November 2013Vol. 14, No. 8Spotlight on National Adoption Month
CBX spotlights this year's National Adoption Month initiative, features a study on Americans' changing attitudes toward adopting from foster care, and highlights a recent law journal article discussing the utility of social media in making family connections and the legal ramifications and pitfalls of social media use.
- Social Media and Postadoption Connections
Social Media and Postadoption Connections
While recent changes to laws in some States have made it possible to access adoption records more readily than in the past, many adopted persons and birth parents have found making connections with each other through social media to be easier, faster, and more cost effective. In a recent law journal article, a family law attorney in Arizona discusses the utility of social media in making family connections, as well as some of the legal ramifications and pitfalls of social media use.
The topics discussed include the following:
- Privacy issues in adoption
- Privacy issues associated with using social media
- How adopted persons, birth parents, and other birth family members can use social media to find information about one another and to stay in touch
- The social and emotional ramifications of connecting through social media
- The potential legal liability arising from the use of social media in postadoption search and reunion
- The potential impact of such searches on other members of birth and adoptive families
The article concludes with the author's suggestion that the adopted person and birth family share a history and that each has the right to explore and communicate that history without being found to have abridged the privacy of the other.
"Use of Social Media in Post-Adoption Search and Reunion," by Ann M. Haralambie, Capital University Law Review (41 Cap. U.L. Rev. 177), not yet freely available online, will soon be available on the Review's website:
- November Is National Adoption Month
November Is National Adoption Month
November is National Adoption Month, a time to raise awareness about the urgent need for adoptive families for children and youth in foster care. In fiscal year 2012, approximately 52,000 children were adopted from foster care. Funded by the Children’s Bureau, the National Adoption Month initiative is a partnership between AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway. The theme of this year's initiative is "Partnering for Permanency," which builds on the social media focus from the 2012 initiative and emphasizes the partnerships necessary to help waiting children and youth achieve permanency.
The National Adoption Month website provides resources to help adoption professionals, public information officers, adoptive families, and youth build partnerships to create permanent connections for the over 100,000* children and youth in foster care waiting for permanent families. These resources are organized by audience:
- For Professionals. Get information to help professionals explore ways to use the power of social media in adoption while helping to identify and address potential challenges.
- For Adoptive Parents. Find information on adopting from foster care adoptive family stories and powerful adoptive family videos.
- For Youth. Learn about how youth can get involved in their permanency plans, stay connected with adults and other teens through social media, be safe online, and more.
- Spread the Word. View social media messages, widgets, and email signatures to help spread the word about National Adoption Month.
This year's website includes a new section featuring children awaiting adoption that will be updated weekly and improved social media feeds that highlight resources and conversations related to adoptive parents and professionals.
Watch the new videos that have been added to the National Adoption Month site. These videos bring to life the stories of the thousands of children, youth, and families whose lives have been changed by adoption. A collection of these videos can be accessed at the National Adoption Month Video Gallery.
For these resources and more, visit the National Adoption Month website throughout November and follow us on Facebook and Twitter:
*Statistics on waiting children, including children in foster care awaiting adoption, are taken from the most recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report, which provides government statistics for fiscal year 2012.
- Family Medical Leave Laws and Adoption
Family Medical Leave Laws and Adoption
The Federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-3) requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer both mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. The law ensures that employees can return to their current jobs or an equivalent position, and it requires employers to continue the employee's health benefits during the leave period. Most States have laws and regulations that provide leave for employees who adopt a child. Like the Federal law, the leave is usually unpaid, but in some cases the leave can be paid, especially if the employee can utilize accrued annual and sick leave balances. In addition, the laws usually require that employers offer their employees the same or equivalent position of employment once the period of leave has ended.
A new publication, Family/Parental/Adoption Leave Laws, presents the full text of the relevant State laws. The document notes that in several States, the provisions apply only to State employees. In those States, and in the few States that have not enacted their own laws, private employers are subject to the provisions of the Federal Family Medical Leave Act.
The publication was produced by the Society for Human Resource Management and is available on its website:
http://www.shrm.org/legalissues/stateandlocalresources/stateandlocalstatutesandregulations/documents/fmlastatelawchart.pdf (718 KB)
- Call for Mental Health Professionals Trained in Adoption
Call for Mental Health Professionals Trained in Adoption
Members of the adoption triad—birth parents, adoptive parents, and people who have been adopted—often have difficulties finding mental health care providers who understand the complex issues associated with adoption and how those issues shape their identities, their relationships, and other aspects of their lives. A new report from the Donaldson Adoption Institute presents research findings on mental health issues for individuals touched by adoption, outlines barriers to accessing adoption-competent services, and offers strategies for enhancing the adoption competence of mental health professionals.
The report points out that many therapists, psychologists, and other allied professionals have not received training specific to addressing adoption-related issues. Moreover, they often don't fully understand why specialized knowledge would even be necessary. As a result, these professionals may be ill equipped to meet the needs of birth mothers struggling with loss and grief, to support adoptive parents in handling their children's adjustment difficulties, or to counsel adopted youth with their search for identity.
In A Need to Know, the Adoption Institute sets forth a series of recommendations to enhance mental health services for adoptive and birth families.
Proposed strategies include:
- Developing certification for adoption clinical competence to help family members identify professionals with adoption expertise
- Expanding adoption training programs across the country through innovative use of technology
- Strengthening the clinical components of existing training programs
- Developing outreach efforts to build greater awareness of the needs for adoption expertise among mental health professionals
- Encouraging graduate and postgraduate programs to include more information about adoption and foster care in their curricula
- Educating insurance companies and managed care providers about clinical postadoption needs and advocating for expanded coverage of related services
The report also includes an appendix that lists programs offering postgraduate training in adoption clinical competence for professionals. A Need to Know: Enhancing Adoption Competence Among Mental Health Professionals, by David Brodzinsksy, is available on the Donaldson Adoption Institute website:
- Studies Track Attitudes About Foster Care Adoption
Studies Track Attitudes About Foster Care Adoption
Two new studies from the Dave Thomas Foundation shed promising light on adoption attitudes in the United States and Canada. The first, a new national survey commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, shows that many U.S. citizens have considered adoption from foster care. Conducted by Harris Interactive, the email survey of more than 1,400 adults focused specifically on national attitudes toward foster care adoption and, although some improvements have been made, results show that many misperceptions about the foster care adoption process continue to persist.
The report, 2013 National Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey, which is a follow-up to the National Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey, 2007, indicates that for the first time since 2002, Americans have more favorable opinions of foster care adoption than either private or intercountry adoptions. In addition, some specific perceptions about foster care adoption have improved since 2007. For example, in 2007, 59 percent of respondents thought children adopted from foster care were more likely to have problems with behavior and self-control; by 2013, that number had fallen to 46 percent.
Other findings from the survey include:
- Approximately 84 percent (up from 72 percent in 2007) of American adults have a very favorable opinion of adoption.
- Although nearly 75 percent (down from 89 percent in 2007) of Americans are familiar with adoption in general, only 63 percent (down from 79 percent in 2007) of Americans are familiar with foster care adoption.
While the percentage of foster care adoptions has grown since 2007, more than 100,000 children still wait to be adopted from the U.S. foster care system. The report, including an executive summary and detailed findings, is available here:
http://www.davethomasfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/DTFA-HarrisPoll-REPORT-USA-FINALl.pdf (3 MB)
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Canada commissioned a similar study for the first time. Canadian Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey is available here:
http://davethomasfoundation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/DTFA-HarrisPoll-REPORT-CAN_Final-web.pdf (3 MB)
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
The Children's Bureau welcomes a new Associate Commissioner and publishes an e-book celebrating its 100-year history; a new report examines demographic changes in foster care over the past decade; and we provide an update on the new CB Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) project. Due to the Federal Government shutdown, our October issue did not launch. Look for a special January 2014 issue with the Spotlight theme of Family Engagement.
- Children's Bureau Welcomes New Associate Commissioner
Children's Bureau Welcomes New Associate Commissioner
President Obama has appointed JooYeun Chang to head the Children's Bureau as the new Associate Commissioner. Ms. Chang started at the Bureau on September 23. Joe Bock, who had served as Deputy Associate Commissioner of the Bureau from 2002 to 2009, will once again assume that role.
Recently celebrating its centennial, the Children's Bureau was the first Federal agency in the world to focus exclusively on improving the lives of children and families. As the Associate Commissioner, Ms. Chang administers over $7 billion in Federal programming to support the nation's child protection, foster care, guardianship, and adoption programs.
Prior to her appointment to the Children's Bureau, Ms. Chang was the Senior Director of Public Policy at Casey Family Programs. In this position, she worked closely with State and county child welfare leaders to improve and enhance child welfare practice. She also worked with Congress on opportunities to improve national child welfare policy. Prior to Casey Family Programs, Ms. Chang served as Senior Staff Attorney for the Children's Defense Fund (CDF).
Her areas of expertise in Federal and State policy include child abuse and neglect, foster care and adoption, children's mental health, child welfare financing, and kinship care. She has authored several publications, worked to educate congressional staff about child welfare policies designed to protect children and support families, and identified and promoted best practices in child welfare and related issues. Ms. Chang is a member of the Maryland State Bar; a former board member for the National Foster Care Coalition; Chair for the Policy Committee of the National Foster Care Coalition; and a former member of the Generations United Policy Committee. She received her J.D. from University of Miami School of Law where she was a Harvey T. Reid Scholar. She received her undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University.
Children's Bureau staff look forward to working with Ms. Chang as the Bureau remains committed to its mission of partnering with Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies to improve the lives of children and families.
For more information on the Children's Bureau and its work, visit its website:
- Child Welfare CQI Training Academy Launches in 2014
Child Welfare CQI Training Academy Launches in 2014
As mentioned in the September 2013 issue of Children's Bureau Express, the Children's Bureau awarded a cooperative agreement for the Building Child Welfare Capacity for Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Project to JBS International, Inc., and its partner, the Center for the Support of Families (CSF). This 17-month project is aimed at developing, testing, and evaluating the Child Welfare CQI Training Academy (Academy), a rigorous but practical training program for busy child welfare professionals. The Academy's curriculum incorporates the latest in distance learning methods and group learning activities to facilitate flexible participation, critical thinking, and opportunities for immediate application.
The overarching goal of every CQI system is to support decision-making that contributes to improved outcomes for children, youth, and families. The Academy is designed to develop CQI-related competencies that will equip and empower individuals within agencies to help achieve this goal. Coursework will complement existing CQI resources while enhancing participants' abilities to thoughtfully examine familiar routines and apply new principles and skills in their performance and management of CQI. The lessons will prioritize the development of critical and analytical thinking, effective communication, and problem-solving skills. Ultimately, the Academy's developers hope to prepare graduates to inspire action, foster cultures of continuous learning and improvement, and facilitate sustainable changes.
In the next few weeks, the Children's Bureau and Academy staff will reach out to child welfare directors, other key agency staff, and stakeholders to provide more details about the Academy. Agency leaders will receive information about coursework, monthly time commitments, eligibility, selection processes, and instructions on how to nominate individuals for participation. The 8-month program will begin in January 2014. This opportunity is open to all States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and is designed to provide immediate and practical benefits for staff.
The CQI Training Academy project team looks forward to launching the training in 2014 and meeting participants. If you have questions, please contact Kate Welty at email@example.com.
For more information on CQI, check out the CBX September Spotlight section:
- Demographic Trends in Foster Care 2002-2012
Demographic Trends in Foster Care 2002-2012
Using statistics from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), an issue brief from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families' Office of Data, Analysis, Research and Evaluation provides new details on the U.S. foster care system's size reduction over the last decade. The brief offers trends in demographics among children in foster care and State and county patterns.
Between 2002 and 2012, the overall number of children in foster care decreased by 24 percent—from 523,616 to 399,546. Demographically, reductions among African-American children in foster care were the most dramatic—declining by more than 47 percent during this time and accounting for three-quarters of the overall decline. Once making up more than a third of the foster care population, African-American children now represent just over one-quarter of all children in foster care. The group of children in foster care identified with two or more races experienced substantial growth during the same period, increasing from 13,857 children in foster care in 2002 to 22,942 in 2012. Statistics also show that since 2009, Native American children have had the highest rates of representation in foster care; however, these children, along with children of all other races and ethnicities, experienced reductions in average length of stay in care.
Ten States accounted for more than 90 percent of the total decline in foster care (California, New York, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, and New Jersey), while three States (California, New York, and Florida) accounted for more than 50 percent of the reduction. Texas and Arizona experienced relatively large increases in the size of their foster care population.
Recent Demographic Trends in Foster Care is available on the Children's Bureau website:
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/data_brief_foster_care_trends1.pdf (547 KB)
- New! From CB
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:
- The Impact of Development Methodologies, Software Frameworks, and Platform Choices on Release Management [Webinar] - This is the fifth webinar in the "Back to Basics" series sponsored by the Bureau's Division of State Systems:
- Implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 Working Document – This document provides the locations of Bureau policy, guidance, and other implementation activities related to the Fostering Connection to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008:
- 19th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect:
For information about the Children's Bureau's 100-year history, download the new e-book The Children's Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood:
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- The Impact of Development Methodologies, Software Frameworks, and Platform Choices on Release Management [Webinar] - This is the fifth webinar in the "Back to Basics" series sponsored by the Bureau's Division of State Systems:
- CBX to Feature Special January 2014 Issue
CBX to Feature Special January 2014 Issue
Children's Bureau Express is glad to be back! Due to the Federal Government shutdown, the October issue of CBX did not launch. In lieu of a combined December 2013/January 2014 issue, we will feature a January 2014 issue with the Spotlight theme planned for October, Family Engagement.
We hope you continue to enjoy reading CBX!
- ACYF Guidance to States on Human Trafficking
ACYF Guidance to States on Human Trafficking
The Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Department of Health and Human Services, released guidance to States and services addressing human trafficking of children and youth. This guidance is especially important for the child welfare field because child welfare professionals often encounter children and youth who have been victims of trafficking. The guidance document reports that the California Child Welfare Council found that between 50 and 80 percent of sexual exploitation victims in California were involved with child welfare. It also cites the Department of Children and Families in Connecticut, which reported that 86 out of 88 children identified as victims of child sex trafficking had been involved with child welfare.
To build greater awareness and a better response to this growing problem, ACYF released guidance that outlines:
- The scope of the problem
- The needs of the victims
- The need for a coordinated effort among Tribal, State, local, and Federal levels to prevent, identify, and serve trafficking victims
- The role of screening and assessment in identifying possible trafficking victims
- The use of evidence-based interventions for serving vulnerable youth populations
- Resources available to support efforts to strengthen workforce capacity to prevent trafficking, identify victims, and serve young people who have been trafficked
Guidance to States and Services on Addressing Human Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United States is available on the Children's Bureau website:
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/human-trafficking-guidance (781 KB)
Children's Bureau Express featured a Spotlight section on the intersection between child welfare and human trafficking in the July/August 2013 issue:
- Centennial E-Book Launches
Centennial E-Book Launches
The Children's Bureau is pleased to announce the release of a new e-book with a comprehensive history of the Children's Bureau's first 100 years. The Children's Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ISBN = 9780160917226) combines compelling text with striking images to recount the Children's Bureau's efforts to address vital issues—from reducing high infant mortality and eradicating child labor to preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting permanency for children and youth. The e-book places the Bureau's history into the context of changing world events and social movements. A core theme throughout is the importance of the contributions made by CB staff members—past and present—who work tirelessly on behalf of children and families.
We encourage you to check out this new resource and expand your knowledge of how early initiatives set the foundation for today's programs for children and families. The e-book is organized by key historical periods:
- America's Conscience Gives Birth to the Children's Bureau
- Saving Babies and Restoring Childhood (1912–1929)
- The Great Depression and Social Security (1930–1939)
- Wartime and Recovery (1940–1956)
- A Growing Government Shrinks the Children's Bureau (1957–1973)
- Sharpening the Focus on Child Welfare (1974–1992)
- Partnering with Families and Working to Improve Outcomes (1993–2012)
The e-book can be purchased from:
- The Government Printing Office (GPO) bookstore:
- The Apple iTunes/iBookstore:
- Barns & Noble:
- Online retailers, such as Google Play bookstore:
A free PDF also is available from the CB centennial website:
Training and Technical Assistance Update
A new bulletin from FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention is intended to help leaders, policymakers, program managers, staff, and stakeholders successfully implement system and practice changes and ensure that these changes are sustained over time. We also highlight the new edition of the Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center's (WPIC's) quarterly newsletter that focuses on the annual National Tribal Peer-to-Peer Learning Exchange.
- Resources for Working With Latino Families
Resources for Working With Latino Families
The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) provides training, technical assistance, and information services that help build the capacities child welfare agencies to meet the needs of children through family-centered and community-based strategies. NRCPFC's website includes a rich Information Services section, which offers resources that promote family-centered practices that work toward the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and meet the diverse needs of their families.
Among NRCPFC's online offerings is its Hot Topics web section, which compiles timely resources and publications into webpages on current and relevant issues of importance in the child welfare field. One of the more recently updated Hot Topics webpages addresses Latino Issues in Child Welfare. This page includes resources from the Administration for Children and Families, the Children’s Bureau and its Training and Technical Assistance Network, and collaborating organizations.
The resources are aimed at helping child welfare professionals work with Latino families by fostering a better understanding of Latino cultural and family values, raising awareness of issues faced by Latino families who receive child welfare services, and promoting culturally competent services. Topics such as immigration issues and child welfare, language issues, and disproportionality are addressed, and resources include Child Welfare Information Gateway's glossary of English/Spanish child welfare terms; evidence-based practice, research, and reports; toolkits; and links to related websites for more information.
To access all the resources on the Latino Issues in Child Welfare Hot Topics webpage, visit the NRCPFC website:
- Diligent Recruitment Requirements
Diligent Recruitment Requirements
The National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) at AdoptUSKids works with child welfare agencies to improve the safety, permanency, well-being, and outcomes for children in foster care through comprehensive diligent recruitment plans. NRCDR also provides information, training, and technical assistance to States and Tribes to help ensure that their diligent recruitment plans include necessary elements. In a recently published tip sheet, NRCDR details the requirements for State diligent recruitment plans and programs.
Passed by Congress in 1994, the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA), as amended, is intended to prevent delays or discrimination in foster care or adoption placements based on the race, color, or national origin of the child or parents and to promote the recruitment and retention of ethnically and racially diverse foster and adoptive parents. NRCDR's tip sheet lists eight specific elements that States must include in their plans for the diligent recruitment of such parents in order to meet MEPA requirements. These include descriptions and characteristics of waiting children, strategies for training staff to work with diverse community members, and strategies for overcoming language barriers.
The tip sheet provides a brief description of Child and Family Service Plans (CFSP) and points to guidance from the Children's Bureau for States and Tribes on CFSPs for more information. Diligent recruitment programs should include specific elements in order to successfully improve permanency outcomes for children, and the tip sheet details elements such as:
- General, targeted, and child-specific recruitment
- Procedures to ensure that all prospective parents have access to the home study process
- Procedures and processes to eliminate barriers to the interjurisdictional placement of children
To learn more, access What Is Diligent Recruitment? on NRCDR's website:
http://www.adoptuskids.org/_assets/files/NRCRRFAP/resources/what-is-diligent-recruitment.pdf (163 KB)
- Bulletin on Implementing Change
Bulletin on Implementing Change
The FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention published a bulletin intended to help leaders, policymakers, program managers, staff, and stakeholders successfully implement system and practice changes and ensure that these changes are sustained over time. The bulletin explains several considerations that should be taken into account and steps that should be included in order for a new approach or program to have truly lasting effects and demonstrate desired results.
There are five specific factors that are imperative to reaching meaningful change within an organization:
- There needs to be a shared vision and values.
- Organizational leaders must be engaged and committed.
- Stakeholders should have meaningful involvement.
- Organizations must also be aware of their internal and external social, economic, and political environments when considering how to approach change.
- Implementing and sustaining change require sufficient organizational capacity and infrastructure.
The bulletin goes on to describe the four phases that are necessary to develop, plan for, implement, and sustain organizational or systemic change:
- Exploring the potential for change
- Building capacity to implement
- Implementing the new approach
- Sustaining the change
The bulletin discusses each phase, what organizations are likely to encounter, and provides "What this looks like" real-life examples of each. Important questions to consider during each phase are also included.
Read the entire bulletin, Putting What Works Into Practice, via FRIENDS' website:
http://friendsnrc.org/cbcap-annual-report-summaries/2010-summaries-archive/doc_download/1619-putting-what-works-into-practice-factsheet (1 MB)
- Tribal News From WPIC
Tribal News From WPIC
The Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center (WPIC) provides training and technical assistance to States, Tribes, and territories in Regions 9 and 10 to help facilitate systemic change to promote and improve the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families. Through its three Implementation Projects in partnership with the Navajo Nation, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, and Los Angeles County, WPIC seeks to increase cultural and linguistic competence, improve cross-system collaboration, promote shared accountability for child welfare outcomes, and engage families and youth in systems change.
WPIC's quarterly newsletter provides the news and achievements from its Implementation Projects and shares WPIC's recent activities to improve child welfare services. The spring 2013 edition highlights the Center's annual National Tribal Peer-to-Peer Learning Exchange, held in April and sponsored in partnership with the National Indian Child Welfare Association. The learning exchange provided an opportunity for representatives from the two tribally focused Implementation Projects to interact with representatives from 14 Tribal nations and participate in discussions that focused on identifying shared visions; strengthening worker capacity and building leadership capacity; and recognizing the importance of stakeholder engagement and historical, political, and cultural environments.
The newsletter also features an article on two Tribal leadership summits held in Alaska that focused on the leadership roles of Tribal and regional Office of Children's Services staff members in protecting Alaskan Native children, and an article on a Los Angeles County peer exchange to improve data-driven decision-making. Additional resources related to implementing systems change are also included. To access the entire spring 2013 newsletter, visit WPIC's website:
- More Updates From the T&TA Network
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 the following updates:
- A redesigned Family-Centered Practice web section:
- La Adopción de Hijastros (Stepparent Adoption):
- Consent to Adoption:
- Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons:
- Impact of Adoption on Birth Parents:
- Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents:
- ¿Qué Es el Abuso y la Negligencia de Menores? Reconociendo los Indicios y los Síntomas (What Is Child Abuse and Neglect? Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms):
- Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses:
- A redesigned Family-Centered Practice web section:
- The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) posted Abandoned Infants Assistance Program: Cross-Site Evaluation Summary, September 30, 2010—September 29, 2011:
http://aia.berkeley.edu/media/pdf/fy11_cross_site-eval.pdf (795 KB)
- AIA announced that registration for its 2014 webinar series "Supporting Children Affected by Parental Co-Occurring Disorders" opened in October. AIA, in partnership with the Association for Advanced Training in the Behavioral Sciences, will offer continuing education units for this series of three 90-minute sessions. For more information, visit the AIA website:
- The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) published a toolkit intended to help current and emerging child welfare leaders develop and strengthen their leadership skills. Access Learning and Living Leadership: A Tool Kit here:
http://www.ncwwi.org/docs/LeadershipToolkitFinal_September2013.pdf (2 MB)
NCWWI concluded its 2011–2013 NCWWI National Webinar Series. Find all session recordings and materials on the website:
- The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) launched a redesigned website, with a contemporary look and easier navigation that features a searchable listing of NDACAN datasets and a searchable database of past Child Maltreatment Research listserv messages (http://www.ndacan.cornell.edu/).
- The National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA) posted a number of new resources to its Child Welfare Topics webpage, including new NRCA tip sheets:
- Child/Youth Assessment:
http://www.nrcadoption.org/wp-content/uploads/Tip-Sheet-Child-Youth-Assessment.pdf (393 KB)
- Child/Youth Preparation:
http://www.nrcadoption.org/wp-content/uploads/Tip-Sheet-Child-Youth-Preparation.pdf (71 KB)
- Decision Making and Placement Selection:
http://www.nrcadoption.org/wp-content/uploads/Tip-Sheet-Decision-Making.pdf (577 KB)
- Family Assessment and Preparation:
http://www.nrcadoption.org/wp-content/uploads/Tip-Sheet-Family-Assessment-Preparation.pdf (483 KB)
- Access the Child Welfare Topics webpage here:
- Child/Youth Assessment:
- The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) added and updated materials in its Decision-Making Tools Library for Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Missouri, and Iowa:
- The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) posted NYTD TA Brief #12: Summary of Guidance, Tips and Recommendations for Surveying the Baseline Population:
NRC-CWDT also posted links to updated Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data, now available on the Children's Bureau's website:
- The National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (FRIENDS) posted the summer 2013 edition of the Parents and Practitioners newsletter, published by FRIENDS' Parents Advisory Council:
- The National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) at AdoptUSKids launched a new directory map with information for families on Spanish-language State resources on foster care and adoption:
- The National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues (NRCLJI) posted two learning modules on "Managing Child Neglect and Abuse Cases":
Module 1: http://icmelearning.com/nrclji/module1/story.html
Module 2: http://icmelearning.com/nrclji/module2/story.html
- The National Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) posted the recording and materials from its fall webinar on "'New Hampshirizing' Implementation Research: Making It Work for Your System":
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) developed a new microwebsite that focuses on Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) in Child Welfare and features resources from the NRCPFC, the Children's Bureau, the Administration for Children and Families, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the T&TA Network, as well as from collaborating organizations and States. Recently added EPB overviews cover topics such as Parents as Teachers, Strengthening Families Program, Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model, and much more:
The summer/fall 2013 issue of NRCPFC's biannual newsletter Permanency Planning Today is now available and focuses on permanency for older youth and young adults:
http://www.nrcpfc.org/newsletter/ppt-summer-fall-2013.pdf (3 MB)
- The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) published the summer 2013 edition of its eUpdate newsletter, which focuses on youth involvement with the court system and includes a "Youth Corner" that highlights youths' perspectives on the court hearing process:
The September and October 2013 issues of Youth Port are now live. Youth Port offers resources and tools for young adults who are currently experiencing foster care, who are transitioning or ageing out of foster care, and for the adults who support them:
- The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health (TA Center) is accepting proposals for its 2014 Training Institutes, which will focus on improving services and supports for children, adolescents, and young adults with or at risk for mental health challenges and their families. The Training Institutes will be held July 16–20; for more information and to submit a proposal, visit the TA Center website:
- The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) posted the August/September 2013 issue of the TA Partnership newsletter, featuring an article on strengthening youth engagement in systems of care:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway posted the following updates:
Children's Bureau Grantee Updates
New site visit reports highlight projects focused on comprehensive family assessment, diligent recruitment, and building infrastructure capacity to support collaboration between child welfare and early childhood systems.
- Site Visit: Roots &Wings in Santa Cruz, CA
Site Visit: Roots &Wings in Santa Cruz, CA
In 2008, the County of Santa Cruz, CA, Human Services Department, Family and Child Services, recognized deficits in three major areas: finding appropriate homes for children in their own communities, providing substantive supports to foster parents, and a lack of permanent homes for children and youth in care. Realizing these crucial needs for improvement in these services, Family and Children's Services (FCS) sought diligent recruitment grant funds.
Using a discretionary grant from the Children's Bureau's Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in Foster Care cluster, FCS established its Roots & Wings initiative in 2009. The name of the program originates from a Hodding Carter, II, quote, "There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other is wings." Carter was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author who wrote about race, religion, and economic intolerance.
- The Roots & Wings initiative has the following goals:
- Recruit concurrent foster care and adoptive resource families who reflect the characteristics of the children currently under the county's supervision
- Ensure resource families are satisfied with the variety of services and supports offered by the agency
- Ensure children transition to permanent and stable homes in a timely manner
To meet these goals, project staff focus on leveraging existing relationships in the Santa Cruz community and conducting outreach to establish new relationships with families who have not yet considered being resource families and businesses to provide venues for outreach to prospective resource parents. To support the overall initiative goal to move children to permanency, Roots & Wings developed a permanency field guide for social workers, which outlines the steps of child-specific recruitment. The project's Permanency Consultation Group, composed of Roots & Wings staff and recruitment specialists, brainstorm permanency strategies for children 11 and older. The initiative also uses photolistings on national and State websites to find permanent homes for children.
Roots & Wings recruited business supporters, such as FedEx, which donates generously to Project Santa and the local children's store, Childish Santa Cruz. The agency has also been creative in its attempts to educate and recruit families, including partnering with a local coffee shop, Surf City Coffee, which agreed to put Roots & Wings information promoting foster care and adoption on its coffee sleeves. The project created a Facebook page to thank members of the community for their volunteer service, inform potential resource parents about upcoming events, and to reach out to the community for donations to support children. Finally, the project has made substantive efforts to ensure that the staff at the Santa Cruz Human Services Department are aware of the needs of resource families and that the resource families are satisfied with the services and supports that they receive.
An evaluation team from San Jose State University conducted a survey to measure resource parents' satisfaction with various aspects of their experience with the agency, including respectful treatment, responsiveness by the social worker, and resource parents' feelings of being included in the case-planning process. Findings show that approximately 90 percent of resource parents indicated that their child's social worker and licensing social worker treated them with respect.
Other project outcomes thus far include the following:
- The number of heads-of-household who attended resource parent orientation increased from 105 in 2009 to 119 in 2011.
- Fewer than 20 heads-of-household completed PRIDE training in 2009, and over 30 completed the training in 2010.
- Fewer than 10 resource families were licensed in 2009, and nearly 20 families were licensed in 2010.
- Less than 60 percent of caregivers indicated they were willing to adopt in 2009. In 2011, more than 80 percent of caregivers were willing to adopt.
- Approximately 45 percent of caregivers were caring for a child's sibling in 2009. In 2011, just over 60 percent of caregivers were caring for a child's sibling.
- More than 17 percent of children ages 13 and older who had been in care for 24 months or longer achieved permanency within 12 months in 2011. This is the highest percentage of youth achieving permanency in 12 months since the agency began the measurement in 1998.
For more information on the Roots & Wings project, contact Melissa Delgadillo, Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the project website:
The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
The Roots & Wings project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CO1035/03).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.
- Site Visit: Comprehensive Family Assessments in Contra Costa County
Site Visit: Comprehensive Family Assessments in Contra Costa County
In 2001, the California State Assembly passed the Child Welfare System Improvement and Accountability Act, a State initiative modeled after the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR). The act directed counties to undergo a self-assessment and system improvement to enhance performance on key child welfare outcome indicators. In 2003, the State CFSR found that California did not meet the national standards for any of the seven outcome measures. Using a Children's Bureau grant, Contra Costa County Child & Family Services (CFS) implemented the Comprehensive Assessments for Positive Family Outcomes (CAPFO) project to address outcomes identified in the California CFSR.
The CAPFO model built on existing policy and practice strengths in line with the eight key components and the 10-step Comprehensive Family Assessment Guidelines. These strengths included strong family engagement practices, a family assessment practice model, and enhanced strategies to support family-driven case plans. The model also incorporated new practices such as the use of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale, Motivational Interviewing, Parent Partners, Learning Communities, Coaching Circles, and a strong focus on father engagement.
In 2006, Contra Costa County CFS received over 10,000 referrals for abuse and neglect. Approximately 17 percent of the cases were substantiated. CAPFO aimed to impact the process by which families are assessed, the practice of family intervention, and the outcomes experienced by families served. They planned to accomplish this with a more comprehensive and empowering model of assessment and corresponding case planning and execution. The target population included children and families entering the child welfare system at the point of referral. The children and families were randomly selected and assigned to services and control groups at the point of referral. The CAPFO services continued for as long as the case remained open. Long-range goals for the CAPFO project include reducing recidivism in referrals, reducing substantiations, reducing the number of children in out-of-home care, and reducing the time children spend in out-of-home care.
Innovative features used by CAPFO include:
- The Parent Partner Program. The Parent Partner program draws upon the strengths of families and engages family and community members in program planning. The program seeks to enlist as staff mothers and fathers who have experienced child removal, services, and reunification. These individuals are trained and supported to provide direct services to parent clients seeking reunification with their children. CAPFO staff indicate that Parent Partners have been an invaluable component to their work in collaborating with clients.
- Team Decision-Making. The basic premise of a Family Team Meeting is to promote family involvement and empower families to come together to generate a plan that first promotes safety and then works to engage other members of the family and community.
- Assessment of Father Involvement and Incarcerated Parents. Trainings continue to support staff in family engagement and the inclusion of fathers. Working with incarcerated parents was also a project focus for engaging those fathers who have not been included in planning, safety, and permanency for their children.
- Motivational Interviewing. Participating staff received training on the Stages of Change Motivational Interviewing techniques; the CAPFO process; and the implementation of coaching, case teaching sessions, and feedback meetings. Universally, caseworker staff stated that the high-quality training received for Motivational Interviewing resulted in practice change.
Evaluation of the program is ongoing. The CAPFO model has been recognized by staff and families as family-focused and supportive. There was also a focus on improving performance in placing sibling groups together and, in fact, Contra Costa County has seen improvement in CFSR Performance Indicator 4A, Siblings.
As these practice changes have been implemented to reflect the philosophy of viewing the family as a unit rather than individual components, changes in the tracking of families in physical case folders is moving to one folder for a full family rather than child-specific case folders.
For more information on the Comprehensive Assessments for Positive Family Outcomes (CAPFO) project, contact Neely McElroy, Division Manager, at email@example.com.
The full site visit report is available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
The Comprehensive Assessments for Positive Family Outcomes (CAPFO) project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90-CA-1755).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.
- Site Visit: LA Child Welfare/Early Education Partners
Site Visit: LA Child Welfare/Early Education Partners
Improving developmental outcomes and school readiness for young children involved with child welfare is a strong component of improving well-being, a priority in the child welfare field. To achieve this goal, the South County Regional Office of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Long Beach Unified School District Head Start programs are using a 17-month Children's Bureau grant to increase referrals to and enrollment in early childhood education services for children involved with child welfare.
Infants and toddlers represent the largest segment of the nation's foster care population and are more likely than older children to experience recurrence of abuse and neglect. The Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Education Partners Infrastructure project staff believe that children involved with child welfare that also attend an ECE program experience increased child safety through daily interactions with other child-serving professionals and increased communication between ECE staff and social workers. The project is focusing on expanding early childhood education enrollment through a partnership among Long Beach Unified School District-Head Start/Early Head Start (LBUSD-HS/EHS) programs, DCFS South County Regional Office, and the Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Project staff reported that although children in foster care are automatically eligible for HS/EHS, many DCFS social workers were unaware of the Head Start/EHS program. Additionally, they reported that social workers did not know about HS/EHS eligibility requirements, the benefits of ECE for children and families, available ECE resources in Long Beach, or the HS/EHS application and enrollment process.
Agency staff realized that in order to increase the number of children referred to and served by LBUSD-HS/EHS, as well as other ECE programs, agencies needed to:
- Reorganize program interactions
- Simplify the referral process
- Provide training for DCFS and ECE staff
- Inform parents, caregivers, and community partners about the benefits of ECE
Through the Children's Bureau grant, which ended on February 28, 2013, a computer-based referral system is helping the project achieve its goals. The electronic referral system now notifies DCFS workers of Head Start eligibility for children on their caseloads and allows them to easily refer children to the LBUSD-HS/EHS office. Prior to the grant, the referral system was limited to children ages 3–4. During the grant period, the electronic referral system was expanded to include children ages birth–5. Twenty-three HS-EHS sites that are part of the LBUSD, and other ECEs in the community, also were added to the referral system infrastructure.
Partnerships with other quality ECE programs (e.g. center-based child care providers, preschools, community programs) have been developed to facilitate enrollment when EHS/HS spaces are not available. The project has also created curricula for DCFS social workers, parents, ECE providers, and juvenile dependency court personnel, among others. The curricula are aimed at developing participant understanding of how to navigate the ECE system in order to connect families and children involved with the child welfare system to developmentally appropriate ECE programs, barriers to enrollment, and the benefits of ECE programs for young children involved with child welfare.
Since 2011, the project has increased referrals to HS/EHS by almost 200 percent. It also has established a system for referring and linking children to quality ECE programs when space is not available through HS/EHS.
For more information about this project, contact Todd Michael Franke, Ph.D., firstname.lastname@example.org. The full site visit report is available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
The Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Education Partners Infrastructure project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CO1062). 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.
Child Welfare Research
CBX points to an issue brief describing therapeutic foster care, best practices for this type of care, essential partners, and challenges to providing this care; a report providing key data on foster care and teen pregnancy; and a study of juvenile justice reform over the previous 15 years with an emphasis on adolescent development.
- Therapeutic Foster Care for Trauma-Impacted Youth
Therapeutic Foster Care for Trauma-Impacted Youth
A traditional foster care placement may not adequately meet the needs of youth in foster care with severe mental, emotional, or behavioral health disorders. In these cases, therapeutic or treatment foster care (TFC) offering clinical interventions may be a better fit. A recent issue brief by the State Policy Advocacy and Research Center (SPARC) describes therapeutic foster care, best practices for this type of care, essential partners, and challenges to providing this care. Examples from States that have formed unique partnerships to treat youth with complex needs also are included in the brief.
TFC is not a placement. It is a strengths-based, evidence-informed, and trauma-sensitive treatment plan. A child lives in a TFC home offering interventions similar to those offered in restrictive, residential care settings but are provided by specially trained foster parents in local communities. TFC parents often receive twice the training as traditional foster care parents, with a focus on mental health and trauma disorders.
To enter TFC, a child must meet the medical requirements set by the State Medicaid authority and then be assessed based on his or her developmental stage, trauma experiences, physical and emotional health, and educational and behavioral deficits. TFC homes are then matched with the youth's specific needs.
Providing quality TFC requires partnerships among providers, State child welfare agencies, State mental health agencies, State Medicaid administrators, and others. SPARC's issue brief outlines the basic steps for provider agencies and child advocates for forming these relationships.
The SPARC initiative is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. Therapeutic Foster Care: Exceptional Care for Complex, Trauma-Impacted Youth in Foster Care, by Laura W. Boyd, is available here:
http://childwelfaresparc.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/therapeutic-foster-care-exceptional-care-for-complex-trauma-impacted-youth-in-foster-care.pdf (591 KB)
The March 2013 issue of Children's Bureau Express featured the article "Treatment Foster Care and Well-Being," highlighting Foster Family-Based Treatment Association's Beyond Safety and Permanency: Promoting Social and Emotional Well-Being for Youth in Treatment Foster Care.
- Combating Domestic Child Sex Trafficking
Combating Domestic Child Sex Trafficking
A June 2013 blog entry on the PolicyforResults.org website discusses the June 11 Senate hearing titled Sex Trafficking and Exploitation in America: Child Welfare's Role in Prevention and Intervention. Citing expert witness testimony, the article notes the existing service gaps adversely affecting trafficked youth, highlights the programs and policies some States have in place to serve this population, and provides recommendations to States on developing and implementing policies aimed at better protecting children from sex trafficking.
A large percentage of trafficked youth have a previous history of abuse, neglect, and child welfare involvement, and many are still legally in State custody while being trafficked. Witness testimony emphasized the need for child welfare system reform, and the article mirrors this emphasis. The article also focuses on the importance of providing trafficked youth with the specialized foster care and trauma-informed services they need to recover once they escape their exploiters.
Witness Susan Goldfarb, Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Suffolk County in Boston, MA, voiced concerns that when a child is abused by a noncaregiver (as is the case with most child prostitution and sex trafficking), the child welfare system does not intervene when a report is made. Instead, Goldfarb believes that child welfare should view these youth as "their kids" and investigate these reports as they would reports of child abuse by caregivers in order to ensure that survivors receive the protection and services they need.
Connecticut is doing just that; it now accepts all reports of child sex trafficking through its central intake Careline, regardless of whether or not the alleged abuser is a caregiver. In addition, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security to prosecute cases of child sex trafficking.
To read the full blog, visit PolicyforResults.org, a website and project of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, which is dedicated to helping policymakers make informed decisions that affect children and families. The June 2013 blog post, "Combating Domestic Child Sex Trafficking: The Crucial Role of State Policy," is available here:
The intersection of child welfare and human trafficking was the focus of the July/August 2013 issue of Children's Bureau Express. Access the issue here:
- Reforming Juvenile Justice
Reforming Juvenile Justice
In 2010, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) of the U.S. Department of Justice asked the National Research Council to convene a committee to conduct a study of juvenile justice reform over the previous 15 years, with an emphasis on adolescent development. In November 2012, the National Research Council released Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, a report that summarizes the study's findings and makes recommendations for additional reforms through the lens of adolescent development.
The report provides historical context for juvenile justice reform by discussing the many laws passed in the 1990s that criminalized various juvenile offenses and led to more youths being tried as adults. It describes the ways in which adolescent development affects cognition and behavior and how the current juvenile justice system may not be best serving the needs of adolescents, including racial and ethnic minorities who are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system. The report may be of interest to child welfare professionals, given the body of research confirming the connection between youth involved with child welfare and juvenile delinquency—often referred to as crossover youth.
The report outlines three guiding principles for juvenile justice reform—accountability, preventing reoffending, and fairness—that both supports the positive social development of youth and promotes community safety. It concludes with recommendations for various stakeholders in the juvenile justice system, including the following:
- State and Tribal governments should establish task forces or commissions under high-level oversight to initiate reform.
- OJJDP's role in preventing delinquency and supporting juvenile justice should be strengthened.
- Federal agencies should support research that advances knowledge of adolescent development and how adolescent development influences juvenile delinquency and justice system responses.
- Federal agencies should improve their data collection efforts related to adolescents and juvenile justice.
To view Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, visit:
- Teen Pregnancy in Foster Care
Teen Pregnancy in Foster Care
The teen pregnancy rate for youth in foster care is far greater than for youth in general. In 2011, 48 percent of girls in foster care had been pregnant at least once by 19 years of age, compared to 27 percent of the broader teen population. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (The National Campaign) published a report, Why It Matters: Teen Child Bearing and Child Welfare, that provides key data on foster care and teen pregnancy and supports the need to increase efforts to reduce teen pregnancy in this population.
The report indicates that teen pregnancy and parenting may be barriers to completing education and pursuing secondary education, as well as barriers to employment opportunities for young parents as they transition out of foster care. In addition, the report suggests that the children of teen mothers are more likely than other children to enter the foster care system and notes that many studies have documented a higher incidence of child maltreatment among children born to teen mothers compared to children born to older mothers.
Why It Matters: Teen Child Bearing and Child Welfare is available on The National Campaign's website:
http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/why-it-matters/pdf/Childbearing-ChildWelfare.pdf (408 KB)
The National Campaign and the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential have prepared a report identifying ways to prevent teen pregnancy for youth in foster care and to assist youth in reaching their goals. The report, Help Me to Succeed: A Guide for Supporting Youth in Foster Care to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, also is available at The National Campaign's website:
http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/pubs/Help-Me-Succeed.pdf (2 MB)
Strategies and Tools for Practice
- Parental Interest Directive for Immigrant Parents
Parental Interest Directive for Immigrant Parents
In response to the growing number of U.S. children whose immigrant parents have been detained or deported, a directive issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aims to ensure these parents can maintain a relationship with their children and make decisions in their best interests. The directive is intended to promote family unity and reduce the harmful effects of parental separation. The child and family advocacy group First Focus developed a one-page factsheet outlining the need for the directive and its provisions.
About 5.5 million children in the United States—most of whom are U.S. citizens—live in mixed-legal status families and have one or more undocumented parents. Between July 1, 2010, and September 21, 2012, more than 200,000 removal orders for parents of U.S. citizens were issued by the Department of Homeland Security, accounting for roughly 23 percent of all removals during that time. These removal orders place children at risk of entering the child welfare system. Parents who have been detained or deported are often unable to participate in court proceedings, which can lead to termination of parental rights and make their children eligible for adoption.
Family separation due to immigration enforcement can negatively affect a child's mental and physical health, financial security, and academic success. The ICE parental interest directive aims to ensure parents can make decisions regarding their children's care, maintain contact with their children, and participate in family court proceedings.
The Parental Interest Directive factsheet is available on the First Focus website:
- Mobile Apps to Support Child Welfare Workers
Mobile Apps to Support Child Welfare Workers
The Academy for Professional Excellence has released a series of mobile applications for both iPhones and Android mobile devices to support the work of social workers in the field. The apps now available include:
- Basic interviewing skills for social workers
- Child development milestones
- Elements of child sexual abuse
- A guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
- Keys to engagement
- Safety-organized practice toolkit
- California State statutes relevant to child welfare services
The Academy for Professional Excellence is supported by the San Diego State University School of Social Work. The mobile apps are available for download from the Academy's website:
- Developing Family Drug Court Programs
Developing Family Drug Court Programs
Family drug courts (FDCs) use the authority of the justice system to provide timely substance abuse treatment for parents whose children are involved with child welfare. FDC programs combine judicial leadership with efforts to partner with child welfare and substance abuse treatment professionals, with the goal of improving safety and permanency for children.
Different models for developing FDCs have emerged across the States, mostly based on the model of adult drug courts, but few States have developed standards that address issues specific to child welfare. A new publication from Child and Family Futures, Guidance to States: Recommendations for Developing Family Court Guidelines, presents a framework for developing effective FDC programs. In the publication, authors Nancy K. Young, Phil Breitenbucher, and Jane E. Pfeifer review research on effective practices and present a list of 10 recommendations for improving FDC programs:
- Create a shared mission and vision
- Develop interagency partnerships
- Create effective communication protocols for sharing information
- Ensure cross-system knowledge
- Develop a process for early identification and assessment
- Address the needs of parents
- Address the needs of children
- Garner community support
- Implement funding and sustainability strategies
- Evaluate shared outcomes and accountability
Prepared for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, this publication is available from the Child and Family Futures website:
http://www.cffutures.org/files/publications/FDC-Guidelines.pdf (2 MB)
- Talking About Sex With Youth in Care
Talking About Sex With Youth in Care
For most parents and teens, talking about sex can be an uncomfortable but important conversation. For youth in foster care, it is a conversation that may never occur, leaving these young people to learn about sex from their peers. Fostering Media Connections has developed a webpage that includes information about why discussing sex with youth in foster care is important, as well as how to approach the topic.
The webpage includes links to three webisodes, including the following:
- "Why We Need to Talk," featuring professionals explaining why talking about sex is important
- "The Sex Talk," featuring young adults who were in foster care discussing how they learned about sex
- "The Talk in Action," featuring a foster parent and youth demonstrating how to approach the discussion
In addition, the website contains links to sexual health resources for youth.
The Let's Talk about Sex With Foster Youth webpage is available on the Fostering Media Connections website:
- Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit
Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) recently released Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit: Resources From the Field to assist agencies and organizations in developing or enhancing fatherhood programs. The toolkit was built using existing materials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance (OFA), OFA grantees, research studies, and publications from the NRFC (http://www.fatherhood.gov), as well as interviews and site visits conducted by the NRFC. It provides information on a variety of topics and issues, including the following:
- Building effective programs
- Engaging fathers effectively
- Cultivating community partnerships
- Recruiting, retaining, and training staff
- Serving fathers with specific barriers (e.g., incarceration)
- Promoting sustainability
To view Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit: Resources From the Field, visit:
- Protecting Drug-Endangered Children
Protecting Drug-Endangered Children
It is estimated that over 9 million children live in homes where a parent or other adult living in the home uses illegal drugs. The negative effects on children growing up surrounded by illegal drugs are substantial. These children are three times more likely to be verbally, physically, or sexually abused and four times more likely to be neglected than children living in drug-free homes. The Drug Endangered Children Guide for Law Enforcement, developed by the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC), offers law enforcement professionals information on how to develop an effective community collaborative to respond to drug-endangered children (DEC) when the adults in their home are involved in drug activity or substance abuse.
The DEC approach focuses on building and sustaining community-based partnerships that involve professionals from multiple disciplines, including law enforcement, child welfare, the courts, and medical personnel. The purpose of the partnership is to develop a collaborative approach to rescue, defend, shelter, and support children exposed to illegal drugs and substance abuse. All disciplines involved in the DEC approach have different responsibilities and, therefore, have different goals and priorities. However, each discipline should be aware of the priorities and responsibilities of their community partners and work as a team for the best interests of the child.
The guide includes a section on building and participating in a DEC local alliance, including the agencies and/or areas of expertise that should be included, as well a list of questions to ask and examples of evidence when trying to determine if a child is at risk of maltreatment.
The Drug Endangered Children Guide for Law Enforcement is available here:
http://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-p258-pub.pdf (16 MB)
- Money Management Tip Sheet for Youth
Money Management Tip Sheet for Youth
Transitions RTC at the Center for Mental Health Services Research at the University of Massachusetts is geared toward supporting youth with serious mental health conditions and helping them complete their education. RTC provides a number of resources for youth, service providers, and policymakers on a range of issues affecting this vulnerable population.
The tip sheet Telling Your Money What to Do: The Young Adult's Guide offers youth information about starting a budget, managing money resources, cutting spending, and more. To help youth understand money management, the tip sheet offers a comparison chart demonstrating the expenses of eating out, owning a pet, or even buying coffee, and how these expenses add up over the course of a week and a month.
To access the money management tip sheet, visit:
http://labs.umassmed.edu/transitionsRTC/Resources/publications/Budgeting.pdf (500 KB)
A full list of products by Transitions RTC is available on the organization's website:
- Children of Incarcerated Parents
Children of Incarcerated Parents
A new webpage from FindYouthInfo.gov, an agency created by the Federal Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs that supports programs and services focusing on youth, highlights the topic of children of incarcerated parents. The webpage, 1 of 21 youth-focused webpages, offers factsheets; a toolkit for agencies and organizations working with children whose parents are incarcerated; tip sheets for parents, teachers, and other stakeholders; links to training and technical assistance; and other tools. The webpage is available here:
There are more than 20 topic-specific webpages sponsored by FindYothInfo.gov, including the following:
- Youth Mental Health
- Preventing Youth Violence
- Preventing Gang Involvement
- Runaway and Homeless Youth
- Youth Disaster Preparedness
- Substance Abuse
- LGBT Youth
- Juvenile Justice
- Teen Pregnancy
For more information, visit the FindYouthInfo.gov website:
- Supporting LGBTQ Youth in Care
Supporting LGBTQ Youth in Care
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in foster care face a number of unique challenges. Many LGBTQ youth in care have a history of family violence and rejection, as well as subsequent retraumatization by foster parents, peers, and child welfare staff. The New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) is heavily invested in promoting innovative strategies to ensure a healthier and more nurturing environment for this youth population and recently launched its new webpage in support of LGBTQ children, youth, and families.
ACS' work in this area dates back to 2006 and its LGBTQ Strategic Plan is the result of collaboration between ACS, community advocates, and contract providers. It focuses on five major practice areas geared at eradicating discrimination and building the capacity of staff to work with LGBTQ youth. The LGBTQ plan has already helped improve agency response and implement practices that support positive change for the LGBTQ population in New York. The new website offers a range of materials to improve services for youth, families, and practitioners, as well as policies and other resources.
The Improving Services for LGBTQ Children, Youth & Families webpage is available here:
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.
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through February 2014 include:
- Beyond the Bench XXII
Improving Justice for Children and Families: The Legacy of Clarence Earl Gideon
Judicial Council for California, Administrative Office of the Courts
December 2–4, Anaheim, CA
- 15th Annual Ending Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Conference
Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
December 9–13, Lexington, KY
- The Society for Social Work and Research 2014 Annual Conference
Research for Social Change: Addressing Local and Global Challenges
January 15–19, San Antonio, TX
- The 2014 Annual Conference of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
January 25–28, Washington DC
- The 28th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment
January 28–31, San Diego, CA
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- Beyond the Bench XXII
- Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit, 2nd Ed.
Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit, 2nd Ed.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) released the second edition of the Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit. This resource provides professionals with basic knowledge, skills, and values about working with children who are receiving child welfare services and who have experienced traumatic events. Changes to the Toolkit include updated research and content on types of trauma, cultural implications, and long-term effects of childhood trauma, parent trauma, and secondary traumatic stress.
The NCTSN website provides an overview of the toolkit and curriculum. Interested individuals will need to register in order to access the information.
Components of the Toolkit include:
- Introduction to the Toolkit
- Trainer's Guide
- Participant Manual
- Recommended Reading and Resources
- Comprehensive Guide
- Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit, Version 2: Suggestions for Trainers
- Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit Companion CD-ROM
For more information, or to access the Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit, visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website: