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April 2016Vol. 17, No. 2Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

We highlight the new 2016 Prevention Resource Guide, the final report of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, a curriculum presenting the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework, and other resources to help professionals prevent child abuse and neglect.

Issue Spotlight

  • Responding to Child Sex Trafficking With More Effective State Laws

    Responding to Child Sex Trafficking With More Effective State Laws

    A recent publication by Shared Hope International defines domestic minor sex trafficking as the commercial sexual exploitation via prostitution, pornography, or sexual performance of American children who are younger than age 18 that occurs within the borders of the United States. The 2015 Protected Innocence Challenge: A Legal Framework of Protection for the Nation's Children examines efforts being made to respond to domestic minor sex trafficking by the 50 States and the District of Columbia.

    The report identifies key elements necessary to address the needs of child victims and potential victims, including preventing domestic minor sex trafficking through reducing demand, rescuing and restoring victims through improved training on identification, establishing protocols and facilities for victim placement, mandating appropriate services and shelter, and incorporating trauma-reducing mechanisms into the justice system. Within that framework, four primary policy principles were identified as critical to combatting domestic minor sex trafficking: eliminating demand; prosecuting traffickers; identifying victims; and providing protection, access to services, and shelter for victims. The report discusses how each of these principles are addressed in six areas of law:

    • Criminalization of domestic minor sex trafficking
    • Criminal provisions addressing demand
    • Criminal provisions for traffickers
    • Criminal provisions for facilitators
    • Protective provisions for the child victim
    • Criminal justice tools for investigation and prosecution

    Using letter grades, the report analyzes how well States have incorporated the six areas of law into their statutes. It also tracks development in State laws over the past 5 years and notes that all States have made improvements in how their laws address the issue of child sex trafficking. The report concludes with a series of issue papers that provide specific examples of State laws that address the policy areas.

    Shared Hope International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing an end to sex trafficking. 2015 Protected Innocence Challenge: A Legal Framework of Protection for the Nation's Children is available at http://sharedhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/PIC2015REPORT2.pdf (4 MB).
     

  • April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Every April, the Children's Bureau observes National Child Abuse Prevention Month to encourage public awareness of child abuse and neglect, recommit efforts and resources aimed at protecting children and strengthening families, and promote community involvement through activities that support the cause. The theme of this year's Prevention Month initiative, "Building Community, Building Hope," also mirrors the theme of the 20th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, which will be hosted by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) from August 31 to September 2, 2016, in Washington, DC.

    The updated 2016 Prevention Resource Guide: Building Community, Building Hope, developed through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau, OCAN, Child Welfare Information Gateway, and the FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, is intended to support child welfare service providers in their work with parents, caregivers, and their children to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

    The 2016 Prevention Resource Guide has been updated with new information while maintaining much of the content structure of past guides. New features this year include the following:

    • The 2016 Prevention Resource Guide has been refreshed with a new name, theme, and design.
    • Chapter 2, "Working With Families Using the Protective Factors," contains two new vignettes to help providers put the protective factors into practice, examples of how States are implementing protective factors in their programs, and questions to explore with parents.
    • Chapter 3, "Using Protective Factors as a Framework for Your Community Partnership," continues to provide information on how to successfully work with community partners, including new tips for working with immigrant/refugee families.
    • Chapter 4, "Protecting Children," contains updated child maltreatment statistics as well as information on how to work with parents who have a history of trauma; how to support new Americans, as well as immigrant and refugee families; and information on human trafficking of children.
    • Chapter 5, "Tip Sheets for Parents and Caregivers," contains two new tip sheets—in English and Spanish—that can be distributed to parents and caregivers: "Building Resilience in Children and Youth" and "Parenting After Domestic Violence."

    The information and resources available in the Prevention Guide can be used year round to help professionals and families prevent maltreatment and work toward child and family well-being. For more information on National Child Abuse Prevention Month, or to view or order a copy of the 2016 Prevention Resource Guide, visit the Prevention Month website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/.

    The 2016 Prevention Resource Guide and the activity calendars are also available on the Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect section of the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/.

     

  • Strengthening Families Scripted Curriculum

    Strengthening Families Scripted Curriculum

    Strengthening Families is an approach, validated by research, that seeks to increase family strengths, support child development, and reduce the likelihood of child maltreatment. It focuses on engaging families, programs, and communities in building five protective factors:

    • Parental resilience
    • Social connections
    • Knowledge of parenting and child development
    • Concrete support in times of need
    • Social and emotional competence of children

    Implementation of the Strengthening Families approach occurs through small but meaningful changes in daily child welfare practice, encouraged by shifts at the program level. In order to help service providers effectively interact with and support families in building protective factors, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), in conjunction with multiple jurisdictions already employing Strengthening Families in their child welfare systems, developed a scripted curriculum that presents the Protective Factors Framework and examples of the small yet important changes that child welfare staff can institute in their work.

    The curriculum was designed as a tool for the training and professional development of the child welfare workforce on the Strengthening Families approach. It contains a variety of instructional methods, materials, and tips for trainers; handouts for participants; and training activities, all of which are organized into the following eight modules: 

    • Introduction to Strengthening Families: A Protective Factors Framework
    • Understanding the Strengthening Families Protective Factors
    • Youth Thrive: A Protective Factors Approach for Older Youth
    • Trauma and Brain Development: A Protective Factors Approach
    • Making Small but Significant Changes in Child Welfare Practice
    • Taking a Community Approach to Strengthening Families
    • The Research Behind Strengthening Families
    • Tools to Support Strengthening Families Implementation

    Each structured module defines its purpose and learning objective(s) and contains the necessary materials relevant to that topic. Estimated instruction time for each module is listed; the shortest module is expected to take 30 minutes, the longest may take up to 3 hours. While the curriculum can be used as a standalone training tool, jurisdictions may benefit more by integrating and adapting it into their existing training efforts. For more information on Strengthening Families and the Protective Factors Framework scripted curriculum, visit the CSSP website at http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengtheningfamilies/practice.

    Access the Scripted Curriculum Overview at http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengtheningfamilies/practice/body/Scripted-Curriculum-Overview.pdf (72 KB).
     

  • National Commission Delivers Final Report on Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

    National Commission Delivers Final Report on Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

    The 2012 Protect Our Kids Act established the national Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) to study and develop recommendations for ending child maltreatment fatalities in this country. The commission has just released its report, Within Our Reach: A National Strategy to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, which is the culmination of 2 years of public meetings, research, and input from a host of stakeholders.

    The commission, made up of 12 commissioners (6 appointed each by the president and Congress), held 11 public meetings around the country to hear testimony from State and Tribal leaders, child welfare staff, law enforcement, medical professionals, advocates, and parents and families. They also heard from professionals in other safety-conscious industries, like the airline industry. They met with a number of stakeholders, including advocacy groups and government agencies, and they received written testimony from additional organizations and individuals. All of this information, combined with staff research, led to the development of the final report, which includes both findings and recommendations.

    The commission learned that as many as eight children die each day from abuse or neglect, although the exact number is not known. The commission also learned that the great majority of these children are infants and toddlers. As many as half are not known to child protective services (CPS) when they die, but almost all have been seen by a medical professional or other adults who might have been in a position to report possible abuse or neglect. In addition, children who have been reported to CPS as possible victims of abuse or neglect (regardless of the disposition of the report) are at especially high risk.

    In response to these findings, the report offers 10 major recommendations:

    1. Every State should undertake a retrospective review of child abuse and neglect fatalities from the previous 5 years to identify family and systemic circumstances that led to fatalities.
    2. Every State should review its policies on screening reports of abuse and neglect to ensure that the children most at risk for fatality—those under age 3—receive the appropriate response, with heightened urgency for those under the age of 1.  
    3. The administration should lead an initiative to support the sharing of real-time information among key partners such as CPS and law enforcement.
    4. State receipt of funding from the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) should be contingent on existing child death review teams also reviewing life-threatening injuries (also called "near fatalities") caused by child maltreatment.
    5. All other programs—such as Medicaid and home-visiting programs—should be held accountable for ensuring their services are focused on reducing abuse and neglect fatalities.
    6. Federal legislation should include a minimum standard designating which professionals should be mandatory reporters of abuse or neglect, and these professionals should receive quality training.
    7. The Children's Bureau should be elevated to report directly to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and it should have new responsibilities and authority.
    8. Using information from their reviews of fatalities, all States should be required to develop and implement a comprehensive State plan to prevent child abuse and neglect fatalities.
    9. Congress should conduct joint committee hearings on child safety, provide financial resources to support States, and encourage innovation to reduce fatalities. While all commissioners agreed that funding is needed to support these efforts, no consensus was achieved on the dollar amount of funding to be provided.
    10. Congress should support flexible funding in existing entitlement programs.

    The commission's recommendations reflect a public health approach to child safety that engages a broad spectrum of community agencies and systems to identify, test, and evaluate strategies to prevent harm to children. This approach is based on three interrelated core components: improved leadership and accountability, decisions grounded in better data and research, and multidisciplinary support for families.

    Though the commission's work has concluded, it is hoped that the report and its recommendations, if implemented, lead to an end to child maltreatment fatalities in this country.

    To read the commission's report, go to https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/cecanf-final-report.

    For more information on CECANF, visit https://eliminatechildabusefatalities.sites.usa.gov.  
     

  • Developmental Relationships in Families

    Developmental Relationships in Families

    To highlight the importance of developmental relationships in improving outcomes for children and families, the Search Institute developed Don't Forget the Families: The Missing Piece in America's Effort to Help All Children Succeed. Developmental relationships help young people gain the psychological and social skills essential for life success. The report describes the following five essential actions in the developmental relationship framework, as described from young people's perspective, and how they impact children and families:

    1. Express Care: Show that you like me and want the best for me.
    2. Challenge Growth: Insist that I try to continuously improve.
    3. Provide Support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals.
    4. Share Power: Hear my voice and let me share in making decisions.
    5. Expand Possibility: Expand my horizons and connect me to opportunities.

    The report features a chapter meant to be used as a stand-alone resource for parents, which includes tips and concrete activities to help parents build their family's developmental relationships in the five essential action categories. It also includes a study of more than 1,000 parents of children ages 3 through 13 that explores developmental relationships in their families. Additionally, the report provides strategies for schools, organizations, and communities to work with families and assist them in enhancing their developmental relationships.

    To view the report, visit http://www.search-institute.org/research/developmental-relationships/families.
     

    Recent Issues

  • April 2024

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

  • March 2024

    Spotlight on Diversity and Racial Equity in Child Welfare

    Spotlight on Diversity and Racial Equity in Child Welfare

News From the Children's Bureau

This month, we share two products that detail the implementation and evaluation activities described in the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) Approach and a brief highlighting findings from qualitative interviews with participants in the RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower) Initiative.

  • Commissioner's Page

    Commissioner's Page

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

    Each year during the month of April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM) reminds us that we all have a role to play in helping to prevent the maltreatment of children. As noted in the 2014 Child Maltreatment Report, the number and rate of victims of maltreatment have fluctuated during the past 5 years. Although comparing the national estimate of victims from 2010 (698,000) to 2014 (702,000) shows an increase of less than 1 percent, the number of victims has risen steadily over the past few years, reversing a long trend of decline. This reminds us that a great deal of work needs to be done to lower this number, and each and every one of us has the opportunity to lend a hand in this important work. We know that families where children are at risk of child maltreatment also have higher rates of substance use and domestic violence. In 2014, 26 percent of children who were victims of maltreatment had at least one caregiver who struggled with drug abuse, and 26.6 percent of victims came from families experiencing domestic violence. It is important that we have an array of prevention services available in our communities to support families before they become involved with the child welfare system.

    The 2016 NCAPM theme, "Building Community, Building Hope," points to the impact all community members can make in securing child and family well-being. Visit the initiative website to learn more and to access the 2016 Prevention Resource Guide: Building Community, Building Hope, where you will find resources and information to help child welfare professionals engage communities in prevention efforts. Involving cross-sector organizations, programs, and community members in the conversation around maltreatment prevention can help ensure that families have strong and wide-reaching support nets and integrated services. ACYF supports many programs and initiatives working toward a more holistic approach to maltreatment prevention and the promotion of well-being for our nation's families.

    For example, ACYF manages the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grant program. The purpose of the program is:

    • To support community-based efforts to develop, operate, expand, enhance, and coordinate initiatives, programs, and activities to prevent child abuse and neglect and to support the coordination of resources and activities to better strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect
    • To foster understanding, appreciation, and knowledge of diverse populations to effectively prevent and treat child abuse and neglect

    Funded in every State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, CBCAP programs are encouraged to blend Federal, State, and private funds to support a coordinated array of community-based prevention and family support activities. Examples of activities funded by CBCAP include voluntary home visiting programs, parent education and skills development, respite and crisis care, parent mutual support, community outreach, referrals to health and development services, family resource centers, and other family support programs. The program encourages the use of evidence-based and evidence-informed prevention programs and the integration of protective factors into interventions with children, youth, and families. In addition, the program emphasizes both interagency collaboration and parent involvement. To learn more, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/cbcap-state-grants or http://friendsnrc.org/.

    ACYF's Family and Youth Services Bureau recently awarded Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) Grants to several Native American Tribes (including Alaska Native Villages) and Tribal organizations. These grants aim to assist Tribes in efforts to increase public awareness about and prevention of family violence, domestic violence, and dating violence. In addition, the grants will help provide immediate shelter and supportive services for victims of family violence, domestic violence, or dating violence, and their dependents (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/resource/fvpsa-tribal-award-2015). To learn more about domestic violence services provided by these State and Tribal grantee communities, see http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/resource/state-tribal-dv-data-2015.

    The FVPSA Program supports an online resource center, Promising Futures: Best Practices for Serving Children, Youth, and Parents Experiencing Domestic Violence (Promising Futures), to connect service providers and case workers to research, training, and evidence-informed interventions. Promising Futures focuses on improving the social and emotional well-being of children, youth, and abused parents facing domestic violence. Service providers can access literature reviews, infographics, interventions, and program profiles to increase their knowledge of current practice and achieve better outcomes for families. To learn more, please review the following resources:

    Lastly, the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health offers foundational training and consultation for domestic violence programs and mental health clinicians. The Child Trauma Capacity Building Project provides domestic violence programs with a trauma-informed, developmentally sensitive framework for working with children and their non-offending parents. This 12-hour curriculum builds core competencies for domestic violence programs and provides practical tools and handouts for parents and staff. To learn more, visit http://www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org/dvmhpi/the-child-trauma-capacity-building-project/.

    From August 31 to September 2 of this year, community leaders will gather at the 20th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, which will focus on "Building Community, Building Hope" in acknowledgement of the power communities have in solving the problem of child abuse and neglect. We must continue to integrate our work so that families receive the help and support they need, when they need it. To learn more, visit the conference website at http://2016nccan.com/cfp.html.

    Helping children and families thrive in safe and stable environments should be a priority goal in every community across the nation. Supportive communities lead to healthier and happier families, who can help shape a community's culture of hope and problem-solving partnerships.

     

  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    The Children's Bureau website hosts information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more.

    Recent additions to the site include:

    Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb.


     

  • Permanency Innovations Initiative Approach: Implementation and Evaluation

    Permanency Innovations Initiative Approach: Implementation and Evaluation

    Throughout the Federal Government, there is a push to build an evidence base and use it to improve the effectiveness of human services programs. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, developed the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) in response to the need for more evidence-supported interventions. In fiscal year 2010, ACF awarded grants to six organizations to implement and evaluate innovative, evidence-supported interventions that would help children leave foster care in less than 3 years and add to the knowledge base in child welfare. The initiative also developed an integrated, phase-based framework, the PII Approach, to guide implementation and evaluation activities for building evidence and preparing interventions for broader use.

    The Children's Bureau and the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation are excited to share two foundational products that provide greater detail about the implementation and evaluation activities described in the PII Approach:

    • PII Approach to Evaluation emphasizes the role of evaluation at the beginning and throughout the lifespan of the project in supporting data-driven decision-making. Additional evaluation briefs (referenced in the PII Approach to Evaluation) will be available in the near future.
    • Development, Implementation, and Assessment Approach focuses on best practices in implementation science. Tested and refined in real-world child welfare settings, this approach helps organizations develop or adapt innovations and implement them with fidelity and for sustainable change. Additional products and tools that assist with applying the Approach will be available soon.

    PII Approach to Evaluation is available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/pii_approach_to_evaluation_brief_508.pdf (263 KB).

    Development, Implementation, and Assessment Approach is available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/develop_implement_assess_approach.pdf (603 KB).

    More information on PII, including the grantees and the PII Approach, is available on the Children's Bureau's website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pii-project-resources.

     

  • Youth Qualitative Interview Findings

    Youth Qualitative Interview Findings

    A brief from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) highlights findings from qualitative interviews with nine participants in the RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower) Initiative. One of six Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) grantees, RISE focuses on reducing time in long-term foster care and increasing permanency options for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. RISE is administered by the Los Angeles LGBT Center in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, plus more than 20 community and foster care agencies. PII is a Federal, multisite demonstration project aimed at transforming child welfare policy and practice through increasing evidence-supported interventions.

    Interview findings formed part of an initial evaluation of the PII project. Interviewees' comments focused on their opinions of RISE, their experiences in foster care, and ways their lives changed as they received services. They contributed to the project's goal of measuring the short-term outcomes of decreased heterosexism and transphobia, and monitoring participants' understanding of RISE interventions.

    Two RISE interventions support and educate LGBTQ children and youth, parents, caregivers, and child welfare professionals: a Care Coordination Team (CCT) and Outreach and Relationship Building services. The nine youth interviewed for this evaluation were participating in a CCT, which consists of the following:

    • The facilitator implements the plan of care, which includes emotional, LGBTQ identity, and legal permanency components.
    • The youth specialist engages and encourages LGBTQ youth with identity development and helps to build a trust-based relationship with them through a positive youth development model.
    • The family finder extends the support system for LGBTQ youth through identifying and locating adults who can support them.
    • The parent partner educates, supports, and strategizes with adults in the lives of LGBTQ youth to minimize rejection and capitalize on ways to support them.

    The brief shares key findings from the nine interviews related to their experiences receiving RISE services, such as the following:

    • RISE staff. Youth spoke about feeling comfortable and open with their RISE team, becoming close to them, receiving support and understanding, and feeling like their team really cared about them.
    • Someone who understands. Youth specified that they liked talking to someone who was also LGBTQ and thus knows where they're coming from.
    • Family relationships. Youth brought up instances where RISE helped them connect with their families.
    • LGBTQ identity. Most youth said that participating in RISE helped them realize, define, or be able to express their LGBTQ identity.

    The authors conclude that the qualitative interviews, conducted during summer 2015, captured both a positive effect on youth as well as improvement in their natural and formal supports. The evaluation team indicated that their sample of nine interviewees was a nonrepresentative sample of CCT youth participants; therefore, a second set of interviews will be conducted to validate their findings. A final report on formative evaluation outcomes of the RISE initiative will be available from OPRE in 2016.

    Access the brief, Findings From the RISE Youth Qualitative Interviews, at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/rise_youth_interview_brief_2016_final_2_b508.pdf (537 KB).
     

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

We highlight two grantee site visits this month from the Bureau's Family Connections Grants: Child Welfare/TANF Collaboration in Kinship Navigation Programs cluster.

  • Site Visit: Kinship Interdisciplinary Navigation Technologically-Advanced Model

    Site Visit: Kinship Interdisciplinary Navigation Technologically-Advanced Model

    In 2012, the Children's Bureau awarded seven 3-year grants for the Family Connections Grants: Child Welfare/TANF Collaboration in Kinship Navigation Programs cluster. Kinship navigator programs support connections between family members and children and youth who are in, or at risk of entering, foster care by helping kin caregivers identify and access appropriate and meaningful services. The Children's Home, Inc. (CHI) in Tampa, FL, and its partners received an award to implement the Kinship Interdisciplinary Navigation Technologically-Advanced Model (KIN-Tech).

    The following are CHI's key partners for this project:

    • Dr. Kerry Littlewood of AAJ Research and Evaluation (the evaluator)
    • Florida Department of Children and Families, Division of Economic Self Sufficiency
    • Eckerd Community Alternatives
    • Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County
    • Children's Board of Hillsborough County
    • Family Enrichment Center
    • Bay Area Legal Services, Inc.
    • REACHUP, Inc.
    • St. Anthony Hospital Community Parish Nursing Program
    • Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Child Protective Investigations Division
    • Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Child Protection Investigation Division
    • Operation PAR, Inc.

    This project includes three primary components:

    • Peer-to-peer navigation: Kinship navigators who are grandparents or other relatives hired by CHI connect kin caregivers to resources and services and help them navigate the various systems (e.g., child welfare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF], education).
    • One-e-App: This web-based system allows kin caregivers to enter information about their situations and determines their benefit eligibility. Automating this process allows the kinship navigators to focus more of their time on building relationships and providing emotional support. 
    • Interdisciplinary Team: The team, which features professionals from various disciplines, works with high-risk families who have multiple needs. It provides a collaborative infrastructure that allows service providers to work together to solve problems and connect kin caregivers to the resources and services they need. These teams also give kin caregivers opportunities to speak with experts working together for a common purpose.

    The project analyzed the cost effectiveness of its work, and preliminary results indicate that the project is a low-cost program that delivers a high return on investment. The final cost analysis will be available with the final project report.

    For more information, contact Larry Cooper, L.C.S.W., project director, at Lcooper@childrenshome.org. The full site visit report for this project will soon be available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/management/funding/funding-sources/federal-funding/cb-funding/cbreports/.

    The Kinship Interdisciplinary Navigation Technologically-Advanced Model is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CF0050). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from site visits made on behalf of the Children's Bureau.
     

  • Site Visit: Arizona Kinship Navigator Project

    Site Visit: Arizona Kinship Navigator Project

    In 2012, the Children’s Bureau awarded seven 3-year grants for the Family Connection Grants: Child Welfare/TANF Collaboration in Kinship Navigation Programs cluster. These kinship navigation projects support connections between family members and children and youth who are in, or are at risk of entering, foster care by helping kin caregivers identify and access appropriate and meaningful services. One of these grants was awarded to the Arizona's Children Association (AzCA) to implement the Arizona Kinship Navigator Project (AzKN). Through this project, AzCA proposed to increase the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and youth in kinship care by providing services to formal and informal caregivers. AzKN has five objectives:

    • Ensure kinship families have access to the benefits for which they are eligible
    • Provide linkages to needed legal services
    • Navigate existing community support systems
    • Strengthen kinship families involved with the child welfare system
    • Enhance other community-based and government responses for kinship families

    Project partners include the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS); Arizona Department of Economic Security, including its Family Assistance Administration and Division of Aging and Adult Services; Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors; Casey Family Programs; the Children’s Law Center; Seeds of Hope; and Southern Arizona Legal Aid. The evaluation is being conducted by LeCroy & Milligan Associates, Inc.
    The project had several components, including helping kin caregivers access Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) child-only grants, providing information sessions for kin, helping kin obtain legal assistance, coordinating support groups, and connecting kin to existing community support systems.

    The project evaluation was still ongoing at the time of the site visit, but the evaluators already recognized the potential cost savings of the project to DCS. The evaluators estimate that DCS saves $4.4 million annually on case management for the more than 1,800 children involved with the project who may have been diverted from entering formal foster care. Additionally, if those 1,800 children who entered into formal kinship care settings had entered congregate care instead, it would have cost DCS an estimated $72.9 million annually. The evaluators also estimated the cost savings to DCS if the nearly 1,400 children in informal kinship care settings who were served by the project had entered family foster care ($11.2 million annually) or congregate care ($54.9 million annually) instead.

    For more information, contact Julie Treinen, project director, at JTreinen@arizonaschildren.org, or visit the project's website at http://arizonakinship.org/. The full site visit report for this project will soon be available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/management/funding/funding-sources/federal-funding/cb-funding/cbreports/.

    The Arizona Kinship Navigator Project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CF0048101). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from site visits made on behalf of the Children's Bureau.
     

Child Welfare Research

Find a brief examining the educational outcomes of homeless and formerly homeless students, a report on repeat child maltreatment in Alaska, and more.

  • The Lasting Educational Impact of Homelessness

    The Lasting Educational Impact of Homelessness

    New data point to the lasting impact of homelessness on the academic performance of students in New York City's (NYC's) public schools. A recent policy brief issued by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness notes that the number of homeless students in NYC schools increased by 64 percent since 2008, and that during the 2013–2014 school year, 11 percent of the total student population was either homeless or had experienced homelessness within the previous 3 years. The brief examines the educational outcomes of homeless and formerly homeless students and finds that these students continue having difficulties in overcoming educational challenges even after they achieve more stable housing situations.

    Some key data points include the following:

    • In 2014, currently homeless students showed proficiency rates almost 20 points lower on both English and math tests than classmates with stable housing.
    • Lower performance continued for students that were currently housed but had experienced homelessness in the previous 3 school years, with only 20 percent of formerly homeless students performing at grade level or higher in math (only a 3 percentage-point improvement over currently homeless students).
    • Many students first experience housing instability when they are very young, often years before they participate in standardized testing.

    The brief hypothesizes that the deficit may be the result of impaired social and emotional development caused by the trauma of being homeless, or not having learned certain critical skills in early childhood as a result of financial and social instability. Regardless of the cause, the brief suggests that focusing on homeless and formerly homeless students may provide NYC schools a crucial opportunity for designing solutions to meet their support needs and help them overcome educational deficits.

    Aftershocks: The Lasting Impact of Homelessness on Student Achievement is available at http://www.icphusa.org/PDF/reports/Aftershocks_2_3_A_FIN.pdf (382 KB).
     

  • Children's Rights to Counsel in Juvenile Courts

    Children's Rights to Counsel in Juvenile Courts

    While children involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems generally have a team of child welfare and other professionals working on their cases, they are often not afforded their own attorneys in juvenile court, where critical decisions regarding their permanency and well-being are made. In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) endorsed the Model Act for Children in Abuse, Neglect and Dependency Proceedings (Model Act) (PDF - 91 KB), which promotes client-directed counsel for all children in State proceedings related to dependency and the termination of parental rights. A recent brief by First Focus and the State Policy Advocacy Reform Center discusses how the Model Act could affect outcomes for children and juvenile court systems. The brief addresses the following topics:

    • The unique and difficult role of juvenile courts
    • How to measure the impact of client-directed counsel for abused and neglected children
    • How to define and measure success with the ecology of the juvenile court
    • Implications for policy and practice

    The brief concludes by stating that, while it may be difficult to provide effective representation to children with high attorney caseloads, enhancing legal representation for children could positively impact outcomes involving due process and well-being.

    To access the brief, Measuring the Impact of Children's Rights to Counsel: Advancing Child Due Process and Well-Being in the Juvenile Court Ecology, visit http://childwelfaresparc.org/measuring-the-impact-of-childrens-rights-to-counsel-advancing-child-due-process-and-well-being-in-the-juvenile-court-ecology/.
     

  • Out-of-Home Placement and Crossover Youth

    Out-of-Home Placement and Crossover Youth

    The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University published a policy brief looking at the effect of out-of-home placement (OOHP) on youth involved with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The brief specifically considers the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) as a means to improve outcomes for youth involved in both systems, or "crossover" youth. A research- and strength-based approach, CYPM aims to help child welfare, juvenile justice, and related agencies and professionals in implementing policies and practices that better target the needs of crossover youth.

    The brief examines the relationship between delinquent behavior and OOHP and how professionals can identify and serve those most at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. Key topics addressed include the following:

    • The role of OOHP in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and the importance of reducing their inappropriate use
    • The relationship between OOHPs and delinquency
    • The "child welfare bias" that a youth with child welfare system history may face upon contact with the juvenile justice system
    • The ways in which the CYPM addresses OOHP
    • How one jurisdiction has addressed OOHP through the implementation of the CYPM

    The brief suggests OOHP may be overused, and that other more cost-effective and potentially successful options should be investigated. Because OOHP is associated with a higher rate of delinquency, the CYPM calls for an early emphasis on prevention and intervention to keep youth with their family of origin. When placement with the family is not an option, the CYPM suggests first exploring kin placement with ample training and supports, and then foster care as the next most promising option.

    Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) in Brief: Out-of-Home Placements and Crossover Youth, by Karen M. Koviloski, Elizabeth Barnett, and Samuel Abbott, is available at http://cjjr.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/CYPM-in-Brief-Out-of-Home-Placements-and-Crossover-Youth.pdf (839 KB).
     

  • Examining Repeat Child Maltreatment in Alaska

    Examining Repeat Child Maltreatment in Alaska

    A new report on repeat child maltreatment in Alaska challenges the practice of drawing only on substantiated data and suggests that relying on this defined data set may underrepresent the prevalence of repeat incidents of abuse or neglect. Alaska has consistently ranked among the States with the highest percentages of children that suffer repeat maltreatment in the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR), and the Office of Children Services (OCS) is interested in understanding the full extent to which repeat maltreatment occurs. However, OCS asserts that the existing CFSR measures of maltreatment are inadequate for capturing a true picture of repeat maltreatment in Alaska.

    In 2013, 42 percent of Alaska's reported incidents went uninvestigated in an average month and only 12 percent were substantiated. Drawing on case-level data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the report assessed incidents of repeat maltreatment between 2005 and 2013, and determined the following:

    • Assessing maltreatment trends over the long haul is best for highlighting the incidence of repeat maltreatment, which often takes place over several years.
    • Over two-thirds of all OCS investigations involve children who have already been reported as maltreatment victims at least once.
    • Looking at all investigations, and not just those that have been substantiated, reveals a higher rate of repeat maltreatment.
    • More than 40 percent of victims are abused when they are less than a year old, and maltreatment starts at a very young age among those who are repeatedly abused or neglected.
    • The most common form of reported maltreatment is neglect, accounting for about 75 percent of reports.
    • Roughly an equal number of girls and boys are victims of repeat maltreatment in Alaska.

    Repeat Maltreatment in Alaska: Assessment and Exploration of Alternative Measures, by Diwakar Vadapalli and Jessica Passini of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska and funded by University of Alaska Foundation, Alaska Children's Trust, and First National Bank of Alaska, is available at http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu/Publications/2015-RepeatMaltreatmentAlaska.pdf (1 MB).
     

Strategies and Tools for Practice

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

  • Fostering Multiple Positive Outcomes

    Fostering Multiple Positive Outcomes

    A recent Child Trends research brief examines several social services programs that have been evaluated and found to have impacts on multiple well-being outcomes. Intervention programs in social services systems tend to focus on specific issues and sets of outcomes according to each program's primary focus area, such as drug use, crime, teen pregnancy, or academic success. However, practitioners often find that a variety of behaviors and issues can share similar root causes. For example, the brief discusses, a child or youth's health issues and outcomes can have an effect on his or her academic success, and academic success can impact substance use. Therefore, interventions designed to promote specific outcomes by addressing root causes may inadvertently improve outcomes in multiple well-being areas.

    The brief lists 14 programs, describing the structure and goal of each program, how each evaluated its impact on multiple outcomes through randomized controlled trials, and what other outcomes were affected. The programs varied greatly and include multigenerational programs for parents and children and both long- and short-term interventions. Highlighted programs include the following:

    • Familias Unidas: A family-based, parent-focused intervention for Hispanic adolescents and their families. The program has been found to have impact on adolescent problem behaviors, sexual risk behaviors, drug use, and family functioning.
    • Guiding Good Choices: A family-focused parenting program intended to reduce the likelihood that children will use drugs or alcohol. The program found that children experienced reduced growth in depressive symptoms and multiple substance use and reduced growth in alcohol use several years after program completion.
    • Keep Safe: A program for youth in foster care aimed at preventing serious problem behaviors in adolescence by targeting externalizing and internalizing symptoms during the transition to middle school. Evaluations found that the program was effective in reducing internalizing and externalizing problems, marijuana and tobacco use, and sexual risk behaviors.
    • Multisystemic Therapy: A home- and community-based intervention that aims to improve outcomes for families of high-risk youth, especially those already involved in the juvenile justice system. Evaluations show significant and long-term positive impacts on recidivism rates, frequency of arrest, and severity of offense, as well as impacts on marijuana use; increases in family cohesion, adaptability, and supportiveness; and a significant decrease in emotional negativity following conflict.

    The brief indicates that programs that improve multiple outcomes are indeed efficient and deserve more emphasis. However, to ensure optimal effectiveness of evidence-based programs impacting multiple outcomes, it is vital that implementation is as faithful as possible to the tested and effective program model.

    Access the brief, Social Service Programs That Foster Multiple Positive Outcomes, at http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-48MultipleOutcomesBrief.pdf (1 MB).

     

  • Special Initiative Article: National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    Special Initiative Article: National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    Child maltreatment can take many forms—neglect, emotional and physical abuse, and sexual abuse. During Federal fiscal year 2014, there were over 48,000 instances of child sexual abuse in the United States.1 The trauma from this maltreatment can have a lifelong effect on a child's well-being. Fortunately, there are many resources available to families and child welfare professionals that help with recognition, treatment, and prevention of sexual abuse. In addition, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is nationally observed during April, bringing groups and organizations across the country together to spread awareness and resources for prevention and treatment. This year's theme, "Prevention Is Possible," aims to help move people away from the mentality that there isn't a solution or, if there is, it is impossible to achieve. By promoting safety, accountability, thoughtful policies, and healthy relationships, prevention becomes part of a broader societal change.

    Experiencing childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse, puts children at risk for poor mental and emotional health later in life. Since children are more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know and trust, it is important for professionals and interested parties to recognize the signs of abuse and teach prevention methods to children and their families. While awareness and prevention are priorities, trauma-informed practice is just as important. As the short- and long-term effects of trauma have become better understood, more specially designed programs and services have emerged. Visit Child Welfare Information Gateway's Trauma-Informed Practice webpage at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/responding/trauma for information and resources on assessing and treating trauma. Other resources professionals can leverage include:

    Finally, possibly the most important step one can take to help children who experience sexual abuse is to listen and believe them when they speak up. Many prevention programs rely on children reporting to adults they trust. With these and other tools and strategies, prevention is possible.

    1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau. (2016). Child maltreatment 2014. Available from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/child-maltreatment

     



     

  • Intervention and Program Catalog

    Intervention and Program Catalog

    The National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Prevention (QIC-AG) developed the QIC-AG Intervention and Prevention Catalog, which provides evidence-based practices and programs that focus on the needs of children in foster care transitioning to permanency through adoption or guardianship, or those families who have already found permanency. The catalog contains over 100 programs or interventions organized around adoption/guardianship relevance, level of evidence, target population, and the focus of the intervention. This searchable collection was created through evaluations of evidence-based review systems, databases, clearinghouses, registries, and catalogs, as well as through consultation with experts such as State Adoption Managers.

    To access or submit to the QIC-AG Intervention and Prevention Catalog, visit the QIC-AG website at http://qic-ag.org/introduction-qic-ag-intervention-and-program-catalog/.
     

Resources

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

  • Wyoming Resources for At-Risk Youth, Families

    Wyoming Resources for At-Risk Youth, Families

    Resource Guide for Children Youth and Families, a handbook for community members involved with the Wyoming child welfare system, provides a broad framework of accessible community services for at-risk youth, families, and other concerned parties and community members. This guide may be used as a tool to help identify what services may be most appropriate and how they can be delivered.

    The resource guide provides detailed charts that outline risk factors and common behaviors that correspond to six levels on a continuum of care; these are used to coordinate the appropriate services and level of care required by children and their families. The charts outline and filter an array of service interventions and effective behavioral models for specific populations. While the guide addresses many risk factors, behaviors, and interventions, it is recommended that additional interventions and options be considered, as circumstances may differ.

    Appendices include various State resources and programs, including youth emergency services, residential facilities, sanction guidelines, risk assessment, level of care assessment, and an overview of additional services provided by the Wyoming Department of Families. 

    The Resource Guide for Children Youth and Families was developed by the Juvenile Services Division of the Wyoming Department of Family Services, with assistance of the Protective Services Division of the Wyoming Department of Family Services and Wyoming Guardians ad Litem Program. It is available on the Wyoming Juvenile Services Division website at http://www.wyjuvenilejustice.com/_pdfs/2015/Nov/UNLOCKED%20Resource%20Guide%2011-18-15.pdf (1 MB).
     

  • Focus on Foster Families App

    Focus on Foster Families App

    Foster families, including foster youth, need a great deal of support in helping them navigate life's daily challenges. UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center's FOCUS on Foster Families program aims to help foster families develop skills and strengths to overcome these challenges. Targeted skills include the following:

    • Problem-solving
    • Goal setting
    • Communication
    • Emotional regulation
    • Managing trauma and stress reminders

    The downloadable FOCUS on Foster Families app provides users with easily accessible resources parents can always have on hand. These include:

    • Tips, answers to common questions, and encouragement from foster caregivers, youth, and experts
    • Demonstration videos sharing key strategies for dealing with common challenges
    • Interactive video games for youth designed to build skills in problem-solving and emotional regulation

    To learn more about FOCUS on Foster Families, visit the Nathanson Family Resilience Center's website at http://nfrc.ucla.edu/focus-on-foster-families.

    The app is available for download via the iTunes app store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/focus-on-foster-families/id943715040?mt=8 and the Google Play store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.focusproject.foff&hl=en
     

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

    Conferences

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

    May 2016

    June 2016

    July 2016

    Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm.
     

  • Juvenile Diversion Certificate Program

    Juvenile Diversion Certificate Program

    The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy is now accepting applications for its 2016 Juvenile Diversion Certificate Program. The program provides an opportunity for individuals and teams of law enforcement officers, probation staff, prosecutors, school officials, judges, policymakers, and other local leaders to receive indepth training and guidance from national experts on juvenile diversion policies, practices, and programs. The goal is to help these professionals improve juvenile diversion programs in their jurisdictions and reduce formal processing and incarceration, improve public safety, avoid unnecessary spending, limit harmful consequences of youth's exposure to the juvenile justice system, and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the system.

    Participants who complete the program will receive an executive certificate from Georgetown University, membership into CJJR's Fellows Network, and continued support.

    The certificate program will take place from August 2 to 5, 2016, and the application deadline is April 29, 2016. For more information, including application guidelines and tuition rates and subsidies, and to download an application packet, visit http://cjjr.georgetown.edu/certificate-programs/diversion/
     

  • Statewide Systems Reform Program Webinar

    Statewide Systems Reform Program Webinar

    Last fall, Children and Family Futures hosted a webinar by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP's) Statewide Systems Reform Program, a 3-year program to help five States expand the scale of their local family drug courts to serve a larger portion of the child welfare population. The webinar, titled "Leading Systems Change Through Expansion and Infusion," describes the program's goals, planning and implementation stages, and lessons learned, as well as the following topics:

    • Barriers of taking family drug courts to scale and the solutions underway at the State level to overcome those barriers
    • Opportunities of the infusion approach and the strategies undertaken by State leaders to change the larger child welfare systems
    • Utilization of a Change Leader as part of the technical assistance provided to each of the awarded States to implement their strategic plan

    To download a copy of the OJJDP Guide to States: Recommendations for Developing Family Drug Court Guidelines, visit http://www.cffutures.org/files/publications/FDC-Guidelines.pdf (3 MB). For more information and to access the webinar, visit http://www.cffutures.org/presentations/webinars/leading-systems-change-through-expansion-and-infusion.