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May 2009Vol. 10, No. 4Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

This month, CBX shines the spotlight on National Foster Care Month, presenting two interviews with grantees working to promote permanency through open adoptions for youth, as well as a recent public opinion poll about foster care and resources on reunification, preventing placement disruption, and more.

Issue Spotlight

    Recent Issues

  • July/August 2024

    Spotlight on Youth, Authentic Youth Engagement, and Lived Experience

    Spotlight on Youth, Authentic Youth Engagement, and Lived Experience

  • June 2024

    Spotlight on Reunification

    Spotlight on Reunification

May 2009Vol. 10, No. 4Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

This month, CBX shines the spotlight on National Foster Care Month, presenting two interviews with grantees working to promote permanency through open adoptions for youth, as well as a recent public opinion poll about foster care and resources on reunification, preventing placement disruption, and more.

Issue Spotlight

  • May Is National Foster Care Month

    May Is National Foster Care Month

    May is National Foster Care Month, a time to raise awareness about the almost half a million children in foster care in this country. It's also a time to recognize the foster parents who welcome these children into their homes and the social workers, volunteers, policymakers, and others who work on behalf of these children and families. Their goal is "Keeping Foster Care Temporary" by providing services and supports to families to promote reunification or, when that isn't possible, adoption, guardianship, or other permanent connections for children and youth.

    This year, Child Welfare Information Gateway is promoting the theme of "Keeping Foster Care Temporary" by introducing a webpage devoted to practice issues around this theme. Child welfare and other professionals will find links to resources produced by the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Network and other efforts funded by the Children's Bureau. The resources include factsheets, toolkits, handbooks, reports, and more—all designed to help professionals promote permanency for children and youth in foster care.

    The National Foster Care Month website offers information and resources to help citizens learn more about foster care and some of the practical ways to become involved. The "Change a Lifetime Menu" lists opportunities for involvement based on whether a person has minutes, hours, days, weeks, or more to dedicate to helping a foster child. The National Foster Care Month Toolkit includes ideas, tips, and easy-to-use templates to start a campaign and raise community awareness about the children in foster care. The website also offers a newsroom for the media and an events calendar featuring activities and promotions happening across the country.

    The National Foster Care Month website is an initiative led by Casey Family Programs in partnership with 20 national organizations that represent more than 250,000 individuals and providers. Visit the website today:

  • Project Family Ties Promotes Open Adoptions: An Interview

    Project Family Ties Promotes Open Adoptions: An Interview

    Project Family Ties, based in Detroit, lives up to its name by placing older children and youth with adoptive families who help the youth stay connected with siblings and other birth family members. Project Family Ties is funded by a Children's Bureau Adoption Opportunities grant to "Improve Permanency Outcomes by Developing Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact With Family Members." Operated by Homes for Black Children in partnership with churches and community organizations, Project Family Ties recruits resource families for older children and youth (aged 11+) and sibling groups. Families receive training emphasizing the importance of openness and maintaining birth family connections for the youth whom they adopt.

    Children's Bureau Express (CBX) recently spoke with Linda Lipscomb, the director of Project Family Ties, about the different project components and how they've contributed to placement success.

    CBX: Why and how does Project Family Ties promote openness in the placement of older children and youth?

    Lipscomb: Research shows that the longest lasting relationships that most people have are with their siblings. From our own experience, we know that children's regular contact with their siblings or other birth relatives helps with their self-esteem and self-image and gives them a connection to their family history and cultural heritage. If children know they can pick up the phone and call their brothers and sisters or see them on a regular basis, they're less likely to worry about them. Working to maintain this kind of open relationship with birth relatives just makes sense in foster care and adoption.

    We do quite a bit of training to prepare prospective families for openness. For instance, families receive information on openness in their orientation packet and in their training. When we assess families, we help them determine the type of openness that they would be comfortable with. And when we talk to children and youth in our program, we discuss what openness options they need in their new family.

    We had an encouraging finding recently when we held focus groups with families who had completed adoptions. While we had mapped out ways in which the families would maintain openness with their child's birth family, we weren't quite sure whether the families had really followed through. What we found was that the families had been able to rework their arrangements to better suit everyone, and many families were actually doing more kinds of openness activities than we expected! For instance, one family had invited all of their child's siblings and relatives to the child's church confirmation.

    CBX: How have you worked with partners to promote open adoptions?

    Lipscomb: We've been very fortunate in working with a number of different partners. First of all, Homes for Black Children already had strong ties with two large churches in our area. And the majority of our children come from the same communities where these churches are located, so it made sense to partner with the churches in recruiting families. The churches help us get the word out about children who need families, and they provide the setting for a number of our events.

    We also partner with Kinship, which is a collaboration among 25 area agencies that focuses on joint recruitment efforts and even sponsors an annual Adoption Festival. Another partner is the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE), which has helped us with some of our child-specific recruitment of families. MARE provides informational brochures about specific children, posts photolistings on the website, and often features our children in their quarterly recruitment magazine. Of course, we also work with a number of other community organizations that help us by providing concrete items—such as suitcases for the children—or conference opportunities or other services.

    CBX: What kinds of events or activities does Project Family Ties use to promote open adoptions?

    Lipscomb: One component of our project is called Life Enrichment Activities. These activities include everything from our annual Family Reunion to a percussion orchestra! Right now, we're preparing for our third Family Reunion, which is a big picnic-style event attended by our families and children, as well as many of the children's birth families. It gives everyone a chance to reconnect, and it's also a recruiting opportunity for children who still need foster or adoptive families.

    Drummers for Peace is our percussion orchestra for our youth, their siblings, and even for some community youth. They meet monthly to rehearse their Afro-Cuban music and are led by one of our staff. They've performed at a number of events, most recently at the opening of Michigan's Heart Gallery. We view this as a therapeutic opportunity, because it allows the drummers to use a physical activity to redirect some aggression or inappropriate behavior—and to have fun!

    CBX: How do you conduct your recruitment program for families?

    Lipscomb: We know that most older children and youth are adopted by people they know, so we work to find both foster and adoptive placements, knowing that placing a child in a good foster home may eventually lead to adoption by that family. In looking for both types of families, we use a three-pronged approach: faith-based recruiting, community recruiting, and child-specific recruiting.

    The importance of the church in the community and the leadership from the church pastors really contributes to effective recruiting. In the community, our various partnerships help us with recruiting at public events where prospective families might be—such as a local Women's Expo. Then we do child-specific recruiting, which involves assessing the child and determining what type of connections the child already has and how we can expand those. For instance, in one assessment, we found out that a child's aunt lived right around the corner from his foster family. While the aunt wasn't able to provide a home, she was able to provide a permanent connection for that child.

    CBX: How do you involve your youth in recruitment?

    Lipscomb: We have a Youth Ambassadors program for youth who are interested in going out and speaking about what adoption means to them. They make a strong impression on listeners when they talk about their experiences. One of the most moving speeches was given by an older girl who told her audience, "Everyone just wants to feel loved." She was eventually adopted by the same person who had adopted her siblings.

    CBX: What kinds of success have you had with placing children?

    Lipscomb: We're proud that Project Family Ties has placed 62 children for adoption and provided services to approximately 140 children. Some of our larger sibling groups have been split among adoptive families, but our emphasis on openness and our families' cooperation in maintaining openness means that the siblings do remain connected to each other. And we're looking forward to our upcoming Family Reunion event, when we can celebrate with all of our children and families.

    To learn more about Project Family Ties, visit the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption website at or contact Linda Lipscomb at

    Many thanks to Linda Lipscomb for providing the information for this article.

  • Promoting Openness With the Family Connections Project: An Interview

    Promoting Openness With the Family Connections Project: An Interview

    The Family Connections Project is one of nine projects funded by the Children's Bureau in 2005 under the Adoption Opportunities Grants for "Developing Adoption Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact with Family Members in Order to Improve Permanency Outcomes." Adoptions Unlimited, Inc., partnered with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, and Hull House to develop and implement the Family Connections Project, which includes training for parents and professionals and direct services for older youth in the Chicago area.

    Children's Bureau Express (CBX) recently spoke with Margaret Burke, Project Director, about Family Connections.

    CBX: Why is it important for older youth adopted from foster care to maintain connections with their birth families?

    Burke: Many youth aren't interested in adoption if they can't maintain their relationships with their birth families. They don't want to be put in a position of having to choose one family over the other. Older youth especially may have strong attachments to parents, siblings, extended family, and even to foster siblings or former foster parents. Agencies need to safeguard these attachments and ensure that adoptive families can help their teens maintain these ties through an open adoption. If youth know that they aren't going to lose their relationships with their birth families and other important people, they are more willing to consider adoption or guardianship. Our Family Connections Project promotes this openness through education, training, and services.

    CBX: What kinds of training does Family Connections provide?

    Burke: We offer training for parents, professionals, and youth. Our goal is to educate the parents and professionals about the importance of openness in adoption. One of our training exercises puts adults in the position of listing their five most important people or connections and then experiencing their removal—one by one. The arbitrariness of losing important connections and the lack of control the adults feel makes an impression!

    We provide 3-hour trainings for foster and adoptive parents. Our evaluations from parents indicate that the trainings have been highly effective, and we've seen a significant shift in parents' attitudes toward recognizing the importance of maintaining birth family contacts for the well-being of their youth.

    We also offer training for both social workers and legal professionals. An important component of this training has been hearing from the youth themselves about the losses they've experienced and their need for continuing contact with their families. In fact, the legal professionals cited this as the most valuable aspect of the training. And social workers showed a significant move toward openness after their training.

    In our training with youth, we focus on the importance of identifying and maintaining permanent, healthy connections with adults who have been important in their lives. We don't want them to leave the system without being connected.

    CBX: What types of training materials have you developed?

    Burke: Our curricula are available on the website of the National Resource Center (NRC) for Adoption at They include a trainer's guide for a parenting curriculum (by Virginia Sturgeon), a guide for presenting to the legal community (by Peggy Slater), and a guide for training youth (by Virginia Sturgeon and Darryl Clayton). We also have a free online training ("Maintaining Connections") available for workers on the Adoption Learning Partners website at

    Foster care alumni provided significant input for all of our training materials, especially two videos (also available on the NRC for Adoption website). A 16-minute "Family Connections" video shows foster care alumni from our program talking about their experiences and the importance of their birth families. We also have a video of a live theater performance by foster care alumni called "Strong Connections."

    "Strong Connections" was developed with the Still Pointe Theatre Collective, which performs around peace and justice issues. We thought this theater group could help our youth put their words and experiences into a live performance. Eight former foster youth were selected to write about and perform their experiences, with a director from Still Pointe. So far they've performed before several different groups, including foster/adoptive parents, juvenile and family court judges, and social workers, always to great acclaim. The theater performance is effective because it impacts the audience in a different way—on an emotional level that stays with them.

    CBX: What types of services does Family Connections provide to older youth in foster care?

    Burke: We work with youth (14 and older) who already have caseworkers. We don't duplicate the caseworker services, but we provide other services to youth referred to our project. For instance, we help them research and put together Lifebooks. We can mine their files, do searches for relatives through US SEARCH, and contact former foster families and others for photos and information. The Lifebooks help our youth put together some of the pieces of their lives.

    Another service we offer is helping youth identify and develop a relationship with a mentor. It might not be someone who is able to adopt them, but it should be someone who can give them a lifelong connection. The same is true with locating relatives or other significant people with whom they've lost contact.

    Of course, our goal is open adoption or guardianship for these youth, but when that doesn't happen, we want to be sure that they leave the system with at least one permanent stable connection.

    CBX: How has the Family Connections Project helped promote openness in adoptions for older youth?

    Burke: We've provided training to almost 250 parents and professionals on the importance of helping youth maintain connections, and we've worked directly with 61 youth. Our training materials are available on the Internet to anyone, and that includes both videos we've produced. The "Strong Connections" live theater performance continues to touch audiences.

    We still have a lot of work to do to change attitudes and policies so that adopted youth and youth in foster care can maintain their family connections and leave foster care with a permanent connection. Policy change has to come from the top, but it's helped by funding opportunities like the Children's Bureau grant that supports this Family Connections Project. In fact, all of the grantees in this Children's Bureau grant cluster have exchanged ideas and communicated about their projects, so that we all benefit from each other's work on promoting openness in adoption and foster care.

    To find out more about all the grantees, visit the NRC for Adoption website:

    Many thanks to Margaret Burke for providing the information for this article. She can be contacted at

  • Preventing Placement Disruption in Foster Care

    Preventing Placement Disruption in Foster Care

    A recent study out of the University of Minnesota used an extensive literature review to identify evidence-based practices for preventing placement disruptions in foster care. Two broad topic areas came to light: (1) identifying risk and protective factors for placement stability and (2) implementing practices to prevent disruptions. In Section I of the report, the authors discuss key findings in these areas, including the following:

    • Placement disruptions create a cycle of instability.
    • The first 6 months of a placement are crucial, and additional interventions should be available during this time.
    • Kinship care and treatment foster care have been linked to greater stability.
    • Promising retention practices for foster parents include mentoring, peer support, shared decision-making, and promotion of foster parent rights.
    • Agencies should hire caseworkers with social work education and offer increased support in the worker's first couple of years.

    The study's authors used criteria from the California Evidence Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare to evaluate every program in their literature review. In Section II of their report, they list their results in terms of factors related to placement disruption. The following list of these factors also includes an effective, promising, or emerging practice noted by the authors:

    • Foster parent retention and recruitment (promising practice: Casey Foster Applicant Inventory)
    • Foster parent training (promising practice: Triple P Parenting Curriculum)
    • Caseworker retention and training (emerging practice: Caseworker Training at Hunter College School of Social Work)
    • Foster family services and models (effective practices: Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care Model, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, and Wraparound Services)

    The study's complete findings include a comprehensive review of the literature and an annotated bibliography of pertinent research.

    PATH/Wisconsin-Bremer Project: Preventing Placement Disruptions in Foster Care, by Annette Semanchin Jones and Susan J. Wells, is available on the website of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota: (816 KB)

  • How Americans View Foster Care

    How Americans View Foster Care

    A national online Harris Poll commissioned by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association found that most adults know little about foster care or the experience of children in care. The poll was conducted in December 2008 and gathered data from 2,281 adults about their impressions of the foster care system and its impact on children. Results were weighted to reflect the whole U.S. population. Key findings indicate the following:

    • 83 percent of adults knew very little about the experience of children in care.
    • 31 percent knew someone who was or had been in foster care.
    • 45 percent reported negative impressions of foster care, and 11 percent reported positive impressions (the remainder were neutral or did not have enough information to decide).
    • 11 percent thought that children were in foster care because of something the children did, although the majority strongly disagreed and tended to blame the biological parents.
    • 87 percent agreed that improving the foster care system should be a national priority.

    In a press release about the poll's findings, the National CASA Association contrasted the poll results with a focus group study conducted earlier in the year with 50 youth currently or formerly in foster care. These youth present a different picture, with many of the youth developing into determined individuals, optimistic about their future. They felt that the difficulties they had faced had made them stronger. Many cited disruptions in schooling and problems finding resources after leaving foster care as major obstacles; however, they noted that the support of a significant adult—like a CASA volunteer—can help them overcome some of these challenges.

    PowerPoint slides of the Harris poll results and the focus group study are available on the CASA website, while the press release is available on Reuters:

  • Resources for Family Reunification Services

    Resources for Family Reunification Services

    Two new resources are available to help professionals and advocates ease the transition for families when children return from stays in foster care. These resources may provide guidance for assessment, services and support, and follow-up.

    Model for Intensive Family Reunification Services
    The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) recently released a model for the delivery of Intensive Family Reunification Services. These services are generally short-term, intensive, family-based, and designed to reunite families when children have been in foster care for 3 to 8 months. The model is organized by a listing of program components, with a rationale for each component that is based on research or on strong models of Intensive Family Reunification. These components include:

    • Target population
    • Timeframe for the caseworker to meet with the family
    • Caseworker availability
    • Parent-child visitation and timeframe to return the child home
    • Family assessments
    • Recommendations for maximum caseloads
    • Clinical model
    • Length of intervention
    • Concrete services
    • Step-down services
    • Follow-up services
    • Staff qualifications
    • Agency support and supervision

    The model is designed to guide professionals in helping the family prepare to reunite and to address safety issues. The model is available for download from the NFPN website:

    The Role of the CASA in Family Reunification
    “Giving the Family a Chance: Working Towards Reunification” is the featured story of the Winter 2008 issue of The Connection. In the article, author Lisette Austin explores the role that a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) can play in the process of reunification of children and their families. Because CASAs typically work with only one or two families at a time, they can help support the reunification process through their activities, including gathering information, facilitating family visitation, and monitoring the delivery of needed services. The article includes tips for advocates and real-life examples of how CASAs support the reunification process.

    The Connection is published by the National CASA Association. The Winter 2008 issue includes a number of articles on family reunification, including the perspectives of a parent, a youth, and a volunteer. The newsletter is available online: (1.87 MB)

  • Results of the Foster Youth Demonstration Project

    Results of the Foster Youth Demonstration Project

    A new report by the Institute for Educational Leadership presents the final evaluation of a demonstration project designed to improve employment outcomes for youth exiting foster care. Funded for 2 years by the Employment and Training Administration in the U.S. Department of Labor, demonstration projects were awarded to five jurisdictions in States with the largest number of youth in foster care: Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; New York, NY; and Houston, TX.

    A mix of child welfare, workforce development, and education providers acted as the lead service provider at the five sites. Although each site was unique in its program design and implementation, all sites provided school, job, and college preparation as well as a variety of support services to current and former foster youth. The final evaluation of the project was based on up to 27 months of individual participant data from the sites, as well as information gathered from two rounds of site visits and telephone interviews with key representatives.

    Collectively, the sites served over 1,000 youth, most of whom were 17 or older and African-American. Almost half of the youth received services for 21 months or longer. Youth who received services for a longer period of time were more likely to achieve positive outcomes, such as earning a high school diploma or GED, attending postsecondary education, or securing employment. Youth who were 17 years or older, in postsecondary education, or in independent living at the time they entered the program also were more likely to achieve these positive outcomes.

    The authors of the report identified several success factors for programs serving current and former foster youth:

    • Supportive staff relationships with youth
    • Adaptability of program design and services
    • Workforce stability
    • Cross-agency partnerships
    • Job placement services for youth
    • Well-defined management information systems

    The report also makes recommendations to State and local policymakers and practitioners for improving services for youth aging out of the foster care system. The authors stress the importance of using a multi-system approach when serving youth, as well as the value of hiring specialists to work directly with youth. Other areas for improvement include defining program models, establishing comprehensive outcome measures, offering technical assistance, and achieving sustainability.

    Download the full report, Foster Youth Demonstration Project: Final Evaluation Report, on the Casey Family Programs website: (613 KB)

    Recent Issues

  • July/August 2024

    Spotlight on Youth, Authentic Youth Engagement, and Lived Experience

    Spotlight on Youth, Authentic Youth Engagement, and Lived Experience

  • June 2024

    Spotlight on Reunification

    Spotlight on Reunification

News From the Children's Bureau

CBX links you to the latest information on AFCARS, discretionary grants, and resources from the T&TA Network and brings you news about a new manual for child care providers and more.

  • New Child Care User Manual

    New Child Care User Manual

    Child care providers are in a unique position to recognize and report suspected child abuse and neglect, as well as to support prevention measures and good parenting practices. A new manual from the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children's Bureau provides information and guidance to child care providers in preventing, recognizing, and reporting child abuse and neglect.

    The Role of Professional Child Care Providers in Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse and Neglect, by Kathy Karageorge and Rosemary Kendall, is written for early childhood professionals who practice in a variety of settings, including child care centers, Head Start programs, preschools, and family child care homes. The manual includes chapters on:

    • Recognizing maltreatment
    • Reporting suspected maltreatment
    • Minimizing the risk of maltreatment in child care programs
    • The role of family child care providers in prevention and response
    • Responding to allegations in child care programs
    • Caring for maltreated children
    • Supporting parents

    This manual is part of OCAN's Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series published since the 1970s to provide guidance to a variety of professionals on identifying, preventing, and effectively responding to child maltreatment. The most recent edition of this series, which began in 2000, addresses new issues and significant changes that have occurred in the systems serving children and families.

    To access the newest manual, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    To view a list of all the titles in the User Manual series, go to:

  • Site Visit: Learning Circles Engage Foster Care Supervisors

    Site Visit: Learning Circles Engage Foster Care Supervisors

    Young people who age out of foster care often require a number of specialized services in order to make a successful transition to adulthood. Child welfare supervisors and workers who are knowledgeable about the needs of these youth, familiar with the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and other initiatives, and able to work well with youth are in the best position to help youth make a successful transition.

    To build supervisor knowledge and competency in this area, the Hunter College School of Social Work and its partners used a Children's Bureau discretionary grant to develop and disseminate a training curriculum for public child welfare agency supervisors. The training, called Preparation for Adulthood – Supervising for Success, or PASS, consisted of learning circles of 10 to 16 supervisors who met for six full-day sessions over 6 months. In these sessions, participants discussed six core perspectives important to helping youth:

    • Developing and maintaining positive permanent connections between youth and caring adults
    • Actively engaging youth in developing life skills that will prepare them for successful transition
    • Relating to youth as resources rather than just recipients of services
    • Creating environments that promote physical and emotional safety and well-being
    • Valuing the individual strengths and uniqueness of each youth
    • Involving a diverse array of stakeholders in the development of a comprehensive continuum of services and supports for youth transitioning out of the foster care system

    As part of the curriculum, trainees viewed digital stories created by foster youth, former foster youth, caseworkers, and supervisors. At the end of each session, supervisors created personal action plans for implementing what they learned and how they would transfer this knowledge to their caseworkers.

    Evaluation results reveal that responses to the training were positive, highlighting both the usefulness of the curriculum content and the successful integration of the content into the supervisors’ practice. Pre- and posttest questionnaires suggest that trainees did increase their knowledge of youth issues through the training.

    In January 2008, the project's website was launched, containing the learning circle competencies, agendas, discussion guides, training materials and tools, and 10 digital stories. This has sparked interest among several States in using the curriculum.

    Hunter College had a number of partners in developing the curriculum and training, including Child Welfare League of America; the National Foster Care Coalition; the Oregon Department of Human Services, State Office for Services to Children and Families; the New York City Administration for Children’s Services; and the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children’s Services. The mix of city, State, and rural partners enabled project leaders to test the effectiveness of the training materials in diverse settings.

    For more information, visit the project website at or contact the principal investigator:

    Gerald Mallon, D.S.W.
    The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning
    Hunter College School of Social Work
    129 East 79th Street
    New York, NY 10075

    Preparation for Adulthood – Supervising for Success is funded under the Children's Bureau, Grant 90CW1131, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Training of Child Welfare Agency Supervisors in the Effective Delivery and Management of Federal Independent Living Service for Youth in Foster Care. 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.

    The entire site visit report is posted on the Information Gateway website:


  • Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants

    Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants

    During the past 3 months, the Children's Bureau has announced funding opportunities for a number of National Resource Centers and several other efforts. Deadlines are fast approaching for these discretionary grants!

    The most recent announcement is for the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System [editor's note: this link no longer exists].

    Application and deadline information for all the grants is available on the Administration for Children and Families website:

    General information about the 2009 discretionary grants can be found on the Children's Bureau website:

  • Apply to Be a Grant Reviewer

    Apply to Be a Grant Reviewer

    Each spring, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recruits reviewers and panel chairpersons for its grant programs, including those administered by the Children's Bureau. Grant reviewers convene to receive training and then review grant applications, spending 1 week reading, evaluating, discussing, and making recommendations on grant proposals. If you are interested in applying to be a grant reviewer or chairperson, find out more and apply online by visiting the ACYF grant website:

    For students interested in serving as grant reviewers, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recruits undergraduate and graduate students. Students selected to serve on the grant review panels will work with other panelists from a variety of backgrounds related to helping children and families. For more information, download the ACF Student Grant Reviewer brochure:

     Grant reviewers and chairpersons, including students, receive compensation for their time, as well as valuable experience in the Federal grant review process.

  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.

    Recent additions to the site include:

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

  • AFCARS--A Message From the Children's Bureau

    AFCARS--A Message From the Children's Bureau

    The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on January 11, 2008, that proposed amendments to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). During the public comment period, which ended in March 2008, we received a large number of comments concerning the NPRM from interested stakeholders. Then, in October 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 was enacted, making significant changes to the title IV-E program. The Children's Bureau and ACF continue to evaluate the impact of the new law on the data needs of ACF and child welfare agencies. In doing so, we have decided to take publication of a final rule on AFCARS off of the Unified Agenda's schedule of immediately forthcoming regulations. We remain committed to making improvements in AFCARS and will be sure to keep you updated on our next steps.

  • Updates From the T&TA Network

    Updates From the T&TA Network

    The members of the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network, including the National Resource Centers (NRCs), offer a variety of new resources to help States and Tribes achieve better outcomes for children and families in their child welfare systems.

    • The NRC for Adoption recently posted two resources of interest.
    • The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute has launched its website. Recently funded by the Children's Bureau, the institute's goal is to serve as a workforce resource to other Network members that provide T&TA to States and Tribes.
    • The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center will host a series of teleconference seminars this spring and summer, covering the topics of African American Women Affected by HIV/AIDS, Parents Challenged by Substance Abuse, and Promoting Change and Growth in Highly Resistant Clients.
    • The FRIENDS NRC for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention has published a revised version of Peer Review in CBCAP: A Source Document for Assessment and Best Practice, which describes a set of peer review guidelines and includes an assessment tool that can be used to improve program practice. (329 KB)
    • The NRC for Organizational Improvement has posted Recommendations and Suggested Models for Colorado's Court Improvement Program Training Evaluation System, by Anita Barbee and Becky F. Antle, which includes information for evaluating multidisciplinary training in child welfare for the Court Improvement Program.
    • Child Welfare Information Gateway is promoting its prevention resources on YouTube with a short animated video:

    Find out more about the T&TA Network on the Children's Bureau website:

  • From the Acting Associate Commissioner's Office

Child Welfare Research

CBX highlights new research on how States differ in their kinship care policies, different types of families who adopt children, the effectiveness of intensive family preservation programs, and State support for home visiting.

  • Kinship Care Policies Vary by State

    Kinship Care Policies Vary by State

    A recent report on State kinship care policies reveals a wide array of approaches to such issues as defining kinship, approving kinship placements, and providing support for kin caregivers. The report, State Kinship Care Policies for Children That Come to the Attention of Child Welfare Agencies, presents the findings from the 2007 Casey Kinship Foster Care Policy Survey.

    Many kinship care placements are "voluntary" or private arrangements between the child's parents and the relative providing care. State child welfare agencies typically have no ongoing involvement with these placements. In this report, authors Tiffany Allen, Kerry DeVooght, and Rob Geen focus on policies to regulate kinship placements that have been made by the State agency for children under their supervision. Key findings from the survey include:

    • Most States encourage and/or require caseworkers to seek out kin who can care for children to avoid placement in foster care.
    • In most States, kin are permitted to care for children in State custody without meeting the same licensing standards that nonkin foster parents must meet.
    • In many States, kin do not have to complete the full licensure process to receive a monthly foster care payment.

    The report notes that recent Federal legislation has promoted kin as valuable resources to child welfare agencies, and the legislation has attempted to provide guidance to States about how to support kin caregivers. However, further guidance may be needed to ensure that kin caregivers receive the same support and services as nonkin caregivers.

    The survey and report were sponsored by Casey Family Programs and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report is available from the ChildTrends website: (1,278 KB)

  • State-Based Home Visiting Programs

    State-Based Home Visiting Programs

    Many States support home visiting programs as a means of providing education and support to expectant or new parents, especially those at risk for poor outcomes. The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) recently surveyed States to find out about their support for home visitation programs and whether such programs are meeting families' needs. Of the 46 States that responded, 40 reported having one or more established State-based home visiting programs. The survey also elicited information about the programs' structure, financing, and design.

    States noted two key strategies for improving the effectiveness of their home visiting programs:

    • Improve linkages and offer a seamless continuum of services
    • Improve the quality of home visiting through such activities as improved staff training, better data collection, and enhanced evaluation

    The full survey results are presented in a report that also includes findings from a roundtable discussion of experts on home visiting. In addition, the report highlights programs in two States: Maine's universal home visiting initiative and Virginia's Home Visiting Consortium. Finally, the report offers a number of recommendations for States to improve home visiting programs, including:

    • Support better services across programs by coordinating multiple visiting programs, linking to other service systems, integrating ways to serve high-risk families, and maximizing multiple funding streams
    • Strengthen services within home visiting programs through deliberate program design, staff training and development, and continuous quality improvement
    • Develop strategies for national and State leadership that includes research, legislation, funding, and evaluation efforts

    State-Based Home Visiting: Strengthening Programs Through State Leadership, by Kay Johnson, is available on the NCCP website: (4,003 KB)

  • Building Evidence on Family Preservation Programs

    Building Evidence on Family Preservation Programs

    A recent report by Casey Family Programs focuses on the last decade of research with Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) programs. A Ten-Year Review of Family Preservation Research: Building the Evidence Base defines the characteristics of IFPS programs, reviews three decades of research on IFPS, and then focuses on the last 10 years by reviewing the challenges and the findings.

    IFPS refers to programs that provide services to families in order to prevent the removal of children from the home. To meet the definition of IFPS, the programs should include such features as immediate response to referrals, family access to the caseworker around the clock, 12 to 15 hours per week of services in the home, time-limited services (usually 90 days), and low caseloads for workers. The goal is to strengthen the capacity of families to function so that children can remain safely in the home.

    Research from the 1980s and 1990s showed mixed results for IFPS programs, although there was evidence that programs modeled closely on the Homebuilders® model showed greater success. In reviewing the last decade of research on IFPS programs, the Casey report notes three major challenges in determining effectiveness:

    • Targeting the correct families (that is, families with children at imminent risk of removal)
    • Implementing the IFPS model with strict adherence to all the components
    • Determining appropriate outcome measures without relying on out-of-home placement as the sole measure

    The Casey report identified five studies from the last decade that attempted to meet criteria for targeting, model fidelity, and outcome measures. These studies show some promising results for the families who received IFPS, and most with medium-to-high effect sizes showed fidelity to the Homebuilders® model. One study found that families who had been randomly assigned to receive IFPS were significantly less likely to have children in foster care 12 months later than families who did not receive IFPS.

    The report's authors suggest that the more recent studies indicate that IFPS programs offer children the chance to remain in their homes without being at disproportionate risk of maltreatment. They also demonstrate the replicability of the IFPS model and the need to control for risk factors. An appendix to the report offers ways of improving IFPS evaluation methods, including the use of economic analyses.

    A Ten-Year Review of Family Preservation Research: Building the Evidence Base, by Kristine Nelson, Barbara Walters, Don Schweitzer, Betty J. Blythe, and Peter J. Pecora, is available on the Casey Family Programs website:


  • Patterns in Adoption From Foster Care

    Patterns in Adoption From Foster Care

    Administrative data collected from 1996 to 2003 show that the structure of families that adopt children from foster care has changed significantly through the years. According to a new study published in the Journal of Public Child Welfare, while the number of children adopted from foster care by married couples grew, the number adopted by unmarried persons grew faster. The article, "The Structure of Families Who Adopt Children from Foster Care," presents data from the Children's Bureau's Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).

    The article examines the demographic profiles of those who adopt, characteristics of children being adopted (i.e., age, health care needs, being part of a sibling group), and the preadoptive relationship with the family. Some key findings indicate that:

    • The majority of children adopted from foster care are adopted by married couples.
    • The number of children adopted by unmarried women grew from 20.8 percent in 1996, peaking in 2000 at 31.5 percent, and then dropping back to 18.4 percent in 2003.
    • The number of adoptions by unmarried men rose from 1.6 percent in 1996 to 2.7 percent of all adoptions of children with State involvement in 2003.
    • The number of children adopted by unmarried couples began to rise in 2000, although this group continued to represent the smallest group of families finalizing adoptions from foster care.

    A brief discussion of the data points out the characteristics of children by family structure:

    • Unmarried men adopted, on average, the oldest children.
    • Single women and unmarried couples were most likely to adopt children with special needs.
    • Across all the years, more than 60 percent of married couples had been the foster parents of the children they eventually adopted.
    • Foster parent adoption became much more common over the years studied, and kinship adoptions rose as a proportion of these adoptions.

    Implications for practice, including the need to recruit, train, and retain prospective adoptive families, are discussed. A final section of the article illustrates recruitment strategies to increase the number of children adopted.

    "The Structure of Families Who Adopt Children From Foster Care," by Mary Eschelbach Hansen, was published in the Journal of Public Child Welfare, Vol. 2(4), 2008:

Strategies and Tools for Practice

Learn about an effective collaboration between child welfare and substance abuse treatment programs and access a best practice guide to partnering with resource families.

  • Partnering With Resource Families

    Partnering With Resource Families

    The availability of resource families, including foster parents, adoptive families, relatives providing kinship care, and legal guardians, is essential to effective child welfare practice. A new publication, Treat Them Like Gold: A Best Practice Guide to Partnering With Resource Families, provides guidance on how agency personnel at all levels can support efforts to recruit, retain, and partner with foster parents and other resource families.

    According to the guide, treating resource families like “gold” takes many forms, including taking the time to get to know them, treating them as peers on the team serving the child and family, helping them develop their skills and knowledge to care for children, and showing them the respect they deserve for the pivotal role they play.

    Specific strategies are provided for assessing and evaluating recruitment efforts, funding, building diversity and cultural sensitivity, engaging families, and building community alliances. Strategies addressing community education and public awareness, recruitment activities, training, and retention are also provided.

    The guide was developed by the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Jordan Institute for Families at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. The guide is available online:

  • Collocation: Integrating Child Welfare and Substance Abuse Services

    Collocation: Integrating Child Welfare and Substance Abuse Services

    A pilot program that placed substance abuse counselors in child welfare agencies increased the identification and engagement of substance-abusing parents involved with the child welfare system. In a recently published article, researchers describe how substance abuse counselors, collocated in child welfare agencies in four rural and three urban locations, collaborated with frontline child welfare caseworkers to improve outcomes for children and families.

    Data gathered from focus groups, interviews, and administrative records show that six of the seven sites were able to implement the model. Child welfare workers who were initially skeptical became supporters of the program, and substance abuse counselors grew to see the benefit of home visits for assessing client needs. Both child welfare workers and substance abuse counselors at the six successful sites perceived that the program improved early identification of parental substance abuse, timely referral to treatment, and outcomes. Both types of staff also agreed that the collocation program improved their understanding of each other’s systems.

    Suggestions for successful implementation of a collocation program include:

    • Planning, including determining confidentiality policies
    • Engaging child welfare workers and garnering their support for the program
    • Standardizing procedures
    • Having leadership for the program at both child welfare and substance abuse treatment agencies

    The article, "Collocation: Integrating Child Welfare and Substance Abuse Services," by Eunju Lee, Nina Esaki, and Rose Green, was published in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, Vol. 9(1).

    To order a copy of this article, visit the Informaworld website:


  • Guidebook for Youth With Disabilities Aging Out of Foster Care

    Guidebook for Youth With Disabilities Aging Out of Foster Care

    A partnership between the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities and Florida’s Children First, Inc., has produced a guide to services and information for Florida youth with disabilities who are transitioning from foster care to independent living. Passage From Youth to Adulthood provides practical information on the legal rights of students with disabilities as they transition to adulthood. While the guide is geared toward Florida students, much of the planning and information (especially about Federal laws) is applicable to youth in other States.

    The guide reviews the necessary components of a transition plan, including goals related to education, work, and community integration. Some of the specific components of the transition plan include:

    • Student's desired postsecondary school outcome
    • Adult living arrangement
    • Training and services needed to achieve the outcome
    • Practical life skills that have yet to be mastered
    • Guardianship options for adults who cannot manage their own affairs
    • Specific technological devices (supplied by agencies)

    The guide also highlights the role of the State's vocational rehabilitation program in providing job training, assistive technology (if needed), and employment-related assistance. The report includes a glossary and a list of State and national transition resources.

    Passage From Youth to Adulthood is available for download on the Florida's Children First website: (5,719 KB)

  • A New Website for Youth-Serving Agencies

    A New Website for Youth-Serving Agencies

    A new website,, offers tools and resources to help Federal agencies, youth service providers, and the youth-serving community build partnerships to support youth. Easy to navigate and attractively designed, the site is sponsored by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, a collaboration of 12 Federal agencies. The website's tools and resources can help organizations form effective partnerships, assess community assets, understand risk and protective factors, find local and Federal resources, and identify evidence-based youth programs. Users can also subscribe to receive email updates and RSS feeds of Federal youth news. Access the site here:

  • Local Funding Partnerships Program

    Local Funding Partnerships Program

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is accepting applications for local funders to nominate original projects that can improve the health of vulnerable people in their community. Projects should be nominated by local grantmakers who will work with RWJF to support the projects. Projects may address health in a broad sense—including mental health, violence, and substance abuse. Targeted populations may include such at-risk groups as children, youth, young adults, minorities, immigrants, and more. Up to 14 matching grants of between $200,000 and $500,000 each will be awarded.

    Option conference calls for applicants will be held May 13 and 20, and initial applications are due July 7, 2009. For more information, visit the RWJF website:

  • Educational Videos About Foster Care Adoption

    Educational Videos About Foster Care Adoption

    The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has produced two important new videos available at no cost to adoption organizations and professionals:

    • "Every Child Is Adoptable" describes foster care adoption through the voices of adoptive teens, adoptive parents, and frontline adoption professionals.
    • "A Place to Call Home" portrays the stories of four families created by foster care adoption. This video is designed to be shown to prospective adoptive families.

    For information about ordering these and other videos, visit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption website:

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.

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through August 2009 include:

    June 2009

    July 2009

    • Generations United 15th International Conference
      Because We're Stronger Together

      July 27–31, Washington, DC

    August 2009

    Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

  • Foster Parent College--With Scholarships!

    Foster Parent College--With Scholarships!

    Foster Parent College (FPC) provides research-based training for foster, adoptive, and kinship parents and caregivers. Recently, Casey Family Programs partnered with FPC to provide up to four training courses to qualified caregivers at no expense.

    Since 2005, FPC has administered more than 40,000 online training sessions. All of the trainings are Internet-based and self-driven. Many FPC training classes also are available on DVD. FPC courses are designed by experts in the fields of parenting, pediatrics, psychology, psychiatry, and education and include both self-paced courses and advanced parenting workshops.

    Self-paced courses include:

    • Visual instruction
    • Printable handouts
    • Question and answer sessions with immediate feedback

    Advanced parenting workshops provide:

    • Extended in-depth 3-week courses
    • 24/7 access for participants for the duration of the course
    • Community discussion board to interact with other participants
    • Tested problem-solving approaches

    For more information on Casey Family Programs' scholarship eligibility, as well as available trainings, how to register with FPC, and resources, visit the FPC website.