News From the Children's Bureau
- Dealing With Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare
The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP), in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America, hosted two recent teleconferences on “Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Tools and Strategies for Change.” Speakers included a number of child welfare experts who presented an overview of the issue. In addition, State, Tribal, and local efforts to reduce disproportionality were discussed.
Audio files of the teleconference presentations are available on the NRCFCPPP website, along with all handouts distributed to teleconference participants. The materials can be found online at http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/teleconferences/teleconference_archives.html#disproportionality1
- Promising Approaches Webpage Now Available
In response to the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) and as part of the subsequent Program Improvement Plans (PIPs), States have developed a variety of creative programs and practices that allow them to better serve children and families. The Children's Bureau has now created a webpage to share these State resources. While no claims are made about the effectiveness of these approaches, brief descriptive information is provided, as well as contact information for further details. The approaches are listed by State and by topic, including court collaboration, foster parent licensing, and quality assurance. To date, approximately 40 programs in 23 States have been identified.
To view the Promising Approaches webpage, go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/promising-approaches.
- Guide to Future Care and Custody Planning for Children
A new monograph from the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) presents information and recommendations for child custody planning for parents who are terminally ill. Future care and custody planning—which is sometimes referred to as voluntary permanency planning—enables parents to designate caregivers who can assume responsibility for their children in the event that the parents die or become incapacitated. This type of planning has developed significantly in recent years, particularly in response to the HIV crisis that has left many children orphaned.
The new monograph, Guide to Future Care and Custody Planning for Children, with Recommendations for State Legislation, presents the discussions and recommendations of an expert group convened by the AIA. The monograph explores a number of approaches to planning, ranging from private documentation to more public judicial processes. Policy recommendations and a discussion of specific permanency planning tools are provided.
The publication is available from the AIA website at http://aia.berkeley.edu/media/pdf/fccp_monograph.pdf
- New Children's Bureau Website Launched
The new Children's Bureau website now gives users better access to information on promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children. The new website contains all of the information found on the former website and more. Users are now able to search the entire site by topic. They can locate Children's Bureau-sponsored conferences and find details about the Children's Bureau's various Divisions. Other enhancements include:
- New sections, such as Training and Technical Assistance, Frequently Requested Information, Statistics and Research, and Federal and State Reporting Systems
- Information Memoranda and Program Instructions that can be sorted by topic or year (in the Laws and Policies section)
- Full text of all 52 Statewide Assessments, Child and Family Services Reviews, Key Findings From the Child and Family Services Reviews, and Program Improvement Plans that can be searched and downloaded (in the Child Welfare Monitoring section)
- Links to specific research funded by the Children's Bureau
The new website is available at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb
- Using Spiritual Interventions to Help Troubled Youth
The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) has released a new report that explores the uses of spiritual activities in providing effective therapeutic services to youth. Adolescent Heart and Soul: Achieving Spiritual Competence in Youth-Serving Agencies was prepared by M. Wilson of the New England Network for Child, Youth, and Family Services. The report examines how seven agencies, some religious and some secular, have developed spiritual programming in their work with young people.
The agencies selected work with youth aged 14 to 22, most of whom are in residential treatment or transitional living programs. The agencies believe that providing opportunities for spiritual development or introspection is a critical component of their overall treatment. The particular form of introspection is considered relatively unimportant, so the agencies offered a range of spiritual activities, both religious and secular.
The report is intended to be a guide for agencies wishing to develop and expand the spiritual component of their programs. Many tools and resources developed by the agencies are reprinted in the appendix of the report.
The report is available for download from the NRCYD website at http://nrcyd.ou.edu/publication-db/documents/adolescent-heart-and-soul.pdf (PDF - 1,382 KB).
- Substance Abuse Issues in CFSRs
The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) used information from States' Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) and Program Improvement Plans (PIPs) to analyze and summarize substance abuse issues that States face and how they are approaching these issues. Several of the overall findings include:
- Parental substance abuse was reported as a factor in 32 States.
- Substance abuse services were identified as a significant gap in services.
- PIPs emphasized training, use of specialized teams, and needs assessment to identify needed services.
The complete report, "A Review of Alcohol and Other Drug Issues in the States' Child and Family Services Reviews and Program Improvement Plans," by N. K. Young, S. L. Gardner, B. Whitaker, S. Yeh, and C. Otero, is available at www.ncsacw.samhsa.gov/files/SummaryofCFSRs.pdf
- Increasing Alaskan Native Fathers' Positive Involvement
Native Alaskan fathers involved with the child welfare system in Anchorage have been able to strengthen their relationships with their children and improve their parenting skills as a result of a program developed by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC). Based on interviews with Native Alaskan fathers who identified parenting needs, CITC staff developed the Healthy Homes Father Involvement Enhancement Project. The project includes:
- A culturally relevant 10-week parenting course for fathers that culminates in a graduation
- A peer support group for single fathers
- A 12-week anger management course
- Services that include information, referral, and transportation
- Home-based case management services
- Advocacy by staff on behalf of the fathers they serve
- Collaboration with other agencies
As a group, Native Alaskan fathers face a number of challenges that often make it difficult for them to parent effectively, and their children are disproportionately overrepresented in the child welfare system. Many were abused as children and grew up in the foster care system and in government boarding schools, leaving them with few models of healthy family relationships. One of the goals of the Father Involvement Enhancement Project is to help fathers learn to connect with their children and with the mothers of their children.
While preliminary evaluation data are not available, program staff at the Healthy Homes Father Involvement Enhancement Project, as well as the fathers themselves, report success with the program. In addition, the program has established a positive and visible presence in the community. Much of the success is attributed to the initial involvement of fathers in the program's development and the fact that the case manager is a single father and an American Indian.
For more information on this program, contact:
Healthy Homes Father Involvement Enhancement Project
Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.
3600 San Jeronimo Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Note: The Healthy Homes Father Involvement Enhancement Project was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant 90-CA-1705, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: 2002C2: Grants to Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Migrant Programs for Community-Based Family Resource and Support Programs. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau Grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from official Children's Bureau site visits.
- Improving Home Visitors' Skills
Success of home visitation may depend on the specific competencies and skills of the home visitor, according to a recent study that explored the difficulty and frequency of situations encountered by child welfare workers making home visits. The study sought to identify these difficult situations in order to recommend areas of training for home visitors.
Focus groups composed of 114 home visitors from Arizona were used to generate a sample of common problematic situations that face home visitors. These problematic situations were then rated on a questionnaire by 91 home visitors completing a mail survey. Some of the most difficult situations included:
- Working with families with limited resources
- Addressing substance abuse
- Working with families with mental illness
- Dealing with unmotivated families
The study's authors suggest that many difficult situations encountered by home visitors are context-specific and training curricula should focus on developing the competencies needed to deal with these situations. This type of training may be more effective than just providing information or requiring home visitors to have advanced degrees.
The study, "Improving the Quality of Home Visitation: An Exploratory Study of Difficult Situations," by C. W. LeCroy and K. Whitaker, can be found in the September 2005 issue of Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, available online at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2005.04.003
- Two Studies of Racial Disproportionality
Racial disproportionality in child welfare is widely acknowledged, and studies are now focused on identifying the types of disparity, as well as where in the process the unequal treatment occurs. Two recent State-specific studies explored these topics by examining (1) the disproportionate number of Hispanic children in the Utah child welfare system and (2) neglect cases of African-American children in Minnesota.
Ethnicity was the best predictor of length of time in out-of-home placement in a study that compared Hispanic and White non-Hispanic children involved with the child welfare system in Utah. The study, which reviewed 16,581 reported and 1,001 substantiated cases of abuse or neglect, found that Hispanic children spent significantly longer time in out-of-home care than White children and were younger when they were brought into the system.
The study's authors suggest that systematic discrimination may occur when caseworkers perceive younger Hispanic children, or those in households with single mothers, as being at higher risk for maltreatment. The results show the need for increased cultural awareness among child welfare professionals, especially at the stages of case assessment and decision-making.
The complete study, "Maybe Ignorance Is Not Always Bliss: The Disparate Treatment of Hispanics Within the Child Welfare System," appears in the December 2005 issue of Children and Youth Services Review. The abstract is available online at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2005.01.003.
In a study of neglect cases in four Minnesota counties, few differences were found between cases involving African-American and Caucasian children in terms of services and outcomes; however, findings suggest disproportionality in reporting and possibly in screening cases and in the wait for adoption.
In the study of neglect cases, differential treatment occurred at the point at which a worker would determine whether or not an investigation was warranted. For example, in cases in which maternal drug abuse was involved, the case was more likely to be investigated when the child was African-American.
The Executive Summary for the "African American Comparative Case Review Study Report," which was recommended to the Minnesota Department of Human Services by the African American Disparity Advisory committee, is available at edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Legacy/DHS-4575-ENG
Read more about racial disparity in this current issue in "Dealing With Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" in the News From the Children's Bureau section and in these past issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Overrepresentation of Minority Children: How the Child Welfare System Is Responding" (July/August 2004)
- "Addressing Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" (November 2003)
- "Seeking Causes: Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" (August 2003)
- Preparing an Agency for Disaster
In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many child welfare agencies have begun to review their own disaster preparedness plans. Carmen Weisner, former Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Social Services Office of Community Services and current Executive Director of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, as well as a long-time social worker in Louisiana, is able to speak firsthand about agency preparedness. As the invited keynote speaker at an October 2005 meeting of the Council on Accreditation (COA), Ms. Weisner talked about issues that child welfare agencies should consider when developing their disaster plans.
Major considerations for child welfare agencies should be:
- In case of evacuation, where are the children going? Consider whether the agency currently asks foster parents where they will go in case of disaster, whether this information is recorded and updated, and how this information could be accessed by the agency in an emergency.
- Where will the agency workforce go? Consider whether workers now report evacuation plans, what phone number they would call if the agency were out of commission, and how workers would be paid if the mail system and banks were not functioning.
- What would happen to agency records? Consider whether all critical documents are in SACWIS, whether documents could be recreated, and how benefits eligibility would be determined for children if no records were accessible.
- How would Federal partners be involved in the recovery? Consider how Federal partners work with FEMA and how the disaster would affect Federal funding.
- What would be the long-term implications for the workforce? Consider that universities would close, and social work students would transfer out of State.
- How does the agency use the media? Consider whether the agency can exert some control over the media message.
- How would the agency deal with the many offers of help? Consider how and when volunteers would be brought in, as well as how volunteers' expertise would be assessed and how they would be fed and housed.
- What is the role of other community partners? Consider that the disaster preparedness plan should include a broader pool of advocates who can help with child welfare issues in an emergency.
For the full text of Ms. Weisner's speech, visit the COA website at www.coanet.org/Files/RoundtableLuncheon.pdf (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
- College Students Find Promising Futures Through Summer Internship Program
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) piloted an internship program in the summer of 2005 for 29 college students served by the State’s child welfare system. "Find Your Future" provides students with relevant work experience that can help them in developing their careers. Internships are provided by a variety of employers, including law and investment firms, publishing companies, public schools, and television stations.
Other activities sponsored by the program include workshops on resume writing, interview training, mentoring opportunities, a visit to the Illinois Supreme Court, and attending baseball games.
DCFS plans to continue the program next summer. Information about the program can be found at http://www.kaleidoscope4kids.org/?page_id=381.
- States Respond to Children Missing From Care
States are addressing the issue of runaway children and other children missing from child welfare custody in a variety of creative ways, according to a recent article in Children's Voice, from the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). The article discusses the increasing focus on missing children over the last few years and notes how States have responded. Some of these responses include:
- A census of foster care children in Kentucky in 2002-2003, in which every child was visited and data were collected
- Creation of a missing-child unit in Illinois that makes use of a computerized database on children in child welfare custody
- A website that lists names and photos of children missing from Michigan's child welfare agencies
- Collaboration with local law enforcement to create seven child location strike forces to locate missing children in Florida
Preventing youth from running away may save them from further victimization, according to this article. Youth will be less likely to run away if foster care services are improved, youth opinions are considered in decisions that affect them, and importance is placed on relationships between caseworkers and youth.
The complete article, "Children Missing From Care," is available in the September/October 2005 issue of Children's Voice and on the CWLA website at http://www.cwla.org/how-should-agencies-respond/.
Children's Bureau Express covered the issue of missing children in the following articles:
- "Understanding and Preventing Foster Care Runaways" (May 2005)
- "Missing From Care—Children Who Are Runaways, Abducted, or Lost to the System" (October 2004)
- Marriage and Child Well-Being
Marriage and its impact on child well-being are the focus of the fall 2005 issue of The Future of Children. In this special issue, leading scholars address such issues as:
- The impact of social and economic developments on marriage, and consequences of these trends
- Barriers to marriage among low-income populations
- Healthy marriage programs
- The marriage penalty for some families with children
The articles confirm that children benefit from growing up in a family with two married biological parents and that government could actively encourage two-parent families. Two public policies appear to be especially promising: improving economic conditions of low-income two-parent families and supporting marriage enhancement programs that are tailored to the needs of low-income parents.
The Future of Children is published by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Brookings Institution and is available at http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=37
- Relatives as Parents Program
As part of its Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP), the Brookdale Foundation offers seed grants of $10,000 to local agencies and State public agencies to create or expand services for grandparents or other relatives raising kin. RAPPs provide extensive direct services, primarily to relative caregivers caring for children outside the foster care system, in 44 States. As part of the program, RAPP grantees attend an orientation and training conference and receive technical assistance, as well as opportunities for networking and information exchange.
The deadline for local proposals is January 12, 2006; the deadline for State proposals is February 9, 2006. For more information, visit the Brookdale Foundation website at http://www.brookdalefoundation.net/RAPP/rapp.html.
- Impact of Child Maltreatment on Adult Income and Employment
The effects of child abuse and neglect often last far into adulthood, and research has shown that there can even be socioeconomic impact for some adults abused as children. In the July 2005 issue of Policy Matters, D. S. Zielinski discusses some of these repercussions:
- Twenty percent of unemployed adults report having been abused or neglected as children, compared to 13 percent of employed adults.
- Child maltreatment victims are more than twice as likely as their nonmaltreated peers to fall below the Federal poverty level as adults.
- This group is also more likely to complete less schooling than their peers.
- Female victims of physical and sexual abuse are significantly more likely to use Medicaid than other adults.
The costs to society are discussed, and the author suggests that these costs could be reduced by:
- Providing victims with health and mental health care
- Providing increased educational support
- Focusing resources on preventing child abuse and neglect
The article, "Long-Term Socioeconomic Impact of Child Abuse and Neglect: Implications for Public Policy," is available at http://familyimpactseminars.org/s_nmfis02c03.pdf
- A New Handbook for Child Welfare
A new handbook brings together the writings of more than 75 eminent academics, policymakers, and practitioners in the field of child welfare to talk about safety, permanency, and well-being of children and the impact of current child welfare practice. Child Welfare for the 21st Century: A Handbook of Practices, Policies, and Programs is based on the philosophical orientation that strengthening and supporting families is the best way to ensure children's safety, permanency, and well-being. Following a broad overview of child welfare history and legislation, the chapters are divided among four sections:
- Child and adolescent well-being, including family engagement and community support
- Child and adolescent safety, including risk assessment and parental substance abuse
- Permanency for children and youth, including family reunification and kinship care
- Systemic issues, including overrepresentation of children of color and the Child and Family Services Reviews
Contributors for each chapter identify both promising practices and evidence-based practices, as well as ethical issues relevant to their topic. An extensive index contributes to the usability of the large volume.
Child Welfare for the 21st Century was edited by G. Mallon and P. M. Hess. It is available from Columbia University Press at www.columbia.edu/cu/cup
- The Center for Early Education and Development Merges With the Harris Center
The University of Minnesota's Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) has merged with the Harris Training Center for Infant and Toddler Development to provide a comprehensive organization and website focused on improving developmental outcomes for children through applied research, training, and outreach. Product offerings include parent training curricula, online professional training, and information on parenting infants and toddlers.
CEED is a program of the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development. More information is available online at http://education.umn.edu/ceed
- Legal Resources for Dependency Cases
First Star is a national nonprofit organization that advocates for improving the laws and systems that protect child victims of abuse and neglect. First Star provides an array of resources for education and training, public policy, and public awareness.
As part of this effort, First Star reviewed and compiled statutes relating to the representation of children in abuse and neglect proceedings, public access to such proceedings, and public access to dependency court records for all 50 States and the District of Columbia. Each of the three publications is presented in a table format, with citations and brief summaries of the laws.
Publications may be accessed online at www.firststar.org/policy-legislation.aspx
- Experiences From the Children's Psychotherapy Project
The Children's Psychotherapy Project (CPP) provides pro bono high-quality therapy to children in foster care following the tenet of "one child, one therapist, for as long as it takes." Since its inception in 1993, the CPP has grown from a local to a national program that has helped more than 200 children and adolescents. Now, the stories and experiences of therapists involved with the CPP are available in a book, Building a Home Within: Meeting the Emotional Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care.
Each chapter in Building a Home Within is written by a different CPP therapist and focuses on a single child or adolescent and that child's particular issues. The problems faced by children in foster care are wide-ranging; some of the issues addressed in the book include:
- Neuropsychological effects of foster care
- Preschool children in foster care
- Young adults transitioning out of foster care
- Kinship care
- Reunification with birth parents
- Foster children and the educational system
- Collaboration between public and private forces
The book is written for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and program administrators, as well as for graduate students and anyone interested in foster care. The stories provide compelling reading and may serve as a resource for those who work with children and adolescents in out-of-home care.
Building a Home Within was edited by T. V. Heineman and D. Ehrensaft, two founders of the CPP, and is published by Brookes Publishing. It is available through the website for A Home Within at www.ahomewithin.org
Children's Bureau Express covered the Children's Psychotherapy Project in "Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Foster Children: The Children's Psychotherapy Project" (February 2004).
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through April 2006 include:
- 2006 National Conference: Building on Success: Providing Today's Youth With Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; January 9–13; Washington, DC)
- APSAC Advanced Training Institutes (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; January 23; San Diego, CA)
- 20th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment (The Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Children's Hospital—San Diego; January 23–27; San Diego, CA)
- CSWE Annual Program Meeting: Social Justice Through Social Reform (Council on Social Work Education; February 16–19; Chicago, IL)
- 19th Annual Research Conference—A System of Care for Children's Mental Health: Expanding the Research Base (Research & Training Center for Children's Mental Health; February 22–25; Tampa, FL)
- Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures (Child Welfare League of America; February 27 through March 1; Washington, DC)
- 2006 AMCHP Annual Conference (Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs; March 4–8; Arlington, VA)
- Parents as Teachers Conference: Understanding Human Diversity (Parents as Teachers National Center; March 20–23; St. Louis, MO)
- 11th Biennial International Conference (Family Support America; March 26–29; Chicago, IL)
- The 25th National CASA Annual Conference: Children: They're Everybody's Business (National CASA Association; April 1–4; San Diego, CA)
- 24th Annual Protecting Our Children Conference: Advocacy and Action: Building Alliances in Indian Child Welfare (National Indian Child Welfare Association; April 2–5; San Diego, CA)
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the "Conference Calendar Search" feature on Child Welfare Information Gateway: http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar
- Online Tutorials for Understanding Substance Abuse
The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) offers a new tutorial to educate child welfare workers about substance abuse. “Understanding Substance Abuse Disorders, Treatment, and Family Recovery: A Guide for Child Welfare Professionals,” is now available as an online training from the NCSACW website. This is the second in a series of four self-tutorials, geared toward four different target audiences, that will work to establish a knowledge base on substance abuse and child abuse and to support cross-systems work.
The courses are free and offer CEU credit.
[Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Training
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), in partnership with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, offers training on trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy through its website.
Topics covered in the program include psychoeducation, stress management, affect expression and modulation, cognitive processing, and behavior management therapy. Resource lists are targeted to therapists, parents, and children and provide links to published materials, online worksheets, annotated bibliographies, and external websites.
Participation in the program is restricted to individuals who have master’s degrees or are currently enrolled in a graduate degree program in a mental health discipline. Registration is required for access to the training modules.
Information is available on the MUSC website at http://tfcbt.musc.edu