September 2010Vol. 11, No. 7Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?
This month, CBX spotlights Round Two of the CFSRs, beginning with an introduction from a consultant to the Federal CFSR Team. The other four articles focus on promising State practices noted by the visiting CFSR Team or Regional Offices. Read about how States are implementing change to improve outcomes for children and families.
- Quality Assurance in Missouri
Quality Assurance in Missouri
In 2005, the Children's Division (CD) in the Missouri Department of Social Services set out to achieve accreditation through the Council on Accreditation (COA). Along the way, the Division built a comprehensive quality assurance (QA) system that today involves every member of the child welfare workforce, as well as consumers and stakeholders.
The Division began with the establishment of a QA unit—with a State-level manager and regional QA specialists—to deal with numbers, data, and analyses and to create a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) system. In 2007, a QI unit was added to help managers implement changes that came out of the CQI. Today, the CQI structure draws on a wide variety of components to monitor cases and processes and ensure accountability across the entire Division. These CQI components include:
- Input from every child welfare worker through a local CQI team. Local teams feed into teams at the site, area, and State levels. The majority of issues that arise are resolved at the local-level meetings, where teams examine data on outcomes and create improvement plans.
- A statewide CQI quarterly newsletter, In Focus, which spotlights a particular issue from the State's Child and Family Services Review that sets the agenda for local CQI meetings. The newsletter is also used to recognize achievements.
- Consumer surveys, which are completed by all foster care providers, all youth, and a percentage of parents who receive services. Families can also file grievance reports, which become part of the data.
- Peer record reviews using a protocol that allows workers to identify strengths and challenges of a particular case record. Completed mainly by frontline workers, the reviews provide feedback to those who completed the record and valuable experience to the reviewers.
- Supervisory reviews, which consist of case record reviews by supervisors specifically assessing areas of practice related to CFSR outcomes. Supervisors use the results for clinical consultations with their staff.
- An annual survey of staff that is completed online. Results are available on the CD intranet and can be broken down by region and job function.
- Monthly management reports of relevant CD statistics, such as investigations and services.
- Quarterly outcome reports on 20 outcome measures related to safety and permanency.
- Visits by the QI unit staff to check on local COA progress or maintenance and local Program Improvement Plans.
In cases where feedback needs to be provided (such as peer record reviews), data are entered into a database, and a report is generated and shared with the appropriate recipients. Regional QA Specialists regularly monitor local outcomes from the various data sources and identify trends to bring to the attention of local managers regarding areas needing improvement. Other components, such as outcome reports, are made available through the CD intranet so that all workers can access them.
An important tool for the CQI process is the Plan of Change form. QI staff introduced the form around the State as a way to document planned change. A completed form includes action steps for change, as well as a timeline. It can be used by a supervisor to help a worker make changes or by a manager to help a supervisory unit implement change.
Has all of the hard work paid off? In January of this year, the CD's achievements were recognized when Missouri's Children's Division became fully accredited—one of only seven States to do so. The accreditation process was a painstaking effort that required each of the State's 45 circuits to meet all of the COA's 800+ requirements. In order to maintain the accreditation, the Division has built a maintenance plan into its CQI.
The Missouri Children's Division doesn't plan to slow down its QA process just because accreditation has been achieved. Instead, the Division is looking toward a number of new improvements. One of the biggest changes will be the Results-Oriented Management (ROM) digital dashboard application. In partnership with Casey Family Programs, the State will make the ROM accessible to all workers, so that everyone will have access to data at all levels.
This is another step in integrating data into the child welfare culture and ensuring that data drive the decisions that are made through the CQI process, leading to better safety and permanency outcomes for Missouri's children.
To learn more about Missouri's Children's Division, visit the website:
Or, contact Susan Savage, Deputy Director of the Children's Division, at Susan.K.Savage@dss.mo.gov.
Many thanks to Susan Savage, Deputy Director of the Children's Division, Meliny Staysa, QA Unit Manager, and Linda Miller, QI Unit Manager, who provided the information for this article.
- Mississippi's Child Welfare Practice Model
Mississippi's Child Welfare Practice Model
Mississippi's Department of Human Services (DHS) is rolling out a new child welfare practice model that is helping the State to meet stringent requirements as well as creating a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm among Mississippi caseworkers. The model was developed in response to multiple mandates, including the Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR), a legal settlement agreement, and the Council for Accreditation's (COA's) standards. While helping DHS meet those requirements, the model has also become a framework that workers, stakeholders, and parents can embrace because of its potential to improve outcomes for children and families.
Creating the practice model began in early 2009 when Mississippi partnered with the Center for Support of Families (CSF) to analyze the hundreds of requirements from the settlement agreement and COA standards, as well as practice-related issues in the CFSR. CSF conducted focus group meetings, distributed surveys, and held interviews with workers, stakeholders, families, and youth to gather additional data.
Drawing on the data and on best practices, CSF and MDHS identified six broad components of child welfare interventions to comprise the core of the family-centered practice model:
- Mobilizing appropriate services timely [sic]
- Safety assurance and risk management
- Involving children and families in case activities and decision making
- Strengths and needs assessments of children and families
- Preserving connections and relationships
- Individualized and timely case planning
Implementation of the practice model has been gradual—region by region—and has been tied to a new Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process. This measured approach allows time for planning, staffing, and training. It also allows time to help workers in the field understand the practice model and make the connection between theory and practice, for example, the difference between the idea of involving children and parents and the reality of involving children and parents in making decisions.
Implementation also has been aided by a grant and technical assistance from the Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center (ACCWIC). While primarily focused in two pilot counties, the grant has helped the State to conduct a statewide organizational health assessment to be used in supporting the rollout of the practice model.
Regions are initiating implementation of the practice model two or three at a time at 6-month intervals. Each region begins implementation with a kickoff meeting that includes community partners and an orientation to the practice model and CQI process. That is followed by a period of developing an implementation plan in conjunction with a regional planning team that includes agency staff and community stakeholders. A baseline CQI review is also part of the early stage of implementation. After the 6-month planning period, full implementation begins and includes training, coaching, and phasing in case activities over 12 months. The CQI review is then repeated, so that findings can be compared to the baseline.
A case review instrument modeled after the CFSR process but structured according to the practice model is being used to establish baseline data and determine successes and areas needing assistance in each region. Randomly chosen cases are being reviewed by teams of reviewers evaluating paper and electronic case records, interviewing the parties to each case—including parents, children, and caseworkers—and surveying foster parents, service providers, and other stakeholders. CSF is working on creating and validating indicators for each of the six practice model components, so that data can be mapped to the model.
Two regions are now in the full implementation phase of the practice model, while other regions are in earlier stages. Reactions from workers have been enthusiastic and have sparked conversations about best practices. Wade Williams, Social Work Supervisor for one of the regions that has experienced full implementation commented, "Staff feel ownership for the practice model, and they're empowered about ways to improve practice. They're also more ready to involve families in case planning."
DHS staff feel that the practice model has put them on the right track to meet their Federal and legal mandates, gain COA accreditation, and—most importantly—help Mississippi's children and families experience better safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes.
Many thanks to staff from Mississippi DHS and the Center for Support of Families (CSF) for providing the information for this article. They included Lori Woodruff (Deputy Administrator, Family and Children's Services, DHS), Jerry Milner (CSF), Mike Gallarno (Office Director, CQI Unit, Family and Children's Services), Rob Hamrick (Division Director, Evaluation and Monitoring), Viedale Washington (Regional Director for Region II-West), Wade Williams (Regional Area Social Work Supervisor for Region I-South), Mary Fuller (Special Projects in CQI unit), and Tamara Garner (Special Projects in CQI unit).
- Florida's Court Improvement Program
Florida's Court Improvement Program
Since 1995, Florida's Dependency Court Improvement Program (CIP) has been working with courts and child welfare partners to improve the child welfare process. So, when the State completed its second Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) in 2008, it was only natural that CIP staff would use the CFSR results to examine ways in which the courts could have a more positive impact. Reviewing the results of each CFSR item with a broad lens, the staff developed a strategic plan—a court-related Quality Improvement Plan (QIP)—that reflected the State's own Program Improvement Plan.
This QIP became the CIP's action plan for the next 18 months. CIP staff, working closely with the Florida multidisciplinary Dependency Court Improvement Panel, chaired by the Honorable Jeri B. Cohen, carried out a number of strategic initiatives:
- CIP staff worked with the State's Dependency Panel to adopt a safety assessment tool for judges and magistrates. Training was provided on the American Bar Association's Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys. Training opportunities included judicial college and the annual Dependency Summit.
- Staff and the panel developed an initiative to involve more children in court. They distributed a resource packet to judges and court staff on involving children in court proceedings, and they offered trainings, workshops, and resources, including videos and guides for both youth and younger children and parents on attending and understanding court proceedings.
- Focused on the idea that the needs of the children and their families should be identified as early as possible, staff and the statewide panel developed a Shelter Hearing model. This was designed to help judges make the best decisions for children and youth at the hearing that occurs within 24 hours after their initial removal. A Shelter Hearing benchcard was pilot-tested by five judges and received favorable feedback. The benchcard was distributed to all dependency court judges, and an evaluation will examine how judges are using the card.
- A concurrent case planning model was also pilot-tested in one court to help judges and families better understand how to pursue alternative permanency goals for children in cases where family reunification was not possible. After a favorable reception, the model is being shared with other courtrooms.
- CIP staff and the panel identified practices for dealing with placement disruption included in new hearing benchcards. In addition, staff developed a guide to help caregivers better understand their rights. The best practices empower caregivers to ask questions in court and request support so that they can make long-term commitments to children.
- Staff and the panel developed checklists to help judges make better decisions about education, health care, dental care, and mental health care for children. They also developed benchcards for eight dependency court hearings.
The dependency court benchbook is being revised to include all of the developments that came out of the QIP. The book will be released later this year.
Having completed their QIP, Florida's CIP staff are not slowing down. The CIP office, which includes 15-16 staff, has a number of other projects, including:
- Establishing CIP model courts statewide to implement the practices outlined in the new benchbook
- Devising a way to import basic data from agencies to populate the Florida Dependency Court Information System
- Continuing to conduct trainings across the State, as well as hold regional judicial retreats that give judges and magistrates a chance to network
- Assisting with the planning of the annual Dependency Summit
Guided by the steadfast and creative leadership of Judge Cohen, coupled with the QIP as the roadmap, the recent work of the CIP and the statewide panel has begun to show positive results. According to Sandy Neidert, Senior Court Operations Consultant, "We know from anecdotal evidence that more children are now coming to court." Another benefit of the CIP work has been the increased pride that dependency court judges show in their work. As the CIP has provided more opportunities for training and networking, these judges and magistrates have begun to share more information with each other and to participate in the CIP's pilot programs and model court programs.
Florida's CIP staff continues to work with courts across the State, developing resources and implementing new programs, evaluating their results, and sharing their best practices. Read about their latest initiatives and access their resources on Florida's Office of Court Improvement website:
Other State resources are available on the CIP page of the National Resource Center for Legal and Judicial Issues website:
Many thanks to Sandy Neidert, Senior Court Operations Consultant, for providing the information for this article.
- Three States Build Father Engagement
Three States Build Father Engagement
In response to the CFSRs and as part of a greater effort to increase family engagement, a number of States have developed a range of innovative practices to engage fathers and paternal relatives in the lives of their children involved with the child welfare system. Kansas, Texas, and Kentucky are three States experiencing the benefits of their efforts to engage fathers.
Kansas has made changes in both policy and practice that have begun to show positive results in father engagement. As part of the State's 2008 Program Improvement Plan (PIP), Kansas Children and Family Services (CFS) implemented measures designed to change the culture around caseworkers' views of fathers and to encourage child welfare workers to reach out to fathers. These measures included:
- Changing the word "parent" to the phrase "mother and father" throughout the CFS policy manual. This small but significant change required workers to include fathers in their case planning and to actively seek and engage fathers and paternal relatives. The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QICNRF) provided support in making these changes.
- Training on father engagement. The Kansas CFS worked with its private agencies under contract to ensure that all providers received training on father engagement. CFS now provides a core training for workers titled, "Effectively Engaging Families and Youth in Case Planning and Case Management." The Father's Place curriculum is also a resource for providers.
- Revising policy to reflect new Federal requirements. In keeping with the Fostering Connections Act, Kansas strengthened its requirements for contacting relatives—including paternal relatives—of children entering foster care. Workers also are required to consider all relatives every time a child changes placements.
In addition to these measures, CFS is a member of the Kansas Fatherhood Coalition, a group of private organizations and public agencies seeking to improve fathers' involvement with their children. The Coalition sponsors an annual Fatherhood Summit that spotlights the important role that fathers play in their children's lives. This year the Coalition plans to sponsor a fatherhood track at the Parent Leadership Conference in the fall. The Coalition also provides training and tools for father engagement, and it gives CFS a connection with other groups that have similar goals of father involvement.
Early outcomes show that the Kansas CFS efforts to engage fathers are working. Statistics on fathers' weekly visits, assessed needs, and services provided all show an upward trend. In addition, relative placement has increased, as workers now consider paternal relatives as a resource for children in out-of-home care. Kansas CFS plans to build on these early successes with father engagement to continue to improve outcomes for all children and families.
Texas has strengthened its commitment to involving fathers in their children's lives, and this emphasis permeates all aspects of child welfare practice in the State. In early 2009, Texas created the State-level position of Fatherhood Program Specialist to spearhead this commitment. The Fatherhood Program Specialist coordinates the overall State effort, and this coordination involves visiting jurisdictions throughout the State, reviewing policy, reaching out to fatherhood groups to establish partnerships, organizing conferences and roundtables, facilitating trainings, and making presentations about the importance of father involvement.
One of the initial hurdles has been changing the mindset of child welfare professionals, court personnel, and even families who might not think to reach out to fathers and paternal relatives when a child enters the child welfare system. In changing this mindset, Fatherhood Program Specialist Kenneth D. Thompson, Sr., thinks that it's especially important to let fathers tell their own stories. "We invite fathers who've successfully navigated the child welfare system and gotten custody of their kids to speak at Judiciary Roundtables. Judges can hear directly from fathers about the struggles they've encountered in trying to get custody of their children. The judges are impressed with the fathers' stories, and the fathers feel affirmed because they've had the opportunity to share their experiences in a public forum."
Texas has initiated a number of specific reforms and activities to strengthen father engagement with the child welfare system and support fathers' involvement with their children, including:
- Revising written policies to ensure that fathers are included
- Providing training around the State on father engagement and family finding
- Creating an internal website for child welfare workers to share success stories about father engagement
- Using Family Group Decision Making as a forum to include fathers and paternal relatives in case planning
- Collaborating with fatherhood groups around the State (e.g., New Day Services, North Texas Fatherhood Initiative, Hispanic Fatherhood Initiative, and others) and with fatherhood initiatives in Indiana, Washington, and Colorado through the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System
- Working with faith-based organizations, especially in rural areas, to provide support and meeting places for fathers
- Valuing cultural diversity among fathers and reaching out to different racial and ethnic groups throughout the State
- Establishing a Parent Collaboration Group at the State level and Parent Advisory Councils at the local level, both composed of fathers who can be resources for each other
- Holding Judiciary Roundtables around the State
Frontline workers have been very receptive to the new emphasis on fathers, appreciating the positive impact that fathers and paternal relatives can have on their children. Workers are encouraged to listen to fathers who talk about their own upbringing, since this often provides clues to the types of support fathers need in developing good relationships with their children.
Thompson echoes this philosophy, noting that, "We want to have a generational impact. We want to break cycles in which fathers were not involved or included. If we can help fathers become part of their children's lives, we're setting the stage for positive father involvement for the next generation."
After the State's most recent Child and Family Services Review (CFSR), Kentucky's Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) made a renewed commitment to engage parents—especially fathers—when families become involved with the child welfare system. Meeting with child welfare workers, partners, stakeholders, and judiciary personnel, DCBS staff focused on defining "reasonable efforts" to involve fathers, as well as refining policy and implementing processes that would promote fathers' engagement by child welfare workers. DCBS took a systemic approach so that changes were made across processes as well as across agencies, regions, and service areas.
A number of specific changes were devised to encourage fathers' optimal participation in their children's lives, including:
- Updating written policies to include "father-specific" language that ensures that caseworkers seek, identify, and include fathers and paternal relatives whenever possible
- Developing tools such as a checklist that caseworkers use to help them locate fathers and paternal relatives when a child enters foster care, a genogram, a relative exploration form, and a handbook on searching for and engaging absent parents and relatives
- Working with the child support agency to develop a family finding guide to help workers locate fathers
- Revising policy so that cases are reviewed in terms of the progression of both mother and father
- Holding quarterly video conferences with regional staff to educate them about new and updated policies
- Training supervisors to help them mentor and coach caseworkers about father involvement and family engagement
- Revising training to ensure that it is culturally competent and stresses the need for frontline workers to engage everyone who is important in a child's life
- Establishing a workgroup on family engagement that has been interviewing families, including fathers, in rural and urban locations about their child welfare experiences
- Meeting with judges and court personnel on a semi-regular basis to discuss paternity establishment, parent engagement, service provision to parents, and parental notification
"Kentucky's work on family and father engagement has also dovetailed nicely with our State's response to the Fostering Connections Act, as we work to help children and youth connect with family members," comments Gretchen Marshall, DCBS Branch Manager. "Our emphasis is on frontloading the efforts to engage fathers so that workers are looking for fathers and paternal relatives before a child enters foster care. And we've experienced a real shift in workers' attitudes so that our frontline workers welcome the involvement of fathers and paternal relatives as additional resources and connections for children."
Looking ahead, Kentucky DCBS plans to continue its work on father engagement, tracking and evaluating outcomes so that the best tools, policies, and practices can be implemented to help workers find and engage fathers whenever possible.
Many thanks to the following people who provided information for this article:
- Patricia Long, Program Administrator, and Brian Dempsey, Deputy Director, Kansas CFS
- Kenneth D. Thompson, Sr., Texas Fatherhood Program Specialist
- Gretchen Marshall, Branch Manager, Quality Assurance and Policy Development Branch, Department for Community Based Services, Kentucky
- Child and Family Team Meetings Improve Utah Outcomes
Child and Family Team Meetings Improve Utah Outcomes
Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings have transformed child welfare practice in Utah, moving the State's Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) toward more family-centered practice and changing the culture of child welfare service delivery. In response to a lawsuit brought against the State in 1993, DCFS instituted a number of reforms, including the adoption of a practice model and the use of CFT meetings, which began in 2000. DCFS initially explored several teaming models, finally settling on the CFT, which employs the case manager as the initial meeting facilitator.
Over the last 10 years, the use of CFT meetings has saturated statewide practice. Caseworkers in every region of Utah know and expect that they will be building a team around a family. "It's how we do business," said Practice Improvement Coordinator Jeff Harrop. Caseworkers receive 9 weeks of training on the Utah Practice Model including 24 hours on teaming and issues such as how to handle difficult situations in a team meeting. Caseworkers also are mentored by experienced workers until they are comfortable with the process.
CFT meetings are used with families whose children have been removed as well as families receiving in-home services. The first meeting can occur within a few days of DCFS involvement or child removal. Prior to the first meeting, the caseworker reaches out to all family members and other people important to the child and family so that everyone can participate as part of the team. The caseworker takes care of the logistics, including addressing any barriers posed by distance, language, safety, or other issues.
The agenda at an early CFT meeting includes:
- Reviewing the purpose, roles, and outcomes for the meeting and the confidentiality agreement
- Defining the current problem, what enduring safety and permanency will look like for the child, how the family will reach that goal, and who will do what, when, and how
- Discussing concurrent plans
- Identifying all resources, services, and formal and informal supports, such as service providers, legal personnel, Tribal resources, friends, neighbors, relatives, and community members
- Creating or updating a Child and Family Assessment
- Creating a Child and Family Plan based on input from the family and team members
- Making arrangements for the next meeting
While caseworkers initially facilitate meetings, a youth, parent, or foster parent ideally takes on the facilitator role at subsequent meetings. Later CFT meetings focus on updating the family's long-term view (enduring safety and permanency), reporting on progress toward plan objectives, and updating the assessment and Child and Family Plan. Later meetings also incorporate new team members—such as therapists, teachers, and other service providers—as the family's supports and team grow. Meetings are held as often as the case demands or at least every 6 months as a family stabilizes.
DCFS conducts internal reviews to measure the impact of CFT meetings on outcomes, using indicators directly and indirectly tied to teaming. Results, as tracked in a database, have been positive. In addition, good teaming has been related to strong performance on assessing, planning, and intervening.
While Utah's DCFS has had success with CFT meetings, the State's recent Child and Family Services Review helped DCFS identify challenges related to engaging fathers and paternal relatives. Caseworkers are sometimes reluctant to bring a parent or relatives into CFT meetings if they have not been involved in a child's life. One way the State has started to address this challenge is through the placement of kinship specialists at the State level and in all five regions. The specialists support caseworkers, assist with locating and involving kin, and provide support to kin regarding available services.
While DCFS staff will continue to revise and improve the CFT process, they are pleased with the changes that teaming has brought about over the last decade. Not only do CFT meetings facilitate shared decision-making and distribute the burden of the work, but they also enable families to do their own problem-solving and provide parents and youth with the skills and resources they need to succeed after they leave the child welfare system.
Many thanks to Linda Wininger, Director of Program and Practice Improvement; Jeff Harrop, Practice Improvement Coordinator; and Aude Bermond Hamlet, Practice Improvement Coordinator, Utah Division of Child and Family Services, for providing the information for this article.
- Wrapping Up Round Two
Wrapping Up Round Two
September is an exciting month for the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). It not only marks the end of Onsite Reviews for this calendar year but also the end of Round 2. By September 30, all 52 jurisdictions will have completed Onsite Reviews. At present, 30 jurisdictions have an approved Program Improvement Plan (PIP), with the remainder in various stages of development. One State has completed its Round 2 PIP, with six additional States scheduled to complete their 2-year implementation periods by the end of this calendar year.
This has been an exciting period for not only the CFSR but also child welfare. The CFSR continues to impact child welfare and provides a catalyst for improved practice. While child welfare has always been a challenging and changing profession, the CFSR has been a major factor contributing to consistency, accountability, and setting the standard for child welfare practice improvement nationwide.
A noted accomplishment of the CFSR process is renewed Federal, State, and community partnerships to better address the issues facing families and children who are involved in the child welfare system. Many States have realized tremendous success in improving practice within their community, while others must overcome challenges, especially in areas related to Permanency 1 and Well-Being 1.
As will be noted in the following articles highlighting practice issues in six States, change is occurring on multiple levels. It will be noted in issues related to moving toward family-centered practice through father and family involvement, the establishment of a practice model, accountability through a quality assurance process, and the working relationship between the child welfare agency and court. If a theme could be identified from these articles, it would be that there is a culture of change within child welfare. We are proud that the CFSR is a catalyst for and supportive of change, as it is only through change that improvements will be made to better the lives of the nation's children and families.
By Don Adams, ICF International, Consultant to the Federal CFSR Team
Spotlight on Incorporating Youth Engagement and Lived Experience Into Child Welfare Practice
Spotlight on the Title IV-E Prevention Program and the Family First Prevention Services Act
News From the Children's Bureau
Find links to the latest news, including recent postings to the Children's Bureau website and other Federal news, a site visit report from a CB-funded grantee, the latest from the T&TA Network, and more.
- Children's Bureau Brochure Debuts
Children's Bureau Brochure Debuts
The Children's Bureau has a new full-color brochure to inform professionals and the public about its history, mission, and activities. Download the brochure to find out more about the Bureau's involvement in research, funding, monitoring, and special initiatives that promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children and families.
The Children's Bureau: A Legacy of Service . . . A Vision for Change is available on the CB website:
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/aboutcb/cb_brochure.pdf (1,854 KB)
- New! On the Children's Bureau Site
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:
- Request for Public Comment and Consultation Meetings on AFCARS links to the Federal Register announcement requesting public comment by October 21 (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/index.htm#laws). (Scroll down to Regulations.) Those interested in commenting may want to register for webinars on this topic scheduled for September 8 and 15 (http://www.nrccwdt.org/resources/afcars/afcars.html).
- Program Instruction (PI) 10-11 provides guidance on implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, including comprehensive guidance, titles IV-B and IV-E plan requirements, title IV-E plan amendment – definition of "child," and Extension of Title IV-E Assistance, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/pi/2010/pi1011.htm).
- Technical Bulletin #1—File Structure for the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) has been reissued to contain additional and revised instructions about reporting NYTD data to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/systems/nytd/technical_bulletins.htm ).
- Status of Program Improvement Plans (PIPs) and Subsequent Child and Family Services Reviews chart has been updated to show PIP completion and evaluation by State (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring).
- The Child and Family Services Reviews Update, an online newsletter, includes news on review schedules, technical assistance, and changes in leadership (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring/cfsr/jun10.htm).
- New PIPs are available for Rhode Island, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania (http://library.childwelfare.gov/cwig/ws/cwmd/docs/cb_web/SearchForm).
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- Site Visit: Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project
Site Visit: Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project
In 2005, the Children's Bureau's National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA) established the Minority Adoption Leadership Development Institute (MALDI) to enhance the leadership skills of minority adoption leaders from around the country. These leaders are selected from States, counties, Tribes, and/or State regions that have a high number of children of color awaiting adoption and/or high disproportionality rates. These emerging leaders are also provided mentors from their agency who work with them as they complete 12 months of job-related project assignments (Action Research Projects), which increase their technical expertise as well as their leadership capacities.
As a result of his participation in MALDI, Kory Murphy, an operations analyst for the Oregon Department of Human Services, developed the Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project in order to spread awareness of racial disparity and disproportionality, reduce the impact of bias on child welfare decision-making, and improve outcomes for Oregon's children and families. The project's goals include developing a data-based dialogue through which workers and managers can:
- Become aware of the extent of disproportionality in the State
- Uncover their own cultural biases and assumptions
- See the impact of bias on case planning
- Understand the importance of cultural considerations when working with families and children
- Safely reduce the number of children in foster care
Another crucial part of MALDI training focuses on community involvement. As part of this project, Oregon's Department of Human Services and Commission on Children and Families is working with Casey Family Programs to address disproportionality statewide. The Governor also has appointed a multiethnic, multidisciplinary Task Force on Child Welfare Racial Equity. The task force has assembled 80 community members and leaders in eight pilot counties to create community-based action plans and long-term strategies to address disproportionality. The local plans have six Safe and Equitable Foster Care Reduction Goals to be met by 2011.
Learn more by visiting:
- Equity Task Force: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/children/gov-tf-dispro-cw.shtml
- MALDI: http://www.nrcadoption.org/maldi/index.html
- National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA): http://www.nrcadoption.org
For more information on the Oregon Child Welfare Equity Project, contact Kory Murphy at email@example.com
The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: http://www.childwelfare.gov/management/funding/funding_sources/resource_center.cfm
CBX last wrote about MALDI in "Emerging Leaders Contributing to the Adoption Field" (December 2008/January 2009) and "Increasing Minority Leadership in Child Welfare" (September 2007).
- How ACF Determined CFSR Composite Scores
How ACF Determined CFSR Composite Scores
A new report posted on the Children's Bureau website provides background on the ACF decision to use composite scores in the second round of the CFSRs in order to increase objectivity and ensure a data-driven process. The Child and Family Services Review's (CFSR) Use of Composite Scores in a Pragmatic Context discusses:
- Benefits of using composite scores
- Use of principal component analysis (PCA) to construct composite scores
- Data quality
- Available technical assistance
The article also addresses questions concerning consistency among measures, weighting of data, longitudinal/cohort measures, and specific statistical processes, among others.
Comprehensive appendices provide supporting data, as well as a summary of PCA steps and revised steps for computing the national standards. Tables also provide ranked State permanency composites for each of the four permanency measures and analyses on measuring improvement for each State and permanency measure.
The report concludes that, given the available set of variables, the current set of composite scores provides optimally reliable criteria for evaluating State performance.
To read the full report, visit the CB website:
[ADD URL WHEN IT IS AVAILABLE]
- A Message From the Associate Commissioner
A Message From the Associate Commissioner
By the end of this month, the Children's Bureau will have completed the onsite portion of the second round of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Throughout the review process, we have stressed continuous, incremental improvements as opposed to passing or failing. At the Children's Bureau, we hold ourselves to the same expectation for continuous improvement. To that end, following the completion of the first round of CFSRs, the Bureau engaged in consultation with experts from around the country representing different disciplines to refine the review process. The changes seen in Round Two compared to Round One were the result of those consultations. We plan to engage in a similar process at the end of Round Two.
In recent months, concerns have been raised about the composite measures that are used, in part, to assess States' achievement of outcomes and substantial conformity with the mandates of titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. At the Children's Bureau, we take every concern seriously as we are fully committed to a process that is as accurate and complete as possible. In order to assess and evaluate specific concerns, our mathematical statistician, in consultation with a nationally recognized expert in developing composite measures, thoroughly analyzed the data and the methodology used in developing the composites. The following article ["How ACF Determined CFSR Composite Scores"] for this month’s Children's Bureau Express highlights these findings. In short, the analyses and other information provided in this report support the validity and use of the CFSR composites. [Editor's note: The full report is available on the CB website at ADD URL ]
We note that, in addition to technical concerns, some have suggested recently that State budgets as well as local political environments should somehow be a factor in developing our approaches to measurement. While the concerns of those making these statements are understandable, the overriding focus of those of us in the child welfare field must continue to be on improving the experiences of the children and families we are charged with serving. It is especially true in trying financial times that we must continue to ensure that no one loses sight of the critical needs of the vulnerable children we serve.
As always, we appreciate hearing the concerns and suggestions of fellow professionals in the field, and will continue to listen. We welcome the company of all who are invested in the hard work of continuous improvement, both in the services we provide children and their families and in the standards and measures we set for ourselves.
Joseph Bock, Acting Associate Commissioner
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- State Department Adoption News
State Department Adoption News
Special Advisor for International Children's Issues Named by the State Department
Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs has been appointed to fill the newly created position of Special Advisor to the Office of Children's Issues. A long-time advocate for children, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton created this new foreign policy position to address intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction. In her work on these issues, Special Advisor Jacobs will actively engage with foreign government officials to protect the welfare and interests of children.
The Office of Children's Issues, located within the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, assists parents, children, and families in matters related to intercountry adoption and international parental child abductions. It serves as the U.S. Central Authority for both the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.
More information about the Office of Children's Issues is available on the State Department website:
www.adoption.state.gov or www.travel.state.gov/childabduction
Trafficking in Persons Report
The State Department has released the Trafficking in Persons Report 2010. The report, compiled by the U.S. Department of State, documents the efforts being made around the world to stop human trafficking and protect victims. The contents include descriptions of the types of trafficking, including forced child labor, unlawful use of children as soldiers, and child sex trafficking; relevant international conventions; and narratives about current conditions and enforcement efforts in individual countries.
The report can be found on the State Department website:
- Updates From the T&TA Network
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:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway has redesigned its website! The new design offers easy navigation, access to popular content from the homepage, and new interactive features.
Information Gateway now offers the Learning Center, which presents child welfare knowledge with concise and easy-to-use educational resources and training tools for professionals, researchers, and students. One of the newest resources on the Learning Center is a training, "Introduction to Parent-Child Visits," designed to provide guidance to workers.
Information Gateway also has two new publications for child welfare practitioners:
- Family Engagement
- Caseload and Workload Management
- Family Engagement
- The Midwest Child Welfare Implementation Center (MCWIC) is collaborating with Iowa's Department of Human Services to implement the Parent Partner Approach statewide. The work plan, logic model, and initial planning stages were discussed in a recent webinar.
- The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) has published AIA Project Profiles, a report that describes its currently funded projects, which address the needs of families affected by substance abuse and/or HIV.
http://aia.berkeley.edu/media/pdf/AIAProjectProfiles2011_ver16_Color.pdf (1.14 MB)
- The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) has posted a PowerPoint presentation, "Drug Testing in Child Welfare: A Discussion of Practice and Policy Considerations."
http://www.cffutures.org/files/presentation-pdfs/DrugTestingPresentation_05202010.pdf (245 KB)
- The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NCROI) and the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) have produced a PowerPoint presentation, "Strengthening Child Welfare Supervision: A Participatory Design Process."
The NRCOI has also produced a factsheet on the same topic:
http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/helpkids/rcpdfs/Strengthening%20Supervision%20Fact%20Sheet%202010.pdf (156 KB)
- The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) has produced several new resources:
- Ten Years of Workforce and Leadership Development Initiatives, Training and Technical Assistance Activities, and Related Products: A Resource Guide 2000-2010.
http://www.ncwwi.org/docs/TTA_Workforce_and_Leadership_Resource_Guide_July_2010.pdf (566 KB)
- Leadership Competency Framework
http://www.ncwwi.org/docs/LeaderCompFrame_latest.pdf (1.81 MB)
- Disseminating Child Welfare Workforce Knowledge and Information to the Field: A White Paper
http://www.ncwwi.org/docs/Dissemination_in_Child_Welfare-A_Briefing_Paper_6-7-10.pdf (944 KB)
- Ten Years of Workforce and Leadership Development Initiatives, Training and Technical Assistance Activities, and Related Products: A Resource Guide 2000-2010.
- The National Quality Improvement Center on Child Representation in the Child Welfare System (QIC-ChildRep) is assembling one of the first compilations of existing knowledge on legal representation of children in child welfare cases, with a goal of including all statutes, legal authority, academic writings, and social science research.
The center also has a newly redesigned website:
- The National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) has published Differential Response Approach in Child Protective Services: An Analysis of State Legislative Provisions:
http://www.differentialresponseqic.org/assets/docs/differential-response.pdf (462 KB)
- The National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC) has selected four research and demonstration projects to test the effects of collaboration in strengthening families and reducing the likelihood of maltreatment. Read about them in its June newsletter:
http://qic-ec.trilogyinteractive.com/documents/research-and-findings/other-resources/QIC-EC-Newsletter_June_2010.pdf (242 KB)
- The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC-NRF) has posted an annotated bibliography for articles that cover fatherhood issues in law publications and cases.
http://www.fatherhoodqic.org/qicnrf_updated_legal_lit_review_2010.doc (1,137 KB)
The QIC-NRF has co-produced Engaging Noncustodial Fathers in Child Welfare Cases: A Guide for Children's Attorneys and Lawyer Guardians ad Litem.
http://www.fatherhoodqic.org/children_atty_gal_brief_final.pdf (4,198 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) has posted its summer issue of Permanency Planning Today, which focuses on inclusive child welfare practice as it relates to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning populations:
http://www.nrcpfc.org/newsletter/ppt-summer-2010.pdf (6,175 KB)
NRCPFC now has a Facebook page:
NRCPFC has published a recent webcast titled "Visit Coaching: Building on Family Strengths to Meet Children's Needs":
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1755-6988.2007.00004.x/pdf (83 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) and the National Resource Center on Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) have produced a technical assistance brief, Surveying Youth With Special Needs or Limited English Proficiency, which discusses accommodations to help all youth participate in the National Youth in Transition Database survey.
https://www.nrccwdt.org/resources/nytd/docs/NYTD_TA_%20Brief_3_Surveying_Special_Populations.pdf (110 KB)
- The National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care Grantees (NTAEC) has published a new report in its series, A Closer Look, which focuses on accountability in child welfare.
- The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health (TA Center) is hosting four webinars:
- September 16: "Designing a Recovery-Oriented Care Model for Adolescents and Transition Age Youth With Substance Use or Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders"
- October 21: "Making the Case for Partnerships Between School Mental Health and Community Services: The Use of Evaluation Data to Strengthen These Partnerships"
- November 18: "Healthy Transitions to Adulthood: Policy Implementation"
- December 16: "Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Children and Families in the Child Welfare System"
- The Northeast and Caribbean Child Welfare Implementation Center (NCIC) and New Jersey's Department of Children and Families, with additional help from the NRCOI, has published “Manage by Data” National Promising Practice Findings:
http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/ncic/assets/Final%20Managing%20by%20Data%20Promising%20Practice%20Report%20June%2016%202010.pdf (129 KB)
- Child Welfare Information Gateway has redesigned its website! The new design offers easy navigation, access to popular content from the homepage, and new interactive features.
- Early Outcomes From the Building Strong Families Project
Early Outcomes From the Building Strong Families Project
As part of its ongoing research on strengthening families and healthy marriage, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently released reports on the implementation and early impact of the Building Strong Families (BSF) project. The BSF project was launched in 2002 to develop, implement, and test voluntary interventions aimed at strengthening the relationships of unmarried couples with children and improving child well-being. BSF programs were implemented in eight locations across the country, offering relationship skills education and other support services to unwed couples who were recent or expectant parents. The new OPRE reports address the program's design, services, and participation, and they present early findings on the stability and quality of couples' relationships.
The Building Strong Families Project: Implementation of Eight Programs to Strengthen Unmarried Parent Families provides details on several aspects of the design and implementation of the project to date, including:
- An overview of the program model and evaluation design
- Profiles of the eight locations implementing BSF programs
- Recruitment strategies and participant characteristics
- Program participation and practices to improve it
- Couples' experiences with the program in their own words
The Building Strong Families Project: Strengthening Unmarried Parents' Relationships: The Early Impacts of Building Strong Families presents outcomes for couples 15 months after they applied for the program. The outcomes studied include relationship status and quality, conflict management, parenting strategies, and father involvement. The report presents several major findings:
- When averaged across all eight programs, BSF did not make couples more likely to stay together or get married, nor did it improve couples' relationship quality.
- Only the Oklahoma City, OK, program demonstrated a consistent pattern of positive effects for couples; in contrast, the Baltimore, MD, program resulted in several negative effects.
- BSF improved the relationship quality of couples in which both members were African-American, leading to increased fidelity, mutual support and affection, constructive conflict management, and reduction of intimate partner violence.
The authors suggest that future analyses addressing child well-being and long-term outcomes for couples may provide a more complete picture of the overall effects of the BSF project.
In addition to the newest reports, the OPRE website includes BSF reports from 2006 and 2008 addressing employment and the early phases of project implementation. View or download all BSF reports on the OPRE website:
- Updated and New Waiver Reports
Updated and New Waiver Reports
New and updated reports on the Children's Bureau (CB) website provide the latest information on State demonstration projects funded through Federal waivers of certain provisions of titles IV-E and IV-B. Beginning in mid 1990s, the waivers allowed States to use their IV-E and IV-B funding for innovative child welfare programs that promoted safety, permanency, and well-being for children and families.
Twenty-four States received waivers, implementing a variety of programs that included:
- Expedited reunification services
- Intensive service options
- Managed care payment systems
- Subsidized guardianships
- Services for caregivers with substance abuse
- Tribal administration of IV-E funds
- Adoption services
- Flexible funding for prevention and other services
New Waiver Report
Summary of Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Demonstrations is a new report that provides information on 11 State programs of financial support for the legal guardians of children formerly in foster care. The report looks at key outcomes in terms of permanency rates, placement duration, maltreatment recurrence, placement disruptions and foster care reentry, and child well-being. It also examines the factors that influenced outcomes.
The report notes that the demonstration projects have contributed to the national acceptance of subsidized guardianship as a permanency option for children and youth. As the waiver projects wind down, States have the option to continue supporting guardianship programs under the Federal title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program established as part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.
Read the full report on the CB website: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/2010/summary_sg2010.htm
Updated Waiver Reports
Three reports on the CB website provide updated information on waiver demonstration projects:
- Summary of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations focuses on the characteristics and evaluation outcomes of active or recently completed waivers (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/2010/summary_demo2010.htm).
- Profiles of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Projects compiles comprehensive State-by-State information on the 24 States that have implemented waiver demonstration projects (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/2010/profiles_demo2010.pdf) (823 KB).
- Summary Table of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations as of June 2010 offers a quick way to determine waiver types, States, and recent implementation status (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/2010/summary_table2010.htm).
All of these reports plus additional information on waiver demonstration projects are available on the CB website:
Child Welfare Research
Child welfare news brings you research and reports on some of the most critical issues in the field, including alternative response and privatized services.
- Privatization Efforts in Two States
Privatization Efforts in Two States
As part of the growing trend in child welfare for greater accountability, many jurisdictions have turned to privatized child welfare services that involve performance-based contracting. A recent report from Casey Family Programs analyzes the privatization efforts of Florida and Kansas, the only two States that have fully privatized their child welfare systems (other than investigations).
As part of the Casey study, interviews were conducted with leaders and private provider staff directly involved with each of the targeted privatization initiatives. In Florida, the consensus among those interviewed was that the Federal IV-E waiver was a critical component of their successful privatization efforts. The waiver provided flexibility in the funding, which allowed for innovative practices essential to improvement, including Florida's reduction of children in out-of-home care. Other Florida outcomes included an increase in adoptions and decreases in caseloads and staff vacancy rates.
Interviews and data from Kansas showed that statewide privatization resulted in a slight decrease in the number of children in out-of-home care and more sizeable decreases in the number of children in residential placement and in the average length of time children spent in out-of-home care. Adoptions from foster care in Kansas also increased.
Themes considered key to implementing a successful privatized system included:
- Phased-in transition with a clear and articulated plan
- A strong public-private partnership
- Engagement of all stakeholders
- Sufficient staffing and financial resources
- Commitment to change from leadership
The report also provides information on the historical background of the Florida and Kansas initiatives, a summary of challenges and lessons learned during the transition process, the benefits of privatization, and performance and fiscal outcomes. The full report, An Analysis of the Kansas and Florida Privatization Initiatives, and an executive summary can be found on the Michigan Federation for Children and Families website:
- Update on Alternative Response in Ohio
Update on Alternative Response in Ohio
The team selected to help plan, implement, and evaluate an alternative response pilot study in 10 Ohio counties has produced a final report recommending that alternative response be adopted in all 88 Ohio counties. The report concludes the 18-month pilot study conducted between July 2008 and January 2010 and presents information about the project, findings, and recommendations for the Supreme Court of Ohio's Subcommittee on Responding to Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency.
The recommendation for statewide implementation of alternative response is based on several key findings from the pilot study:
- Children remained as safe under alternative response as under the traditional investigations.
- There was a decrease in new reports of child abuse and neglect as a result of alternative response family assessment.
- The greatest impact of alternative response on new reports of child maltreatment was seen with African-American families.
- The poorest study families were the most positively affected by alternative response.
- A decrease in the number of children removed from the home and in out-of-home placements was attributed to alternative response.
- Families receiving alternative response experienced greater engagement and more satisfaction with their workers and services received, and they received and participated in more services.
- All 10 counties involved in the pilot study opted to institute alternative response as a permanent practice when the pilot study period ended.
The report offers additional recommendations to support statewide implementation of alternative response, including changes to State statutes, increased State and county infrastructure and capacity-building, effective State and county partnerships, and changes to practice.
Ohio Alternative Response Pilot Project Final Report of the AIM Team, by Caren Kaplan and Amy Rohm, is available on the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy website:
www.law.capital.edu/adoption/AR/Section%201%20AIM%20Final%20Report.pdf (2.37 MB)
Other reports and materials related to the Ohio project, including an executive summary of the final report, are also available on the website:
Children's Bureau Express last wrote about alternative response in Ohio in "Ohio Implements Alternative Response Pilots" (February 2010).
Strategies and Tools for Practice
CBX links you to information for transitioning youth including a toolkit and information about a leadership advisory team, recommendations from teachers about helping children in foster care, and guidelines on Family Group Decision Making.
- FGDM Guidelines From American Humane
FGDM Guidelines From American Humane
American Humane Association and the Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) Guidelines Committee have released Guidelines for Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare, a publication intended to increase understanding of FGDM and to encourage FGDM's integration throughout the child welfare system. FGDM refers to the practice of inviting family members of a child or youth involved in the child welfare system to participate fully in meetings and collaborate on case plans regarding a child's safety, permanency, and well-being.
The new guidelines explain what FGDM is and the potential FGDM has to improve outcomes for children and families. The main topics of the guidelines include:
- The FGDM coordinator
- The role played in preparing for and guiding the family meeting
- The relationship with child welfare practice improvements
- Desired qualifications of the coordinator and the recruitment process
- Referral to FGDM
- Criteria for referral to FGDM
- Role of the referring worker during the process
- The types of information gathered for the referral
- Timelines of referral and its acceptance
- Identifying family group members to invite
- Properly preparing family group members and children
- Preparing the referring worker and members of the child welfare team
- Scheduling the meeting
- Family meetings
- Determining participants in meetings and maintaining balance between all attending
- Steps taken in the actual family meeting
- Implementing private family time during the meeting
- Follow-up after family meetings
- Writing and distribution of the plan
- Monitoring and evaluating the plan progress
- Administrative support
- Training, education, and staff development
- Organizational policies and functions
Visit American Humane's website to download the publication:
www.americanhumane.org/assets/docs/protecting-children/PC-fgdm-guidelines.pdf (1,039 KB)
- The FGDM coordinator
- Maine's Youth Leadership Advisory Team
Maine's Youth Leadership Advisory Team
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) developed the Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT) to bring together young people involved in the child welfare system and create opportunities for them to learn and practice leadership and advocacy skills. YLAT, in partnership with DHHS and the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, encourages youth members to join their peers to advocate for system reform, advise policymakers, and contribute to the efforts of improving outcomes for children and youth in Maine's child welfare system. Youth are recruited from foster care, trained, and then provided with leadership opportunities and supported throughout this process.
To mark the 10th anniversary of YLAT, the publication Youth Leadership Advisory Team: An Innovative Approach to Systems Improvement was produced in March 2010. Written by Marie Zemler Wu, Penthea Burns, Marty Zanghi, and Dianna Walters, the report presents the YLAT program model to both aid other jurisdictions considering a similar approach and to help guide the YLAT team as they prepare for the future.
The authors conclude that YLAT has benefited youth in Maine in the following ways:
- There has been a reduction in the number of children and youth in care, as well as a reduction in the number of youth in congregate care.
- Average time to permanency has decreased.
- The number of youth who leave care without a permanent connection has decreased significantly.
- Both youth and DHHS staff have a greater understanding of the need for permanency for older youth.
This publication was funded by a grant from the Innovations in American Government Award, a program of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It is available on the YLAT website:
http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/Publications/CYF/YLAT-innovative-approach-to-systems-improvement.pdf (338 KB)
- FosterClub Transition Toolkit Helps Youth Map Futures
FosterClub Transition Toolkit Helps Youth Map Futures
FosterClub, a national network supporting young people in foster care, has developed the FosterClub Transition Toolkit to help youth develop a plan for transitioning into adulthood. The toolkit encourages youth to prepare their individual plan with the supportive adults involved in their lives, such as foster parents, teachers, or mentors, and is designed to help youth assess their assets, identify resources, and plan for life after foster care. The toolkit also provides a "Readiness Scale" for youth to track their progress in the following 10 areas:
- Finances and money management
- Job and career
- Life skills
- Self care and health
- Community, culture, and social life
FosterClub's toolkit supports the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, which requires that all States develop an individual transition plan for the foster youth during the 90-day period before a youth leaves foster care.
To download the Transition Toolkit, visit:
www.fosterclub.com/files/transition_toolkit.pdf (3,847 KB)
- Teachers Advise on Helping Foster Children
Teachers Advise on Helping Foster Children
A long-running California initiative that aims to improve education quality and outcomes for children in foster care has published a suite of new reports and resources. The initiative, Ready to Succeed: Improving Educational Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care, is a partnership among the Stuart Foundation, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, and Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc., formed to promote collaboration between the education and child welfare systems. The group's latest releases include two reports.
Ready to Succeed in the Classroom: Findings From Teacher Discussion Groups on Their Experiences and Aspirations Teaching Students in the Foster Care System is a new report based on six teacher discussion groups in three California counties. The groups addressed the experiences of children at every grade level, including those in alternative schools. The resulting report includes discussion on:
- Barriers that children in foster care experience in school
- Strategies for welcoming new students who are in the foster care system
- Assessments for determining a student's education level and progress
- Wish lists of resources and policies that teachers would like to see from their schools, districts, and communities to help children in foster care succeed in the classroom
- Advice for other teachers
Grappling With the Gaps: Toward a Research Agenda to Meet the Educational Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care is based on interviews with 12 foster care experts with a wide variety of experience with children and youth in foster care. The report includes discussion and experts' opinions on:
- What is needed to promote school readiness for children in the foster care system
- Necessary components for school success
- The importance of data collection and sharing
- A research agenda to spread knowledge about ways to promote educational success for children in foster care
The collaborative has also produced a series of four "discussion cards," each with a different target audience (teachers, schools, districts, and communities), that provide tips on how to help foster children succeed in school.
To find out more about the Ready to Succeed initiative and access the reports and other resources, visit the website:
Children's Bureau Express last wrote about the Ready to Succeed initiative in "Connecting to Improve Education for Children in Foster Care" (February 2009).
- Supervision Issues and Family Service Procurement
Supervision Issues and Family Service Procurement
Recent issues of Practice Notes, produced by the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program, explore the topics of excellence in supervision (June) and finding appropriate services for clients (May).
Supervisory practices that can develop staff and improve satisfaction and performance are key ingredients to improved outcomes for families. The June issue of Practice Notes includes articles with tools to strengthen practice and engage caseworkers and families, ways to enhance a unit's performance through partnerships, and developing supervisory skills and best practices.
The May issue of Practice Notes addresses the role of the caseworker as a consumer of services for families. Child welfare professionals need the ability to identify and secure high-quality services for children and families in many areas. Articles on this topic cover the following:
- Current evidence-based practices in children's mental health
- Some commonly prescribed evidence-based interventions
- Meeting children's needs with the medical home approach
- Empowering families and youth to be wise consumers of services
- Pregnancy Prevention Resources
Pregnancy Prevention Resources
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has new resources for those who work with teens in foster care. A DVD and discussion guide, A Crucial Connection: Working Together to Address Teen Pregnancy Among Youth in Foster Care, are now available for child welfare and health-care professionals, foster parents and caregivers, and teens in foster care or transitioning from care. The 9-minute video spotlights teens talking about early childbearing and also presents statistics on the number of teens in foster care who become parents. The accompanying guide provides discussion questions for different audiences. Access both on the National Campaign website:
The National Campaign website has a section devoted to youth in foster care that includes research, resources for foster care workers and for youth, a blog, and more:
One of the newest resources is a downloadable brochure from the Virginia Roundtable on
Teen Pregnancy Prevention for Youth in Foster Care, Fostering Connections: Improving Access to Sexual Health Education: Policy Recommendations to Enhance Success and Sustainability for Youth in Out-of-Home Care:
www.thenationalcampaign.org/fostercare/PDF/VA_FC_PolicyRecommendations.pdf (480 KB)
- Handling Crossover Cases in Child Welfare and Juvenile Delinquency
Handling Crossover Cases in Child Welfare and Juvenile Delinquency
The need for collaboration and coordination among public agencies, attorneys, judges, and court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers involved in crossover cases is the focus of the March 2010 issue of the Judges' Page Newsletter. Crossover cases are those involving children and youth who have a case in the dependency court as well as the delinquency court. Crossover cases may also include children and youth who have committed a status offense or a child in need of care or supervision (CHINS) offense. In some States, the same court will have jurisdiction over both kinds of cases. In other States, there are two court systems involved with different judges having jurisdiction. In this newsletter, experts from the field discuss cross-systems approaches to handling these cases that can help ensure that youth receive needed services and supports.
The Judges' Page Newsletter is a publication of the National CASA Association in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges:
- ZERO TO THREE Spotlights Home Visiting
ZERO TO THREE Spotlights Home Visiting
A recent edition of The Baby Monitor, an online newsletter published by the ZERO TO THREE Policy Network, focuses on resources to help States and professionals learn more about using home visiting to support families during a child's first years of life. Home visiting has gained national visibility due, in part, to new Federal funding established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to help States develop, implement, and expand evidence-based home visiting programs.
This edition of The Baby Monitor connects professionals with ZERO TO THREE resources such as:
- A tool to help States assess and improve their home visitation programs
- A policy brief on supporting parents and child development through home visiting
- Highlights from a webinar featuring innovative approaches to building an early childhood home visitation system
- A discussion forum for States to share their home visiting plans and ideas
- The July 2010 edition of the Zero to Three journal: "Home Visiting: Past, Present, and Future" (paid subscription required)
The Baby Monitor also regularly features Federal and State policy updates on issues affecting infants and toddlers and their families, as well as new publications and resources from related national and State organizations.
Visit the ZERO TO THREE website to read this July 12, 2010, edition of The Baby Monitor, or subscribe by joining the ZERO TO THREE Policy Network:
Training and Conferences
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.
- Online Adoption Courses
Online Adoption Courses
Adoption Learning Partners provides an array of web-based educational adoption resources for child welfare professionals, adoptive and prospective adoptive parents and families, and adopted individuals. The interactive, e-learning courses are designed to increase each individual's understanding of domestic, international, and foster care adoption, as well as the joys and challenges associated with each.
Currently featured on the website is the Hague Package, which provides coursework that meets the Hague training requirements for parents pursuing intercountry adoption.
In addition to the variety of online courses, Adoption Learning Partners also provides training and tools for adoption professionals, a number of articles and papers that may be downloaded, webinars, and a community forum.
For more information, including a full list of courses, fees, and credit hours, visit the Adoption Learning Partners' website:
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through December 2010 include:
- CSWE 56th Annual Program Meeting
Promoting Sustainability in Social Work
Council on Social Work Education
October 14–17, Portland, OR
- 2010 Alliance National Conference
Alliance for Children and Families
October 20–22, Milwaukee, WI
- 33rd National Juvenile and Family Law Conference
National Association of Counsel for Children
October 20–23, Austin, TX
http://www.naccchildlaw.org/resource/resmgr/2010_conference/2010_save_the_date_-_email.pdf (1,116 KB)
- National Lifespan Respite Conference
Respite: Create It!
Maryland Respite Care Coalition and ARCH National Respite Network and the National Respite Coalition
October 24–27, Baltimore, MD
- Fractured Families: The Causes and Consequences of Children Separated From Their Families Across International Borders
International Social Service
November 4–5, Baltimore, MD
- 5th Annual Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare
The Child Welfare Response Continuum
November 8–10, Anaheim, CA
- WorldForum 2010
A World Fit for Children: Advancing the Global Movement
International Forum for Child Welfare
November 8–11, New York, NY
- 25th National Training Institute
ZERO TO THREE
December 9–11, Phoenix, AZ
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on Child Welfare Information Gateway:
- CSWE 56th Annual Program Meeting
- Online Classes for Working With Young Families
Online Classes for Working With Young Families
The College of Education and Human Development (CEED) at the University of Minnesota is accepting registrations for fall online classes. Several classes deal with supporting families with young children. Fall 2010 classes include:
- Seeing Is Believing: Videotaping Families and Using Guided Self-Observation to Build on Parenting Strengths
- Supporting Stressed Young Children Through Relationship-Based Teaching
- Introduction to Infant Mental Health
- Premature Babies and Their Parents: Information and Insights for Early Intervention Personnel
For more information and registration, visit the CEED webpage:
- Fatherhood Engagement Training
Fatherhood Engagement Training
American Humane is offering a training institute on Family Engagement and Father Involvement to provide innovative, in-person training. The institute covers:
- Practical skills for caseworkers, supervisors, administrators, and policymakers
- Cultural competency
- Collaborations among diverse social service agencies, including foster care, in-home services, prevention, child support, law enforcement, workforce readiness, and community-based organizations
- Assumptions about fathers and how to recognize them
The training institute uses a curriculum with a strong research basis (see www.abanet.org/child/fathers/research.shtml) and includes agency self-assessment to gauge father-friendliness of the agency culture. When possible, it also includes a panel of fathers to discuss real-life challenges and successes when working with the child welfare system.
For more information, visit the American Humane webpage:
Or contact Paul Frankel, Research Project Manager: paulf@AmericanHumane.org