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February 2011Vol. 12, No. 1Spotlight on Young Children and Child Welfare

This month, CBX spotlights young children involved with child welfare, including the intersection of child welfare with related services that impact young children and their families, such as substance use, child care, family strengthening, and more.

Issue Spotlight

  • State Strategies to Support Parents of Young Children

    State Strategies to Support Parents of Young Children

    Two recent reports from the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) provide recommendations for States to improve services and supports to parents of young children, including specific strategies for the child welfare system.

    Improving Supports for Parents of Young Children: State-Level Initiatives explores the key components of early childhood systems States may address to improve parent-child interventions, parent education, and other supports for parents of young children. The authors discuss cross-system opportunities for parent support in light of new Federal funding for home visiting. Throughout the report, the authors highlight parenting initiatives in Arizona, Louisiana, New York, and Virginia. Four recommendations are made for States seeking to strengthen supports for parents with young children:

    • Use information about the characteristics of young children and families to determine the need for different types of parent programs.
    • Review existing services to determine if new or expanded programs are necessary to address unmet family needs.
    • Implement training strategies to increase provider knowledge and skills.
    • Identify cross-system opportunities for expanding parenting programs and supports.

    Written by Louisa Higgins, Shannon Stagman, and Sheila Smith, the report may be downloaded from the NCCP website: (554 KB)

    Supporting Parents of Young Children in the Child Welfare System considers the critical role parent training programs play in improving outcomes for families involved with child welfare. The report lists the components of evidence-informed parent training programs, criteria for selecting programs, and notable programs. It concludes with several recommendations to incorporate parent training more effectively within the child welfare system, including:

    • Adopt an outcomes-focused approach to parent education strategies.
    • Build collaborative partnerships among child welfare, courts, and service providers.
    • Encourage judges to use court orders that incorporate research-based parenting programs.
    • Tie parenting programs to parent-child visits.
    • Support a two-pronged research strategy that addresses system change and program content.

    The report's appendices include information on Federal funding sources, action steps for implementing effective parent education programs, and a family visiting checklist for family court judges. The report, written by Katherine Beckmann, Jane Knitzer, and Janice Cooper, is available on the NCCP website: (294 KB)

  • Substance-Exposed Newborns and the AIA Resource Center

    Substance-Exposed Newborns and the AIA Resource Center

    The National Abandoned Infants Assistance (AIA) Resource Center is funded through the Children's Bureau to serve as a center of expertise, resources, and training for professionals who provide services to infants at risk of abandonment due to HIV or drugs in their family. Newborns who have been perinatally exposed to drugs or HIV are at especially high risk for child maltreatment and developmental challenges, and it was this population of "boarder babies" that prompted the Federal Government to pass legislation creating the Resource Center and funding programs to help these children and their families.

    As part of its mandate to provide information that can help jurisdictions, agencies, and hospitals prevent infant abandonment and exposure to drugs and HIV, the Resource Center held a conference in June 2010 on substance-exposed newborns (SEN). The conference included workshops and presentations describing promising practices for preventing perinatal substance exposure and for offering services and support for substance-exposed infants and their families. Representatives from direct-service programs around the country offered some insight into the best ways to engage parents and address the needs of SEN. Presentations covered such topics as screening pregnant women, meeting CAPTA requirements, mentoring families, developmental and medical interventions for SEN, and family treatment drug courts.

    Many of the conference presentations and handouts are now available on the AIA Resource Center website:

    The Resource Center website also offers a variety of other information and resources on SEN, including webcasts and reports:

    Profiles of 17 family-focused direct-service projects currently receiving Federal AIA funds are summarized in a downloadable booklet on the Resource Center website. Each profile includes a history of the program, service delivery model, information on staffing and community collaboration, and contact information: (1.14 MB)

    For more information, visit the website, or contact Resource Center staff:

  • Predictors of Harsh Parenting Practices With Young Children

    Predictors of Harsh Parenting Practices With Young Children

    Research shows that harsh parenting behaviors negatively impact the emotional development of children and may place them at risk for child abuse. A recent article published in Child Abuse & Neglect looked at maternal harsh parenting practices from birth to age 3 years in relation to contextual and interpersonal risk factors. 

    A sample of 488 at-risk mothers who did not have an open case with child protective services was assessed at 1, 2, and 3 years after baseline (birth of child). Researchers analyzed predictor variables that included maternal variables as well as partner aggression.

    Key findings from the study indicate:

    • Maternal harsh parenting increased significantly between ages 1 and 2 years and remained high at age 3. 
    • Maternal alcohol use and maternal history of abuse tended to be related to maternal harsh parenting. 
    • Partner aggression was significantly and positively associated with maternal harsh parenting across time.
    • Maternal age and household income showed limited associations with maternal harsh parenting.

    Researchers suggest that these findings can be used as a first step in creating developmentally sensitive early intervention programs addressing mother's alcohol use and past history of abuse.  

    "Trajectories of Maternal Harsh Parenting in the First 3 Years of Life," by Hyoun Kim, Katherine Pears, Philip Fisher, Cynthia Connelly, and John Landsverk, appears in Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 34(12), and is available for purchase online:

  • Ethical Practice When Representing Very Young Children

    Ethical Practice When Representing Very Young Children

    The American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law recently published a Practice and Policy Brief designed for attorneys and those representing very young children in dependency proceedings. The brief outlines some of the ethical dilemmas faced by these representatives, and it outlines the four types of advocacy essential to achieving the best outcomes for young children in these cases:

    • Child-centered
    • Research-informed
    • Permanency-driven
    • Holistic

    Ethical guidance for attorneys who represent children of any age in child abuse and neglect cases comes from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Recognizing that unique circumstances and challenges arise in child maltreatment cases, the ABA developed Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases as guidelines or nonbinding principles of best practice. This brief refers to both the ABA Model Rules and ABA Standards when discussing practical and ethical considerations that may arise when representing a very young child. These include ethics surrounding:

    • Communicating with represented parties
    • Confidentiality of information
    • Diminished capacity
    • Attorney as witness
    • Conflict of interest
    • Diligent representation

    Specific guidance is provided for ways that an attorney can learn more about a child's situation, understand a child's developmental challenges, and help a child develop positive relationships within the context of ethical practice.

    The brief stresses that representing very young children in dependency proceedings can be challenging. Effective and ethical representation often demands that the attorney be proactive, seeking out opportunities to observe and interact with the very young child client and speed the legal process, while also maintaining the child's critical relationships.

    Advocating for Very Young Children in Dependency Proceedings: The Hallmarks of Effective, Ethical Representation,
    by Candice L. Maze, is available on the ABA website: (2,183 KB)

  • Keeping Young Children Safely With Their Families: The QIC on Early Childhood

    Keeping Young Children Safely With Their Families: The QIC on Early Childhood

    Since the award of its 2008 Children's Bureau grant, the National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC) has promoted the development, dissemination, and integration of new knowledge about preventing maltreatment among infants and young children at high risk for abuse, neglect, and abandonment. National statistics continue to show that these children are the most vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

    The QIC is funding four research and development projects and two doctoral student projects focused on promoting protective factors and minimizing risk factors for abuse and neglect. Each project targets a specific population and uses innovative methods to strengthen families and keep children safely in their own homes.

    Project DuLCe will test a combination of Healthy Steps home visiting, legal assistance, a pediatric medical home model, and other supports with families of young infants in a high-poverty urban neighborhood who seek medical services through a community health center. The evaluation will look at maltreatment outcomes at the family and community levels.

    The Family Networks Project will explore the effectiveness of training for parents and workers: Stepping Stones Triple P training for parents of young children with developmental disabilities, and adapted Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect training for Part C early intervention coordinators. The evaluation will consider the impact of different combinations of services and training on a variety of child, family, and family-service provider relationship outcomes.

    Fostering Hope will provide a variety of community and individual services—including neighborhood development, home visiting with wraparound supports, parenting education and support groups, volunteer respite care, access to mental health and addictions treatment, and concrete services—to three high-poverty neighborhoods with a high percentage of Hispanic/Latino families. The evaluation will look at maltreatment rates in comparison to similar neighborhoods not receiving these services.

    The Strong Start Study will use high-fidelity wraparound to deliver gender-specific substance use treatment to pregnant women and early intervention services through Part C to their infants, also helping the mothers build their natural social and community supports. The evaluation will compare intervention and comparison groups on child and parent outcomes.

    Young Mothers, Infant Neglect, and Discontinuities in Intergenerational Cycles of Maltreatment is a doctoral student project that will research neglect by:

    • Exploring risk and protective factors among young mothers with infants
    • Highlighting pathways of resilience by focusing on intergenerational processes that lead to discontinuity in cycles of maltreatment
    • Exploring how complex maternal histories with their own parents influence young mothers' parenting
    • Examining certain protective factors (i.e., positive childhood care, older maternal age, social support) that may intercede in cycles of maltreatment

    Effects of Maternal Parenting Quality on the Development of Social Competence for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence is a doctoral student project that will use data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being to examine:

    • Whether early exposure to domestic violence affects the development of social competence trajectories
    • Any differences between prolonged versus intermittent exposure on social competence trajectories
    • Whether the quality of maternal parenting moderates the relationship between exposure to domestic violence and children's social competence trajectories

    Visit the QIC-EC website to follow the progress of these projects over the next few years and to find other resources for preventing maltreatment of young children and strengthening their families.

  • Helping Child Care and Early Childhood Centers Strengthen Families

    Helping Child Care and Early Childhood Centers Strengthen Families

    The Strengthening Families approach advocates the promotion of five protective factors (parental resilience, social connections, parenting knowledge, concrete support, and children's social and emotional development) to prevent child maltreatment. It's important to work with at-risk families to build these protective factors before families come to the attention of the child welfare system, whenever possible. One way to reach many young families is through their child care or early childhood education providers.

    The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) has developed a comprehensive Strengthening Families initiative to help child care providers promote protective factors in families with young children.  The initiative offers seven strategies that child care centers and providers can use to build protective factors in families:

    • Facilitate friendships and mutual support
    • Value and support parents
    • Strengthen parenting
    • Respond to family crises
    • Link families to services and opportunities
    • Facilitate children's social and emotional development
    • Observe and respond to early warning signs of abuse and neglect

    CSSP also has developed a number of Strengthening Families resources designed for early care and education programs and family child care. These include:

    Visit the homepage of CSSP's Strengthening Families to learn more:

    Related Items

    The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) sponsors several initiatives to help families of young children, including the following:

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News From the Children's Bureau

Find links to information on CAPTA and the Affordable Care Act, as well as new resources from the Children's Bureau that provide national and State data on child maltreatment.

  • 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:

    • Program Instruction (PI)-10-13, "Tribal Title IV-E Program Cost Allocation Methodology Guidance," provides information on the applicable cost allocation requirements to Tribes that are operating or planning to operate a title IV-E program pursuant to section 479B of the Fostering Connection Act ( (152 KB).
    • PI-10-14, "Approval of a New Form for Reporting Quarterly Financial Information on the title IV-E Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Guardianship Assistance Programs," provides title IV-E agencies with the revised form and instructions for reporting ( (478 KB).

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

  • Affordable Care Act Supports Pregnant and Parenting Teens and Women

    Affordable Care Act Supports Pregnant and Parenting Teens and Women

    The Affordable Care Act includes funding to support State and Tribal programs for pregnant and parenting teens and women. On September 28, 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $27 million to these programs in two areas:

    • Through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, $24 million was awarded to 17 States and Tribes for such services as education, health care, child care, family housing, and the prevention of violence against pregnant and parenting women.
    • Another $3 million was awarded in 13 grants to Tribes through the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant Program to help Tribes establish evidence-based home visiting services for at-risk families.

    To read the HHS press release on the Affordable Care Act funds, visit:

    To read the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) press release about funding Tribal home visiting programs, visit:

    To see a full list of the 13 Tribal grantees and abstracts of their proposed projects, visit:

    Related Item

    The Affordable Care Act also has implications for adoption. It raises the maximum adoption credit to $13,170 per child, up from $12,150 in 2009. It also makes the credit refundable. Visit the IRS website to learn more:,,id=228301,00.html

  • CFSR Technical Bulletin #5

    CFSR Technical Bulletin #5

    The Children's Bureau has posted a new technical bulletin dealing with the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). Bulletin #5 addresses:

    • Background information on CFSR program improvement plan (PIP) content and the termination of withholding of funds and continuation of penalties from one round through to the subsequent round's PIP implementation
    • The Children's Bureau's approach for approving the termination of withholding of funds for a prior round's penalties based on successful completion of specific goals or actions steps in a subsequent PIP
    • The Children's Bureau's approach for continuing the withholding of funds related to a round during a subsequent round's PIP implementation

    Read the complete bulletin on the Children's Bureau website:

  • New Article Sections Debut on CBX

    New Article Sections Debut on CBX

    With this issue, Children’s Bureau Express (CBX) debuts two new article sections:

    Training and Technical Assistance Network Updates will give members of the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network the opportunity to announce new resources and initiatives. In the past, news items from T&TA Network members were condensed into one long article, found in the News From the Children's Bureau section. Beginning with this issue, CBX will expand on those items by highlighting them in this new section.

    Children's Bureau Grantee News
    will carry digest and news articles on projects funded by Children's Bureau grants. This will include published articles and reports, as well as site visit articles and occasional interviews.  While this section may not appear in every issue, we want a place to spotlight Children's Bureau grantees that have made news!


  • Child Maltreatment 2009 Released

    Child Maltreatment 2009 Released

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Maltreatment 2009, the 20th in a series of reports designed to provide national statistics on child abuse and neglect. These reports provide State-level data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and include information on screened-in referrals (reports) of abuse and neglect made to CPS agencies, the children involved, types of maltreatment, CPS responses, child and caregiver risk factors, services, and perpetrators.

    Highlights of Child Maltreatment 2009 show:

    • The number of nationally estimated unique (counted just one time) victims was 702,000. 
    • Unique victims in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization, at 20.6 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population.
    • The most common type of maltreatment was neglect. More than 75 percent (78.3 percent) of unique child victims suffered neglect.
    • The national rate of child fatalities was 2.34 deaths per 100,000 children.
    • Forty-four States reported that more than 3 million children received preventive services.

    The full report is available on the Children's Bureau website: (3.93 MB)

  • Congress Reauthorizes CAPTA

    Congress Reauthorizes CAPTA

    The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010 (S.3817) was signed into law on December 20, 2010, as Public Law 111-320.

    The act leaves funding for discretionary grants (research, training, technical assistance, information collection, and program innovations) and for basic State grants at the old authorized level of $120 million in FY 2010 and at "such sums as may be necessary" for FY 2011 through 2015. A new funding section regarding allotments of the basic State grant funds for improving child protective services establishes a minimum State grant of $50,000, with additional distribution based on child population. For the Community-Based Prevention Grants, the act extends the existing funding level of $80 million in FY 2010 and "such sums" for FY 2011 through 2015. 

    The act authorizes grants to public or private agencies and organizations to develop or expand effective collaborations between child protective service entities and domestic violence service entities to improve collaborative investigation and intervention procedures; provide for the safety of the nonabusing parent and children; and provide services to children exposed to domestic violence that also support the care-giving role of the nonabusing parent.

    The act includes provisions for several new studies and reports to Congress on such topics as:

    • Shaken baby syndrome
    • Efforts to coordinate different organizations' programs and activities related to child abuse and neglect
    • The effectiveness of citizen review panels in examining State and local child protection agencies
    • How provisions for immunity from prosecution facilitate and inhibit individuals' reporting of child abuse or neglect

    The CAPTA Reauthorization impacts child welfare in a number of other areas by:

    • Encouraging family participation in case planning and placement
    • Encouraging former child abuse victims to serve on citizen review panels and Children's Justice Act task forces
    • Requiring that newborns diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum syndrome receive appropriate referrals to CPS by health-care providers
    • Not requiring reunification of a child with a parent if the parent commits sexual abuse against the child or another child of the parent or if the parent is required to register with a sex offender registry
    • Mandating criminal record checks for other adults living in homes of prospective foster and adoptive parents
    • Requiring enhanced data reporting by States
    • Reauthorizing the Adoption Opportunities Program and the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act

    The full-text of the legislation can be found online: (234 KB)

Training and Technical Assistance Update

One of two new article sections making its debut in this issue, the T&TA Network section will offer synopses of recent resources from the Children's Bureau T&TA Network members, including its National Resource Centers, Quality Improvement Centers, Regional Implementation Centers, and others.

  • More Updates From the T&TA Network

    More Updates From the T&TA Network

    The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:

    • Child Welfare Information Gateway has produced a new factsheet, "Special Needs" Adoption: What Does It Mean?, which defines "special needs," presents common questions parents ask about adopting a child or youth with special needs, and provides resources with detailed answers. The factsheet covers definitions and topics such as eligibility, making the adoption decision, getting started, financial and health-care assistance, and postadoption services.
      Information Gateway also has launched a page of resources of information about the Fostering Connections Act:
    • FRIENDS National Resource Center has launched a new resource to help Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) State Lead Agencies and other partners in prevention share information. A State Resources section has been added to the website, offering a central place for organizing and displaying State-specific documents relevant to prevention. Resources are currently available in three categories:  Later this year, the area will be expanded to include summaries of the State annual reports and marketing materials.
      • CBCAP Annual Reports and Applications
      • Statewide prevention plans
      • Relevant Request for Proposal documents relating to the funding of prevention programs in States
    • The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NCROI) will offer three webinars: 
      • February 8: Collaborating with Courts to Reduce and Eliminate Disparities
      • March 15: Strategies to Support School Stability and Continuity: Part I
      • April 12: Strategies to Support School Stability and Continuity: Part 2
      For complete descriptions of these sessions and a list of presenters, go to
    • The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) has posted its second issue of Children's Justice Act (CJA) E-Newsletter. (239 KB)
    • The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) has added an organizational self-study tool to the NRCPFC Family Engagement Web-Based Practice Toolkit. The tool is for reviewing overall agency readiness and administrative policies and for identifying program strengths and challenges in engaging and working with families.
      NRCPFC also has added a Systems of Care section to its Digital Stories website:
      NRCPFC has posted a PowerPoint presentation, "Unpacking the 'No' of Permanency for Older Adolescents: Planning for Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Adulthood."
    • The National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System has issued a request for proposals for Child Representation Research and Demonstration Partners. Two awards of up to $300,000 annually for 4 years are offered. The due date for proposals is February 18, 2011.
  • Innovations in Differential Response Across States

    Innovations in Differential Response Across States

    The National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) has released an issue brief that summarizes how some State and local child protective services (CPS) agencies are using differential response to respond to child maltreatment reports. Beyond Investigations: Current Innovations in Responding to Reports of Child Maltreatment, by Debra A. Gilmore, is the first in a series of issue briefs planned by the QIC-DR.

    Differential response refers to an approach that allows CPS agencies to respond in more than one way to screened-in reports of child maltreatment, depending on the level of risk, previous reports, and other factors. The goal is to provide individualized services to each child and family and to keep children safely at home when possible.

    The issue brief notes that several States, Tribes, and other jurisdictions are implementing differential response, considering implementation, or implementing similar front-end system reforms. (A map illustrates implementation throughout the nation.) Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota use only an assessment approach for all families involved in screened-in maltreatment reports. In Minnesota, CPS added a third pathway for screened-out cases to create a Parent Support Outreach Program. States' evaluations show that a service-oriented response has more positive outcomes without compromising child safety.

    The brief is available on the QIC-DR website: (988 KB)

    Visit the homepage of the website for more resources on differential response:

  • QIC-ChildRep Posts Resources on Legal Representation

    QIC-ChildRep Posts Resources on Legal Representation

    The Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System (QIC-ChildRep) has expanded its website offerings extensively since the site first launched in December 2009. Some of the outstanding new additions to the redesigned website include a best practice model and findings from the needs assessment.

    The QIC Best Practice Model of Child Representation is an adaptation of the 1996 ABA Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases that aims to refresh and refine the definitions of the duties of child representatives and of the organizational and administrative supports needed to perform those duties adequately. The model outlines the general duties and activities of the child's legal representative in and out of court, after a hearing, in appellate advocacy, and regarding cessation of representation. The model also addresses the organizational and administrative supports provided by the representative by addressing training, compensation, and caseload levels.

    Needs Assessment Findings are the result of the QIC's comprehensive needs assessment of the state of child representation around the country, which was conducted during its first year of funding. The following resources resulted from that assessment:

    Visit the homepage of the QIC ChildRep website here:


  • Center Offers Systems of Care Resources and TA

    Center Offers Systems of Care Resources and TA

    The Children's Bureau National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care (the Center) was established in 2003 to support grant communities in their efforts to design and build systems of care that will improve safety, permanency, and well-being for families and children. Since its inception, the Center has supported the development, implementation, and sustainability of systems of care efforts and conducted a national cross-site evaluation of the implementation of systems of care in the demonstration sites.

    To support knowledge transfer and capacity building within child welfare systems, Center staff developed products that integrate evaluation findings and other information to support wide understanding and implementation of systems of care. The following products reflect the experiences, challenges, and lessons learned of the participating Systems of Care communities. They offer administrators, program managers, and policymakers valuable information and guidance to inform change efforts and to improve strategic planning, infrastructure development, and implementation of principles and practices that strengthen the child welfare system.

    Evaluation Reports document the findings from the national cross-site evaluation and cover such topics as systems and organizational changes resulting from the initiative's implementation, the critical role of leadership, and meaningful family involvement.

    • Improving Child Welfare Through Systems of Care: Overview of the National Cross-Site Evaluation synthesizes key evaluation findings related to Systems of Care implementation processes and outcomes and presents lessons learned for other communities planning and implementing systems of care.
    • Systems and Organizational Change Resulting From the Implementation of Systems of Care examines grant activities related to collaborative partnerships and integration of systems of care principles into policies and procedures and describes the corresponding impact on systems and organizational change, child welfare practices, and outcomes for children and families.
    • Systems of Care Case Studies provides an in-depth look at the strategies and approaches used by two grant sites—Contra Costa, California, and North Carolina—to develop a principle-guided approach to child welfare service delivery.
    • Leadership in the Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care Initiative explores the critical role of leadership and identifies strategies that Systems of Care leaders used to bring about change.
    • Family Involvement in the Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care Initiative discusses how communities engaged families as partners in developing case plans, developed peer-to-peer support programs, and empowered families to participate in decision-making and systems change activities.

    Infrastructure Toolkits offer practical activities, guiding questions, and tips and products from the field for the planning and development of fundamental components that lay the groundwork for implementation. Customizable, online toolkits address the following infrastructure topics:

    • Strategic Planning—gathering information, developing a shared vision, and formulating a plan to guide activities
    • Governance—building a collaborative body of agencies and stakeholder groups for decision-making
    • System Management—overseeing day-to-day operations and staffing that promote the vision and mission
    • Coordination of Services and Service Array—integrating services and supports to address holistic needs of families
    • Communication—raising awareness and informing stakeholders to generate ongoing support for an initiative
    • Policy—developing interagency agreements, statutes, regulations, and other mechanisms to institutionalize practices
    • Finance—identifying and applying financial strategies to support sustainable services
    • Continuous Quality Improvement—using data to support improvements in agency processes and procedures
    • Training, Development, and Human Resources—hiring staff, developing performance systems, and creating a continuous learning environment

    To access the Center's resources, visit:

  • 2010 National Adoption Month Capacity Building Toolkit

    2010 National Adoption Month Capacity Building Toolkit

    AdoptUSKids, in collaboration with Child Welfare Information Gateway, has developed the 2010 National Adoption Month Capacity Building Toolkit to help increase the awareness of adoption and assist jurisdictions and organizations analyze and build their capacity to recruit and retain foster and adoptive parents. The toolkit's information and tools are organized into five sections that reflect practice areas child welfare professionals have found historically challenging:

    • Supporting and Retaining Foster and Adoptive Families
    • Diligent Recruitment
    • Working With Diverse Populations
    • Proactive Family Finding
    • Interjurisdictional Placements

    Each section describes the topic, presents an idea from the field, describes ways that individual workers and agencies can take action to promote adoption from foster care, and presents specific tools—such as tip sheets and checklists—pertinent to the topic.

    This toolkit was made possible with funding from the Children's Bureau and may be accessed on the AdoptUSKids website: (5.55 MB)

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

This new section of CBX articles will link readers to resources and news from Children's Bureau-funded projects, including published materials, site visit articles, and more.

  • Theater Ensemble Gives Foster Care Alumni a Voice

    Theater Ensemble Gives Foster Care Alumni a Voice

    Funded by a grant from the Children's Bureau between 2005 and 2010, Adoptions Unlimited, Inc., administered the Family Connections Project in Illinois to provide a new model for promoting youth permanency. The project's emphasis was on exploring open adoption and other permanency options for older youth. Family Connections was one of nine projects funded by the Children's Bureau 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."

    One of the project's major and most innovative achievements was the creation of a theater troupe, the Strong Connections Theater Ensemble. Over 2 years, alumni of the Illinois child welfare system performed a 45-minute play based on the experiences of their journey through foster care, while struggling to find and maintain personal connections along the way. The moving play received many positive reviews and served as a vehicle for getting the message to the public about the need for families for older youth in foster care.

    Learn more about the Strong Connections Theater Ensemble and see the performance:

    To read more about the Family Connections Project, visit:

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express last wrote about the Family Connections Project in "Promoting Openness With the Family Connections Project: An Interview" (May 2009).

  • University of Michigan Recruitment and Retention Project Report

    University of Michigan Recruitment and Retention Project Report

    The recruitment and retention of qualified staff, including caseworkers, supervisors, and managers, is a longstanding and pervasive problem in the child welfare system. In 2003, the University of Michigan School of Social Work received a Children's Bureau grant to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate an effective and comprehensive training curriculum for recruiting and retaining a competent workforce at public child welfare agencies. The final report of that project was recently produced and posted on the project website.

    The report describes the university's partnership with the Michigan Department of Human Services (MDHS) to develop and deliver curricula for MDHS and contract agency staff in four areas:

    • Cultural humility training to help child welfare staff develop and maintain mutual respect and a collaborative relationship with the diverse populations with whom they work—more than 500 frontline workers and supervisors received this training.
    • Legal training to discuss child welfare worker involvement in the court process—148 individuals, including frontline workers and supervisors and several child welfare attorneys, participated in this training.
    • Supervisory skills training to give supervisors additional support in several areas, including decision-making, communication, and managing difficult people—119 supervisors received this training.
    • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) training addressing the interaction between ICWA, other Federal policies, and agency policies—92 individuals received this training, including MDHS and contract frontline workers and Tribal caseworkers.

    The report indicates that overall participant ratings for each curriculum were above an 8 on a 10-point Likert scale.

    Another component of the grant was to collect data about recruitment and retention at MDHS, including focus groups with staff, a longitudinal study of recent hires and lateral transfers of MDHS and contract agency staff, exit interviews with former MDHS staff, and the evaluation of MDHS's realistic job preview.

    Read the final report on the project website: (263 KB)

    Additional information about the project, including training materials and research findings, can be found on the project website:

    Related Item

    Children’s Bureau Express last wrote about this project in "Workforce Retention in Michigan" (February 2007).

  • Kick-Off for the Permanency Innovations Initiative

    Kick-Off for the Permanency Innovations Initiative

    The Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII), formerly known as the Initiative to Reduce Long-Term Foster Care (LTFC), aims to improve outcomes for subgroups of children who have the most serious barriers to permanency. Over the next 5 years, the Children's Bureau will invest $100 million in individual projects, technical assistance (TA), and site-specific and cross-site evaluation to test innovative approaches and develop knowledge about what works to improve outcomes for these children and youth.

    In his opening remarks at the grantee kick-off meeting in December, ACYF Commissioner Bryan Samuels stated that this is a Presidential initiative with high expectations, and Samuels charged the grantees with maintaining a laser focus on specific target populations at highest risk of languishing in the foster care system. These projects will test new approaches to reducing long-term foster care placements for children with high rates of long-term placement. The funds distributed over the next 5 years will go to six grantees across the country:

    • The Arizona Department of Economic Security will provide intensive services to Native American and African American adolescents in the central region of Arizona (Pinal and Eastern Maricopa County) to prepare them for permanency. The Project Director is Janice Mickens (
    • The California Department of Social Services will convene a partnership of State, local, and nonprofit agencies in the four pilot counties of Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara to reduce LTFC for African-American and Native American youth. The Project Director is Karen Gunderson (
    • The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will provide trauma-focused therapy for youth ages 9-12 who are at high risk of LTFC and will train children's caregivers, involve their birth parents, and locate other relatives who can provide potential placements. The Project Director is Twana Cosey (
    • The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center will create a countywide system of care to address barriers to permanency and well-being for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning children and youth who are in or at risk of placement in foster care, placement in the juvenile justice system, or homelessness. The Project Director is Curtis Shepard (
    • The University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc., will partner with four private providers of family preservation and family reunification services throughout Kansas to expedite permanency for children with severe emotional disturbances. The Project Director is Tom McDonald (
    • The Washoe County, Nevada, Department of Social Services will implement a Safety Intervention Permanency System through the integration of two intervention strategies to keep children safe, prevent them from coming into care, and improve permanency outcomes for subgroups of children experiencing the most serious barriers to permanency. The Project Director is Jim Durand (

    The projects are now in an intensive planning phase, with implementation and evaluation plans due to be completed by July 2011. TA will be provided at the organization and systems levels, addressing strategic planning, infrastructure development, effective collaboration, organization and systems development, change management, leadership, implementation, effective communication, knowledge dissemination, and transfer. Site-specific and cross-site evaluations will be conducted by an external evaluator, who will also provide evaluation-related TA and data support to the grantees.

    For more information, contact Federal Project Officer Matthew McGuire:

  • Site Visit: Fathers Engagement Project in Washington

    Site Visit: Fathers Engagement Project in Washington

    The Fathers Engagement Project in King County, WA, is one of four projects funded in 2008 by the National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Residential Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF). The State's Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is using the grant to locate and recruit nonresident fathers of children in the child welfare system for a peer support group and other services. The goal is to increase fathers' involvement with their children and the child welfare system.

    Using the same core curriculum, which was funded by the QIC NRF, as other projects, the King County peer groups focus on topics such as how the child welfare system works, parenting education, accessing resources, and how the court system works. Within the peer group framework, the fathers learn to support each other as they navigate the child welfare system and reconnect with their children.

    Another component of the Fathers Engagement Project is educating DCFS workers about identifying and locating fathers and engaging them in their children's case planning and, in some cases, including them as permanency resources. Staff from the QIC NRF and its contractors have provided trainings to DCFS staff about the importance of involving nonresident fathers and ways to do so through two full-day trainings. As part of ongoing education, the local project has hosted "Lunch with Dads" sessions at agency offices to give some of the fathers who have graduated from the program an opportunity to talk about their experiences in an informal setting with workers. Implementing the "Lunch with Dads" sessions has helped workers better understand the fathers' perspectives on their situations and the child welfare system. It also allows the fathers to feel heard by the system. One social worker noted that these sessions have been successful at increasing social worker buy-in.

    Although the project still is undergoing its evaluation, anecdotal evidence points to a number of successful components, for example:

    • As part of their practicum experience, graduate students from the Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program at the University of Washington have learned more about engaging nonresident fathers and contacted them on behalf of their assigned social worker using the IRB-approved script.
    • The group facilitator is a man who has experiences similar to those of the fathers, and this has given him great credibility with the groups.
    • The project has support from the county's judicial leadership.
    • The project began providing prepaid cell phones to the fathers in the third cohort to help with communication and tracking, and all fathers who received a phone continued to attend their peer group sessions.

    The peer groups have empowered the fathers, helped them feel supported by a segment within the child welfare system, and have helped them feel less isolated. The project has also helped social workers develop a better understanding of the fathers' experiences and the importance of actively engaging them in their children's lives. Most importantly, based on feedback from interviews, it appears that the children have more involvement with their fathers and paternal relatives, as well as more permanency options.

    For more information about the project, contact Natasha Grossman, Project Director,

    Access the full report on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    The National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Residential Fathers and the Child Welfare System is funded by the Children's Bureau. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.


Child Welfare Research

Child welfare news focuses on reports from a State and a county that show how each was able to implement new practices to improve outcomes.

  • Transforming Virginia's Child Welfare System

    Transforming Virginia's Child Welfare System

    A new case study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation tells the story of the great strides taken in the last 3 years to reform Virginia's child welfare system. In 2006, when compared to other States, Virginia had the highest percentage of children aging out of foster care without permanent connections and significantly higher percentages of children in group and residential placements. Driven by a focus on results, consultants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and officials in the Governor's office developed a two-pronged approach to reform that addressed statewide budget and policy issues and engaged local communities in an advisory council to test reform strategies. The State established a new family-centered child welfare practice model and focused on five building blocks for change:

    • Managing by data
    • Engaging families
    • Investing in resource family recruitment, development, and support
    • Creating a continuum of community-based services to support children and families
    • Developing a statewide training system

    A new data system, Safe Measures, helped Virginia State and local officials more easily track progress through near real-time access to data and more meaningful reporting capabilities. The results of the State's efforts have been striking: in the 3 years since reform began, child permanency rates increased to more than 80 percent, the number of children in congregate care was cut almost in half, and total expenditures of local, State, and Federal government dollars were reduced by 5.8 percent.

    To learn more about child welfare reform in Virginia, read Back on Track: Transforming Virginia's Child Welfare System, by Jonathan Walters, on the Annie E. Casey Foundation website:

  • Addressing Racial Disproportionality in One California County

    Addressing Racial Disproportionality in One California County

    Nationally, significantly greater proportions of African-American children enter and remain in foster care than children of other races. Forty-six states have disproportionate representations of African-American children in their child welfare systems, and in seven states, including California, the proportion of African-American children in foster care is four times the percentage of the child population in that State.

    As part of efforts to address these concerns, in 2006, the Fresno County, California, Department of Social Services (DSS) committed to understanding the root causes of these inequities and to working in partnership with the community to find solutions. Positive Outcomes for All: Using An Institutional Analysis to Identify and Address African American Children's Low Reunification Rates and Long-Term Stays in Fresno County’s Foster Care System, a new report from the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), presents the results of an analysis of agency practices.

    The report identifies a number of organizational factors that contributed to the disproportionality, including a lack of understanding of the unique strengths and problems faced by African-American families, universal rather than individualized assessments and service plans, and services that tended to be centrally located in Fresno rather than in the communities where African-American parents lived. The report also includes a number of specific recommendations that were developed for the Fresno DSS in light of the identified challenges.

    After the analysis, the Fresno DSS developed an action plan to address the disparities. First steps included changes in policies, services, and training for staff. A new emphasis was placed on family engagement, and the agency also established five high-priority goals that targeted community outreach, accessibility, better services, and other sweeping changes.
    Read about the county's experience and ongoing changes in this report, written by Kristen Weber, Sarah Morrison, Sarah Navarro, Carol Spigner, and Ellen Pence, and available on the CSSP website:  (893 KB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Choosing a Data Management System

    Choosing a Data Management System

    Data reporting requirements for child welfare agencies have grown significantly in recent years, due to new requirements from funders (including government agencies) and standards that promote evidence-based practice. Likewise, new technology makes it possible to collect, analyze, and share increasing amounts of data. To meet these demands and to promote data-driven decision-making, social services agencies, including child welfare agencies, need a data management system suited to these tasks.

    A recent article in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services describes a case study in which a Georgia family services agency used a social work problem-solving approach to select the best data management system to meet its needs. Rather than turning over the responsibility to IT personnel to choose a system, agency staff were able to identify and document their problem, conduct a needs assessment, weigh the pros and cons, develop a request for proposals, choose a vendor, and develop a clear contract. The agency's experiences are the subject of Peter Lyons and Christy Winter's "Data Management System Selection in a Family Service Agency" (Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, Volume 91(4)).

    The complete article can be purchased on the Families in Society website:

  • Helping Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System

    Helping Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System

    The Migration and Child Welfare National Network (MCWNN) has developed A Social Worker's Tool Kit for Working With Immigrant Families: Healing the Damage: Trauma and Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System. The toolkit offers guidelines to assist child welfare and community-based agencies responding to the needs of immigrant families exposed to child maltreatment and other sources of traumatic stress:

    • Section I looks at how elements of good child welfare practice have implications for immigrant families exposed to traumatic stress. It also discusses the different sources of traumatic stress for these families.
    • Section II provides guidelines for integrating good child welfare practice with trauma-informed care, addressing such topics as engagement, assessment, and case planning. Special considerations for domestic violence are included.
    • Section III discusses building child welfare agency capacity through policies and protocols, administrative supports, staff training, and community partnerships.
    • The last sections feature frequently asked questions about immigrant families and appendices that include a case example and additional resources for child welfare staff.

    The toolkit, by Elena Cohen, is available on the American Humane website: (597 KB)


  • Foster Youth Internship

    Foster Youth Internship

    FosterClub will select a team of young adults, ages 18 to 24, who have experienced foster care at some point in their lives, to participate in an internship program called the All-Star Program. After 2 weeks of intense leadership and public speaking training, the All-Stars will travel the country participating in foster youth conferences, speaking to child welfare professionals, advocating to policymakers, and more! All-Star interns have an opportunity to improve the foster care system and life for other youth in foster care—plus receive a stipend over the summer.

    Completed applications are due by February 15, 2011. For more information, visit the FosterClub website:



  • Fostering Connections and Relative Foster Care Placement

    Fostering Connections and Relative Foster Care Placement

    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act includes a number of provisions designed to help children maintain connections with their families of origin, including a requirement to identify and provide notice to all adult relatives when children enter care, an option to provide continuing support to children who exit care to live with relatives, and a provision that allows States to waive non-safety-related licensing standards, on a case-by-case basis, for relatives who wish to become licensed as foster parents.

    Relative Foster Care Licensing Waivers in the States: Policies and Possibilities, a new publication from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, provides an overview of States' current foster family home licensing policies and rules pertaining to waivers as they apply to both title IV-E and nontitle IV-E eligible foster homes. The publication presents background information on licensing for relatives and includes an overview of IV-E reimbursement for relative foster homes, a State-by-State survey of the current landscape of waivers of foster home licensing standards, and recommendations for licensing standards that can help further the goal of maintaining family connections for children in foster care.

    The general and waiver-specific licensing recommendations include:

    • Build flexibility into licensing standards.
    • Make appropriate use of variances.
    • Ensure staff members receive regular training on licensing policies and waiver practices.
    • Use administrative funds to assist relatives in becoming licensed.
    • Provide waivers when safe and appropriate.
    • Include protections to ensure waivers are used appropriately.

    This document was prepared in collaboration with ChildFocus, the Children's Defense Fund, Generations United, and the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center. It is available on the CLASP website: (175 KB)

  • Optimizing Funding for Permanency

    Optimizing Funding for Permanency

    State and local agencies and Tribes are often unaware of how to best make use of Federal Government funding streams to provide services to children and families. In response to this underutilization of Federal dollars, the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently published Funding Permanency Services: A Guide to Leveraging Federal, State, and Local Dollars.

    This guide was designed to help child welfare directors and fiscal managers be more strategic in planning for and effectively using Federal monies, including funding made possible by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The guide is organized into the following sections that reflect four key strategies that States and localities can implement to fund permanency services that support children and families:

    • Maximizing Title IV-E Reimbursements
    • Generating Savings for Community-based Services
    • Accessing New and Existing Title IV-E Training Dollars
    • Leveraging Federal Dollars to Fund a Permanency Continuum

    Case studies from across the country, examples of innovative approaches, a resource listing, and an appendix of permanency and postpermanency services definitions also are provided. Find the guide, written by Donald Schmid, Madelyn Freundlich, and Sarah Greenblatt, on the Annie E. Casey Foundation website:{F818604B-BF1E-4DA3-9A5B-513E9EE3011D}

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 child welfare and adoption through May 2011 include:

    March 2011

    • CWLA National Conference
      The State of Children & Families: Building an Effective National Voice
      Child Welfare League of America
      March 27–30, Crystal City, VA
    • National Conference on Juvenile and Family Law
      National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
      March 27–30, Reno, NV
    • 27th National Symposium on Child Abuse
      The National Children's Advocacy Center
      March 28–31, Huntsville, AL

    April 2011

    • 29th Annual "Protecting Our Children" National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
      Honoring Our Traditions: Sustaining Our Families
      National Indian Child Welfare Association
      April 17–20, Anchorage, AK
    • NABSW 43rd Annual National Conference
      Beyond the Rhetoric: A Call for Social Action
      National Association of Black Social Workers
      April 19–22, New Orleans, LA

    May 2011

    • Pathways to Adulthood 2011
      National Independent Living/Transitional Living Conference
      The University of Oklahoma OUTREACH National Resource Center for Youth Services
      May 4–6, Denver, CO
    • Black Administrators in Child Welfare, Inc., National Conference
      The Power of Change: Reducing Disproportionality
      May 15–17, Philadelphia, PA
    • Tenth Annual National Citizen Review Panel Conference
      A Force for Change
      May 18–20, Charleston, SC

    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:

  • Certificate Program on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

    Certificate Program on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

    The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute has announced its 2011 Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare: Multi-System Integration Certificate Program for Public Sector Leaders. The program is designed to advance cross-systems work to improve outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Participants will attend a week-long program in Washington, DC, where they will be taught by expert faculty on topics including multisystem integration, developing collaborative leadership skills, the effective use of communication strategies, reducing disproportionality in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and more. After the program, participants will develop a Capstone Project to implement systems reform in their home jurisdiction.

    The Certificate Program is designed for public agency leaders at the State, local, Tribal, and national levels within the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, behavioral health, and related systems of care who are committed to cross-systems efforts. In order to enhance the possibility of implementing cross-systems change after returning from the program, applicants from the same jurisdiction are encouraged to apply as "mini-teams."

    The program will take place July 15 to July 21, 2011, at Georgetown University. Applications are due March 31, 2011.

    For more information and to apply, visit and click on "Certificate Programs," or email CJJR at

  • Cultural Competence With Kinship Caregivers

    Cultural Competence With Kinship Caregivers

    The November 2010 issue of Training Matters, a publication of the North Carolina Department of Social Services (NC DSS) Child Welfare Services Statewide Training Partnership, provides information and resources on culturally competent child welfare practice with kinship caregivers. The resources include training materials, research articles, and a film; content summaries are included. To access this issue of Training Matters, visit: (264 KB)