This month, CBX draws attention to National Foster Care Month and highlights Children's Bureau projects that work to increase access to early education services and the educational stability of children and youth in care.
- Services for and by Youth in Care
A community services center for transitioning youth—operated by and for youth in foster care—is celebrating its third anniversary with a new location.
Voice Our Independent Choices for Emancipation Support (VOICES) centers are the first-of-their-kind community centers for emancipating youth. The centers connect youth with more than 40 community organizations and county agencies offering critical services to help them transition to independent living, including housing, employment, education, and other wellness services.
VOICES was established in Napa, CA, in 2004 as a result of a task force created by On the Move, a nonprofit community organization. In 2009, the second VOICES location opened in Sonoma County, CA. The Sonoma County VOICES opened its new location and celebrated with an open house on April 11, 2012, offering the public a chance to tour the facility and see performances by VOICES youth.
Both centers provide transitioning youth with the opportunity to get involved in their transition planning, develop a personalized emancipation plan, and connect with other youth with foster care experience. While VOICES is composed of partnerships with a variety of organizations and agencies, the heart of the program is the youth who work in partnership with adult coaches.
In June 2012, VOICES—with LIFT Teens, Youth Engagement Solutions, and International Foster Care Organization—will host the 2012 International Summit of Youth in Care at the University of Maryland. The summit will bring together youth leaders to discuss current practices and policies for teens transitioning from care.
More information about VOICES and the International Summit of Youth in Care is available on the VOICES website:
- Study Examines Placement Stability
The number of unrelated children in a foster home may increase placement instability according to a study by Illinois' Children and Family Research Center. The study's findings also revealed an interesting pattern regarding sibling placements.
In 2004, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) set out to evaluate the correlation between placement stability and the number of children in a foster home. The study examined children placed in out-of-home care in 1998–2000 and tracked their foster care experiences until June 2003. CFRC extended its analysis to include a second cohort of children placed in care in 2001–2003 and tracked their experiences through June 2006. The elements analyzed for the second cohort, however, were slightly refined:
- Running away was added as a placement disruption outcome.
- The number of siblings in a foster home was analyzed, not just the number of unrelated children or youth in a single home.
- Children in care less than 1 year and with placements lasting fewer than 31 days were excluded.
Findings showed that as the number of children in a single foster home increased, so did placement instability.
- In the first cohort (1998–2000), children who lived in foster homes with five or more unrelated children experienced placement changes at a rate approximately 92 percent higher than children who experienced foster care in a home with no unrelated children.
- In the second cohort (2001–2003), children who lived in foster homes with five or more unrelated children experienced placement moves at a rate approximately 101 percent higher than children who experienced foster care in a home with no unrelated children.
While the analysis revealed a positive correlation between the number of unrelated children in a single home and placement changes, there was no such relationship between the number of siblings in a single foster home and placement moves. Placement with siblings actually reduced the runaway risk for children.
The study also evaluated placement stability as it related to child age, placement type, and other factors.
In Illinois, the number of children placed in a single foster care home has decreased in recent years. In fiscal year (FY) 1990, 27 percent of children in care were placed in homes with three or more children, compared to just 12 percent in FY 2006.
Placement Stability and Number of Children in a Foster Home, by M. Testa, M. Nieto, & T. Fuller, is available on the Children and Family Research Center's website:
http://cfrc.illinois.edu/pubs/bf_20120131_PlacementStabilityAndNumberOfChildrenInAFosterHome.pdf (1,009 KB)
- Foster Care and Education Database
Improving educational outcomes for children and youth involved with the child welfare system requires a collaborative effort. To facilitate that collaboration, the American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law developed a new online resource for legal and other related child welfare professionals.
The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education Database is an interactive database of State-specific resources pertaining to the educational needs of children and youth in foster care. Visitors can search for information and materials by State, topic, or document type. A variety of legal documents are available, including court orders, consent decrees, legal briefs, memorandums of understanding and other interagency agreements, reports addressing foster care and education issues, resources from education summits and forums, training materials, implementation resources, advocacy materials, and more.
Visitors can search for documents on the following topics:
- Confidentiality and information sharing
- Drop-out and truancy
- Education decision-making
- Education of young children birth to age 5
- Equal education access and opportunities
- Foster care eligibility for McKinney-Vento
- In-court education advocacy
- In-school education advocacy
- Involving youth in their education planning
- Postsecondary education
- School discipline
- Special education
- School enrollment stability and continuity
The database corresponds to the framework of eight goals in the Center on Children and the Law's Blueprint for Change. In fact, visitors can search by Blueprint goal. ABA's Center on Children and the Law will update the database as new resources become available.
Read the Blueprint for Change here:
The database is available here:
- Educational Stability for Youth in Care
Former and current youth in foster care tend to lag behind their peers in educational achievement. One recent study found that youth with foster care experience were more than three times as likely not to receive a high school diploma or GED.1 To help promote the educational stability of youth, the Children's Bureau funded Child Welfare – Education System Collaborations to Increase the Educational Stability of Youth grants in 2011. These are 17-month infrastructure-building grants to support collaborations between child welfare and education systems to increase the educational stability of children, ages 10–17, in or at risk of entering the child welfare system.
The Siouxland Human Investment Partnership (SHIP) is one of 10 awardees under this grant cluster. SHIP is implementing the Collaboration of Agencies for Permanency and Stability (CAPS) project, which serves youth ages 13 and older in residential foster care within two counties in Iowa, Woodbury and Pottawattamie. The primary focus of the project is creating electronic academic records so that they can be shared and utilized across the education, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems.
Iowa is one of eight States that uses the National Transcript Center (NTC) application to electronically collect information on student progress and performance from preschool through grade 12. The Iowa education system uses the NTC application to generate official transcripts for students. The application captures an assortment of education information, including current and previous grades, courses completed, courses in which the student is enrolled, and even subject matter that has been covered in a particular class (e.g., that a class has progressed through chapter five in a particular textbook). A numbering system allows for easy class comparison across school systems, so educators can determine if transferring students have completed equivalent courses. Additionally, teachers can upload student work to the NTC application.
The CAPS project will use the NTC application to assist the transition of youth in foster care from one school to another. Traditionally, school transcripts often do not reach the youth's new school until 4–6 weeks after the transfer. This puts the student and the new school in a holding pattern because the school cannot properly assess which courses the student should take. The CAPS project is working to allow the education, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems greater access to the system so that they can ensure youths' academic information, including the completed and current coursework, follows them on a timely basis from school to school. The project also hopes to include a component that outlines the youths' remaining graduation requirements so that all parties have a clearer picture of what the student needs to accomplish to graduate.
In addition to helping the education system better assist the youth toward graduation, the CAPS project also allows the child welfare system to better assess the child's well-being, which includes educational needs. Rather than only knowing if a child is safe and enrolled in a school, NTC records allow caseworkers to better determine how a child is faring and progressing in school. This information will assist caseworkers in making case decisions and in discussing the case with supervisors and other systems, such as the courts. The project will begin testing the use of the application for these purposes this summer.
The other components of the CAPS project include:
- A public awareness campaign targeted toward the education and child welfare systems about the importance of information exchange and other issues affecting youth in foster care. To achieve this, the project held a statewide conference and also maintains a website.
- A training program for education advocates. The project is training individuals who are connected to the youth and their families, including caseworkers, probation officers, teachers, counselors—even the youth themselves—to help the youth and their families better navigate the education system and move toward graduation.
Jim France, the SHIP Executive Director, recommends that any localities or organizations seeking to implement similar systems should first review what is currently in place. The current systems may have the information and capabilities necessary to meet their needs. Additionally, he stressed the importance of discussing the initiative with people who are directly involved with the youths' education, including school personnel and even youth, "Input from school personnel and the foster youth are critical to maintaining a proper focus for the project: helping transitional youth be successful in obtaining a quality education."
Many thanks to Jim France, Executive Director of SHIP, for providing information for this article.
1 Courtney, M. E., Dworsky, A., Lee, J. S., & Raap, M. (2010). Midwest evaluation of adult functioning of former foster youth: Outcomes at ages 23 and 24. Retrieved March 27, 2012, from:
http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/Midwest_Study_Age_23_24.pdf (2 MB).
- Clearing Credit Records for Transitioning Youth
Recognizing that youth in foster are at a high risk for identity theft, a 2006 California law aimed to clear the credit records of transitioning youth prior to their exit from care. A new report by the California Office of Privacy Protection (COPP) summarizes the many challenges in implementing the law, describes a pilot project to overcome those challenges, and provides recommendations for new procedures to protect this vulnerable population.
Execution of the law proved to be challenging because of limited funding and the automated process for requesting credit scores, which left many minors unable to obtain their scores. In 2010, COPP, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs, and the three national credit reporting agencies (CRAs), tested the procedures for implementing the law's intent. They evaluated the credit records of 2,110 transitioning youth, ages 16 and 17, in Los Angeles County. Key findings included the following:
- Negative items were successfully removed from the credit reports of 104 foster youth (5 percent of the sample).
- These 104 youth collectively had 247 separate accounts reported in their names. Since CRAs do not knowingly create records on minors, these accounts are the result of fraud or error.
- The average account balance was over $1,800, and the largest was a home loan in excess of $200,000.
- On average, the accounts were opened when most of the youth were 14-years-old.
Overall, the pilot project was a success, and the processes that were implemented subsequently proved to be efficient and secure. In addition, the COPP made the following recommendations:
- The Los Angeles County DCFS should submit to law enforcement the data obtained via the pilot project for review against possible crimes of theft.
- The State of California should centralize credit report requests through the State's Department of Social Services.
- CFAs should develop a secure and automated procedure for requesting credit reports for minors and offer parents and legal guardians, including foster parents, the ability to suppress minors' identities.
A Better Start: Clearing Up Credit Records for California Foster Children is available on the COPP website:
- May Is National Foster Care Month
May is National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge the foster parents, family members, community members, child welfare professionals, and policymakers who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. This month is also a time to focus on ways to create a bright future for the more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care.
The Children's Bureau—with its information service, Child Welfare Information Gateway, and the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections—supports National Foster Care Month through a dedicated web section on the Information Gateway website:
The focus of this year's web section is Achieving Well-Being With Children and Youth in Care, and the section provides resources to help caseworkers, managers, and administrators support children, youth, and their families:
- Build well-being postpermanency
- Build well-being with transitioning youth
- Build well-being through support in sibling connections
- Build well-being through support in school and the community
- Build well-being through trauma-informed child welfare system
The National Foster Care Month web section also features real-life stories of children, youth, and families involved in foster care. These stories can help child welfare workers, managers, training staff, and others engage audiences in a variety of settings. They are great tools for highlighting the importance of building well-being for children and youth in care. View the stories here:
The Children's Bureau also is a partner in the national "Change a Lifetime" campaign. For more information on this initiative, visit:
To read the Presidential Proclamation and get updates on activities and tips about how to get involved, visit the National Foster Care Month web section:
- Documentary Highlights Youth in Care
A new documentary film highlights the experiences of youth in foster care in Vermont and the kinship and foster parents who open their hearts and homes to them. The film also features parents whose own children have entered foster care and their efforts to have their children return home.
The focus of Ask Us Who We Are, produced by independent filmmaker Bess O'Brien, is on the feelings of hurt and loss experienced by youth in care and their search for belonging and family. Released in 2011, the film gives a voice to the more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care across the nation. Youth discuss their feelings about their birth parents' struggles, the challenge of living apart from their birth families, the perceptions of others about foster care and the child welfare system, and more.
The film comes packaged with two discussion guides and can be used as an educational resource in schools or as a training tool for professionals. It is available for purchase on the Kingdom County Productions' website:
- More Children Are Placed With Families
Research shows that in the past decade, more children and youth in the child welfare system are living with families rather than in group homes or institutions.
An issue brief by Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, highlights data from the 2009 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report, which shows that the overall number of children and youth who experience foster care is declining. The issue brief also emphasizes that between 2000 and 2009, States were more likely to place children who do experience foster care with families rather than in group homes or institutions. Children who experience foster care in group settings are more likely to age out of the child welfare system without permanent family connections, which often results in negative outcomes such as unemployment, low educational attainment, substance abuse, and more. The Kids Count issue brief also highlights the correlation between child age and placement type.
The issue brief highlights the following statistics:
- Thirty-seven States in the past decade have reduced the number of children or youth who experience foster care in group homes or institutions. Five States—Arizona, Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oklahoma—reduced these rates by 50 percent.
- Ten States—Idaho, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia—increased the number of children placed in kinship care by 100 percent or more.
- Thirty-three percent of children ages 1–5 experience kinship care, compared to just 11 percent of youth 16 or older.
- Only 1 percent of children ages 1–5 experience group home or institutional placements, compared to 36 percent of youth 16 or older.
The Data Snapshot on Foster Care Placement: Moving in the Right Direction: More Kids in Families is available on the Annie E. Casey Foundation's website:
AFCARS data for FY 2010 (October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010) is available on the Children's Bureau website:
- Electronic Early Education Referrals
Improving child well-being, including meeting educational needs, has become a high priority in the child welfare field over the past decade. In 2011, the Children's Bureau issued two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) highlighting the importance of improving educational attainment among children served by the child welfare system. One of those FOAs focused on establishing partnerships across child-serving systems to increase access to early education services. In response to this, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) proposed enhancing an existing electronic referral system and building stronger local collaborations to better link children in the child welfare system with early education providers. The system enhancement became the Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Care Systems Infrastructure Project.
Prior to the grant, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) developed a referral system to boost the Head Start enrollment of children in foster care ages 3–4 years. What started as a paper-based referral process became computer based, and both systems increased Head Start referral rates. For the LA Child Welfare-Early Care Systems Infrastructure Project, the electronic referral system was expanded in Long Beach, the second largest city in the county. The expanded system generates Head Start and Early Head Start referrals for children ages 0–4 who are involved in any open child welfare case.
When caseworkers enter the Head Start and Early Education Referral System, it generates a list of children from their caseload who are eligible for Head Start or Early Head Start. If the caseworker clicks on a name, the system asks if the caregiver consents to enrolling the child in an early education program. If the caseworker clicks Yes, a referral is generated. Each week, a DCFS staffer emails a list of newly referred children to the Head Start/Early Head Start office. If the caseworker clicks No, the system asks the caseworker to select a reason (e.g., the caregiver is not interested, the caregiver cannot transport the child, the child is already enrolled, the program will not meet the child's needs). The entire referral process takes less than 1 minute per child.
Both the initial and expanded referral systems help already overwhelmed caseworkers by automating one component of their jobs and more easily connecting them with the early education agencies. The expansion allows a wider range of children to receive referrals, thereby improving their educational opportunities and providing another resource for parents. Project staff report that caseworkers appreciate the facility of the system and that it has made their practice easier. Some caseworkers have even requested the concept be expanded to include other aspects of case practice. Dr. Sacha Klein, the project evaluator, noted, "Child welfare staff are already overwhelmed by myriad responsibilities and sometimes large caseloads, and so automating and simplifying the early education referral process for them is critical to the success of this initiative."
The referral system also establishes enhanced communication between the child welfare and early education systems about how the children are faring, which will hopefully lead to better coordination of services for families. Head Start and Early Head Start staff conduct developmental assessments and connect families with community resources, such as medical and dental care, and any necessary specialized education or developmental resources. Early Head Start and Head Start staff can update the caseworkers about emerging issues and let them know what additional services the children and families receive.
Another key component of the project is a Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Head Start staffer who, among other things, finds alternative early education settings if there are no open Head Start or Early Head Start slots. The project intends to make this position sustainable after the grant ends. Two of the key project partners to which children are referred are the South Bay Center for Counseling and the Los Angeles Universal Preschool. The South Bay Center for Counseling operates a "preschool without walls" in public community spaces (e.g., library, park, school) and models enrichment activities for children while teaching parents how to engage their children in educational activities using materials they likely have at home.
The project also conducts trainings with child welfare staff, juvenile court personnel, and parents/caregivers about the value of early education, and project staff offer trainings with early education staff, court personnel, and caregivers about working with the child welfare system. Additionally, the project has an advisory committee, which includes a caregiver, to discuss a multitude of issues, such as how to share and track data among child welfare and early education systems and how to facilitate transitions when children move from one home or school to another to maintain continuity of the child’s education.
Project staff noted several key strategies for moving this initiative forward. One is to have child welfare agency staff whose focus is on education and early education. Otherwise, with everything else on which the agency must focus, these areas may receive a low priority. Additionally, agencies do not need to immediately create a large system or process to achieve positive results. It may be better to create a small, scalable system in the beginning, ensure the process works, and then expand later.
The Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Care Systems Infrastructure Project is a partnership between UCLA, the Los Angeles County DCFS, the LBUSD Head Start/Early Head Start program, the Michigan State University School of Social Work (project evaluator), and various early childhood and family support service providers in Long Beach, CA.
Many thanks to Todd Franke of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Sacha Klein of the Michigan State University School of Social Work, and Steve Sturm of the Los Angeles County DCFS for providing information for this article.
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
News From the Children's Bureau
The first article in our second Centennial Series, CB Decade-by-Decade, details the Children's Year Campaign from 1918 to 1919. We also highlight National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.
- New! From CB
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:
- Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance – This describes the financial and medical assistance for guardianship of eligible children and associated administrative and training costs.
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/state_tribal/guardianship_assist.pdf (40 KB)
- IM-12-03 – This Information Memorandum (IM) is to be used as a resource for State and Tribal title IV-B agencies as they develop protocols for the appropriate use and monitoring of psychotropic medications by children in foster care.
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/im/2012/im1203.pdf (474 KB)
- IM-12-04 – This IM explains the Administration on Children, Youth and Families priority to promote social and emotional well-being for children and youth receiving child welfare services.
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/im/2012/im1204.pdf (150 KB)
- PI-12-03 – This Program Instruction (PI) explains the eligibility requirements and the grant application procedures for fiscal year (FY) 2012 Children's Justice Act Grants to States under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/pi/2012/pi1203.pdf (248 KB)
- PI-12-05 – This PI provides guidance to States, Territories, and Insular Areas on actions they are required to take to receive their allotments for FY 2013.
http://cb.stage.icfi.com/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/pi/2012/pi1205.pdf (910 KB)
- PI-12-06 – This PI provides guidance to Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations, or Tribal Consortia on actions they are required to take in order to receive their allotments for FY 2013.
http://cb.stage.icfi.com/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/pi/2012/pi1206.pdf (601 KB)
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance – This describes the financial and medical assistance for guardianship of eligible children and associated administrative and training costs.
- Centennial Series: The Children's Year, 1918-1919
This is the first article in our second Centennial Series, CB Decade-by-Decade. These articles will examine highlights from each decade of the Children's Bureau's first 100 years. The first Centennial Series addressed some of the social issues, practices, and policies that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.
The Children's Year ran from April 6, 1918, to April 6, 1919. As part of the national campaign, the Children's Bureau persuaded the majority of State governments to form child welfare programs or agencies. A campaign slogan, "Save 100,000 Babies" referred to the focus on reducing the national infant mortality rate by one-third. Much of the campaign's organizational work was accomplished by 11 million women across the country who joined committees organized to reduce infant mortality, as well as carry out three ancillary campaign goals for The Children's Year:
- Weigh and measure infants and toddlers and record the information.
- Emphasize the importance of healthy recreation and play for children's development.
- Make sure that children stay in school.
Of course, there were corollary benefits to all of these measures. Infants who were weighed and measured often received their first physical exam at the same time. Parents received information on nutrition and development, and, in many cases, a child's disability or delay was recognized and parents were directed to seek medical advice or treatment. Because of this effort, many States set up child hygiene divisions and funded public health nurses and child health centers focused on providing both care and education to young children and their parents.
The Children's Year focus on play and recreation resulted in many new playgrounds and parks, as well as recognition of the importance of supervised recreation for children. A 1919 pamphlet on "Patriotic Play Week" also promoted the activities of the Scouts, Campfire Girls, Junior Red Cross, and similar organizations.
The Children's Year emphasis on keeping children in school was also meant to keep children out of the workforce. Child labor and its regulation continued to be an enormous concern for the Children's Bureau. After the armistice in 1918, the agency was able to tie this campaign to freeing up jobs for soldiers returning home, with the slogan, "Children Back in School Means Soldiers Back in Jobs." The Children's Year Stay-in-School campaign also aimed to reduce illiteracy, especially in rural areas.
The Children's Year concluded with some near-revolutionary policymaking by the Children's Bureau. At President Wilson's suggestion, the agency held a conference at which the participants established general minimum standards for child welfare in the United States, as well as minimum standards in three specific areas:
- Standards for Children Entering Employment outlined ages, hours, wages, types of work, schooling, safety, and more.
- Standards for Public Protection of the Health of Mothers and Children covered health care for mothers during pregnancy and their child's infancy, as well as health care for children at all ages.
- Minimum Standards Relating to Children in Need of Special Care described what the government should ensure for children in special circumstances, including maltreated children, those with physical or mental disabilities, and delinquents.
While the standards were unenforceable—and many remain unachievable even today—the remarkable vision of that early group and their commitment to bettering the lives of children and families resulted in real progress. The Children's Year campaign of 1918-1919 remains a legacy for the thousands of dedicated child welfare workers today.
(This article is based on historical material found mainly in the Seventh Annual Report of the Chief, Children's Bureau to the Secretary of Labor, 1919, available here: http://www.mchlibrary.info/history/chbu/21867-7th.PDF [2 MB])
- Fifth Wave of Data in Head Start Survey
The Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) is a periodic, longitudinal study of children entering Head Start, their families, and the programs and staff that serve them. Five cohorts have been analyzed since the study began in 1997—1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009—and the study is funded through 2013.
Each round of FACES analysis collects data on children ages 3–4 who enter Head Start for the first time in the fall, their family characteristics, and the characteristics of Head Start staff. Children are assessed, one on one, for school readiness skills in language, literacy, and mathematics. For the 2006 and 2009 surveys, weight and height measurements were added to the data collection. Teachers and parents provide information regarding the child's classroom experience, social skills, health, and more. Parents and teachers also provide information on their own educational attainment, economic background, and other factors.
The latest report highlights data analysis from the 2009 FACES study and provides a comparison of data across cohorts where comparable data were available. Data highlights from the fifth wave of FACES include the following:
- In 2009, 95 percent of children entering Head Start lived with at least one biological or adoptive parent. The percentage of children who lived with both parents dropped from 48 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2009.
- In 2009, 68 percent of children entering Head Start lived with a parent who had obtained a high school diploma or GED, and 47 percent lived with one parent who worked full time. The percentage of children living in households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increased from 44 percent in 2000 to 64 percent in 2009.
- In 2009, 26 percent of children entering Head Start lived in homes where English was not the primary language, compared to 18 percent in 2000. Of those children in 2009, 59 percent were read to in another language, 18 percent did not have children's books written in English, and 14 percent primarily watched TV programs in a language other than English.
An overview of FACES and a data archive, including the latest report, Head Start Children, Families, and Programs: Present and Past Data from FACES, December 2011, are available on the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) website:
OPRE posted the following new reports in March 2012:
- TANF Work Requirements and State Strategies to Fulfill Them (PDF - 203 KB)
- Improving Employment and Earnings for TANF Recipients (PDF - 245 KB)
- The Supporting Healthy Marriage Evaluation: Early Impacts on Low-Income Families (PDF - 1 MB)
- Enhanced Early Head Start with Employment Services: 42-Month Impacts from the Kansas and Missouri Sites of the Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project (PDF - 1 MB)
- Coaching as a Key Component in Teachers' Professional Development, Improving Classroom Practices in Head Start Settings (264 KB)
- Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
Experiencing traumatic events during childhood can have long-lasting effects on behavioral health, increasing the risk for depression, substance abuse, stress, aggression, and more. To promote the importance of children's mental health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day (Awareness Day).
SAMHSA's "Caring for Every Child's Mental Health" public awareness effort was created in 1994 to spread the message that positive mental health is essential for healthy development. In 2011, more than 1,100 communities held events for Awareness Day, including youth rallies, social media campaigns, and art, dance, and music activities for children and youth.
This year's Awareness Day is May 9, and a number of national, local, and online activities are planned to celebrate "Heroes of Hope." These heroes are the caring adults in the lives of children and youth—especially those involved with child welfare—who help them build resiliency after experiencing trauma. As part of this national tribute, SAMHSA is sponsoring a Heroes of Hope Flickr challenge. Between April 2 and May 31, youth can upload to Flickr a photo of their hero, a photo with their hero, or a photo that represents their hero. In June, SAMHSA will feature the top photos on its Awareness Day webpage. For more information on the Flickr challenge, visit:
Also on Awareness Day, SAMHSA will release a new issue brief highlighting the effects of trauma on children and SAMHSA's trauma-informed services. You can access 2012 Short Report: Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Children and Youth Involved in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems on May 9 on SAMHSA's website:
More information about Awareness Day, a list of scheduled events around the country, event materials, widgets, sample social media messages, and more are available on the SAMHSA website:
- The Children's Bureau Celebrates 100 Years
On Monday, April 9, 2012, the Children's Bureau (CB) commemorated its centennial anniversary. Joined by approximately 160 guests, colleagues, and former staff, CB celebrated its 100-year legacy and the work that continues today on behalf of the nation's children and families.
The celebratory event was held at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Great Hall in the Hubert Humphrey Building in Washington, DC, and streamed live to CB's 10 Regional Offices and around the country. Opening remarks were provided by Joe Bock, Acting Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, George Sheldon, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Assistant Secretary Sheldon provided an overview of the 100-year history of the Children's Bureau and then cited the many achievements for children and families that were the result of Children's Bureau programs. Secretary Sebelius highlighted CB's longstanding tradition of collaboration and research efforts, its many awareness campaigns and programs aimed at not just the child but also the child's surrounding family and community, and the extraordinary work of the Children's Bureau's staff.
Featured speakers included Dr. Olivia Golden, former Assistant Secretary at ACF, Joan E. Ohl, former Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Bryan Samuels, current ACYF Commissioner, and Mary Williams, President of the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators.
The Children's Bureau Centennial Award was presented to Carol Wilson Spigner, D.S.W., from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. The award is in honor of her extraordinary vision and leadership in child welfare. Spigner served as the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau from 1994 to 1999.
Other event highlights included a special performance by the Washington Youth Choir—a free, afterschool music education and college prepatory program for students ages 13–19 in Washington, DC—and a showing of the video The Children's Bureau, 1912–2012: A Passionate Commitment. A Legacy of Leadership.
The centennial celebration continued on April 11 when CB held the first webinar in its four-part historical webinar series. Participants from around the country tuned in to "The Story of the Children's Bureau, The Early Years: 1912–1937." The webinar featured the first 25 years of CB's work to reduce maternal and child deaths, improve maternal and child health, eradicate child labor, and offer relief from Depression-era conditions. The second webinar in the series will take place on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 1–2:30 p.m. (ET).
A recording of each webinar will be posted on the new Children's Bureau centennial website. Launched in April, the centennial website is home to the e-brochure that provides an overview of CB's history, historical photographs, and much more. For more information about CB's 100-year history and the centennial activities and materials scheduled throughout 2012, visit CB's centennial website:
Find out how to subscribe to the many T&TA Network newsletters and get other updates from CB's T&TA Network.
- NRCYD State Resources Webpage
The National Resource Center for Youth Development's (NRCYD's) website features a variety of resources and information for youth in and aging out of foster care. The State Pages tab offers a searchable State-specific database of child welfare information.
The color-coded map features the 10 Administration for Children and Families Regions. After clicking on a specific State, visitors are taken to a list of answers to frequently asked questions, such as the State's allocation amounts from the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and for education training vouchers, the State's definition of "room and board," and the maximum age youth may remain in State-funded foster care.
Visitors can also use the search criterion function to search for information about every State. Criterion options include State's with the Medicaid option, State allocations sorted by amount, eligibility for Chafee services, State driver's license policies, tuition waivers, and youth leadership activities.
Contact information for each State's Independent Living coordinator is also provided. Aside from funding information and the number of youth in care, information for the database is provided by the States.
Access State by State Facts on the NRCYD's website:
- Webinar Series: Psychotropics and Children in Care
With growing attention being paid to the issue of psychotropic medications and children in foster care, The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health (The Center), is sponsoring an array of webinars to facilitate discussion among stakeholders. The Center—in partnership with the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Technical Assistance Partnership at American Institutes for Research—sponsored a three-part webinar series, "Use of Psychotropics among Children in Foster Care," in early 2012. The latest offering on the topic is a three-part question and answer (Q&A) series.
The first in the three-part webinar series featured presentations by Bryan Samuels, ACYF Commissioner; David Rubin from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; and Gene Griffin from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Commissioner Samuels presented an overview of the issue, including the risk of social and emotional problems caused by psychotropics, commonly diagnosed mental health disorders of children in care who receive psychotropic medications. Other presentations focused on the differences between symptoms of trauma and symptoms of mental health disorders and highlighted evidence-based interventions.
During the second webinar, Christopher Bellonci from Tufts University School of Medicine spoke about trends in the prescription of psychotropic medications and the implications for child welfare. Stephen Crystal from the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University addressed areas of concern for medication monitoring and quality improvement.
The third and final webinar featured Laurel Leslie from the Tufts Medical Center Floating Hospital for Children and Michael Naylor from the University of Illinois at Chicago. They highlighted findings from a multistate study on the oversight of psychotropic medication, guidance for professionals, Federal Inter-Agency guidelines, and State approaches to oversight. James Rogers, Medical Director for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, discussed the State's reformed approach to monitoring psychotropic medication use by children and youth in foster care.
Audio recordings and presentations from the three webinars are available on The Center's website:
The three-part Q & A series, "Getting Practical: Developing Your State Plan for Psychotropic Medication Management," is aimed at facilitating discussion among State leaders to enhance their efforts to improve oversight and monitoring. The first part of the series took place on March 28, and a recording is available here:
Part 2 is scheduled for April 24, 2012, 3–4:30 p.m. (ET), and Part 3 will take place on June 5, 2012, 3–4:30 p.m. (ET). Additional information and registration for these sessions is available here:
- More Updates From the T&TA Network
The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway posted a new publication, Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption:
Information Gateway also posted updates to the following publications:
- How Federal Legislation Impacts Child Welfare Service Delivery:
- Helping Your Foster Child Transition to Your Adopted Child:
- Foster Parents Considering Adoption:
- Concurrent Planning: What the Evidence Shows:
- How Federal Legislation Impacts Child Welfare Service Delivery:
- The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) posted materials from its February 2012 webinar, "Coordination of Child Death Review and Citizens Review Panels: Maximizing the Opportunities to Improve Systems and Prevent Fatal Abuse and Neglect":
The NRCCPS also posted several materials from the Children’s Bureau webinar focused on highlights from the annual Child Maltreatment Data Reports:
The NRCCPS also added Indiana's updated Structured Decision Making System for Child Protective Services Policy and Procedure Manual to the Decision-Making Tools Library:
- The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) posted materials from its webinar, "Methods for Increasing Medication Adherence With HIV Positive Parents":
- The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NCROI) will host its next Peer Training Network call as a joint session with its National Webinar taking place on June 19, 2012, at 2:30 p.m. ET. Information is available on the NRCOI website:
- The National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues (NRCLJI) posted a new publication by the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education, Fostering Connections Implementation Toolkit, which helps States and advocates with implementation of the education provisions of the Fostering Connections act:
http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/child/education/publications/toolkit_combined_with_cover.authcheckdam.pdf (5 MB)
- The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) posted its latest (26-page) list of resources to support participants in the Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM). Websites, reports, training materials, and more are listed to help child welfare practitioners in their practice:
http://www.ncwwi.org/docs/LAMM_Change_Initiatives_Online_Resources_Dallas2012.pdf (987 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) published a special edition of Tips, Tools, and Trends: Special Edition "Data Considerations for Fostering Connections." The publication provides tips and tricks to using data and technology to implement the act's provisions:
- The National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (FRIENDS) launched a new social media website with discussion forums, videos, event information, and more:
FRIENDS also posted the recording of and materials for the first part of its two-part webinar, "What Being Trauma Informed Means for Prevention Programs: Part I:"
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) posted the recording of its March webinar, "Psychotropic Medication Use Among Children and Youth in Care," which focuses on best practices regarding use, oversight, and monitoring of use of psychotropic medications by children/youth in foster care:
- The National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUSKids (NRCRRFAP) posted the new IRS instructions for the adoption tax credit:
- The National Resource Center for Tribes (NRC4Tribes), with the Children's Bureau, will host two Pathways to Title IV-E meetings in May, one in Minnesota and one in New Mexico. Each meeting is designed for Tribes actively planning to develop title IV-E foster care services through direct access. More information and attendance applications are available on the NRC's website:
The NRC4Tribes also posted the video Support the Strengthening of the Tribal Child Welfare Program Infrastructure to Improve Practice Webinar, which is a recording of the first in a series of webinars on the needs assessment recommendations:
- The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) published the April issue of Youth Port covering issues such as summer job opportunities and the Summer Jobs+ Jobs Bank, the free consumer information tool, College Navigator, and more:
- The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health (the Center) will host Part 3 of its three-part question and answer discussion series, "Getting Practical: Developing Your State Plan for Psychotropic Medication Management," on June 5, 3–4 p.m. (ET). Register here:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway posted a new publication, Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption:
- T&TA Newsletters
The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network builds the capacity of State, local, Tribal, and other child welfare agencies and juvenile courts through training, technical assistance, and research. One way the Network accomplishes this mission is through disseminating an array of newsletters featuring news about trainings and the latest tools and resources. Below is a list of some of the T&TA Network newsletters and information about where you can view current or archived issues and, where possible, subscribe.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway produces several regular electronic updates.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway E-lert! is a monthly update of Information Gateway resources.
- Child Welfare in the News is a weekday listing of new articles of interest to child welfare workers, administrators, and related professionals.
- Adoption Triad is a monthly e-brief of practical information, tools, resources, and more for adoption professionals.
- State Resources is a monthly update of State and local government child welfare publications recently added to the Information Gateway library.
- Information Gateway Quick Links is a weekly listing of new online resources before they become available through the Information Gateway library search.
- My Child Welfare Librarian is a monthly email containing publications and/or websites from the Information Gateway library.
Subscribe to one or all of these resources on the Information Gateway website:
- The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) produces Child Welfare Matters (formerly, Managing Care) to provide information on organizational improvement strategies, examples from child welfare agencies, and resources. Archived issues are available on the NRCOI's website:
- The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) produces several newsletters.
- The Children's Justice Act (CJA) E-Newsletter is published three times a year and includes news specific to CJA. Read archived issues on the NRCCPS website:
- The monthly State Liaison Officer (SLO) E-Newsletter features news specific to SLOs and information about SLO annual meetings:
- Citizen Connections is the newsletter for Citizen Review Panels:
- The Children's Justice Act (CJA) E-Newsletter is published three times a year and includes news specific to CJA. Read archived issues on the NRCCPS website:
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) produces two publications:
- A weekly electronic newsletter, the NRCPFC Weekly Update:
- A biannual newsletter, Permanency Planning Today:
- A weekly electronic newsletter, the NRCPFC Weekly Update:
- The National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA) produces a newsletter, The Roundtable, twice a year to inform adoption practitioners, administrators, and advocates of NRCA activities and general adoption news. Archived issues are available on the NRCA's website:
Sign up to receive The Roundtable via RSS or email:
- The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) publishes a quarterly electronic newsletter, eUpdate, which provides information on promising practices in the areas of positive youth development:
- The National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUSKids produces a monthly electronic newsletter called E-Notes geared toward program managers and administrators with tips, tools, resources, and promising practices they can apply toward their agency's recruitment and retention efforts with foster and adoptive parents. See the most current issue here:
Sign-up for the newsletter by emailing NRCRRFAP@adoptuskids.org
AdoptUSKids produces a monthly electronic newsletter for frontline staff working in the field with children and families. The newsletter features tips, tools, and resources for recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive families, and a featured profile of a home studied family who is approved and looking to adopt children from foster care. See the most current issue here:
Sign-up for the newsletter by emailing email@example.com
- The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC-NRF) newsletters share the most current information and activities of the QIC-NRF and its fatherhood project sites. Current and archived issues are available on the QIC's website:
- The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) publishes the ABC Update several times a year and the National e-Update once a year. Back issues of both publications are available on NCWWI's website:
- The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) maintains the Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) listserv for those concerned with research issues in child abuse and neglect and its prevention. More information on CMRL is available on NDACAN's website:
Subscribe to CMRL here:
- The National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (FRIENDS) disseminates a newsletter, Parents & Practitioners, produced by its Parent Advisory Council. The newsletter is available on the FRIENDS website:
- The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (The Partnership) publishes a monthly newsletter featuring family mental health news, research updates, funding opportunities, and more. View issues and subscribe on The Partnership's website:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway produces several regular electronic updates.
This issue of CBX links you to new funding announcements, as well as information about becoming a grant reviewer.
- Site Visit: System Collaboration in Colorado
The Jeffco Community Connection (JCC) project was developed to be a model of system collaboration. Within the Jefferson County Human Services Department, JCC connects two programs, the Federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Jefferson County’s Division of Children, Youth and Families (CYF). Funded by a Children’s Bureau discretionary grant, JCC began in 2006 as a new practice for serving dual-system families and established a bridge between the two programs by identifying and addressing service delivery gaps and coordinating services for families. As envisioned, CYF staff provides case planning, family assessment, job resource development, and data-sharing technology while TANF provides income support and employment assistance.
The JCC project compared 160 dual-system families, which included kinship families, children in the child welfare system, and families receiving in-home services. They were divided into three intervention groups to participate in the following practices:
- Comprehensive family assessment (CFA)
- CFA and family group conferencing (FGC)
- CFA, FGC, and Parent Partner mentoring
To determine effectiveness of the program, outcome data was collected at several levels. Family outcome data were collected at baseline, every 6 months, and at case closure using the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General Services (NCFAS-G), CFA, and about eight self-report instruments. Project staff assessed client and staff perceptions of collaborative services; measures of family permanency, safety, self-sufficiency, prosperity, and support; and community partnerships. Results from these assessments are used for intervention, case planning, and to evaluate the program’s impact.
In April 2011 the project completed a preliminary evaluation report, Assessing Outcomes Among Dual-System Welfare and Child Welfare Involved Families, which included both qualitative and quantitative data. Findings that emerged from the qualitative case study of one family included the importance of timely case closure, the need to match program services to a family’s unique situation, and the potential for Parent Partner mentors to increase their instrumental assistance to families in addition to providing social support.
One quantitative analysis did not identify any significant changes by treatment group from baseline to 6-month follow-up, most likely due to the small follow-up sample size (40 cases) and to inconsistency in delivery of services. As the program comes to an end, JCC hopes, with high-quality data and a comprehensive evaluation approach, to show solid evidence of the benefit of service collaboration, CFA, FGC, Parent Partner mentoring, and other services implemented by the program.
Families gave positive feedback about the project. They said they experienced an increase in effective support, clearer expectations and guidelines, help with developing realistic case planning goals, and less anxiety when meeting with social services workers. Mentors from Parent Partners appeared helpful in preventing relapse from substance abuse and collecting data for the CFAs.
The preliminary evaluation report offers recommendations for program personnel, which include placing more focus on improving program processes and communication related to referral, participant status, and tracking.
For more information about this project, contact Natalie Williams, Project Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
The full site visit report is posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
The Jeffco Community Connection Project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CW1136). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.
- Funding Opportunity Announcements
The Children's Bureau announced two new discretionary funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for FY 2012.
- Child Welfare - Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children with Child Welfare Involvement HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CO-0315
- Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CS-0280
- Comprehensive Support Services for Families Affected by Substance Abuse and/or HIV/AIDS HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CB-0286
Information about planned FY 2012 FOAs is now available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants Forecast website:
Please check the forecast site regularly, as forecasts are subject to change.
- Apply to Be a Grant Reviewer
Each spring, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recruits reviewers and panel chairpersons for its grant programs, including those administered by the Children's Bureau. Grant reviewers convene to receive training and then review grant applications, spending 1 week reading, evaluating, discussing, and making recommendations on grant proposals. Grant reviewers and chairpersons, including students, receive compensation for their time, as well as valuable experience in the Federal grant review process.
If you are interested in applying to be a grant reviewer or chairperson, find out more about the program here:
To apply, visit:
We point to a statewide collaborative effort to prevent child sexual abuse in Georgia, research on placement stability, and other news from the child welfare field.
- Multi-Agency Collaboration and Data Collection
The growing trend for using community-based collaborations for social services delivery has led to an increased focus on performance management to ensure effective service delivery. Moreover, these collaborations are increasingly expected to collect and use appropriate data in their performance management efforts.
A new publication from Public/Private Ventures, Using Data in Multi-Agency Collaborations: Guiding Performance to Ensure Accountability and Improve Programs, provides practical advice about collecting and using data in a multi-agency environment. In the report, authors Karen E. Walker, Chelsea Farley, and Meridith Polin explore the challenges community collaborations face when adopting centralized data systems. They utilize their extensive experience evaluating and managing collaborative initiatives to provide a step-by-step guide to launching a multi-agency data system, making that system work by ensuring that partners collect accurate and complete information, analyzing and acting on data to strengthen programming, and sustaining the data collection system over time.
This report was written in collaboration with Child Trends and was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is available on Public/Private Ventures' website:
- Developing Resilience and Strengthening Families
Programs that help at-risk families develop resilience and achieve stable relationships are featured in the latest issue of the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter. Of particular interest is a study of fragile families showing how well-targeted resources can help these families thrive.
Fragile families are defined as families where parents may be cohabiting but are not married. A study of these families from 1998 to 2000 sought to examine the causes and consequences of nonmarital childbearing. Researchers interviewed parents of approximately 5,000 newborns in hospitals in large cities; approximately 3,600 in the sample were unmarried parents.
Follow-up interviews were conducted when the children were approximately 1, 3, 5, and 9 years old. At the time of the child's birth, 80 percent of couples were romantically involved and hoped to marry. Five years later, 40 percent of the couples were still romantically involved. The results show that while children of unmarried parents were at higher risk of poor outcomes, family instability appears to matter more than family structure for cognitive and health outcomes. Overall, stable single or stable cohabiting parents have less risk of poor child outcomes than children who are raised in unstable situations.
The article also highlights how well-structured programs can assist fragile families to develop the protective factors that can support resilient, stable, and strong families. Key pathways to this development include the following: parental resources; parental mental health; parent relationship quality; parenting quality; and father involvement. The issue features a number of existing programs that have shown some success in supporting positive family outcomes, in Virginia and elsewhere.
The Virginia Child Protection Newsletter is published by the Department of Psychology at James Madison University, with sponsorship from the Child Protective Services Unit of the Virginia Department of Social Services. This issue is available here:
http://psychweb.cisat.jmu.edu/graysojh/pdfs/Volume093.pdf (3 MB)
- Statewide Child Neglect Prevention
A new study in the journal Pediatrics presents positive outcomes for a statewide home visiting program in Oklahoma aimed at reducing future child protective services (CPS) reports for families involved with child welfare due to neglect. Home visitors used the SafeCare model, which takes a structured approach to training caregivers on effective parenting skills and helping them address home safety and child health. While SafeCare has shown promise at local levels, this is the first study to demonstrate effectiveness when implemented statewide.
The study not only compared SafeCare to standard home-based services, but it also examined whether coaching home visitors improved families' outcomes. Programs often lose effectiveness when implemented at larger levels; coaching is one way to try to prevent those losses. Home visitors who were coached received regular supervision and were monitored during visits monthly using a fidelity checklist to ensure they provided services according to the SafeCare model.
Oklahoma CPS referred nearly 2,200 at-risk caregivers with children age 12 and under to community-based services, where they were randomly assigned to one of four study clusters. Researchers gathered State data on each family in the study for an average of 6 years to determine if a future CPS report was made. Among the study's findings:
- Recidivism rates for families receiving SafeCare services were significantly lower than families receiving standard services.
- More positive outcomes were experienced by families with young children—the target of the original SafeCare model.
- Coaching only affected outcomes for complex cases, indicating families in need of multifaceted services benefit more from intensive interventions.
Although the authors noted the need to improve the effectiveness of SafeCare for families with older children, they nonetheless encourage interested programs to learn from these findings in their efforts to reduce rates of future CPS reports for families involved with child welfare. Given the challenges faced by those trying to implement programs with fidelity across wide service areas, the study's results are promising for improving families' outcomes on a larger scale.
"A Statewide Trial of the SafeCare Home-based Services Model With Parents in Child Protective Services," by M. Chaffin, D. Hecht, D. Bard, J. F. Silovsky, and W. H. Beasley, was published in Pediatrics, 129(3), 2012, and is available on the American Academy of Pediatrics website:
- Promising Prevention for Sexual Abuse
Stop It Now! Georgia, a collaborative effort to prevent child sexual abuse, contributed to 5 years of declining sexual abuse incidence rates in the State, according to a new case study published in Health Education Journal. Acknowledging the greater effectiveness of a multifaceted approach to sexual abuse prevention, the initiative used tactics targeting not just children and parents, but community leaders and professionals in related fields such as child care, health care, mental health, and domestic violence. The study's authors identified several promising elements of the initiative that other States and communities may wish to consider when addressing sexual abuse.
Funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the initiative was planned and implemented by Prevent Child Abuse Georgia in collaboration with Stop It Now! International and an advisory council of State and local government and community-based organizations. From 2002 to 2007, Stop It Now! Georgia accomplished the following:
- Distributed more than 230,000 brochures, posters, tip cards, and magnets about warning signs and ways to protect children from sexual abuse
- Increased awareness of child sexual abuse through public service announcements and earned media coverage
- Staffed a helpline contacted by more than 1,200 callers concerned about child sexual abuse—nearly half of the calls were referred for intervention by child protective services (CPS)
- Held roughly 250 training sessions for 7,700 community members and related professionals on:
- Healthy child sexual behavior and development
- Child sexual abuse warning signs and responses
- Prevention in families and child care settings
- Facilitation of community dialogues
State CPS data on child sexual abuse showed the incidence rate dropped during 4 of the initiative's 5 years. Overall, the rate dropped from 99 cases per 100,000 children in 2002 to 56 cases per 100,000 children in 2007. The study's authors noted other factors that may have contributed to the lower incidence rate, including a CPS initiative that started in 2005 to expand prevention services to more families. Nonetheless, Stop It Now! Georgia has demonstrated several positive outcomes and continues to offer State residents targeted materials to reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse.
For more information, visit Stop It Now! Georgia's website:
"An Empirical Case Study of a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Initiative in Georgia," by D. J. Schober, S. B. Fawcett, S. Thigpen, A. Curtis, and R. Wright, was published in Health Education Journal, and is available on the Sage Journals website:
- LGBTQ Cultural Competency Assessment
The National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development recently posted a self-assessment checklist designed to raise service providers' awareness and sensitivity when working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their families.
The checklist is composed of three sections:
- Physical environment, materials, and resources
- Communication practices
- Values and attitudes
For each self-assessment statement, the provider answers A (I do this frequently), B (I do this occasionally), or C (I do this rarely or never). While there is no answer key, the National Center for Cultural Competence suggests that if a provider answers with mostly C's, he or she needs to try implementing practices that are more culturally competent, creating a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ youth and their families.
Self-Assessment Checklist for Personnel Providing Services and Supports to LGBTQ Youth and Their Families is available on the National Center for Cultural Competence's website:
- Children's Services Practice Notes
The March 2012 issue of Practice Notes provides several articles on prescription drug use and the implications of family drug use on child welfare practice. While prescription drugs offer health benefits and increase the quality of life for millions of Americans, many of these legal drugs are misused and abused. The improper use of these medications not only presents harm to the individual, but it also can negatively impact the family unit.
The articles examine the following topics:
- Child protective services' assessments of prescription drug use in families
- The UNCOPE—an acronym standing for "used," "neglected," "cut down," "objected," "preoccupied," and "emotional"—screening instrument for substance abuse
- The effects of specific substances on the ability to parent
- Preventing and responding to prescription drug overdose and accidental poisoning
- An introduction to methadone and tips for working with mothers in methadone treatment
- Foster children and the use psychotropic medication
The issue's takeaway—it is essential that child welfare practitioners assess and, if necessary, address the presence of pharmaceutical drug use in families by working with physicians, mental health and substance abuse professionals, and other experts.
This issue of Practice Notes, 17(1), 2012, produced by the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program, is available on the Practice Notes website:
- Optimizing Father-Child Visits
The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) is conducting a reunification study that examines necessary factors for successfully reuniting children and families. As part of this initiative, the NFPN, with funding from the National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Resident Fathers (QIC NRF), produced a resource document focused on best practices for father-child visits in child welfare cases. The white paper provides a research summary on the importance of parent-child visits; outlines the differences between fathers' and mothers' parenting techniques and approaches to communication; documents results from a survey of perspectives from fathers in the child welfare system; and presents best practices.
Research suggests that best practice begins at the top with administration and trickles down to frontline practice. The paper provides a number of strategies for agencies looking to improve father-child visits. According to the document, agency administrators must:
- Conduct father friendly assessments of their agency to determine current policies, practices, and perceptions regarding fathers
- Take steps to make agencies father friendly
- Provide training to child welfare workers on the different styles of communication and parenting of mothers and fathers, the importance of father involvement, and skill-building for working with fathers
- Enact policies that treat mothers and fathers equally
- Provide father-locator resources for workers and mandate that fathers be contacted when cases are opened
- Provide male staff to make initial contact with fathers
- Set standards and protocols for father-child visits
- Coordinate with other relevant agencies to guarantee that fathers are active in case planning and visits
- Work to connect fathers with local fatherhood support groups
Best Practice for Father-Child Visits in the Child Welfare System is available on the National Family Preservation Network's website:
- Interactive Map of Youth Programs
A new interactive tool from FindYouthInfo.gov allows users to find federally funded, sustainable youth programs in their community. By entering their zip code or address, users can filter results by topics ranging from afterschool programs to positive youth development programs. Users can also search by specific Federal department. Each entry provides the program title, location, a brief description, sponsoring Federal department, and funding agency.
Only programs with a street-level address are featured in the interactive map, but Map My Community also provides a searchable text-only version of all programs.
To access Map My Community visit:
For more information on youth programs and funding information for youth, visit:
- Keeping in Contact With Young Adults
The Northeast Massachusetts Community of Practice released a tip sheet for professionals on staying in contact with young adults via phone text and the Internet. Tips include the following:
- Have an alternate contact number for youth in case of a phone number or carrier change.
- Have a texting plan before relying on that form of communication.
- Be aware of a young adult's cell phone plan and minute allowance.
- Check your organization's policy on "friending" or following youth on social media.
- Ask youth how often they check email and if that is an option for communicating important messages.
- Create a plan for what to do if the youth is unavailable or unresponsive.
The tip sheet also provides advice for youth on staying in contact with service providers, doctors, counselors, and other professionals.
TTYL: Keeping in Contact With Your Professional can be found on the National University of Massachusetts Medical School's website:
- Online Legal, Judicial Resources
An array of resources supporting effective judicial practice in child welfare cases is available on the Children's Law Advocacy Resources Online (CLARO) website. While the purpose of the website is to facilitate communication among organizations working to improve child protection processes in Louisiana, many of the resources are produced by national organizations. The resource directory links to information packets, PowerPoint presentations, online curricula, and other resources.
The target audiences for the materials include judges and other stakeholders, such as attorneys, social workers, court-appointed special advocates (CASAs), service providers, families, and youth. The topical scope includes Child and Family Services Reviews; court administration; data and technology; disproportionate minority representation; legal representation; reasonable efforts; safety, permanency, and well-being; social work; and title IV-E reviews. Resources specific to Louisiana include judicial bench cards, legislation, case law, court rules, and model court orders. The website also provides child welfare training events.
CLARO is a project of the Louisiana Court Improvement Program (CIP)/Children's Advocacy Resource Effort (CARE), which provides statewide guidance and assistance to a wide range of stakeholders in the child welfare system.
An index of available resources is available on the CLARO website:
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.
- Protective Factors Training
The National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds (Alliance) launched a new series of online training courses to support the implementation of the Strengthening Families and Protective Factors frameworks.
The program was developed through support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and ZERO TO THREE and in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Social Policy. The seven-course introduction to Strengthening Families program includes the following curricula:
- Introduction to the Protective Factors
- Concrete Support in Times of Need
- Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
- Parental Resilience
- Social Connections
- Social and Emotional Competence
- Moving from Knowledge to Action: Wrap-up Course
The courses on the protective factors include:
- Purpose and learning objectives for the course
- Definition and explanation of the protective factor
- Definition and explanation of program strategy (or strategies)
- Individualized Action Plan (IAP) work
More information is available on the Alliance's website:
- Information Sharing Certificate Program
The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute, in partnership with the Juvenile Law Center, announced the inaugural Information Sharing Certificate Program. This program, supported with funding from the MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change Initiative, is designed to enable leaders in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, behavioral health, and other child-serving fields to overcome information sharing challenges that prevent the communication and coordination necessary to more fully serve youth known across multiple systems of care.
Upon completion of the intensive 3-day learning experience, participants apply the knowledge they gain through the development and implementation of a Capstone Project—an action agenda they undertake in their organization/community to initiate or enhance information sharing efforts. To accelerate these efforts, it is strongly encouraged that those interested in attending form a team from their jurisdiction to apply to the program.
Faculty for the program is comprised of information sharing, juvenile justice, and child welfare subject matter experts from across the country who will deliver a curriculum designed to increase participants' ability to solve real-life problems when they return home. Thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, tuition subsidies are available for those with financial need.
The certificate program will take place October 1-4, 2012, in Washington, DC. The application deadline is June 28, 2012. For more information and to apply, please visit http://cjjr.georgetown.edu and click on "Certificate Programs" or email email@example.com.
- Mandatory Reporter Training for Students
A special edition of Center Piece, the National Child Protection Training Center's (NCPTC's) newsletter, highlights efforts to enhance training at the undergraduate and graduate levels for students entering professions that mandate reporting of any suspicions of child abuse or neglect.
This issue of the newsletter points to research showing that law enforcement officers, social workers, nurses, doctors, and other child protection professionals leave their undergraduate and graduate careers inadequately trained to respond to suspected child maltreatment. To combat this issue, NCPTC aims to work with 100 universities by 2013 and 500 by 2018 to implement training programs for students preparing to enter mandated reporting professions. With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, the NCPTC has already worked with dozens of universities to create training courses and degrees.
University training programs like the Winona State University Child Advocacy Studies certificate program are also highlighted in the issue.
Read the special edition of Center Piece on the NCPTC website:
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through August 2012 include:
- Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 49th ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
June 06-09, Chicago, IL
- 14th Annual International Fatherhood Conference
Partnerships and Collaboration: Expanding Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Family Program Connections
National Partnership for Community Leadership
June 12-15, Fort Lauderdale, FL
- 2012 National Foster Parent Association National Education Conference
National Foster Parent Association
June 15-18, Chicago, IL
- 2012 National Pathways to Adulthood
Convening on Youth in Transition
National Resource Center for Youth Development
June 26-29, New Orleans, LA
- 26th Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care
Foster Family-Based Treatment Association
July 22-25, Atlanta, GA
- National Association of Social Workers 2012 Conference
Restoring Hope: The Power of Social Work
National Association of Social Workers
July 22-25, Washington, DC
- 2012 Training Institutes
The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health
at Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development
July 25-29, Orlando, FL
- 38th Annual NACAC Conference
Celebrating Families: Valuable Lessons from Children, Parents, and Professionals
North American Council on Adoptable Children
July 26-28, Crystal City, VA
- 35th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference
National Association of Counsel for Children
August 08-16, Chicago, IL
- West Coast Child Welfare Trainers Conference
University of Washington, School of Social Work
August 22-24, Seattle, WA
- 13th National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention
National Children's Advocacy Center
August 28-30, New Orleans, LA
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 49th ANNUAL CONFERENCE