News From the Children's Bureau
- ACF Releases New Report on Healthy Marriage Initiative
On Monday, June 13, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., announced the release of a new report on President Bush's Healthy Marriage Initiative.
"This report takes stock of the progress we have made with the President's Healthy Marriage Initiative," said Dr. Horn. "By helping couples form and sustain a healthy marriage, we help improve the well-being of children, families, and communities."
The report, titled "Healthy Marriage Initiative: Activities and Accomplishments 2002-2004," provides an overview of healthy marriage demonstration projects and grant activities, the African American and Hispanic healthy marriage initiatives, healthy marriage research, and other resources funded by ACF through 2004.
The Healthy Marriage Initiative was launched in 2002. Its mission is to help couples, who have chosen marriage for themselves, gain greater access to voluntary marriage education services, where they can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain a healthy marriage. The primary motivating factor of the initiative is research showing the substantial benefits of healthy marriage for adults, children, and society.
In its welfare reform law of 1996, Congress stipulated three of the four purposes of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to States be related to promoting healthy marriages. In his budget request for 2006, President Bush has proposed $100 million in matching funds for States and tribes to develop innovative healthy marriage programs, and another $100 million to fund technical assistance and research as well as demonstrations targeted to family formation and healthy marriage.
To view the report, go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/healthymarriage/pdf/accomplishments2005.pdf (Editor's note: Link no longer active). For more information on the Healthy Marriage Initiative, go to http://archive.acf.hhs.gov/healthymarriage/.
- A Positive Approach to Preventing Abuse
Only a portion of abusive behavior experienced by children is reported to child protective services. An innovative project in San Diego County, CLASP (Children Linked to Adults for Safety and Protection), seeks to increase the knowledge of children and adults about positive parenting in order to reduce family violence, encourage children to report abuse, and provide intervention and counseling for children and adults living in abusive homes.
Funded in 2001 by the Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the project serves low-income, high-risk youth with a prevention curriculum delivered in school classrooms and through YMCA after-school programs. A unique feature of this program is the positive focus of its curriculum, which emphasizes healthy families and positive parenting in contrast to a more typical "bad touch" or "stranger danger" approach. CLASP's educators are adept at presenting the curriculum in either Spanish or English, and sometimes both at the same time. This is critical, as 72 percent of the children participating in the program are Latino.
Other keys to the program's success include:
- Comprehensive family services. As part of the YMCA Youth and Family Services program, CLASP is able to offer classes for parents and family therapy in addition to its classes for children.
- Cultural competency. In addition to being bilingual, staff have a local community perspective and use culturally relevant props and materials in the classes.
- Quality staff. The program takes care to hire educators who are dedicated, energetic, and skilled at engaging groups of children.
- Funding. The Federal grant makes it possible to offer CLASP as a free community service. Funding for resources such as food, incentives, and certificates increases the program's effectiveness.
The program has encountered a number of challenges, including concerns for staff safety in high-risk neighborhoods, some resistance from schools to bringing a prevention program into the classroom, and fears of immigrant children that their family might be forced to leave the country if abuse is reported. Despite these challenges, preliminary evaluation results indicate that short-term outcomes, such as increases in children's knowledge, are being achieved. Project staff continue to work toward demonstrating long-term outcomes, including the reduction of under-reporting of child abuse and neglect.
For more information about this project, contact:
Ana Gabriela Torres, CLASP Project Director
YMCA of San Diego County
4715 Viewridge Avenue, Suite 101
San Diego, CA 92123
Note: This program was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant #90-CA-1694. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from official Children's Bureau site visits.
- Kinship Care From the Child's Perspective
The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) recently explored the topic of kinship placement from a unique perspective—that of the child. "From the Child's Perspective: A Qualitative Analysis of Kinship Care Placements" presents findings from small focus groups conducted with a total of 40 children, aged 10 to 14 years, who were interviewed about their perceptions of transitional issues, family relationships, the stigma of living with relatives, and the stability of their placement. The children were either living with a relative who was a legal guardian, or they were in an informal placement with a relative.
Results of the focus group discussions show that these children generally viewed their family constellations as fluid. This view led to their belief that they were still living with "family" and that there was little, if any, stigma associated with kinship care. The children expressed conflicting feelings about their birth parents that included anger, disappointment, love, and hopefulness. Children who lived with legal guardians seemed to derive some comfort from the fact that the relatives had legal rights, and these children seemed more secure in their placements than those in informal placements.
This article is available on the AIA website at http://aia.berkeley.edu/media/pdf/kinship_research_summary.pdf. (PDF 281 KB)
Also available from AIA is the Spring 2005 issue of its newsletter, The Source, which focuses on young children of substance abusers. The issue can be downloaded from the AIA website at http://aia.berkeley.edu/media/pdf/source_vol14_no1.pdf. (PDF 614 KB)
- Nominations Now Open for the Adoption Excellence Awards
The Administration for Children and Families is now accepting nominations for the 2005 Adoption Excellence Awards. Individuals, families, organizations, businesses, agencies, and States are eligible to receive these awards, which honor those who have demonstrated excellence in providing stable, permanent homes for children in foster care. The deadline for submission of nominations is Monday, August 15.
Nominees are eligible to receive an award in the following categories:
- Decrease in the length of time that children in foster care wait for adoption
- Increased adoptions of older children
- Interjurisdictional adoptions
- Faith-based initiatives
- Support for adoptive families
- Individual and/or family contributions
- Business contributions/initiatives
- Judicial or child welfare system improvement
Nominations will be evaluated on the basis of clear and measurable success in these areas. A panel of recognized experts in the adoption field will review all nominations and make award recommendations to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Award recipients will be notified by October and recognized in November during National Adoption Month.
- National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect
The fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4) is now underway. Mandated by Congress, NIS gathers information from multiple sources to estimate the number of children who are abused or neglected. The study also provides information about the nature and severity of maltreatment; characteristics of children, perpetrators, and families; and the extent of changes in the incidence or distribution of child maltreatment since the time of the last national incidence study.
In contrast to other studies, such as the National Data System on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCANDS), the NIS design assumes that the children seen by child protective services (CPS) agencies represent only part of the child maltreatment picture. NIS estimates include children investigated by CPS as well as maltreated children who are identified by professionals in a wide range of agencies in representative communities. These professionals, called "sentinels," may include those working in elementary and secondary public schools; public health departments; public housing authorities; short-stay general and children's hospitals; State, county, and municipal police departments; licensed child care centers; juvenile probation departments; voluntary social services and mental health agencies; and shelters for runaway and homeless youth or victims of domestic violence.
NIS-4 will gather data in a nationally representative sample of 122 counties, selected to ensure a mix of geographic regions and of urban and rural areas. The CPS agencies serving these counties will be asked to provide data about all children in cases they accept for investigation during the study period (September 4 through December 3, 2005). Professionals working in the same counties will be asked to serve as NIS-4 sentinels.
A number of reports about the study will be released, including technical reports concerning all activities. The final document will be a Report to Congress on the study findings.
Learn more about the study on the NIS-4 website (www.nis4.org).
- Family Group Conferences for Youth in Group Care
Family group conferencing (FGC) has shown positive results for engaging families and enhancing permanency for children in out-of-home care. A recent study in Washington State explored the effectiveness of FGC as a strategy for improving placement and relationship outcomes for some of the most troubled children in the child welfare system—those in group care.
Connected and Cared For was a 3-year project of the Northwest Institute for Children and Families and the Washington State Children's Administration, Region 3, with funding from the Stuart Foundation. During the project, 81 family group conferences were conducted for 96 children between 11 and 18 years of age who were in group care at the time of the conference. A total of 57 youth were ultimately included in the study sample. Of these youth, more than half had experienced more than six placements, and 19 percent had experienced more than 10 placements.
Postconference interviews indicate that the conferences were largely successful in engaging families in planning for the youth and increasing communication among families, social workers, and service planners. Findings include:
- Family participation. An average of 7.8 family members or fictive kin attended each conference on behalf of the youth. Just over half of the conferences (53 percent) included at least one member from the paternal side. Fathers themselves were present at 34 percent of the conferences.
- Improved relationships. Nearly all (97 percent) of the family plans included visitation with the child. Sixty-five percent of the youth reported that the amount that they talked to or saw family members increased after the conference.
- Enhanced placement outcomes. At 6 months postconference, 59 percent of the youth had exited group care: 20 percent had returned home; 16 percent were placed with relatives; and 23 percent were placed in regular foster care. At 12 months postconference, 67 percent of the youth had exited group care to less restrictive placements.
A final report on the evaluations was completed in January 2005. The report and an executive summary may be obtained by contacting Karin Gunderson of the institute at email@example.com.
- Study Casts Doubt on Attachment Disorder Screening Instrument
Reactive attachment disorder is the subject of considerable debate within the adoption field. Professionals disagree about what constitutes the disorder and whether or not it is overdiagnosed. A study published in the February 2005 issue of Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal (Vol. 22, No. 1) attempted to assess the attachment problems of children in child welfare custody and, at the same time, to validate the Randolph Attachment Disorder Questionnaire (RADQ)—an instrument professionals use with children's caregivers to diagnose attachment disorders. Instead, researchers concluded that the RADQ has not been adequately validated and may have limited usefulness as a clinical assessment tool.
The authors' conclusions are based on a double-blind study of 54 children in the custody of North Carolina's child protective services. Children in the sample varied with respect to placement setting, gender, age, length of time in placement, and number of placements. Adults who had lived with the children at least 3 months completed the questionnaires. Findings included:
- The group of children in this sample had significantly lower total scores on the RADQ than expected. Although the children in this study had experiences that would seem to contribute to the development of an attachment disorder (as defined by the instrument), only one child in the sample had a RADQ score that suggested the disorder.
- In contrast, the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) more clearly identified problems as would have been expected, given the children's histories. Most of the children in the sample scored significantly higher on the CBCL than the normative sample, indicating they were having more difficulties. However, CBCL scores for the children in this sample were not outside the "typical" or average range.
- None of the placement variables were significantly related to any of the RADQ variables. However, several of these variables (e.g., number of placements, length of time in placement) were significantly related to scores on the CBCL.
From these findings, the authors concluded that the RADQ's ability to differentiate among different pathologies, including attachment disorder, may be limited. The authors note that future research should examine RADQ's usefulness in other samples and geographic locations. They also note that the sample for this study was taken from a suburban-rural area and may not represent the types of children in placement in an urban area.
The article, "Correlates of the Randolph Attachment Disorder Questionnaire (RADQ) in a Sample of Children in Foster Placement," by G.G. Cappelletty, M.M. Brown, and S.E. Shumate, can be found in the Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal 22(1). Find information about the journal online at www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=104690
- Lessons From the Tsunami
Tragedies of great proportion, such as the Southeast Asia tsunami of 2004, reveal both the best and worst of human nature. In the case of the tsunami, enormous generosity, including offers to adopt orphans, existed side by side with exploitation, including trafficking in children. In the aftermath of such tragedies, the need for policies that will protect the most vulnerable victims—the children—becomes apparent.
A recent policy brief by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute examines the role of intercountry adoption in emergencies such as natural disasters and armed conflicts. The brief outlines the unique threats to children and current policies, such as the U.N. Declaration and the Hague Convention, that regulate and guide intercountry adoption in these situations.
Suggested organizational responses to children's needs in the wake of emergencies are outlined under the following categories:
- Protection of children (including safety, security, and basic physical needs)
- Family tracing and reunification
- Family and community solutions (including an emphasis on family care over institutional care)
- Widespread trauma
- Respect for nation, culture, and religion
Recommendations include the use of intercountry adoption, under specific circumstances, but never immediately after an emergency. Other recommendations include:
- Use of concurrent planning along with reunification efforts when family members are difficult to trace
- Engaging child welfare experts in the immediate aftermath of the emergency to help assess needs and develop long-term systems of care
- Priority for adoption by relatives
- Establishment of international standards for care of children in emergencies
The full policy brief, "Intercountry Adoption in Emergencies: The Tsunami Orphans," can be downloaded from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute website at www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/2005_Brief_ICA_In_Emergencies_April.pdf (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
For more information on U.S. and international policies regarding intercountry adoption, see the following:
- Information offered by the U.S. State Department regarding intercountry adoption can be found at www.adoption.state.gov
- The 1986 U.N. Declaration on the Social and Legal Principles Relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption, Nationally and Internationally, can be found at www.un.org/documents/ga/res/41/a41r085.htm
- The 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption can be found at www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=69
- Permanency for Youth Toolbox
A toolkit is now available that offers practical strategies and promising practices for agencies seeking permanent homes for adolescents and youth in out-of-home care. The overarching approach is based on a permanency assessment that includes all the youth's current relationships and all possible pathways to permanency. An array of permanency options is discussed—including family preservation, reunification, legal guardianship, kinship care, and customary adoption in tribes—recognizing that the best permanency solution may be different for each youth. In addition, the toolbox describes a variety of techniques for supporting permanency, including:
- Mentoring programs
- Youth leadership organizations and councils
- Appreciative inquiry
- Person-centered planning approaches
- Family group conferencing
Appendixes to the toolbox offer additional practical resources and models for permanency planning for youth. Toolbox No. 3: Facilitating Permanency for Youth, by G. P. Mallon, can be purchased from CWLA Press at www.cwla.org/pubs/pubdetails.asp?PUBID=0043.
- Establishing Community Partnerships for Child Welfare
The movement toward partnerships between child welfare agencies and communities is based on the consensus that safety, permanency, and well-being for children are more successful when children and families are supported within their communities. Putting this concept into practice means that child welfare agencies must determine meaningful ways to partner with communities so that the responsibility for supporting families is broadly shared. Moving this vision from theory to practice is the focus of a recent series of articles from the Center for Community Partnerships in Child Welfare (CCPCW). The articles include the following:
- "Establishing a Positive Community Presence for Public Child Welfare Agencies" describes strategies that agencies can use to facilitate partnerships with neighborhoods, such as outbasing workers or co-locating staff within other community agencies. An example is provided from Louisville, KY, in which staff from various agencies are housed together within the community.
- "The Community Partnership Practice Model" describes an approach to preventing and addressing child maltreatment that involves the community and local agencies. This outcome-driven approach focuses on building a team to support the family, using comprehensive family assessments to identify strengths and challenges, individualizing services, and tracking results.
- "Human Resource Management's Role in Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining a Workforce Committed to a New Practice Model" argues that building community partnerships requires child welfare agencies to rethink the ways in which they recruit and train staff. Different competencies may be required for staff who work in community settings, as well as different management and appraisal models.
- "The Pay-Off of Comprehensive Training" notes that both staff and community partners may require training. For instance, community partners may require training in such areas as advocacy, decision-making, and governance.
The full text of these articles can be found in the Spring 2005 issue of CCPCW's Safekeeping at http://www.cssp.org/publications/child-welfare/community-partnerships-for-the-protection-of-children/safekeeping-spring-2005.pdf (PDF - 390 KB).
- Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) Spotlights Program Challenges and Resources
The May spotlight article on the BRYCS website "Refugee Children Without Their Parents: Guardianship, Kinship Care, and Foster Care," examines programming challenges and resources for separated refugee children living in the United States. Read more at www.brycs.org/documents/upload/brycs_spotmay2005.pdf (PDF 52 KB).
- Federal Grant Writing Toolkit
The ARC (Accessing Resources for Community and Faith-Based Organizations) Initiative, a project of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's National Training and Technical Assistance Center, has created a new toolkit designed to help community and faith-based organizations effectively navigate the Federal funding process.
Originally developed to supplement trainings conducted in 2004, the ARC toolkit provides information in nine areas:
- Building and maintaining partnerships
- Establishing a 501(c)(3) organization
- Evaluating current capacity to secure Federal funds
- Finding training and technical assistance
- Identifying funds
- Identifying and securing grant writers and other consultants
- Learning from promising programs and practices
- Writing winning grants
- Web-based glossaries
The website also features an interactive learning community. Complete information about accessing and using the toolkit is available on the ARC website at https://www.nttac.org/index.cfm?event=arc.Toolkit
Find a list of current, open Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant announcements on the Children's Bureau website at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/index.htm.
- African-American Children in Child Welfare
Two recent books look at the child welfare system from the perspective of serving African-American children.
Race Matters in Child Welfare: The Overrepresentation of African American Children in the System (2005), edited by D. Derezotes, J. Poertner, and M. Testa, is a collection of papers originally presented at the first Race Matters forum held in Washington, DC, in January 2001. These papers consider child welfare policy and practice, the causes of child maltreatment, and how each affects the disproportionate representation of African-American children in the system. They provide readers with a model with which to examine what is happening along the entire child welfare continuum, including screening, investigation, service provision, out-of-home care, and reunification. Race Matters is published by CWLA Press at https://www.cwla.org/pubs/pubdetails.asp?PUBID=8746.
Child Welfare Revisited: An Africentric Perspective (2004), edited by J. Everett, S. Chipungu, and B. Leashore, asserts the importance of cultural perspective when formulating child welfare policies and practices to secure the safety, permanence, and well being of African-American children. Grouped into three sections, "Societal and Cultural Context," "Understanding African American Families and Children," and "Using an Africentric Perspective for Practice and Service Delivery," the essays stress the importance of kinship ties; collective identity; spirituality; unity of body, mind, and spirit; and harmony between nature and humanity. Topics covered include unwed fathers' participation in permanency planning, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, systems of care for mental health disparities, and adoption. The book is published by Rutgers University Press (http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu).
- New Resource for Social Work Research
The National Association of Social Workers website now has a research section (www.socialworkpolicy.org/research) that provides information to inform policy, practice, and education. Developed through a partnership with the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research, the site highlights research findings and provides helpful information for practitioners. Featured topics change monthly, and archives will be available.
- Youth Who Sexually Offend
Clinicians, juvenile justice workers, and other professionals who work with juvenile sexual offenders will find a range of information in a recent volume of the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. Volume 13 (No. 3/4) focuses entirely on children and youth who commit sexual offenses and includes information on research, statistics, models, treatment, and therapy. Articles address the following topics:
- Subtypes of juvenile sexual offenders
- Interviewing strategies with youth who sexually offend
- Working with parents of sexual offenders
- Cognitive behavioral treatment in a collaborative outpatient program
- Multifamily group therapy
- Current practices in residential treatment
- Recidivism of youth sexual offenders
Articles from this issue of the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse are available for purchase from Haworth Press. Find information about the journal and tables of contents at http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wcsa20/current#.U3F4G86tKyc.
The topic of youth who commit sexual offenses was covered by Children's Bureau Express (http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov) in "Treating Youth Who Sexually Abuse: An Integrated Multi-Component Approach" (November/December 2001).
- Tips for Conducting Program Evaluations
Need help with conducting program evaluations and already have a full plate? The first in a series of quarterly tip sheets from the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs may provide the assistance you seek. Prepared by Wilder Research as one means of technical support to grantees, Laying the Foundation: Tips for Conducting Program Evaluations (January 2005) offers 12 steps to a solid evaluation and why you should consider conducting one. The tip sheet is available online at www.wilder.org/fileadmin/user_upload/research/crimevictimservices1_1-05.pdf (PDF 174 KB).
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.
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through November 2005 include:
- Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse: Equal Justice for Children (National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse/American Prosecutors Research Institute; August 1 through 5; Portland, OR)
- 2005 National Conference on At-Risk Youth (The Performance Institute; August 2 through 4; Arlington, VA)
- 2005 NACAC Conference (North American Council on Adoptable Children; August 3 through 6; Pittsburgh, PA)
- 6th National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention (National Children's Advocacy Center and the Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention; August 10 through 12; Huntsville, AL)
- 2005 Meeting of States and Tribes "Cultivating Change: Strategies for Improving Outcomes in Child Welfare" (Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; August 23 through 25; Arlington, VA)
- 28th National Children's Law Conference (National Association of Counsel for Children; August 25 through 28; Hollywood, CA)
- Destination Future 2005 Youth Leadership Conference (National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development; August 26 through 28; Glorieta, NM)
- Generations United 13th International Conference "The Intergenerational Current: Across the Lifespan and Around the Globe" (September 13 through 17; Washington, DC)
- 2005 National Respite and Crisis Care Conference (Oklahoma Respite Resource Network; September 14 through 16; Oklahoma City, OK)
- 10th International Conference on Family Violence (Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute; September 16 through 21; San Diego, CA)
- APSAC Forensic Child Interview Clinic (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; September 19 through 23; Portsmouth, VA)
- National Independent Living Conference "Growing Pains" (National Independent Living Association; September 21 through 24; Atlanta, GA)
- National Summit on Your City's Families (National League of Cities; September 25 through 28; San Antonio, TX)
- Substance Exposed Newborns: Weaving Together Effective Policy & Practice (National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center; October 6 through 7; Washington, DC)
- APSAC Forensic Child Interview Clinic (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; October 10 through 14; Seattle, WA)
- Bridging Culture in a Changing World (National Black Child Development Institute; October 16 through 18; Orlando, FL)
- 2005 National Public Agency Roundtable (Council on Accreditation; October 17 through 19; Little Rock, AR)
- Healthy Communities Healthy Youth (Search Institute; November 3 through 5; Dallas, TX)
- ZERO TO THREE 20th National Training Institute (November 4 through 6; Washington, DC)
- 3rd Annual "It's My Life" Conference (Casey Family Programs; November 13 through 15; Baltimore, MD)
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found in the "Conference Calendar " on Child Welfare Information Gateway: www.childwelfare.gov/calendar
- HIPAA Training for Social Workers
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers a series of six online courses to help social workers comply with Federal HIPAA regulations. Their newest offering, HIPAA Security Basics, will familiarize social workers with HIPAA security regulations, provide examples of the three categories of security measures required, and review practical applications of security for electronic health information. Other courses in the series include:
- HIPAA Basics for Social Workers
- Understanding HIPAA Transactions and Code Sets Standards
- Clients' Rights
- Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information
- Notice of Privacy Practices
The cost for one course is $35 for NASW members ($45 for nonmembers). Package prices also are available. Find complete information about the courses on the NASW website at www.socialworkers.org/hipaa/class.asp.