annual Conference
Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
Society for Social Work and Research
January 11–15, Washington, DC
- The 26th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment - 2012
Chadwick Center for Children & Families
January 23–26, San Diego, CA
- The 2012 Annual Conference of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
Improving Maternal and Child Health Across the Life Span: Acting Today for Healthy Tomorrows
February 11–14, Washington, DC
- CWLA 2012 National Conference
Making Children a Priority: Leading Change
Child Welfare League of America
February 26–29, Washington, DC
- The 25th Annual Children's Mental Health Research and Policy Conference
Child and Family Studies, University of South Florida
March 04–07, Tampa, FL
- NCJFCJ’s National Conference on Juvenile and Family Law
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
March 21–24, Las Vegas, NV
- Eighth Annual Childhood Grief and Traumatic Loss "Restoring Joy to Children and Families"
Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect
March 22-22, Pasadena, CA
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- SSWR 16th Annual Conference
- Using Video to Engage Youth
A unique project incorporates video to help youth tell their story to caseworkers in monthly visits. Bob Lewis's "Seeing the Voices of Children and Youth" project is a curriculum for caseworkers that provides a framework for using video to engage youth. Six sessions allow youth to be filmed while covering such topics as life before foster care, when I came into care, and what I hope for the future.
The video format has three significant advantages over traditional casework visits:
- It engages and empowers youth, allowing them to "set the record straight."
- It helps caseworkers hear the genuine voice of the youth, which may help in the permanency process.
- It can help the youth heal from trauma and loss.
Information on training and protocol for the video program is available on Lewis's website:
A poignant demonstration of the video is available on Lewis's blog: