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June 2011Vol. 12, No. 5Spotlight on Diversity in Child Welfare

CBX spotlights Diversity in Child Welfare, bringing together resources on child welfare research and practice with diverse populations, including information on cultural competency and racial disproportionality.

Issue Spotlight

  • Immigrant Families in Child Welfare

    Immigrant Families in Child Welfare

    A recent issue of the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter provides a broad overview of many of the issues facing child welfare systems as they serve a growing and increasingly diverse immigrant population. The lead article, "Serving Immigrant Families," provides definitions of different immigrant statuses and discusses the effects of immigration, cultural competency, use of interpreters, and needed services. Other articles in the newsletter address more specific issues:

    • "Adjustment of Immigrant and Refugee Children" (including risk and protective factors)
    • Spotlights on several Virginia programs that serve refugees and immigrants
    • "Child Maltreatment in Immigrant Populations"
    • "Serving Immigrant Victims of Intimate Partner Violence"

    Download the newsletter from the James Madison University website: (3.05 MB)

    Related Items

  • Inua Ubuntu: A Community Response to Disproportionality

    Inua Ubuntu: A Community Response to Disproportionality

    Similar to many communities across the country, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) in Pittsburgh, PA, recognizes the problem of racial disproportionality within its child welfare system, particularly the overrepresentation of African-American males in foster care. Because attempts to address the problem over the last decade have not significantly reduced rates of disproportionality, the county is implementing an innovative new project described in a paper written by Marcia Sturdivant of Allegheny DHS: "Inua Ubuntu: A Community Response to Disproportionality Rates of African American Male Children in Child Welfare."

    In Swahili, "inua" means "to raise and lift up," and "ubuntu" translates to "I am what I am because of who we all are." The author explains that these words exemplify the purpose of the Inua Ubuntu project: To encourage formal and informal African-American leaders in Pittsburgh to take collective action to reduce disproportionality in the county's child welfare system. After gauging community interest through a series of informational meetings, Allegheny DHS released a request for proposals and awarded contracts to three community agencies to plan and implement culturally competent child welfare services to respond to the unique needs of their communities. The goal of Inua Ubuntu is to empower communities to build upon the strengths of African-American families involved with child welfare to reduce children's rate of foster care placement.

    According to the author, the Inua Ubuntu project is driven by the idea that services are most effective when they are delivered by someone who lives in the family's community and understands its culture. Services are guided by four main principles:

    • Open communication
    • Commitment to services that promote prevention, child protection, family preservation, and permanency
    • Respect for and embracing of African people and culture
    • True community partnerships and collaborations that reject autonomous system authority

    Allegheny DHS refers all African-American males birth to age 18 who come in contact with the child welfare system to the community agency to perform a joint case review. An Inua Ubuntu child welfare caseworker and a cultural consultant visit the home together to conduct a safety assessment and identify the family's strengths and needs. The consultant then develops and implements a case plan and performs ongoing monitoring. Under this model, the community agency is responsible for primary supervision of the case; the county only provides support when needed.

    Services provided by Inua Ubuntu consultants are intensive and include daily face-to-face contact, case reviews every 15 days, and support of tangible needs such as clothing, food, housing, child care, and transportation. To reduce or eliminate the need for further county involvement, the consultant uses a diversion strategy to offer the least restrictive of the following services:

    • In-home services and community-based supports
    • Short-term (30-day) respite services
      • Kinship care
      • Foster care
      • Group home care

    Although Inua Ubuntu has only been in operation since March 2010, unpublished results indicate high client satisfaction and successful prevention of foster care placement for African-American males and their siblings. Based on the project's initial success, the author encourages agencies seeking to address disproportionality to consider initiatives in which staff more closely reflect the cultural, spiritual, religious, and racial backgrounds of the communities they serve.

    "Inua Ubuntu: A Community Response to Disproportionality Rates of African American Male Children in Child Welfare," by Marcia Sturdivant, is found on pages 1,824-1,843 of the monograph Beauty Is in the Details: A Global View of Persons of Color. The monograph was published in 2010 and includes selected presentations from a joint conference of the National Association of African American Studies (NAAAS), the National Association of Hispanic and Latino Studies, the National Association of Native American Studies, and the International Association of Asian Studies.

    Download the monograph on the NAAAS & Affiliates website: (8,720 KB)

  • GLBT Issues in Foster Care and Adoption

    GLBT Issues in Foster Care and Adoption

    A recent special issue of the Journal of GLBT Family Studies focuses on foster care and adoption by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) parents. The journal's introduction by Scott D. Ryan and Gerald P. Mallon notes the growing number of GLBT individuals and couples choosing to become parents, many through adoption. The authors discuss the role of social workers placing children with GLBT parents for foster care and adoption, and they emphasize the importance of affirming practice.

    The articles address a variety of topics, including processes, impact on children, and perceptions of stigma. There are nine articles in addition to the introduction:

    • "The Home Study Assessment Process for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Prospective Foster and Adoptive Families" by Gerald P. Mallon
    • "Adoptive Parents' Attitudes Towards Gay and Lesbian Adoption" by Paige Averett, Amy Strong-Blakeney, Blace Nalavany, and Scott D. Ryan
    • "Growing Up in a Same-Sex Parented Family: The Adolescent Voice of Experience" by Marjorie Welsh
    • "Adoptive Gay Fathers: Transformations of the Masculine Homosexual Self" by Jorge C. Armesto and Ester R. Shapiro
    • "Hearing the Voices of Lesbian Women Having Children" by Misty Wall
    • "It Was the Cadillac of Adoption Agencies: Intersections of Social Class, Race, and Sexuality in Gay Men's Adoption Narratives" by Dana Berkowitz
    • "Perception and Internalization of Adoption Stigma Among Gay, Lesbian, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents" by Abbie Goldberg, Lori Kinkler, and Denise Hines
    • "Making Room for Daddies: Male Couples Creating Families Through Adoption" by Gregory Wells
    • "Children's Views of Family Relationships in Lesbian-Led Families" by Fiona Tasker and Julia Granville

    Articles from the Journal of GLBT Family Studies, Vol. 7 (Nos. 1 and 2) can be purchased on the Informaworld website:

  • Reducing Disproportionality Through Supervision

    Reducing Disproportionality Through Supervision

    A recent article in American Humane's Protecting Children (Vol. 25) looks at the overrepresentation of African-American children in child welfare and offers innovative strategies for worker supervision that can increase the effectiveness of working with African-American families. Authors Donna L. Parrish and Brenden A. Hargett discuss three models of child welfare supervision—administrative, educational, and supportive—and suggest strategies for each type. Strategies include:

    • Monitoring workers' decision-making processes in the context of race
    • Providing non-African-American workers with training to successfully engage African-American families
    • Helping workers become more culturally competent and aware of culturally specific community resources

    Other overall supervision strategies are offered, including:

    • Adding race to the supervisor case consultation checklist
    • Training workers on cultural implications in order to develop creative interventions for African-American clients
    • Recruiting and hiring diverse staff
    • Engaging in honest conversations with colleagues about race and discrimination
    • Using specific training tools to combat racism and promote cultural competency

    The complete article, "Bridging the Cultural Divide: Innovative Supervision Practices to Impact Disproportionality With African American Clients in Child Welfare," is available on the Colorado Disparities Resource Center website: (99 KB)

  • Engaging Communities and Organizations to Support Adoption

    Engaging Communities and Organizations to Support Adoption

    The latest issue of The Roundtable, published by the National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA), focuses on the issue of "partnering communities of color and supporting adoptive families" to improve outcomes for the children and families involved with the child welfare system. The lead article, by Kathy Ledesma, Stephanie Pettaway, Ruth McRoy, Elissa Madden, and Patricia Cody, looks at the disproportionality statistics on African-American children in the child welfare system and discusses the activities that AdoptUSKids has undertaken to assist States, Tribes, and Territories in addressing the permanency needs of African-American children in care.

    Other articles in the newsletter explore the efforts of Arizona's child welfare system to provide postadoption support, especially to families who have adopted children with special needs, and the Realizing Open Adoption Dreams (ROAD/El Camino Hacia Un Futuro Mejor) program operated by the New York Council on Adoptable Children, which focuses on finding families for older youth ambivalent about being adopted.

    Read the full issue of The Roundtable on the NRCA website: (4.74 MB)

  • Racial Disproportionality Conference Materials

    Racial Disproportionality Conference Materials

    “Race and Child Welfare: Disproportionality, Disparity, Discrimination: Re-Assessing the Facts, Re-Thinking the Policy Options” was the theme of a conference held at Harvard Law School in January 2011. The sponsoring and participating organizations included the Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the National Court Appointed Special Advocates.

    The invitation-only conference brought together researchers, judges, advocates, and policymakers to consider the latest research on race and the child welfare system, focusing on the issue of racial disproportionality, to discuss implications for policymaking and best practices. Sessions examined child welfare entry and exit issues, including differences in removal rates and permanency options for different populations of children.

    Papers and presentations from the conference are posted on the conference website:
  • Historical Trauma, Microaggression, and American Indian Families

    Historical Trauma, Microaggression, and American Indian Families

    The overrepresentation of American Indian and Alaska Native children in many States' child welfare systems has prompted calls for a greater understanding of the impact of historical trauma on American Indian families. In a recent eReview that is part of a series focusing on trauma and child welfare systems, Cari Michaels summarizes a presentation by Karina Walters titled "Historical Trauma, Microaggressions, and Identity: A Framework for Culturally Based Practice," which provides an overview of this topic, as well as examples of responses to historical trauma by American Indians.

    Historical trauma generally affects a population over multiple generations as the trauma is transmitted from one generation to the next. Historical trauma may be associated with depression, anxiety, survivor guilt, and other trauma-related reactions. The review notes that there are three characteristics of the events that have led to historical trauma in American Indian communities:

    • The traumatic events are widespread among the population.
    • They produce high levels of collective distress in contemporary communities.
    • Outsiders perpetrate the events intentionally.

    One of the many examples of these events was the forced removal of American Indian children from their families for placement in boarding schools.

    The review also discusses the contemporary violence experienced by American Indians who encounter racism and discrimination in everyday life. Termed "microaggression," these acts are more subtle than historical trauma but can have a devastating cumulative effect.

    An indigenist stress-coping model is described that includes four protective factors that can buffer an individual and moderate the effects of historical trauma and microaggression. The protective factors are positive identity attitudes, enculturation, spiritual methods of coping, and traditional healing practices. The review suggests that these factors explain why some American Indians have better resilience in the face of historical trauma and microaggression.

    Cultural competence strategies that child welfare systems have used to provide guidance to those working with American Indian families are listed. The strategies focus on learning about and acknowledging the historical trauma, as well as promoting resilience in individuals and communities.

    The review includes comments on the relevance of the concepts of historical trauma and microaggression for African-American and Hmong populations involved with child welfare. The commentators encourage the use of these concepts in cultural competency training for child welfare workers.

    Historical Trauma and Microaggressions: A Framework for Culturally Based Practice was published by the Center for Excellence in Children's Mental Health at the University of Minnesota and is available on the website: (884 KB)

    Recent Issues

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  • June 2024

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News From the Children's Bureau

This month, we continue our Centennial Series with a brief look at early social work in America, while other articles link you to an ACF tip sheet on collaboration, recent grant information, and an updated adoption website.

  • Centennial Series: The Advent of Modern Social Work

    Centennial Series: The Advent of Modern Social Work

    This is the second article in our Centennial Series, as we count down to the Children's Bureau's 100th anniversary next year. These articles address some of the social issues, practices, and policies at the turn of the last century that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.

    The recognition of social work as a profession and practice in America might be dated to the year 1904, when the New York School of Applied Philanthropy (later, Columbia University School of Social Work) was opened as the first higher education program to train people in social work, including child development and youth work (Herman, 2007). Up to that time, social services were provided by religious and philanthropic organizations and often led by activists in the clergy and by educated women from middle- and upper-class backgrounds.

    In the late 1800s, with few careers open to them, these educated women had begun to establish and run settlement houses for the poor—for instance, Chicago's Hull House founded by Jane Addams, and Henry Street in New York City founded by Lillian Wald. At the settlement houses, the women provided services that included health care, education, domestic violence services, and temporary foster care. Some settlement houses had kindergartens, libraries, gymnasiums, and more. They served the homeless, immigrants, and other poverty-stricken or disenfranchised individuals who had few options for services.

    Living among the poor workers in overcrowded neighborhoods, the women who ran the settlement houses saw firsthand the effects of poverty on children and families. They saw how the lack of basic sanitation spread infectious diseases and caused high infant death rates, among other problems (Tichi, 2007; Reynolds, 2007). There was little government involvement in social or health issues at that time, so many of these social workers became social activists who helped build public awareness and contributed to efforts to reform child labor, child maltreatment, and other issues.

    Some took their message right to the top. Lillian Wald and Florence Kelley, board members of the National Child Labor Committee, caught the ear of President Theodore Roosevelt. They asked him why there was no bureau that worked for the welfare of the nation's children the same way the Department of Agriculture worked to protect the nation's crops (Tichi, 2007; Reynolds, 2007). With the President's backing, the first White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children was held in 1909 to answer that question. Social workers, educators, juvenile court judges, and labor leaders were in attendance, as were child welfare activists Theodore Dreiser, Jane Addams, Booker T. Washington, and others (Reynolds, 2007). Among the far-reaching accomplishments of that day was a commitment to establish a Children's Bureau.

    Later decades saw the establishment of hundreds of schools of social work, the creation of the National Association of Social Workers (in 1955), and the general professionalization of the field. Today, there are 640,000 social workers in America, embodying the same dedication to helping others found in the early social workers and activists more than 100 years ago.


    Herman, E. (2007).The Adoption History Project. Retrieved from the University of Oregon Department of History website:    

    Reynolds, H. (2007). Public health and midwifery. In L. Ament (Ed.), Professional issues in midwifery (pp. 51-59). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Retrieved from

    Tichi, C. (2007). Justice, not pity: Julia Lathrop, first chief of the U.S. Children's Bureau. Teleconference. Retrieved from 

    Related Item

    Access all of the articles in the Centennial Series from here:

  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    New! On the Children's Bureau Site

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

    Recent additions to the site include:

    • Tools for Developing a CFSP/APSR for Tribes—Includes links to a schedule, checklist, information on submissions and fiscal requirements, and more for Tribes submitting their Child and Family Services Plan/Annual Progress and Services Report (CFSP/APSR) (
    • ACYF-CB-PI-11-05—Describes availability of fiscal year (FY) 2011 funds under the Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect program created by title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) as amended by Public Law (P.L.) 111-320 ( (590 KB).
    • ACYF-CB-PI-11-06—Provides guidance to States, Territories, and Insular Areas on actions they are required to take to receive their allotments for FY 2012 authorized under title IV-B, subparts 1 and 2, section 106 of CAPTA, Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP), and Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) programs. This Program Instruction  summarizes the actions required in completion and submission of the APSR, new CAPTA State plan, and the CFS-101, Parts I, II, and III (

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

  • Early Childhood-Child Welfare Partnership

    Early Childhood-Child Welfare Partnership

    Noting the importance of providing consistent, high quality care to infants and young children at risk for or involved with child welfare, the Administration for Children and Families has released a new tip sheet on federally supported resources for that population. The Tip Sheet for Early Childhood-Child Welfare Partnership: Policies and Programs That Promote Educational Access, Stability, and Success for Vulnerable Children and Families describes Federal policies, programs, opportunities, and resources that can strengthen collaboration between child welfare and early childhood programs.

    The tip sheet describes existing policies and programs, such as Head Start and title IV-E programs, and notes the crossover between early childhood and child welfare requirements. The Opportunities section includes information on the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, home visiting programs, and State Advisory Councils, while the Resources section includes links to Information Memoranda and legislation.

    The tip sheet is available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: (150 KB)

    Related Items

    • ACF-IM-HS-10-04: Head Start and Child Welfare Partnerships: Partnering With Families Involved in the Child Welfare System.
  • ACYF-CB-IM-11-01: Child Welfare and Head Start Partnerships: Partnering With Families Involved in Head Start and Early Head Start Programs.
  • Redesigned State Department Adoption Website

    Redesigned State Department Adoption Website

    The U.S. Department of State has launched a redesigned website for citizens interested in finding out more about intercountry adoption. The new site offers user-friendly access to a variety of materials for prospective parents, social workers and other professionals, and even adoptees. There are five main sections to the site:

    • Adoption Process
    • Hague Convention
    • Country Information
    • U.S. Visa for Your Child
    • Adoption Community

    The site offers general information on intercountry adoptions, as well as country-specific details and news. Differences between adopting from countries that are and those that are not parties to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption are presented. Comprehensive contact information and links to social media are also featured.

    Visit the Intercountry Adoption website to learn more:

  • Nominations Open for Adoption Excellence Awards

    Nominations Open for Adoption Excellence Awards

    Each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) presents Adoption Excellence Awards to recognize individuals, families, and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to providing safe, permanent, and loving homes for children in foster care. Winners are those who have demonstrated leadership, innovative approaches, and dedication that contribute significantly to the successful adoption of children from foster care.

    Nominations will open in early June for the 2011 Adoption Excellence Awards, and completed nomination packets are due by July 29, 2011. Nominees may be individuals and organizations, including States, public agencies, universities, Tribes, courts, families, faith-based organizations, businesses, and more. Awards will be made in nine categories:

    • Decrease in the length of time that children in foster care wait for adoption
    • Increased adoptions of older children
    • Interjurisdictional adoptions
    • Support for adoptive families
    • Family contributions
    • Philanthropy and/or business contributions/initiatives
    • Judicial or child welfare system improvement
    • Adoption of minority children from foster care
    • Media/public awareness of adoption from foster care


    Nomination packets will be reviewed by a national panel of recognized adoption experts, including members of State and Federal agencies. The review panel will make recommendations for awards to the ACF Commissioner. Winners will be selected on the basis of 10 criteria, including collaboration/partnerships, innovation/uniqueness, and community outreach/involvement.

    Everyone interested in making nominations, including self-nominations, is invited to visit the Children's Bureau website for more information:
  • Recent Grant Announcements

    Recent Grant Announcements

    Two recent announcements related to grants are now available:

    • There is a new funding opportunity for Improving Service Delivery to Youth in the Child Welfare System. Projects will target youth in the child welfare system, or those at risk of entering the child welfare system, including LGBTQ, pregnant and parenting teens, and other youth with significant risk factors. The deadline for applications is July 7, 2011. Find the full announcement on the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) website:
    • ACF is seeking individuals from Native American communities to serve as grant reviewers and help shape decisions that affect Indian country. ACF funds hundreds of grants for Tribes every year, and reviewers play an important role in the grant review process. Reviewers receive financial compensation and training. They also have the opportunity to network with other grant reviewers and Federal program staff. For more information, visit the ACF grant review page:
      To download a flier on Native grant reviewers, visit: (924 KB)
  • Training and Technical Assistance Update

    The T&TA Network section shares news about new resources from the T&TA members, including ideas for cell phone use in child welfare practice and information on Abandoned Infants Assistance projects.

    • More Updates From the T&TA Network

      More Updates From the T&TA Network

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

      • Child Welfare Information Gateway summarizes the most recent national data from the Federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) in Foster Care Statistics 2009. The webpage introduces a new design that offers readers links to specific statistics found within the printable PDF version and highlights publications on similar topics:
      • The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) has scheduled its next Quality Improvement (QI) Peer Network discussion for June 9, 2011. Each call highlights State and county successes in a specific area and includes a discussion focused on barriers, challenges, and strategies. For more information on the QI Peer Network go to:
      • The National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) has created and posted Disseminating Child Welfare Workforce Knowledge and Information to the Field, an annotated bibliography: (855 KB)
      • The National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC) has released a second request for applications for doctoral dissertation research support. The QIC-EC will award $25,000 for each of 2 years to a maximum of two advanced-level doctoral students. Application packets are due June 13, 2011:
      • The National Resource Center for Adoption (NRCA) has added to its website webcasts and PowerPoint presentations from the September 2010 Policy to Practice Dialogue meeting, which focused on policy and implementation issues of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act:
      • The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) will host a webinar June 9: "Social Media and Social Networking in Child Welfare." This webinar will give an overview of social media and social networking basics followed by examples and lessons learned from child welfare agencies’ use. Register:
      • The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) created a self-study assessment tool to help agencies review core principles of parent-child and sibling visiting, review overall agency readiness, assess administrative policies, and identify strengths and challenges in parent-child and sibling visiting practice:
        The NRCPFC also has developed a PowerPoint presentation on the basics of parent-child visiting, available here: (600 KB)
        The NRCPFC also has posted on its website the teleconference, "Reinstating Parental Rights for Youth in Care." A companion PowerPoint presentation includes the eight States that have reinstatement statutes, additional resources, and a bibliography:
      • The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) has available on its website a list of full contact information for Independent Living coordinators for 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico:
      • The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health (TA Center) will host a webinar June 16, 2011, titled "Expanding Systems of Care: Strategies for Large-Scale System Change." The webinar will share effective strategies for expanding the system of care approach based on the experience of the nine States, emphasizing specific strategies for large-scale system change. Find more information and register here:
      • The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) has published its TA Partnership Newsletter for April/May 2011. Among the articles' subjects are jobs for students with autism, peer parents, teen drinking, research on gang-involved youth, and more:
    • Making the Most of the Cell Phone

      Making the Most of the Cell Phone

      The National Resource Center (NRC) for Child Welfare and Data Technology has published a factsheet explaining how simple cell phones (not smart phones) can be used to help families and collect data. The factsheet provides a number of examples:

      • Cell phones can be used as a tool for coaching a parenting skills training program. In a 2008 study by Bigelow, Carta, and Burke-Lefever, half the parents in a five-session program were also called periodically as a way to reinforce the training, and those parents were more likely to complete the program than the parents who were not called.
      • Cell phones provide an effective way to stay in touch with adolescent mothers who are at risk for neglecting their children. Researchers called the teens to ask them questions about baby care activities, and the calls gave them a way to spot potentially neglectful behaviors ahead of time.
      • In the Text4baby Initiative, free text messages of advice go to expectant mothers from the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition throughout the pregnancy and the baby's first year.
      • Cell phones can be used to collect data, using an Interactive Voice Response system to ask survey questions with the voice of a computer, which can make it easier for respondents to answer. The surveys can be administered in any language and in any venue, and results are available instantly.

      More cell phone uses are described for other health concerns, communication, and data collection. The full article is available on the NRC's website: (146 KB)

      Related Item

      The website provides a guide to using new media for collaboration and information sharing:

    • Abandoned Infants Assistance Programs Profiled

      Abandoned Infants Assistance Programs Profiled

      The National Abandoned Infants Assistance (AIA) Resource Center provides training, information, support, and resources to child welfare practitioners who work with children who are abandoned or at-risk of abandonment because of substance abuse and/or HIV/AIDS in their families. In addition, the AIA Resource Center provides training and support to 17 AIA projects in 12 States and the District of Columbia funded by the Children's Bureau. AIA Project Profiles for 2011 reports on currently funded AIA projects with summaries of each program's history, service delivery models, staffing, community collaboration, evaluation process, and contact information.

      For example, the Family Ties Project (FTP) in Washington, DC, started in 1996 and is connected to multiple social service agencies. It provides permanency planning, legal services, mental health referrals, youth development services, and more to families affected by HIV/AIDS. In Grand Rapids, MI, the Mission Inn offers wraparound services to impoverished families and to low-income mothers and their young children, some in rural areas, who are affected by methamphetamine use.

      The report also includes a list of journal articles, guides, book chapters, and other publications produced by or concerning the AIA projects. Access the report from the AIA Resource Center website: (1,167 KB)

    Child Welfare Research

    Child Welfare News reports on new research concerning neglect, the use of technology in child welfare, and resources on supervision.

    • Using Technology to Enhance Child Welfare Practice

      Using Technology to Enhance Child Welfare Practice

      A new issue of 360° Child Welfare and Technology by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) at the University of Minnesota reviews technology innovations that may be used to improve child welfare outcomes and considers current gaps in technological practice knowledge. CW360° is an annual publication that closely examines a critical topic related to child welfare practice by inviting diverse stakeholders to write articles sharing their unique perspectives.

      Some of the many topics addressed in the issue's 26 articles include:

      • Data collection, data sharing, and information systems
      • Family finding techniques
      • Social media and networking
      • The use of technology by children and youth in foster care
      • New and existing technology in child welfare practice, such as:
        • Transcription services
        • Mobile devices
        • Virtual visits
        • Electronic medical passports
        • Geographic information systems (GIS)

      This issue also includes electronic tags that can be scanned by smartphones for access to the articles. Download the spring 2011 issue of CW360° on the CASCW website: (13.94 MB)


    • Social Work Policy Institute Hosts Supervision Symposium

      Social Work Policy Institute Hosts Supervision Symposium

      In November 2010, the Social Work Policy Institute (SWPI) of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) hosted a think tank symposium in Washington, DC, titled "Supervision: The Safety Net for Front-Line Child Welfare Practice." The event was designed to further knowledge on the critical role that supervisors play in the child welfare field.

      Presentations highlighted the role that effective supervision plays in child welfare staff retention, organizational culture and climate, culturally competent practice, transmission of evidence-based practices, and child and family outcomes. The workshops also addressed occupational challenges facing child welfare supervisors.

      More recently, the SWPI published two resources on the symposium website that aggregate the lessons learned from the event. The full report, also called Supervision: The Safety Net for Front-Line Child Welfare Practice, provides an overview of research on the child welfare supervision field. It places particular emphasis on the challenges facing the field and the recommendations for future action in addressing these issues. The Action Brief provides a shortened, user-friendly version of the information in the full report. The symposium website also provides videos of the speakers' presentations. 

      The symposium was planned in conjunction with the NASW Center for Workforce Studies & Social Work Practice and the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, with Casey Family Programs as a contributing partner.

      Link to the symposium website:

      Link to the symposium full report: (1.03 MB)

      Link to the Action Brief: (116 KB)

    • Helping At-Risk Families Avoid Out-of-Home Placements

      Helping At-Risk Families Avoid Out-of-Home Placements

      Hard Times Made Harder: Struggling Caregivers and Child Neglect, a new study from the Carsey Institute, examines the relationship between child neglect, poverty, and out-of-home placement of children. Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), researcher Wendy Walsh determined that neglected children from poor families were more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than neglected children from nonpoor families, and children whose caregivers struggled with substance abuse or mental health problems were more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than families without such struggles, even after controlling for other risk factors.

      The author goes on to suggest that a differential response option by the child protective services agency may provide more meaningful supports for these struggling families and could reduce out-of-home placements and result in better outcomes. She cites Ohio's Alternative Response Pilot Project as one successful example of addressing comprehensive family needs, many of which result from poverty. The Ohio study results indicated that providing poverty-related services (such as food, clothing, rent, help with obtaining appliances, transportation, and other financial help) and connecting families to counseling and mental health services reduced subsequent reporting of families for child abuse and neglect. Removals and out-of-home placements of children also declined.

      The Carsey Institute is affiliated with the University of New Hampshire. The report is available on the institute's website: (462 KB)

    Strategies and Tools for Practice

    • Handbook on Responding to Child Trafficking

      Handbook on Responding to Child Trafficking

      While human trafficking is an emerging area of concern in the United States, many child welfare agencies struggle with ensuring child trafficking victims receive the services and supports they deserve according to Federal and State laws. To address the gap in knowledge and services, the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA), in collaboration with the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago, published a new handbook on Building Child Welfare Response to Child Trafficking. The handbook presents guidelines for serving children and youth affected by trafficking, including chapters on the following topics:

      • Identification and investigation
      • Case management
      • Legal protections and advocacy
      • Referrals and resources

      The guidelines in the handbook were informed by the experiences of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as they implemented the strategies statewide. As a result, case studies throughout the handbook illustrate how child welfare agencies may incorporate the strategies into their daily practice. The handbook offers numerous tools and sample materials, such as:

      • A summary of child trafficking legislation
      • Questions to determine if trafficking may be an issue in the community
      • Brief screening and indepth assessment forms
      • Best practice pointers
      • A case management toolkit

      The handbook may be useful to a wide array of child- and family-serving organizations seeking guidance to address child trafficking in their communities. In particular, IOFA is interested in consulting with other States or communities interested in fully implementing the handbook's tools and strategies. To download the handbook, visit the Center for the Human Rights of Children website:

      For more information, visit the IOFA website:

    • Keeping Families Together in Supportive Housing

      Keeping Families Together in Supportive Housing

      A 3-year pilot program that provided supportive housing for chronically homeless families with child welfare involvement showed promising outcomes at the end of the pilot. A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation describes how the Corporation for Supportive Housing's New York City Office piloted the program, Keeping Families Together, with 29 families that had been homeless for at least 1 year. All of the families had an open case of child abuse or neglect, all of the parents but one had a history of substance abuse, and more than half had been diagnosed with a mental illness.

      The project, which provided permanent housing and intensive services to these families, had three main goals:

      • Provide housing for the most vulnerable families in the child welfare system
      • Improve agency collaboration in support of families
      • Build the capacity of providers to serve families

      The report notes that a 2010 evaluation showed many positive outcomes:

      • Twenty-six families remained in the housing, and some had achieved 30 months of housing stability.
      • Sixty-one percent of the child welfare cases had been closed.
      • After the first year, children averaged 25 more days of school attendance compared with the previous year (when they were homeless).
      • Families were better able to maintain positive relationships with others and rebuild support systems.

      The report describes how the different agencies collaborated, lessons learned, and how the project plans to disseminate results. The full report, Keeping Families Together: A Pilot Program and Its Evaluation, is available on the Robert Wood Johnson (the funding agency) website: (120 KB)

    • Best Practices for Parent-Child Visits

      Best Practices for Parent-Child Visits

      A practice brief from Partners for Our Children notes the importance of family visits for children in foster care. Research has shown that regular, frequent contact between children and parents increases the chance of lasting reunification, shortens the children's time spent in out-of-home care, and helps to improve the adjustment period following placement.

      Focusing on how child welfare practice can improve the quality of visits, the brief describes such best practices as timely first visits, visit planning, oversight, and documentation. The authors also address ways that parent-child visits can be supported by the juvenile court system.

      Read the full article, Family Visitation in Child Welfare: Helping Children Cope With Separation While in Foster Care on the Partners for Our Children website: (223 KB)

    • Using Mediation to Resolve Child Dependency Cases

      Using Mediation to Resolve Child Dependency Cases

      The use of the mediation process as an effective means to achieve resolutions in contested child welfare cases is explored in the journal article "Give Peace a Chance: A Guide to Mediating Child Welfare Cases." Author Jennifer Baum provides examples from real cases to show that skillful mediation that brings all parties to the table in a nonadversarial atmosphere may lead to significant progress in even the most contentious cases.

      Child welfare mediators are neutral third parties who often are employees of court-based mediation programs, although many mediators also hail from child welfare agencies or professional mediation organizations. Some may be trained community volunteers. During a mediation session, participants are allowed to openly air grievances, share ideas, and cooperatively work on solutions to family issues in ways that are not possible in a formal court hearing. Family members can come away from mediation feeling more empowered to deal with the problems that led to the dependency actions. For agencies, attorneys, and the courts, successful mediation can reduce caseloads and provide more positive outcomes.

      "Give Peace a Chance: A Guide to Mediating Child Welfare Cases" was published on the winter 2011 (Vol. 13, No. 2) issue of Children's Rights, a journal published by the Children's Rights Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA). The journal is available on the ABA website: (1,357 KB)


    • Foster Care Documentary Serves as Call to Action

      Foster Care Documentary Serves as Call to Action

      "From Place to Place" is a new documentary that follows the lives of a young man and woman who age out of foster care and then set out to reform the system that failed them. Their journey leads them to Capitol Hill, where they testify before Congress about the problems in the foster care system and the need for change.

      The film is designed to be presented at community forums where it can spark discussion and prompt action from whole communities—not just child welfare systems. It also is a powerful tool for social workers, educators, advocates, and the public in raising awareness about foster care and youth who age out.

      The movie was made with three goals:

      • Build awareness about the foster care system
      • Instill a sense of urgency to help children in foster care
      • Move people to action to reform the system

      The film's website includes a step-by-step guide to conducting a community forum after viewing the film or a shortened version of it.

      Visit the "From Place to Place" website to purchase a DVD and learn more:

      Download the community forum guide here: (678 KB)

    • Young Child Risk Calculator

      Young Child Risk Calculator

      The National Center for Children in Poverty has created a data tool aimed at improving the lives of children under the age of 6 by informing policy about the prevalence of young children at risk for poor outcomes. Users answer a series of four short questions (State, income level, age range, and risk factors), and the Young Child Risk Calculator generates the percentage of children in the chosen State who are experiencing the chosen risk factors, may be living in a state of poverty, or are displaying both.

      Risk factors include:

      • Households without English speakers
      • Large family
      • Low parental education
      • Residential mobility
      • Single Parent
      • Teen mother
      • Unemployed parents

      A child who exhibits any of the risk factors is at risk of falling behind academically, physically, and developmentally. If the child's family is living at a level of poverty, this increases the chance that the child will be at risk of falling behind. Children experiencing both risk factors and economic hardship are considered to be "exceptionally vulnerable."

      The Young Child Risk Calculator can be found on the National Center for Children in Poverty website:

    • Toolkit for Information Sharing

      Toolkit for Information Sharing

      A toolkit from the Child Welfare League of America and the Juvenile Law Center provides guidance for improved information and data-sharing practices among agencies that work with youth. The "Models for Change Information Sharing Tool Kit" sets out the principles that govern information and data-sharing for juvenile justice agencies that can be applicable to any agency working with juveniles and their families. The toolkit provides step-by-step processes in three areas:

      • Information sharing for case planning and decision-making
      • Data collection and sharing for law, policy, and program development
      • Data collection and sharing for program evaluation and performance measurement

      Users are asked to complete a registration form. A full description of the toolkit and registration information are available online, along with recorded webinars on information and data sharing:

    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.