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November 2015Vol. 16, No. 8Spotlight on National Adoption Month

This year's National Adoption Month theme reminds us that "We Never Outgrow the Need for Family." CBX also highlights a tip sheet for adopted persons on birth family searches, a publication for child welfare professionals and family support organizations staff about the use of support services for adoptive families, and more.

Issue Spotlight

  • Protecting Adopted Children From Rehoming

    Protecting Adopted Children From Rehoming

    An unregulated child custody transfer, sometimes referred to as "rehoming," occurs when adoptive parents advertise their adopted child (usually via the Internet) in order to transfer custody of the child to adults who have not received public child welfare agency or court approval and oversight. The number of children who have been rehomed is unknown and difficult to determine, but recent high-profile cases in which children were transferred into abusive situations have resulted in a number of States passing laws banning the practice. A new publication, Responding to Rehoming: Protecting Children & Strengthening Adoptive Families, looks at laws and policies regarding the practice and affirms the need for greater protections for adopted children.

    The publication examines policy changes that may prevent unregulated custody transfers, including improved screening of prospective parents, increased preparation and training, and increased access to quality postadoption services. Recommendations are also made for how these policies can be strengthened to better address the complex issues involved in rehoming, including the following:

    • Apply State child protection laws to all parents and their children, whether biological, kin, or adopted
    • Examine existing definitions of child abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment to identify how unregulated custody transfers already fit within current definitions
    • Examine and strengthen current child abuse reporting channels to specifically capture instances of online child maltreatment activity like unregulated custody transfers
    • Establish minimum training requirements and topics for all adoptions
    • Establish national minimum uniform home-study standards that apply to both domestic and intercountry adoptions
    • Provide incentives to States to establish public-private partnerships to implement quality community-based postadoption service programs
    • Invest in longitudinal research to support the development of evidence-based practices to meet the behavioral, developmental, and psychological health needs of adopted children and youth
    • Develop a database of postadoption services in each State
    • Prohibit requirements that adoptive parents (without findings of maltreatment) must relinquish custody of their children to access State-funded mental health services or short-term therapeutic residential treatment

    Responding to Rehoming: Protecting Children and Strengthening Adoptive Families is a joint statement from the Center for Adoption Support and Education, Child Welfare League of America, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Donaldson Adoption Institute, North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Voice for Adoption. The publication is available at (515 KB).

  • November Is National Adoption Month

    November Is National Adoption Month

    This year, National Adoption Month focuses on the adoption of older youth currently in foster care—because "We Never Outgrow the Need for Family." This theme calls attention to our nation's population of older youth in foster care who need loving, permanent families. Youth ages 12 to 20 make up a large percentage of the foster care population—34 percent or 141,181 youth.1 Creating lifelong connections for these young people is critical in helping them prepare for successful adulthood.

    Compared to their peers, many youth in foster care face higher rates of poor outcomes, such as dropping out of high school, unemployment, and homelessness. Despite these challenges, research on positive youth development confirms that children and youth have the ability to overcome traumatic experiences and thrive in adulthood when they are connected to a strong, permanent support system. It is important for youth to have a sense of belonging; through adoption, youth are connected to a family who not only provide a sense of stability, but also help them navigate the complicated landscape of their emerging independence. These lasting connections can help youth with important life tasks such as enrolling in higher education, finding stable housing, securing employment, and establishing healthy relationships.

    During the 2015 National Adoption Month initiative, prospective adoptive families can learn more about the needs of older youth and opportunities to positively guide them toward successful outcomes. Visit the updated video gallery to view national public service announcements and hear the voices of older youth. Professionals will find dedicated resource sections addressing the following topics:

    • Recruiting families for older youth
    • Supporting the well-being of older youth
    • Promoting permanency for older youth
    • State and local resources for professionals

    National Adoption month, funded each November by the Children's Bureau, is a partnership between AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway. Visit the National Adoption Month website throughout November and follow us on Facebook and Twitter at

    1 Children's Bureau. (2015). The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY 2014 estimates as of July 2015, No. 22. Retrieved from

  • Talking to Adopted Children About Birth Families

    Talking to Adopted Children About Birth Families

    The September 2015 issue of Adoption Advocate, a publication of the National Council for Adoption (NFCA), discusses the importance of talking with adopted children about their birth families and offers some suggestions for adoptive parents. The article, "Talking to Adopted Children About Birth Parents and Families of Origin: How to Answer the 'Hard Questions,'" recognizes that these conversations are not always easy; yet, regardless of how much or how little is known about a child's birth parents and adoption, it is important that adoptive parents initiate this dialogue. After all, an adopted child has two sets of parents; both are important.

    Adoptive parents can help lessen the fear and anxiety associated with these discussions by starting them early, even at the time of the adoption, and making them an ongoing part of family life. Doing so lays a foundation of honesty; encourages openness, acceptance, and transparency; and can help build and strengthen the bond between adoptive parent and child.

    Throughout the article, the author reiterates the need for sharing information about a child's past, birth parents or other family, and adoption at a developmentally appropriate level. Guidance and tips for adoptive parents are provided in the following areas:

    • Beginning the conversation
    • Talking about adoption and birth parents
    • When information is lacking
    • Discussing the "hard things"
    • Discussing birth families with adolescents
    • Looking for more information

    "Talking to Adopted Children About Birth Parents and Families of Origin: How to Answer the 'Hard Questions,'" by Rhonda Jarema, is available on the NFCA website at

  • For Adoptees Considering a Birth Family Search

    For Adoptees Considering a Birth Family Search

    A recent tip sheet from the Coalition for Children, Youth and Families, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, highlights some of the key questions and considerations that should be addressed when an adopted person is deciding whether or not to initiate a search for birth relatives. Many adopted persons do not have connections with or information about their birth family, which can sometimes lead to feelings of "incompleteness." However, before an adopted person begins his or her search, it's important to have a thorough understanding of the reasons for searching, realistic expectations, and a support system in place to help navigate what can be an emotional journey.

    The tip sheet is organized into three main sections: reasons for searching, things to consider before your search, and beginning your search. In the first section, authors discuss adoptees' natural and reasonable curiosity about their past; unknown medical and genetic history; the sense of loss adoptees often feel with respect to relationships with family; and for those adopted internationally, lost connections to their cultures, languages, and customs.

    The second section addresses the importance of setting realistic expectations about the information an adopted person may find and the outcomes that may occur. Because the search process can involve many emotional highs and lows, the tip sheet provides the following suggestions for building a strong support network:

    • Understandably, the adoptive family may have mixed feelings about the search process, so it is important to consider their feelings and be open with the reasons guiding the search.
    • Members of the larger adoptive community who have experienced the search process can provide guidance through support groups and other events.
    • An adoption-competent therapist can help an adopted person process feelings and emotions and set healthy boundaries and expectations.
    • In Wisconsin, the Coalition has resource specialists that provide adopted persons with information and support in their search efforts.

    The third section of the tip sheet offers direction on locating and accessing adoption records and information in Wisconsin, as well as general guidance and resources for conducting searches and accessing adoption records in other States and internationally.

    While the tip sheet was written for a Wisconsin audience, much of the information is applicable to all adopted persons. Access the 2015 tip sheet, To Search or Not to Search, on the Coalition's website at (796 KB).

  • Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions

    Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions

    Each year, the Bureau of Consular Affairs within the U.S. Department of State releases a report about the number of intercountry adoptions in the United States. The fiscal year (FY) 2014 annual report describes several areas regarding intercountry adoptions, including the following:

    • Incoming adoptions by country of origin. China had the largest number of incoming adoptions, at 2,040 (down from 2,306 in FY 2013*).
    • Incoming adoptions by State. Texas had the largest number of incoming adoptions, at 440 (down from 489 in FY 2013).
    • Outgoing adoptions by receiving country. Canada received the largest number of adoptions, at 47 (the Netherlands received the most in FY 2013, at 38 adoptions).
    • Adoptions occurring under the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption by country, including the number of days to completion. China had the highest number of Convention cases, at 2,025, with an average of 282 days to completion (in FY 2013, there were 2,239 Convention cases from China, with an average of 257 days to completion).
    • Median adoption service provider fees for adoptions occurring under the Hague Adoption Convention. Albania had the highest fees in FY 2014, at $29,800.
    • Number of disrupted Hague Adoption Convention placements in the United States. In FY 2014, there were three reported disrupted placements in Convention adoptions, down from five disruptions in FY 2013.

    The FY 2014 report is available at (418 KB).

    *The FY 2013 report is available at (910 KB).

  • Supporting Families Who Adopt From Foster Care

    Supporting Families Who Adopt From Foster Care

    Research shows that families who adopt children from foster care are able to meet the needs of these children more confidently when they are provided with consistent and appropriate postadoption supports. In addition, foster, adoptive, and kinship families who feel supported by their agency can serve as resources in the recruitment of prospective parents and provide prospective families with a support network.

    A new publication from the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids, Support Matters: Lessons From the Field on Services for Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Care Families, provides information and guidance to State and Tribal child welfare managers and administrators and staff of family support organizations about the effective use of support services, including:

    • How promising support services can help with both recruitment and support of adoptive, foster, and kinship care families
    • Evidence-based or evidence-informed therapeutic services and techniques that have been used in conjunction with support services to help create healthier families
    • Data supporting the value of support services for children, families, and administrators
    • Tools and guidance for assessing the needs of adoptive, foster, and kinship care families
    • Implementing support services, including public-private partnerships and funding

    The guide reminds practitioners that children and youth in foster care or kinship care and those who have been adopted from care face many challenges, and supportive services both help children overcome their challenges and assist their families in coping with the challenges their children face. It also explores the benefits of needs assessments and offers a tool for conducting an assessment.

    Other topics addressed by the guide include identifying programs and services that have been shown to improve outcomes for children, as well as youth care and program models for building a child welfare system's capacity to provide support to foster, adoptive, and kinship families. The guide also presents a possible implementation strategy that features partnerships with family support organizations or other local nonprofit partners. Advice from the field on successful implementation of a new family support service or program is included.

    Support Matters: Lessons From the Field on Services for Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Care Families is available at

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News From the Children's Bureau

This month's "Commissioner's Page" shares the stories and experiences of two youth who were adopted from foster care in their late teens. We also highlight the Capacity Building Center for States' Continuous Quality Improvement Training Academy and the 2015 Adoption Excellence Awards.

  • Engaging Families and Communities in Education

    Engaging Families and Communities in Education

    The U.S. Department of Education's Family and Community Engagement web section provides resources for parents and families, schools and educators, and communities about how they can support student success. The resources address a wide variety of topics, including health, bullying, school/parent/community partnerships, special education programs, and early learning. State-specific resources are also available.

    To view the web section, visit

  • New AFCARS Report Released

    New AFCARS Report Released

    The Children's Bureau recently posted new statistics on the numbers of children involved with the child welfare system. Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #22 provides preliminary estimates for fiscal year (FY) 2014 and indicates that, as of September 30, 2014:

    • There were 415,129 children in foster care.
    • There were 107,918 children waiting to be adopted.
    • The average age of children in foster care was 8.7 years.
    • The largest percentage of children (46 percent) in foster care were in nonrelative foster family homes, followed by 29 percent in relative foster family homes.
    • The largest percentage of children (55 percent) had reunification with parents or primary caregivers as their placement goal.
    • Of the children in foster care, 42 percent were White, 24 percent were Black, and 22 percent were Hispanic.

    The updated Trends report, which compiles data from FY 2005 through FY 2014, shows that after a decline of more than 20 percent between FY 2005 and FY 2012 to a low of 397,000, the number of children in foster care increased to 415,000 in FY 2014. Trends for children entering the system follow a similar pattern, and most of these increases occurred during the past year.

    Find the latest AFCARS reports on the Children's Bureau website:

    Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #22 is available at

    Trends in Foster Care and Adoption FY 2005–FY 2014 is available at (125 KB).

  • Adoption Excellence Awards 2015

    Adoption Excellence Awards 2015

    As part of its celebration of National Adoption Month in November, the Children's Bureau announced 10 winners in three categories of the annual Adoption Excellence Awards. The Children's Bureau established the Adoption Excellence Awards in 1997 to honor States, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families for their work in increasing adoptions from foster care. Awards may be made in five categories of excellence, and winners are chosen by a committee representing nonprofit adoption agencies, child welfare and adoption advocates, adoptive parents, foundations, businesses, and State and Federal offices.

    The 2015 Adoption Excellence Awards were presented to the following:

    In the category of Family Contributions:

    • Steven Effinger, Virginia
    • Gene and Betsy Dukatz, Wisconsin
    • Makani and Brianna Kema-Kaleiwahea, Hawaii

    In the category of Individuals/Professionals:

    • Kathleen Ledesma, Maryland
    • Debbie Riley, Maryland
    • Stephanie Thompson, Ohio
    • David Brodzinsky, Ph.D., California
    • Kathie Malzahn-Bass, Nevada

    In the category of Child Welfare/Judicial Systemic Change:

    • Treehouse Foundation, Massachusetts
    • Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services

    To read more about the Adoption Excellence Awards and award winners, visit the Children's Bureau website at

    The Administration for Children and Families' The Family Room blog also highlighted the Adoption Excellence Awards in its recent entry "Children's Bureau Lauds Outstanding Work to Help Promote Adoption From Foster Care," available at

  • New Child Welfare Policy Manual Q&As

    New Child Welfare Policy Manual Q&As

    The Children's Bureau posted three new questions and answers to the Child Welfare Policy Manual (CWPM). The first is related to claiming title IV-E administrative costs for the identification of sex trafficking and for associated case management in accordance with sections 471(a)(9) and (34) of the Social Security Act. The second stipulates that the title IV-E guardianship assistance agreement between a title IV-E agency and a successor guardian must specify that the title IV-E agency will pay the total cost of nonrecurring expenses associated with obtaining legal guardianship of the child. The third clarifies that, under the title IV-E requirement that there must be at least one "onsite official…designated to be the caregiver who is authorized to apply the reasonable and prudent parent standard," officials of the child care institution affiliated with the child's case (e.g., a child care institution's case manager) may be a designated official. The text of each question is below. To view their respective answers and to access the entire CWPM, visit the Children's Bureau website at

    8.1 TITLE IV-E, Administrative Functions/Costs

    Question: May a title IV-E agency claim title IV-E foster care administrative costs for the identification of sex trafficking and for associated case management as administration in accordance with sections 471(a)(9) and (34) of the Social Security Act (Act)?

    8.5C Guardianship Assistance Program, Payments

    Question: Are title IV-E agencies required to pay non-recurring expenses associated with obtaining legal guardianship of the child on behalf of the successor guardian?

    8.3A.8a TITLE IV-E, Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program, Eligibility, Facilities requirements, child-care institution, Q/A #6
    8.3A.8c TITLE IV-E, Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program, Eligibility, Facilities requirements, licensing, Q/A #21

    Question: Under section 471(a)(10)(B) of the Act, there must be at least one "onsite official…designated to be the caregiver who is authorized to apply the reasonable and prudent parent standard" as a condition of a contract the title IV-E agency enters into with a child care institution. May the onsite official(s) be someone affiliated with the child's case (such as the child care institution's case manager for the child)?

  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    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.

    Recent additions to the site include:

    Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new at

  • Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Training Academy

    Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Training Academy

    The CQI Training Academy, a learning experience sponsored by the Capacity Building Center for States, which is part of the Children's Bureau Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative, is now available. The Center for States identified continuous quality improvement (CQI) as a significant issue and developed a menu of resources and interventions to assist States with fortifying and sustaining their CQI systems. The CQI Training Academy, originally developed by JBS International, Inc. in collaboration with the Children's Bureau, provides State child welfare professionals of all levels with foundational training in CQI systems and processes.

    The Academy comprises self-directed e-learning modules that registered users, cohorts of registered users, and guest users can access via CapLEARN as a self-guided learning experience. (CapLEARN is the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative tool that provides access to training, knowledge, and skills to promote professional leadership development.) Upon completion of all modules and pre/posttests, registered users will receive a certificate of completion and continuing education units (CEUs). The e-learning units correspond to the CQI cycle of learning: (1) identify and understand the problem, (2) research the solution, (3) develop the theory of change, (4) adapt or develop the solution, (5) implement the solution, and (6) monitor and assess the situation. The CQI Training Academy accommodates child welfare professionals' busy schedules, making it easy to integrate into existing training and workforce development plans.

    Registered users can work at their own pace as the system tracks their progress and allows users to pick up where they left off in the training series. Guest users—individuals interested in revisiting certain topics or using one or more modules as a resource—will have access to all CQI Training Academy materials, including the e-learning modules, supplemental readings, and group learning discussion guides, but will not receive a certificate of completion or CEUs and are not required to complete the modules in order. The two user options provide participants with unlimited flexibility and the ability to customize their training. The content, developed by a variety of subject-matter experts, is organized by topic into units, allowing users to complete a unit and immediately put it to use in their daily work, thereby facilitating the instant transfer of CQI knowledge to real-world scenarios.

    The Capacity Building Center for States will guide and support States interested in integrating the CQI Training Academy into their existing training systems and catalogues by providing support materials and coaching. Participants may use the CQI Training Academy as a standalone training series or in conjunction with other trainings, depending on their needs. The CQI Training Academy is also available to staff from courts and Tribes looking for an introduction to CQI concepts and is free of charge. For more information, visit the website for the Capacity Building Center for States at

  • Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress

    Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress

    The Center for Child and Social Policy at Duke University is developing a set of four reports about self-regulation and toxic stress. Self-regulation is managing cognition and emotion to support goal-directed actions (e.g., organizing behavior, controlling impulses), and toxic stress can occur when children experience strong, frequent, or sustained adversity that overwhelms their skills or support. The reports were commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. The Center for Child and Social Policy has written and released two of the reports:

    • Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: Foundations for Understanding Self-Regulation From an Applied Developmental Perspective
    • Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: A Review of Ecological, Biological, and Developmental Studies of Self-Regulation and Stress

    The other reports will be titled Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: A Comprehensive Review of Self-Regulation Interventions From Birth Through Young Adulthood and Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: Implications for Programs and Practice.

    A description of the project and the available reports can be accessed at

  • Commissioner's Page

    Commissioner's Page

    The following is the monthly message from Rafael López, the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Each message focuses on the current Children's Bureau Express Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

    This year's National Adoption Month theme reminds us all that "We Never Outgrow the Need for Family." The 2015 initiative focuses on the importance of finding permanence for older youth in care and keeping adoption as a possibility for all youth. Permanence can mean many things—for many, it means having family you know you can count on to feel safe and loved. The Children's Bureau's job as a public-serving agency is to help ensure all children and youth have a loving family, no matter their age.

    For this month's "Commissioner's Page," I would like to share the experiences of two older adopted youth. José, who is currently 21 years old, was adopted when he was age 18; Thomas, who is 22 years old, was adopted when he was 17. Their stories illustrate the positive impact of a stable family environment on the lives of youth in care, as well as the importance of never giving up on the idea of a loving, permanent home.

    How did you come into contact with foster care, and what was your experience like?

    José: A police officer found me in the street and took me to my area foster care. [My foster care experience] was good because they wanted to know me.

    Thomas: I came in contact with the foster care system in 2004, following a shooting that occurred 3 days before my 11th birthday. At the time, I did not understand the foster care system, but I remember the anger I felt during the early months because I was away from my father. Looking back, I would say that I was so blessed to have a strong, consistent, and supporting cast who really took the time to see that I was properly cared for.

    Do you have any siblings, and if so, can you share about them? How did your experiences in foster care affect your relationship with your sibling(s)? Do you keep in touch, and if so, how (phone calls, letters, social media, visits)?

    José: I have two biological siblings and one by adoption. I don't know my biological siblings that well. I only know them by Facebook, and that's how I keep in touch with them. My adopted sister is a nerd, but fun to be around. We have an awesome relationship, and I see her regularly.

    Thomas: Yes, I have one brother in my adoptive home, and I have three younger sisters and two older brothers from the biological side of my family. In my heart, we are all one family, and my foster care experience impacted all of our relationships in a good way. My [adoptive] brother was a close friend before I was adopted into the family. He basically experienced every foster home transition with me and was very helpful throughout every home. Having him there during the years I was hurting made me more grateful for him. It means a lot just being in the same family as him. I love my other siblings so much. There were so many nights I longed to have little sisters and older brothers. When I found out I had biological siblings, it was simply beautiful. For everyone, no matter how old we get, we will never lose contact.

    Did your caseworker ask you if you wanted to be adopted?

    José: Yes, she did and I said I wanted to be adopted.

    Thomas: Yes, I made it clear at the age of 13 that I wanted a loving family to call my own.

    Did your caseworker consult you about your wishes for a permanency plan, and do you feel you got to voice your opinions, wishes, questions, and concerns? What were your permanency or case plan goals?

    José: We did discuss [a permanency plan], and my goal was to be with a family to come home to. They would ask me what I wanted in a family, and I would explain in detail what I wanted. I feel like they listened to me.

    Thomas: Once I made it clear that I wanted to be adopted and that was my goal, we talked about it every meeting, and each worker did all they could to ensure it happened. I wanted my voice to be heard. I wanted them to know my plans, and I did not want anyone making plans without me. So, I would call my guardian ad litem before every court hearing just to tell her how I felt, and she gave me feedback on how she felt and what was best for me. We would agree on things, and she would go into court and state how we felt. She loved me that much, that no matter how young I was, she understood my voice and wanted to make sure I had joy.

    Did your case plan include any provisions to help prepare you for a potential transition to independent living? Were you connected to tools, resources, and supports that were helpful? Have you had trouble accessing health care?

    José: Yes, it did. Because we weren't sure if I was going to be adopted because I was older, I did skills [training] in the group home that supported me in how to maintain myself. I was supported by my group home parents but don't really remember being connected with other resources, and I haven't had any problems accessing health care.

    Thomas: Honestly, many opportunities were presented for preparations to independent living in case I never got adopted, but I was so set on finding a family that I never took advantage of them. One thing I can say is that my supporting cast had my back and taught me how to handle real-life situations.

    What does "permanency" mean to you?

    José: Permanency means a home that I can go to and be loved and have support when I most need it.

    Thomas: That word to me means love. I cannot count the times I cried for a home. After a while, you get tired of moving around, and you want to be loved. Nights where you want to be held, kissed on the forehead, or just hear the words I love you. I looked at permanency as a security blanket. I would never have the feeling of fear anymore because I know my mom or dad would never leave me.

    Do you maintain any connections with your birth family or other supportive adults?

    José: I had support, but their numbers would change or they would be offline. So, I just reach out to them through Facebook. [I still have] a little connection with my group home dad. I also have close connections with my adopted aunt and uncle and grandparents.

    Thomas: Yes. From my birth family to all the adults I've had growing up, they are very supportive in all that I do. I'm just grateful to have them, honestly.

    How do you feel about where you are in your life now?

    José: Good. All I wanted came true.

    Thomas: God could not have placed me in a better spot. At this point, [I feel] I went through the struggle to use my story to help out [other] youth. I'm just blessed to be where I am. I never thought I'd get this far. I am where I want other kids to be. Essentially, I want to help stop kids from feeling lonely.

    Do you have any advice for older youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted?

    José: Never give up. Keep sharing your story because some day, someone will listen.

    Thomas: Prayer, believe, and have faith. You are all special and someone knows that. Just know that love is waiting, and sometimes, to get what you deserve and long for, it requires a little patience and strength.

    Do you have any advice for caseworkers?

    José: Never quit, because everyone should be happy to be in a family or continue to want to be in a family.

    Thomas: Keep doing your job. Thank you for all you continue to do. You all have changed lives and have given hope to so many youth.

    Do you have any advice for families interested in adoption regarding older youth in care?

    José: Just listen to the child and try to connect with them. Older kids have a lot to offer.

    Thomas: Love is the greatest gift you could ever give a child. Love is a superpower, and you have the chance to be a superhero, save a child's life, make an impact on a child's life. Just open up your hearts.

Child Welfare Research

This month, CBX features a report providing State policymakers with suggestions for policy strategy aimed at supporting the well-being of children and families of color, an article describing the outcomes of focus groups that examined the role fathers in child welfare-involved families play in their children's lives, and more.

  • Research Brief: The Use of Congregate Care

    Research Brief: The Use of Congregate Care

    Federal and State laws require State agencies to place children in need of out-of-home care in the least restrictive, most home-like settings possible. However, it is estimated that about 20 percent of children in care in the United States will experience a placement in a group home or other form of congregate care. The Center for State Child Welfare Data at Chapin Hall has published a new research brief, Within and Between State Variation in the Use of Congregate Care, that looks the use congregate care around the country.

    The study analyzed data from the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive (FCDA)—a longitudinal archive of the foster care records of approximately 3 million children nationwide—which was used to illustrate how congregate care use varies among States and counties. The study focused on the following questions:

    • How does the likelihood of placement in congregate care vary from State to State?
    • Given that group care varies so widely from place to place, what factors predict placement in a nonfamliy setting? Specifically, how do child characteristics and ecological factors interact to produce trends in congregate care placement?

    The analysis shows that some counties use very little congregate care and in other counties, nearly 9 out of 10 children entering foster care were placed in a nonfamily setting. Teenagers are more likely to enter a group setting than younger children, males are more likely than females, and African-Americans more likely than children from other racial/ethnic backgrounds. Urban counties use more congregate care than nonurban counties. Economically disadvantaged counties are less likely to place children in group care than areas classified as better off. The authors then examine a number of data models offering possible explanations for how other variables can contribute to the likelihood of placement in group care.

    Access Within and Between State Variation in the Use of Congregate Care, by Fred Wulczyn, Lily Alpert, Zach Martinez, and Ava Weiss, at

  • Resiliency of Military Children and Families

    Resiliency of Military Children and Families

    Children and families of military personnel and veterans face significant developmental and resiliency challenges. Many families experience multiple relocations, parental deployments, and postdeployment challenges such as posttraumatic stress disorder, the need for rehabilitation due to physical injuries, and traumatic brain injury, that make reunification and reintegration into the family particularly difficult for children, potentially with long-term impact. A recent issue of the Society for Research in Child Development's Social Policy Report offers an evaluation and recommendations for continued improvements to policies and programs that promote positive health and development in military children and families.

    This report asserts that there is a need for more research on the resiliency of children who have been impacted by military deployments and reunifications because current knowledge is insufficient for the development of programs that are effective in addressing risk factors and providing appropriate support. This report offers information on a number of concerns related to military families, such as the following:

    • Parents injured or killed in combat
    • Wartime military service impact on children and families
    • Child care and other support programs
    • Establishing communities of care for military families

    Read the report, entitled Military and Veteran Families and Children: Policies and Programs for Health Maintenance and Positive Development, at (298 KB).

    Related Item

    For more information on working with military families, visit Child Welfare Information Gateway at

  • Father Involvement in Case Management

    Father Involvement in Case Management

    A journal article titled "Father Involvement and Child Welfare: The Voices of Men of Color" describes the outcomes of focus groups that examined the role fathers in child welfare-involved families play in their children's lives. The focus groups, comprising 37 fathers in the in the San Francisco Bay Area, were asked to consider the following questions: (1) how are fathers involved with their children? and (2) how do fathers describe their interactions with social workers? 

    The article, featured in Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, discusses how variables such as a father's relationship with his child's mother can significantly affect his level of involvement, as can unintentional biases on behalf of social workers and the father's surrounding community. Research cited in the article states the following:

    • In many case-management instances, men's sole family-related responsibility is often seen as financial only, not social or emotional.
    • Mothers often act as gatekeepers between fathers and their children—for example, regarding sharing information about the father's whereabouts or identifying information for paternal relatives.
    • Oftentimes, engagement of fathers and their critical influence in their children's development is overlooked within the realm of child welfare.

    Results of the focus groups highlighted two qualitative themes:

    • Environment: Participants felt there was a significant disconnect between their day-to-day life encounters and workers' inability to relate due to cultural backgrounds. For example, participants said that discussions with social workers regarding neighborhood occurrences impacting fathers' physical safety were met with little empathy.
    • Culture: Participants highlighted issues that arose in their interactions with social workers due to prescribed gender roles and socioeconomic status. For example, participants felt that female social workers were unable to relate to the challenges faced by fathers from disenfranchised backgrounds.

    Researchers concluded by stating that child welfare workers are bound by ethical responsibility to search for and include fathers in their case planning process whenever possible. Professional training, both on the job and via workshops, can help provide a greater awareness of the importance of father engagement and about the influence of unintentional bias on casework.

    "Father Involvement and Child Welfare: The Voices of Men of Color," by Kilolo Brodie, Natasha Paddock, Christa Gilliam, and Jackelin Chavez, Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 11(1), 2014, is available at (478 KB).

  • Improving Racial Equity in Child Welfare Policy

    Improving Racial Equity in Child Welfare Policy

    The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) recently published a report providing State policymakers with research-informed, evidence-based suggestions for policy strategy aimed at supporting outcomes and well-being for children and families of color. The report offers background information on children of color who receive child welfare services, highlighting the high rates of disproportionally and disparate treatment. It also outlines some of the many overlapping factors and systemic barriers that create challenges to achieving the well-being of children and families of color, as well as suggestions for potential strategies for policy and funding.

    Suggestions include the collection of nuanced data to build strategies that can lower disproportionality rates and occurrences of disparity, supporting families with appropriate services and resources, ensuring implementation of policy that is supportive of family well-being, and ensuring the well-being of American Indian / Alaska Native children. Policy and funding opportunities can also influence system operations, including leveraging State funding opportunities, maximizing Federal funds, and partnering with foundations. States can help achieve their goals by applying for Federal waivers, investing in programs that support long-term well-being of both children and families, and creating flexible funding streams to support cross-system collaboration, among other things.

    Other strategies suggested include cross-system collaboration, ensuring equitable reception of services through legislation and training, and focusing on treating the underlying factors and families as a whole. The report includes examples of successful partnerships between States and foundations in implementing policies and strategies to help ensure better outcomes.

    Achieving Racial Equity: Child Welfare Policy Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Children of Color is available on the CSSP website at (12 MB).

Strategies and Tools for Practice

This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other instruments that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.

  • Trauma Consultations in Juvenile and Family Courts

    Trauma Consultations in Juvenile and Family Courts

    Research shows that traumatic stress caused by child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, criminal victimization, and other stressors can negatively impact mental and physical development on a long-term basis. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and the National Child Traumatic Stress network developed a trauma consultation protocol for juvenile and family court settings aimed at helping courts and the related systems they work with become more trauma informed. In Preparing for a Trauma Consultation in Your Juvenile and Family Court, NCJFCJ offers judges and courts guidance for assessing whether trauma consultation may be appropriate for their jurisdiction.

    This manual offers insights on the conceptualization of the operational framework of the trauma consultation team. Other topics discussed include the following:

    • Why Should Juvenile and Family Courts Be Trauma Informed?
    • Is Your Juvenile or Family Court Ready for a Trauma Consultation?
    • How Should Courts Prepare for a Consultation?
    • What Should You Expect During the Consultation?
    • How Do You Use the Consultation Recommendations and How Do You Sustain Your Work?

    To learn more about the trauma consultation protocol and to read the report Preparing for a Trauma Consultation in Your Juvenile and Family Court, by Shawn C. Marsh, Carly B. Dierkhising, Kelly B. Decker, and John Rosiak, visit (468 KB).

  • Youth in Care and the Use of Technology

    Youth in Care and the Use of Technology

    This past July, the Lincy Institute, in partnership with the Determined, Responsible, and Empowered Adolescents Mentoring Relationships (DREAMER) Project, released the third issue brief in a social work series, Becoming "Smart" About Relationship Building: Foster Care Youth and the Use of Technology, which provides an overview of research conducted on how smartphones impact relationship building with older youth in foster care. This brief identifies the challenges older youth face when it comes to relationship building and, ultimately, how the use of smartphones increases communication between youth and their mentors. The brief also shares the program methodology, data collections, qualitative and quantitative results, lessons learned, and implications of the results.

    Becoming "Smart" About Relationship Building: Foster Care Youth and the Use of Technology, by Ramona Denby-Brinson, Efren Gomez, and Keith A. Alford, is available at (2 MB).

    Related Item

    While social media has changed the way the world communicates, it also creates privacy and safety concerns. Child Welfare Information Gateway's series on social media tips for youth in care, foster parents, and foster care workers offers some considerations and ideas each of these groups as they use social media.

    Social Media: Tips for Youth in Foster Care (

    Social Media: Tips for Foster Parents (

    Social Media: Tips for Foster Care Workers (

  • A Holistic Approach to Pioneering Change

    A Holistic Approach to Pioneering Change

    First Focus' most recent release in its series, Big Ideas, offers 14 ideas from lawmakers, children's advocates, and policy experts on how to make America a better place to be a child and raise a family. The report covers topics ranging from focusing on a multigenerational approach to creating opportunities for families in poverty, to the effects of a State-provided child allowance on poverty, and helping the children in these families prepare for their futures with Roth IRAs and lifelong savings accounts, among others.

    Each idea is presented in an individual report, providing background on the specific topics addressed and several possible strategies and approaches that could be implemented. First Focus is a bipartisan children's advocacy group that aims to make children and families a priority in Federal policy and budget decisions. Working at all stages of the policy change process—raising awareness, developing policy solutions, building will, and taking action—First Focus strives toward a holistic approach to child advocacy, as reflected in the Big Ideas series of reports.

    Big Ideas—Pioneering Change: Innovative Ideas for Children and Families is available at


This CBX section provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.

  • Webisodes: Progressive Issues in Children's Mental Health

    Webisodes: Progressive Issues in Children's Mental Health

    Knowledge Network for Systems of Care TV (KSOC-TV), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) web-based technical assistance program, offers a series of webisodes featuring behavioral health experts discussing cutting-edge issues in children's mental health. Webisodes highlight topics such as "Supporting Families With LGBT Youth," which explores ways that communities can support families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth; "Addressing the Behavioral Health Needs of Adopted Children," which includes discussions on trauma, neglect, and attachment issues; and much more.

    This year, KSCO-TV launches its second season with webisodes addressing the following topics:

    • "Addressing Mental Health Concerns on College Campuses," aired on September 24
    • "Addressing Emotional and Behavioral Issues in K–12 Classrooms," to air on November 3 at 4:00 p.m. EDT
    • "Strategies to Help Law Enforcement Support Children, Youth, and Families With Mental Health Needs," date and time to be determined

    To watch recordings of the latest webisodes, visit SAMHSA's website at

  • Bridging Resources for Transitioning Youth

    Bridging Resources for Transitioning Youth

    Although the transition from adolescence to adulthood can be trying for any youth, it can be particularly difficult for youth in foster care who must transition out of care into independent living. Despite existing Federal and State provisions for assisting transitioning youth, many who age out of foster care often do so without access to basic resources that promote self-sufficiency. These youth are more likely to face barriers including homelessness, unemployment, lack of health care, difficulties in achieving academic success, and incarceration. Safety Net, a youth support organization in Spokane, WA, aims to assist youth in navigating the complexities of their transitions to adulthood and to promote their stability and access to resources.

    Molly Allen and Coleen Quisenberry—two mothers with knowledge of and experience with youth in care—were motivated to found the organization after becoming aware of the obstacles faced by youth aging out of foster care within the Spokane community. Safety Net serves as a bridge between transitioning youth and supportive resources by assisting youth with the following:

    • Resources and supports to stay in school
    • Job skills development and enhancement
    • Immediate emergency financial assistance

    To learn more about the organization, including how to get involved and upcoming events, visit the Safety Net website at

  • Self-Care for Foster Parents

    Self-Care for Foster Parents

    The life of a foster parent can be full of rewards and challenges. Sometimes, caring for children that have been abused, neglected, and traumatized can be stressful and demanding, so foster families may at times feel overwhelmed or unable to parent effectively. 

    To ensure the best possible care for a child, it is important for foster parents to make an ongoing commitment to their own self-care. The May 2015 issue of Fostering Perspectives focuses on "Taking Care of Yourself" and provides tips, practical information, and considerations for parents to manage stress, develop resilience, and maintain a healthy balance between their commitment to others and to themselves. 

    Articles included in this issue highlight key foster parent self-care strategies and resources, such as:

    • Compassion Fatigue and Self-Care Skills and Barriers
    • Mobile App for Building Resilience in Foster Families
    • Sources of Support
    • Assessing Stress Level
    • Foster Parent Training Opportunities
    • Advice from Youth in Foster Care

    Fostering Perspectives is sponsored by the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program. Access the May 2015 issue at

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.

  • Webinar: Diversity in the Early Childhood Workforce

    Webinar: Diversity in the Early Childhood Workforce

    According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), one in four children under the age of 6 in the United States come from immigrant and refugee families. MPI hosted a webinar titled "Ready to Meet the Needs of All Children? A Closer Look at Diversity in the Early Childhood Workforce" that discusses the demand for diverse workers in early childhood education and care (ECEC) to meet the needs of children enrolled in ECEC programs. The webinar analyzes data of the number of immigrant ECEC workers, challenges they face in entering and advancing in the workforce, and suggests solutions to overcoming these challenges.

    Challenges immigrant ECEC workers face include limited language proficiency, changing credential standards, and lack of training programs for those interested in the field. The webinar also focuses on solutions to these challenges such as promoting program and work place incentive programs regarding diverse ECEC workers, raising awareness of training and professional development opportunities, and highlighting the need to raise wages for these workers. This webinar may be especially useful to child welfare professionals who work with children and families of diverse backgrounds in the foster care and child welfare system who participate in ECEC programs.

    For a recording of the webinar and to download the presentation, visit

  • Birth Parent National Network Virtual Convening

    Birth Parent National Network Virtual Convening

    The National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds  hosted the Birth Parent National Network's (BPNN's) first virtual convening, Parents' Roles in Transforming Systems, over three, 2-hour sessions in November 2015. Using a videoconferencing format, BPNN members and distinguished keynote speakers shared new ideas and strategies about parents' roles in transforming policies and practices affecting children and families. The virtual convening took place on November 3, 10, and 19, featuring keynote presentations from national leaders, such as the following:

    • David Sanders, Ph.D., executive vice president of Systems Improvement, Case Family Programs
    • Martha B. Davis, M.S.S., senior program officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    • Kristen S. Slack, Ph.D., professor, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    The virtual convening was open to BPNN members. If you are not a BPNN member, join here.

    Since its official launch in 2013, the BPNN has become an important platform for birth parents to work in partnership with organizations and policymakers to share their life experiences and suggest recommendations to improve policy and practice. The ultimate goal of the BPNN is to strengthen and support families and improve outcomes for families at risk or involved with the child welfare system. The members are collectively committed to helping move policy and practice, particularly fiscal policy, to support preventative and community-based strategies. BPNN's dynamic and continually growing network currently includes over 100 parent and organizational members.

    For inquiries, please contact Meryl Levine, Senior Consultant, National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds at or via phone at 818.523.9410.

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through January 2016 include:

    December 2015

    January 2016

    • Children's Law Institute
      Southwest Region National Child Protection Training Center at New Mexico State University
      January 6–8, Albuquerque, NM
    • 30th Annual San Diego International Conference On Child and Family Maltreatment
      Chadwick Center for Children and Families, Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego
      January 25–28, 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 at