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May 2006Vol. 7, No. 4Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

Issue Spotlight

  • Change a Lifetime During National Foster Care Month

    Change a Lifetime During National Foster Care Month

    National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to recognize the 170,000 families across the nation who provide homes and care for the more than 500,000 children whose parents cannot care for them. With the slogan, "Change a Lifetime," the Foster Care Month sponsoring organizations hope to bring national attention to foster families as well as to the many ongoing opportunities for helping children in foster care.

    The National Foster Care Month partnership offers materials to help groups and individuals participate in the campaign. Factsheets, toolkits, and a media kit are available on their website. The site lists 21 specific opportunities for "sharing your heart, opening your home, and offering your help"; some of these include mentoring a child, helping a teen transition to adulthood, providing respite care, and becoming a court-appointed legal advocate.

    The latest statistics on foster care in the United States are also posted on the website. They show:

    • On September 30, 2004, 518,000 children were in foster care.
    • The average amount of time these children had been in the system was 30 months.
    • Their average age was 10.1 years.
    • In 2004, 24 percent of youth in foster care were living with relatives (kinship care).
    • Of those who were adopted from foster care in 2004, 59 percent were adopted by their foster parents, and another 24 percent were adopted by relatives.
    • Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people age out of the foster care system.

    National Foster Care Month is a joint effort of Casey Family Programs; Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services; Black Administrators in Child Welfare; Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Child Welfare League of America; Connect for Kids; Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; APHSA/National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators; National Association of Social Workers; National CASA; National Foster Care Coalition; National Foster Parent Association; and the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning at the Hunter College School of Social Work, a service of the Children's Bureau.

    To find out more about National Foster Care Month, visit:

  • Youth Create Their Own Emancipation Center

    Youth Create Their Own Emancipation Center

    Involving youth in planning for their futures is one of the cornerstones of youth development. Ten youth in Napa, CA, recently took that involvement one step further by creating their own center for teens transitioning from foster care to independence—the first of its kind in the nation. The center, called V.O.I.C.E.S. (Voice Our Independent Choices for Emancipation Support), was started last fall by teens and young adults who themselves had been in foster care. The purpose of the center is to help transitioning youth with such issues as housing, transportation, employment, and education.

    On the Move, a nonprofit community organization, helped bring together the youth with the directors of the relevant county agencies. But while adult coaches provided some assistance in starting the center, the youth themselves performed the bulk of the planning, fundraising, and heavy labor. Some of the youth now work at the center 10-25 hours per week. The county welfare department supplies one full-time staff member who works out of the center.

    To find out more about V.O.I.C.E.S., contact Alissa Gentille, Project Director:

    To find out more about On the Move, visit the website:

  • Residential Education as Out-of-Home Placement

    Residential Education as Out-of-Home Placement

    Not all children who are removed from their families because of abuse or neglect are placed in foster or kinship homes. An alternative for some children and youth is the use of residential educational placements. Sometimes termed "boarding schools" or "youth villages," these communities provide a safe and stable environment for children and youth to live and attend school.

    Advocates for residential education compare it to the boarding school experiences generally reserved for children from privileged families. Students attend small classes where they receive individualized attention; they participate in sports and other extracurricular activities; and the teaching of values and social skills occurs not only in the classroom but also around the clock as positive adult role models provide guidance and nurturance. Most importantly, the focus on youth development provided by these schools helps students understand their own potential and their responsibility for realizing it.

    As in foster care, there is an emphasis on maintaining connections with birth family members. Depending on the school and their individual situations, students may visit their families on weekends or maintain contact through phone calls or letters. Often, the students' parents are making their own changes as they address their substance abuse, mental illness, or other challenges. These schools also work to accommodate sibling groups, so that many children are enrolled with their sisters and brothers.

    The Coalition for Residential Education (CORE) is a national nonprofit membership organization for residential schools for children from the child welfare system, as well as children from other backgrounds, including homelessness or severely dysfunctional families. CORE serves as an advocacy organization, resource center, and research arm for its 36 member schools. Its national CAREStandards (CORE Certification for Residential Excellence) focus on ensuring the safety, well-being, and quality development of all children in residential education programs.

    Responding to the need for data on residential education programs, CORE recently began a research program that will include survey results from residential schools. One statistic that CORE has tracked for several years is the college attendance rate of graduates from its member schools: For those who graduated in 2005, 79.5 percent were headed to 2-year or 4-year colleges.

    The CORE website provides general information about residential education, as well as links to many of its member schools. Visit the website to learn more:

  • Transitioning Youth: A Longitudinal Study

    Transitioning Youth: A Longitudinal Study

    Youth making the transition from foster care to independence face a number of significant challenges and tend to fare worse than their same-age peers, according to a longitudinal study by the Chapin Hall Center for Children. To date, two waves of data have been collected on youth transitioning from foster care to independence in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

    The first wave of data, collected when the youth were 17 and still in foster care, revealed that many of the youth had a number of health and mental health problems, and a significant number were involved with the juvenile justice system. In addition, many were not prepared to finish high school.

    The second wave of data, collected when the youth were 19, found that these youth continued to contend with health and mental health problems and educational deficits. Most suffered economic hardships because they were either unemployed or not able to live on their earnings. However, there were differences between those who aged out of the child welfare system at age 18 and those who were permitted to remain for a few more years. For instance, youth who were still in the child welfare system at age 19 were more likely to:

    • Receive more independent living services to help them transition to adulthood
    • Progress in their education
    • Have access to health and mental health services
    • Have a decreased risk of economic hardship and criminal justice system involvement

    While this study is ongoing, these results from the second wave of data suggest that allowing youth to remain in foster care past age 18 may confer significant advantages.

    These studies, written by M. E. Courtney et al., consist of working papers on each of the three States, as well as full reports on each wave of data. They can be found on the Chapin Hall website:

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express last wrote about Chapin Hall's Midwest Evaluation in "Foster Youth Receive Some, Not All, Independent Living Services They Need" (May 2004).

  • Making Education Decisions for Children in Foster Care

    Making Education Decisions for Children in Foster Care

    Two significant barriers to full educational access for children in foster care are concerns about confidentiality regarding children's records and misunderstanding about who can make educational decisions for these children. These hurdles are addressed in a new publication from the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Mythbusting: Breaking Down Confidentiality and Decision-Making Barriers to Meet the Education Needs of Children in Foster Care.

    The publication's contents are organized to meet the specific information needs of parents, youth, foster parents, judges, children’s attorneys, guardians ad litem, and court-appointed special advocates. The four goals of the publication are to:


    • Provide context for addressing the education needs of children in foster care
    • Debunk the myths about confidentiality and decision-making
    • Explain relevant Federal laws
    • Suggest strategies to overcome confidentiality and decision-making barriers

    A chapter on promising practices from the field offers strategies for encouraging the information sharing and overcoming confidentiality barriers. Examples include the health and education "passports" created for children in foster care in California and Washington that allow records to follow children as they change placements.

    Other features of the guide include specific information for addressing the needs of children in special education and interactive links between sections and to outside resources.

    Mythbusting is available online from the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law: (PDF - 2,004 KB)

    Related Items

    Read more about educational advocacy for children in foster care in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Education Advocacy Model for Foster Children" (June 2005)
    • "Promoting a Positive Educational Experience for Children in Foster Care" (October 2004)
    • "Overcoming Educational Barriers for Children in Foster Care" (May 2004)

    Recent Issues

  • May 2024

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

  • April 2024

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

News From the Children's Bureau

  • Rocky Mountain QIC Reports

    Rocky Mountain QIC Reports

    A recent issue of Protecting Children focuses exclusively on programs funded by American Humane's Rocky Mountain Quality Improvement Center (RMQIC) to address the issue of child maltreatment by substance-abusing parents. This is the first of two volumes of Protecting Children dedicated to disseminating results from the RMQIC. Articles include:

    • "A Collaborative Approach to Healing Substance Abuse and Child Neglect in an Urban American Indian Community" by M. Bussey and N. M. Lucero
    • "Recovering Together Program: Tailoring Treatment for Mothers With Substance Abuse Problems and Their Children" by D. S. Spear and K. E. Moorstein
    • "The Ada County Family Violence Court Grant Project: A New Collaboration to Better Protect Children and Families" by M. M. Bonney, A. M. Moe, and R. D. Morse
    • "When Is It Safe to Return Children Home When Parental Substance Abuse Is a Concern?" by J. L. Roguski
    • "When Good Parenting Doesn't Work: Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders" by E. B. Bisgard

    The RMQIC is funded by the Children's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Children's Bureau hopes to promote regional research and program implementation in child welfare through the QICs.

    For more information, including a link to Protecting Children, Volume 20(4), visit the American Humane website:

  • Reorganization at the Administration for Children and Families

    Reorganization at the Administration for Children and Families

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has announced a reorganization to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of several of its programs. There are three main components to the reorganization:

    • The Head Start Bureau will move out of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) to become one of the 10 offices that report directly to the Assistant Secretary for ACF. As ACF’s largest discretionary grant program, the Head Start Bureau will benefit from direct access to the Office of the Assistant Secretary and enhanced coordination at the Federal, State, and local levels.

    • The Child Care Bureau, currently part of ACYF, will become part of the Office of Family Assistance. This change reflects the close coordination necessary between childcare programs and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The Office of Family Assistance will focus on ensuring that low-income families have the childcare resources they need to become and remain self-sufficient.

    • ACF Regional Office staff will be realigned, so that staff members in specific program areas will report directly to Program Offices, rather than through the Office of Regional Operations. Reducing the administrative layers between Central Office program administrators and Regional Office program staff should improve both communication and accountability.

    ACF is responsible for Federal programs that promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities. It is headed by Assistant Secretary Wade Horn, Ph.D., who oversees the $47 billion budget and more than 60 programs that serve vulnerable children, youth, and families.

    Visit the ACF website:

  • Creating Adoption Neighborhoods

    Creating Adoption Neighborhoods

    Creating a neighborhood where adoption is the norm has the potential for increasing the number of children who are adopted, providing built-in support and assistance for adoptive families, and raising the awareness of an entire community about the benefits of adoption. This is the idea behind DePelchin Children's Center's Creating Adoption Neighborhoods (CrAN) project in the Houston, TX, area.

    Collaborating with six other agencies, DePelchin developed the CrAN project to address the pressing need for permanent homes for African-American children in Houston's foster care system. The project began in 2002 with the identification of three neighborhoods believed to have potential for adopting these children. The University of Houston helped with an ethnographic analysis of the neighborhoods, and Eli Jones and Associates conducted focus groups with residents to determine general attitudes and beliefs about adoption.

    Based on this initial research, CrAN, with assistance from VOLLMER Public Relations, developed social marketing messages, and workers began an outreach campaign designed to spread the adoption message to families and businesses in the target neighborhoods. Community events, church gatherings, and radio spots all provided opportunities for adoption education and recruiting. In addition, parent training was made available at times and locations convenient for prospective foster and adoptive parents. These strategies contributed to an increased awareness about adoption and, for some families, to foster and adoptive placements.

    Since the inception of the CrAN project, awareness of and interest in adoption have increased substantially in the wider community. Additionally, in the targeted adoption neighborhoods, 17 African-American families have had a total of 33 children placed in their homes, 13 of whom were placed with siblings. Many more families have completed parent training or attended orientation sessions. Overall, data collected throughout the project's 3 years indicate a growing awareness about adoption within the neighborhoods.

    The success of CrAN is attributed to a number of factors, including:

    • The use of ethnographic research and social marketing techniques to develop targeted adoption messages for specific neighborhoods
    • Employment of a CrAN recruiter and a neighborhood liaison in each neighborhood
    • Collaboration among the adoption agencies and the child welfare system
    • Support from the business community, including the media

    The CrAN project has also dealt with a number of challenges, including:

    • Using zip codes to define neighborhoods, which had the unintended consequences of missing potential adoptive families and underreporting outcomes
    • The general mobility of residents, who often attended church or had other affiliations outside the targeted neighborhoods
    • Difficulties with involving churches, such that future projects may focus on churches with a strong adoption ministry already in place

    These experiences have helped guide planning for CrAN, and strategies for sustaining the program will build on the successful elements and respond to the challenges through change and adaptation.

    To find out more about Creating Adoption Neighborhoods, contact:

    Monique Johnson Garner, Project Director
    Creating Adoption Neighborhoods
    DePelchin Children's Center
    4950 Memorial Drive
    Houston, TX 77007

    The Creating Adoption Neighborhoods project was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant 90-CO-0979, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Developing Projects for Increasing Adoptive Placement for Minority Children. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau Grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from official Children's Bureau site visits.

  • New Hot Topics From the NRCFCPPP

    New Hot Topics From the NRCFCPPP

    The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) has added three new topics to its index of Hot Topics:

    • Evidence-based practice
    • Pregnant and parenting teens
    • Rural issues in child welfare

    Materials collected for each topic include publications and other resources, training curricula, and links to websites.

    The index for these and other topics is found on the NRCFCPPP website:

  • Best Practices for CBCAP Peer Review

    Best Practices for CBCAP Peer Review

    Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs (CBCAPs) to implement a peer review process in their States as one component of quality assurance and to help with program planning and improved practice. In collaboration with the CBCAP community, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention embarked on a project to collect current information about the use of peer review across the States in order to develop guidelines. The results are presented in a new publication, Peer Review in CBCAP: Current Activities and Best Practices for Building Stronger Peer Review. The report covers:

    • Definition of peer review
    • Purpose and principles
    • Structural elements
    • Strengths, benefits, and challenges
    • Five steps and 10 strategies for a successful and meaningful peer review

    Appendices include a State-by-State table of peer review activities, principles of family support, and additional resources. The report is available at:

    Related Item

    Also available on the FRIENDS site is a tool that helps child abuse prevention networks conduct a self-assessment of their regional network capacity. The Network Self-Assessment Tool is designed to assist a designated State Lead Agency (SLA) in conducting the assessment.

    The tool is divided into four sections:

    • Network development, including accountability, member recruitment, and communication
    • Assessing needs and assets
    • Training and technical assistance
    • Public/community awareness and education

    Find the tool on the FRIENDS website:

  • National Women's Health Week

    National Women's Health Week

    An alliance of national organizations will join the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in celebrating National Women’s Health Week, May 14–20, in an effort to raise awareness about manageable steps that women can take to improve their health. The week's activities, including National Women’s Check-Up Day on May 15 and a host of health screening events across the country, will help underserved women gain access to preventive health-care services.

    Good physical and mental health are especially important for mothers and mothers-to-be. Maternal mental illness, substance abuse, and lack of access to services are factors that may increase the risk to children of abuse and neglect. Healthy mothers who have access to services are in a better position to cope with the challenges of parenting.

    The National Women's Health Information Center, in the Office of Women's Health at HHS, has complete information about National Women's Health Week on its website. Also on the website:

    • A database of women's health indicators, which can be searched by topic (e.g., maternal health, violence and abuse) and geographic region or State
    • Publications on specific health topics, including Spanish-language publications
    • Tools to promote better health

    Visit the National Women's Health Information Center website:

  • The Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act

    The Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act

    Bills currently under consideration in both the House and the Senate of the U.S. Congress would introduce time limits and other restrictions for Federal court consent decrees that place State or local government agencies under court control. The proposed Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act (FCDFA) would impact child welfare agencies in at least 30 States where class action lawsuits have resulted in court supervision of the agencies.

    The goal of the proposed legislation is to place the control of programs and funding back into the hands of lawmakers once the issue that prompted the lawsuit has been resolved. The FCDFA would accomplish this by:

    • Permitting defendants from States or local jurisdictions to apply for a modification or termination of a consent decree 4 years after its entry in court or whenever there is a change in the elected government
    • Placing the burden of proof on the plaintiffs to show that the continuation of the consent decree is necessary if they want it to continue
    • Automatically terminating the decree if a judge does not rule within 90 days

    In March 2005, the FCDFA was introduced in the Senate by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) as Senate Bill 489 and in the House of Representatives by Representative Roy Blount (R-MO) as House Bill 1229. To read the text of the FCDFA, go to:

  • Government Grants for Faith- and Community-Based Organizations

    Government Grants for Faith- and Community-Based Organizations

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers several resources to assist faith- and community-based organizations in navigating the system of Federal grants. Training and technical assistance on the grant process, including the SAMHSA Grant-Writing Manual, are available on the SAMHSA website.

    In connection with this effort, SAMHSA periodically offers regional workshops on writing grants. A listing of available resources and information about the workshops can be found on the website:

    The Department of Justice also offers funding resources and training for faith- and community-based organizations. The Accessing Resources for Community and Faith-based Organizations (ARC) initiative is a training and technical assistance program funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, and operated by the National Training and Technical Assistance Center. A Federal funding toolkit, links to Federal funding sources, and more are available on their website:

Child Welfare Research

  • Benefits of Adoption Preservation Services

    Benefits of Adoption Preservation Services

    Adoption preservation services may be crucial to families who experience difficulties with their children's behavior or adjustment after adoption. A recent qualitative study explored the experiences of parents who adopted from the child welfare system in Illinois and received adoption preservation services. In response to open-ended survey questions, these parents reported on both the challenges they faced and the benefits of receiving services.

    Challenges that prompted these families to seek adoption preservation services included issues related to anger, antisocial behavior, attachment disruption, and family stability. In response, these families received home-based, intensive therapeutic intervention with clinical social workers. Parents and children also participated in support groups.

    When asked about the benefits of adoption preservation, parents identified three aspects of the services:

    • The nontraditional manner in which the services were provided, namely, that the services were free, provided in the home, and offered outside of traditional business hours
    • Specific treatment issues and activities, including the therapist's understanding of the grief and identity issues associated with adoption, dealing with attachment issues, and advocating for additional services
    • The therapeutic relationship with the worker, who was seen as empathic, sensitive, and a good listener

    Many of the parents also reported that the services not only helped them understand their child's behavior, but they also effected a real change in the child's behavior. These services often were successful when traditional counseling services had failed to help.

    The study, "Investing in Adoptive Families: What Adoptive Families Tell Us Regarding the Benefits of Adoption Preservation Services," by D. L. Zosky, J. A. Howard, S. L. Smith, A. M. Howard, and K. H. Shevlin, is available in Adoption Quarterly, Volume 8(3), or by visiting the Haworth Press website:

    Related Items

    Children's Bureau Express addressed postadoption services in two previous articles:

    • "Intensive Family Preservation in Postadoption" (September 2005)
    • "Postadoption Services Improve Family Stability and Functioning" (November 2004)
  • Judges Express Satisfaction With CASA Volunteers

    Judges Express Satisfaction With CASA Volunteers

    The National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association surveyed judges who hear dependency cases about their views on the role played by CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers in supporting judicial decision-making and court processes.

    The resulting report, Evaluation of Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardians ad Litem Volunteer Impact: Judicial Survey, shows that, overall, judges agree that the work of CASA/GAL volunteers is high quality, beneficial to judicial decision-making, and beneficial to the children and families served. Specifically:

    • Nearly half (48 percent) of responding judges' dependency cases are assigned to a CASA/GAL volunteer.
    • Judges are most likely to assign CASA volunteers their most difficult and complex cases.
    • When assigning a case to a volunteer, judges particularly consider the instability of the child’s current placement, conflicting case information, concerns about implementation of services, and extreme neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse.
    • Judges clearly value input from CASA/GAL volunteers in their court decisions. Volunteer input is most highly valued on issues related to placement stability and the permanence and safety of the children while in placement.
    • Judges report that CASA volunteers' activities have been "very useful" in their decisions about case outcomes.
    • Judges find CASA volunteers to be very effective in a wide range of activities that support court processes. They find volunteers most effective in considering the best interests of the child and in monitoring the case.
    • There is general concern about the availability of CASA/GAL volunteers for court caseloads, and only 6 percent of judges "strongly agree" that there are sufficient volunteers to meet the need.

    The full report is available from the National CASA website: (PDF - 169 KB)

    Related Item

    The National CASA Association also supports the work of the judiciary by providing information resources through its electronic newsletter, The Judges' Page. The most recent issue highlights the importance of identifying the mental health issues facing children, teens, and parents who are involved in the dependency system.

    Some of the topics covered are reunification efforts for parents with mental health problems, collaboration between the juvenile court and mental health systems, the role of CASA/GAL volunteers, psychological assessment, and confidentiality laws.

  • High Staff Turnover Associated With Maltreatment Recurrence

    High Staff Turnover Associated With Maltreatment Recurrence

    While past research has documented the negative impact of high staff turnover on child welfare agencies in terms of such factors as case overload and low morale, a new study shows that high staff turnover is also associated with higher rates of recurrence of child abuse and neglect. The study, released by Cornerstones for Kids as part of its Human Services Workforce Initiative, offers recommendations for better agency functioning.

    Data from 2002 on 12 diverse California counties provided information on nearly 3,000 workers and more than 40,000 cases. The data allowed researchers to classify the counties as high, moderate, or low functioning based on workplace characteristics, efficiency measures, and recurrence outcomes at 3, 6, and 12 months.

    The highest functioning county agencies had both the lowest turnover rate, at 9 percent, and the lowest rates of maltreatment recurrence, at 6 to 15 percent over the three time periods. In comparison, the lowest functioning agencies had a staff turnover rate of 23 percent and maltreatment recurrence rates of 15 to 22 percent.

    The study's authors suggest that recurrences of child abuse and neglect can be reduced by maintaining child welfare staff through such measures as:

    • Increased salaries for workers and supervisors
    • Elimination of overtime
    • Elimination of on-call work
    • Emphasis on completing written and approved case plans

    Relationship Between Staff Turnover, Child Welfare System Functioning and Recurrent Child Abuse was prepared by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. It is available at (PDF - 1,000 KB).

    Related Items

    Read more about child welfare workforce issues in the following articles from past issues of Children's Bureau Express:


    • "Child Welfare Workforce Retention" (February 2006)
    • "Child Welfare Workforce Survey Reveals Continuing Concerns, Creative Strategies" (May 2005)
    • "Online Resource for Child Welfare Training" (February 2005)
    • "Addressing the Staffing Crisis in Child and Family Services" (June 2004)
    • "Meeting the Challenge: Recruiting and Retaining Quality Staff" (August 2003)


Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Phasing In Community Partnerships

    Phasing In Community Partnerships

    Child welfare agencies can draw on their relationships with community partners to increase community support for foster care. Partners can help agencies by recruiting families to become foster and adoptive families; providing support to birth, kinship, foster, and adoptive families; and building trusting relationships between community residents and the child welfare system.

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) recently produced a new tool that presents a plan for phasing in new partnerships. Building Community Partnerships, Step by Step is part of the AECF Family to Family initiative for rebuilding foster care in communities throughout the country.

    The tool encompasses a five-phase plan:

    • Develop an infrastructure within the agency for community partnerships
    • Reach out to new and existing partners
    • Collaborate to begin to tackle issues such as increasing reunification
    • Roll out the program and formalize and deepen relationships
    • Maintain the momentum by emphasizing "we are in this together"

    Begun in 1992, the Family to Family initiative has been implemented in more than 40 communities throughout the nation. It focuses on developing a network of family foster care that is more neighborhood-based, culturally sensitive, and located primarily in the communities where the children live. To find out more about the Family to Family initiative and view Building Community Partnerships, visit the AECF website:

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express last wrote about the Family to Family initiative in "Achieving Permanence for Older Foster Children" (February 2006).


  • Web Resources for Systems of Care

    Web Resources for Systems of Care

    Many children in the child welfare system, and those at risk of abuse and neglect, have a variety of physical, mental, social, emotional, educational, and developmental needs. "Systems of care" is an approach that builds partnerships to create a broad, integrated process for meeting these multiple needs. This approach utilizes interagency collaboration, individualized and strengths-based care, cultural competence, community-based services, and full participation of families.

    Two organizations have collected resources to assist practitioners who want to learn more about systems of care. The web section developed by Child Welfare Information Gateway focuses on using the systems of care approach in the delivery of child welfare services and includes publications and resources, support for Children’s Bureau grantees, and a toolkit that provides examples of critical components for building systems of care.

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a website that focuses on a systems of care approach to the delivery of mental health services. Resources include publications, technical assistance, a resource directory, and links to partner organizations.

    [Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]


  • Parental Substance Abuse, Child Protection, and ASFA

    Parental Substance Abuse, Child Protection, and ASFA

    A new study from the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law explores how dependency courts are making permanency decisions under the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) for children of substance abusers.

    The study found that some courts and child welfare agencies have responded to the accelerated timeframes mandated by ASFA by implementing new initiatives and developing special programs for substance-abusing parents. These new practices include speedy assessments, early and frequent case reviews, monitoring of court orders, accountability for following case plans, and providing a range of services for parents and children. Findings are based on both a survey of dependency court judges and an indepth study of five courts that have implemented special strategies for handling cases with substance-abusing parents.

    The full report is available online:

    [Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]

  • Bulletin for Youth Development Workers

    Bulletin for Youth Development Workers

    The Next Generation Youth Work Coalition Bulletin is a new online newsletter for youth work professionals that includes interviews with youth workers, promising practices for recruiting and retaining youth workers, news about events and projects, and information about education and funding. The quarterly bulletin is available on the website of the Youth Development Information Center: (PDF - 232 KB)

  • Refugee Youth Transitioning From Foster Care

    Refugee Youth Transitioning From Foster Care

    The April/May Spotlight from Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) includes articles and resources focused on refugee youth transitioning to adulthood, many of whom have no parents or other family in the United States. These teens encounter all of the same problems as other youth transitioning from foster care, but they also must deal with a culture and institutions that are unfamiliar to them.

    Several programs that provide foster care services to refugee children and youth are described to illustrate some promising practices. Family placement, mentoring with an adult from the same cultural background, and support groups are among these strategies.

    The BRYCS website also includes links to its Clearinghouse and to back issues of Spotlight, both of which contain numerous resources on child welfare issues involving immigrant and refugee children and families:

  • University Practice Notes Address Trial Home Visits

    University Practice Notes Address Trial Home Visits

    A collaboration between public child welfare practitioners and the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota has produced an ongoing series of articles on promising practices for the child welfare field. The current issue of Practice Notes, Volume 18, addresses the topic of trial home visits, which are court-ordered placements of a child with his or her parents after a stay in foster care. The visits are closely monitored to assess parent readiness for reunification and the child’s safety, and the agency maintains legal custody of the child.

    Practice Notes provide information on trial home visits specific to Minnesota, as well as more general information on visits and best practices, red flags for reentry, strengthening parenting capacity, the ethnic and cultural factor, and closing the case.

    Archives for Practice Notes go back almost a decade. The series has covered such topics as family group decision-making and mental health screening for children involved in child welfare and juvenile justice.

    Read Practice Notes at:

  • Working With Native American Children and Families

    Working With Native American Children and Families

    Several new resources focus on the specific needs of Native American children and families involved with child welfare:

    • Tribal-State Relations is an issue brief from Child Welfare Information Gateway that can help States and Tribes find ways to work together to meet the goals of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). It was developed in partnership with the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
    • Working With American Indian Families is the theme of February's Practice Notes from the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program. This newsletter provides information on history, cultural considerations, and resources.
    • Working With American Indian Families: Learning Resources is the companion piece to Practice Notes. This issue of Training Matters provides links to resources on cultural competence and ICWA.
    • Understanding the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Brain Development in Native Children, by E. Wasserman, is a report designed to help those who work with Native American children understand how early abuse and trauma affect development. This report was created by the Tribal Law & Policy Institute, under the Children’s Justice Act Training and Technical Assistance Project, from the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice.

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.

  • Training on Family Group Decision-Making

    Training on Family Group Decision-Making

    The National Center on Family Group Decision Making, a project of the American Humane Association, has released its 2006 schedule of training institutes. The institutes are located in various cities across the country. Topics range from the basics to applying FGDM to specific case situations with domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental health issues.

    A complete description of the institute topics, dates, locations, and registration details can be found online [Editor's note: Link no longer available].

  • Teaching Young Parents Practical Law and Life Skills

    Teaching Young Parents Practical Law and Life Skills

    Parents and the Law is an innovative curriculum designed to help teen parents strengthen their families and prevent child abuse and neglect. The curriculum consists of 23 lessons, which cover such topics as parents' rights and responsibilities, child support, custody, child abuse and neglect, statutory rape, housing law, and consumer law.

    Each of the lessons teaches students practical legal knowledge, how to access community resources, and life skills. Each lesson plan is laid out step-by-step, including questions for students, teaching strategies, and evaluation tools. Student materials are written for low-level readers and are provided in both English and Spanish.

    The curriculum was designed by Street Law, a nonprofit organization that specializes in providing practical law education to the community. This effort was funded in part by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

    A complete description of the curriculum, a sample lesson, and ordering information are available on the Street Law website:

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through August 2006 include:


    • We Belong to Each Other: 2006 Conference and Skills Building Institutes on Family Group Decision Making
      American Humane
      June 5–8, San Antonio, TX
    • APSAC 14th Annual Colloquium
      American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
      June 21–24, Nashville, TN
    • First Annual Conference: Parenting Traumatized Children
      Attachment Disorder Network
      June 22–24, Norcross, GA


    • 20th Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care
      Foster Family-Based Treatment Association
      July 16–19, Pittsburgh, PA
    • The 9th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference
      The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology
      July 19–21, Washington, DC
    • NACAC's 32nd Annual Conference
      North American Council on Adoptable Children
      July 26–29, Long Beach, CA


    • COA's 2006 National Conference: Achieving Excellence Through Accreditation
      Council on Accreditation
      August 6–8, New York, NY
    • 18th Annual Crimes Against Children Conference
      Dallas Children's Advocacy Center
      August 21–24, Dallas, TX

    Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found in the "Conference Calendar" on Child Welfare Information Gateway: