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September 2009Vol. 10, No. 7Spotlight on the CFSRs: What Are We Learning From Round Two?

This month, CBX brings you updates on the second round of the CFSRs, including a briefing from the Federal CFSR team and interviews with four States that have excelled in providing health or education services.

Issue Spotlight

  • Massachusetts DCF Focuses on Keeping Children in School

    Massachusetts DCF Focuses on Keeping Children in School

    The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) is committed to ensuring that children involved with the department attend school. This goal has had extensive ramifications for the State, and the results are impressive. Massachusetts' ratings on the Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) for meeting the educational needs of children went from "area needing improvement" in 2001 (with an 86-percent rating) to "strength" in 2007 (with a 96-percent rating) as DCF worked to ensure that children did, in fact, attend school and receive appropriate educational services.

    According to Susan Stelk, the DCF Manager of Education Services, "The child welfare system has a responsibility to keep kids in school. We have to be the parent for children who come into our care, and a good parent makes sure that children get the educational services they need." This focus has led to a number of impressive initiatives centered on building strong relationships between child welfare and school systems throughout Massachusetts.

    One of the most far-reaching initiatives has been the creation of the Education Coordinator position in all 29 DCF area offices. In a State with more than 370 school districts—each run by its own school committee—it is especially important to have an individual in place who knows the ins and outs of the local school system and can serve as a liaison between DCF and the schools. The Education Coordinator provides expertise in problem-solving, special education, school placement and enrollment, and the requirements of both the child welfare and educational systems. Working out of the DCF office, the Education Coordinator helps develop Individual Education Plans, provides training, and serves as the point person when caseworkers or educators need help with a school problem involving a child in the care of the State.

    Other efforts have also strengthened the relationships between DCF and the school systems. At the State level, a series of online newsletters published by DCF called Info for Educators has provided crucial information to educators about the child welfare system. The newsletters explain the roles of caseworkers, answer frequently asked questions, discuss new initiatives, and provide contact information for DCF staff. Another initiative at the State level has been an ongoing collaboration between the DCF managers and the Administrators for Special Education of local school districts. This partnership has led to joint meetings and action plans for improving communication and services for children in foster care.

    Training has been an important component of the effort to ensure that children attend school and receive appropriate educational services. New caseworkers learn the importance of education in their core training. Education Coordinators provide more detailed training to caseworkers on enrolling children in schools, monitoring their education experiences, and advocating for them when necessary. Foster parents receive training in educational advocacy as part of assuming the role of Special Education Surrogate Parent for those DCF children who are identified as having special education needs.

    For Massachusetts' older youth in foster care, DCF has created the Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood (PAYA) program. PAYA focuses on helping youth acquire life skills and ensuring that youth graduate from high school and have the opportunity to go on to technical school or college. An array of State and Federal scholarship programs supports these efforts.

    For more information, visit the Massachusetts DCF website:

    Many thanks to Liz Skinner-Reilly, Department of Children and Families, and Susan Stelk, Director of Education Services, for providing the information for this article.

  • Updated PIP Instructions for Round 2 CFSRs

    Updated PIP Instructions for Round 2 CFSRs

    The Children's Bureau's Technical Bulletin #4, released June 1, provides guidance for States' Program Improvement Plans (PIPs) developed as part of the second round of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). The bulletin includes updated instructions for PIP monitoring, evaluation, and renegotiation, as well as instructions for using an updated Excel matrix spreadsheet for submitting PIPs. A PIP matrix form and a completed example also are included.

    Technical Bulletin #4 can be downloaded from the CB website:

  • Texas Shines in Educational Services

    Texas Shines in Educational Services

    Texas' most recent Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) demonstrated that the State's extensive efforts to improve educational outcomes for children and youth in the child welfare system have paid off. After Texas' first CFSR in 2002 indicated that too many youth involved with child welfare also experienced school-related challenges, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) developed a comprehensive plan to address both the assessment of educational needs and the provision of education services. The result was a jump from the 85-percent rating of 2002 to a 97-percent rating of "strength" for "educational needs of the child" when the 2008 CFSR was completed.

    Between the 2002 and 2008 CFSRs, DFPS implemented a number of initiatives aimed at challenges related to educational advocacy, school record maintenance, and data collection and monitoring. Stakeholders around the State—including from the courts, parent and foster parent groups, community resources, and the school system—as well as Casey Family Programs (which started providing technical assistance prior to the first CFSR), worked with DFPS to develop a series of strategies to ensure the best educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care. The youth voice was especially important in this process, as youth in foster care spoke out about the importance of school and school activities for their well-being. Three of the most significant initiatives were the following:

    • Texas created Education Specialists in each of its 11 regions and at the State level. The Education Specialist is the local expert and vital link between the child welfare and education systems. The regional Education Specialist serves as a resource for the frontline caseworker in the development of children's education plans and helps resolve problems. The Education Specialist at the State level develops statewide policy and provides additional resources to support efforts to improve education outcomes for youth.
    • All children in legal custody of the child welfare system (conservatorship) have an education portfolio. The portfolio is a hard-copy notebook that can contain all of a child's educational records, including report cards, transcripts, educational plans, and other vital records. Caregivers keep the portfolio up to date, and caseworkers keep copies of portfolio items. When youth change placements and/or leave foster care, their portfolio goes with them.
    • The importance of children's educational outcomes is highlighted in DFPS training and monitoring. Internal stakeholders, such as CPS staff and caseworkers, and external stakeholders—such as foster parents, court-appointed special advocates, school personnel, and judges—receive training on educational advocacy, resources, and services. The youth voice is a key part of that training. In addition, monitoring children's education experiences and outcomes remains a high priority for DFPS, as executive staff use the data to evaluate their efforts and plan new initiatives.

    Texas also has made significant strides in providing youth with educational opportunities beyond high school. All youth who age out of foster care are eligible for a tuition/fee waiver to any of the State's public colleges and universities. This opportunity, mandated by the Texas Legislature, was recently expanded to include youth who leave foster care to permanent placement with a relative—which is consistent with provisions in the newly enacted Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. To ensure that youth who have been in foster care are ready for college, community colleges around the State reach out to high school students to offer tutoring and mentoring, "college readiness" camps, and other opportunities to prepare for college. For example, the Austin Community College system has a counselor identified as "Campus Champion" to provide one-on-one support to former foster youth to address their specialized legal, medical, housing, and financial needs.

    Even with these gains in education outcomes, Texas DFPS realizes that challenges remain. One of these is the lack of placement stability that many children experience—a challenge that makes it difficult to keep children in their home schools. To address this, DFPS is focusing on strengthening placement capacity so that resource families are located where they are most needed and able to meet specialized needs. Other areas of focus in Texas include data sharing with the statewide education system, addressing education needs of incarcerated youth, ensuring that children in in-home cases receive appropriate assessments and services, accessing pre-kindergarten for eligible children, and continuing to incorporate the youth voice in training and policy.

    For more information on Texas' 2008 CFSR, visit the DFPS website:

    For information on how the Austin Community College system supports former foster youth, visit the website:

    Many thanks to Liz Kromrei, Texas CPS Director of Services, and Kristine Mohajer, State Education Specialist, for providing the information for this article.

  • New Standards Lead the Way to Better Health Services in Idaho

    New Standards Lead the Way to Better Health Services in Idaho

    Improvements in meeting children's health-care needs resulted in stellar marks for Idaho on Item 22 (physical health of child) of the State's 2008 Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). Five years earlier, after its first CFSR, Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare knew that providing health-care services was an area where the State could make improvements. "We needed a better foundation," remembers Shirley Alexander, the State's Child Welfare Program Manager, "so we began by developing new standards for child well-being." Using this and other new standards as a base, Idaho was able to improve health-care services for children involved with the child welfare system. The State's success showed in the jump from 77 percent for Item 22 on the first CFSR to 98 percent on the second CFSR.

    As part of Idaho's 2004 Program Improvement Plan, a workgroup was convened to develop the new standard for child well-being. The new standard outlines how health, mental health, and education issues must be addressed in order to meet the needs of children in Idaho's child welfare system. It covers such areas as protecting child well-being in in-home and out-of-home cases; consent for medical treatment; medical screening and coverage; dental, vision, and hearing care; mental health services; and education services. It also mandates that information on child well-being be monitored and tracked through the State's data system, FOCUS. Once the standard was developed, supervisors across the State's seven regions were trained through a teleconference. Supervisors, in turn, trained caseworkers, and the standard was incorporated into the Child and Family Services (CFS) Practice Manual.

    Across the State, regions then needed to apply the new standard. In urban areas, such as Boise, a foster care clinic was created with contracted service providers. The clinic is open several times a month to see children for medical exams and other screenings. Other regions contracted with nurses or health departments to provide needed services, and they helped families access the services by providing transportation or gas vouchers. Other ways that regions met the new standard included:

    • Developing resource inventories of health-care providers and working with communities to fill service gaps
    • Using medical teleconferencing to access specialists across the State
    • Training foster parents in accessing medical care

    A partnership between CFS and the State's Infant/Toddler Program (ITP) resulted in another new standard as well as fruitful cross-training between the two groups. Being co-located in the State offices led to a natural collaboration on the standard for mandatory referral to developmental screening of all children, birth to 3 years, involved in substantiated cases of abuse or neglect. Once the standard was developed, both CFS and ITP conducted cross-trainings around the State. The collaboration also led to shared data reports on this young population.

    Going forward, Idaho CFS plans to continue to improve health-care services for children in the child welfare system. The biggest challenge to this commitment is the rural nature of Idaho, which has a dearth of specialized providers, problems with distance and transportation, and issues with cultural norms and lack of anonymity. A new standard for service delivery addresses these issues head-on by listing rural service principles that can be implemented. These include recommendations for reliance on kinship care, taking a generalist approach to helping families, and recruiting nontraditional networks of community members to ensure the safety of children.

    Clearly, Idaho's pattern of developing and implementing standards has led to improved services for the State's children. To learn more about Idaho's child welfare standards, visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare website:

    Many thanks to Shirley Alexander, Idaho's Child Welfare Program Manager, for providing the information for this article.

  • CFSRs Reveal Promising Approaches

    CFSRs Reveal Promising Approaches

    Strategies for improving child welfare systems continue to emerge from States' Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). The Children's Bureau website lists many of these promising approaches both by State and by topic, ranging from a social work student training program in Delaware to North Carolina's multiple response system to Iowa's Children of Color project designed to address disproportionality. Check the website often for updates.

  • Second Round Update From the CFSR Team

    Second Round Update From the CFSR Team

    At the Children's Bureau's annual Agencies and Courts Meeting in August, members of the Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) team presented interim findings from the second round of CFSRs. Data from the 32 reviews completed thus far in this cycle were analyzed to present findings on safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes; systemic factors; and Program Improvement Plans (PIPs).

    Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being Outcomes
    In conducting the 32 reviews, the CFSR team looked at 2,609 cases, including 1,279 foster care and 790 in-home cases. Among these cases, 52 percent involved male children, 37 percent were cases of neglect, 15 percent involved parental substance use, and 42 percent involved children younger than 6 years.

    Case review data were used to determine whether States substantially achieved the safety, permanency, and well-being outcome goals. These were the findings:

    OutcomeAverage Percent of Cases Achieving Substantial Conformity Across the 32 States
    Safety Outcome 1 (Children are, first and foremost, protected from abuse and neglect)72 percent
    Safety Outcome 2 (Children are safely maintained in their homes when possible and appropriate)68 percent
    Permanency Outcome 1 (Children have permanency and stability in their living situations)40 percent
    Permanency Outcome 2 (The continuity of family relationships and connections is preserved for children)67 percent
    Well-Being Outcome 1 (Families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs)45 percent
    Well-Being Outcome 2 (Children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs)87 percent
    Well-Being Outcome 3 (Children receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs)76 percent

    The CFSR team made a number of observations about the Outcome data in the cases reviewed, including:

    • Achievement of Permanency Outcome 1 was positively associated with assessment and provision of services for both children and parents and with caseworker visits with both children and parents.
    • Across all of the outcomes, performance was stronger in foster care cases than in-home cases.
    • Mothers generally received more services and visits than fathers across the board.

    The CFSR team also provided a number of observations about the composite National Standards, including:

    • National trends over the last 4 years show an improvement in adoption trends as measured by the composite measure for timeliness of adoptions. This includes an increase in the percentage of children (1) in foster care for 17 months or longer at the start of the reporting year who are discharged to adoption during the year, (2) in foster care for 17 months or longer at the start of the reporting year who became legally free for adoption within 6 months of the reporting year, and (3) legally free for adoption who are adopted in less than 12 months of becoming legally free.
    • National trends also showed that more children in care for more than 2 years are achieving permanency.
    • National trends show little change over 4 years regarding children experiencing fewer than 3 moves while in placement.

    Systemic Factors
    States were rated on seven systemic factors (SFs), based on whether State performance met Federal requirements. Findings to date from Round 2 show the following:

    Systemic FactorNumber of the 32 States Achieving Substantial Conformity
    SF 1 (Statewide Information System)27 States
    SF 2 (Case Review System)1 State
    SF 3 (Quality Assurance System)28 States
    SF 4, (Staff and Provider Training)22 States
    SF 5 (Service Array and Resource Development)8 States
    SF 6 (Agency Responsiveness),31 States
    SF 7 (Parent Licensing, Recruitment, and Retention)                              
    22 States

    No State so far has been rated as a Strength on Item 25 (The State provides a process that ensures that each child has a written case plan to be developed jointly with the child's parents that includes the required provisions), which falls under SF 2 (Case Review System).

    Program Improvement Plans
    States are required to develop PIPs to address areas of concern noted in their CFSRs. Working with the Children's Bureau, States establish specific amounts of improvement or activities that they will complete within a certain timeline. Thirteen States have already received approval for their Round Two PIPs. Some of the recurrent themes in these plans include:

    • An emphasis on practice models
    • Use of evidence-based assessment tools
    • Stronger worker contacts with families
    • Implementation of processes such as family team meetings
    • Enhanced supervision and quality assurance processes
    • Use of technical assistance through the National Resource Centers
    • Improved safety assessments
    • Development of differential response processes
    • Strengthened diligent search for noncustodial kin
    • Focus on concurrent planning
    • Closer review of children who have been in care a long time
    • Stronger recruitment/retention activities
    • Development of well-being checklists for use by agencies and courts

    Round Two of the CFSRs is still in progress. The Federal CFSR team will continue to gather and analyze data and make the findings available on the CB website when the Final CFSR reports for the remaining 20 States are complete.

    Visit the CB website to view the full PowerPoint presentation from August 2009, "Results of the 2007 and 2008 Child and Family Services Reviews":

  • DC's Office of Clinical Practice Cares for Children's Health

    DC's Office of Clinical Practice Cares for Children's Health

    Since establishing its Office of Clinical Practice (OCP), the District of Columbia's Child and Family Services Agency has made remarkable strides in providing health assessments and medical care for children in the child welfare system. This progress was evident in the District's most recent Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) when the CFSR item rating for "physical health of child" was deemed to be a strength, with a 94-percent rating. This was a step forward for the District, whose earlier (2001) CFSR had indicated that children's health was an area requiring improvement.

    Established 8 years ago, the OCP brings together a cadre of professional consultants in health, mental health, special needs, acute care, education, substance abuse, mentoring, domestic violence, and more. They provide expertise in all facets of child well-being through their regular duties—including education and training—and on an as-needed basis for caseworkers and others. OCP staff are on call around the clock, carrying cell phones to ensure that someone is always available to social workers, foster parents, and foster care placement agencies.

    Health-care OCP staff include the Deputy Director, Cheryl Williams, who is a pediatrician, as well as nurses, clinical psychologists, and other clinical and program specialists. Two of the nurses work exclusively with Child Protective Services, assessing the health and medical safety of any referred child (including infants who may have been exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero) and assessing the health and treatment of all children with special needs during the course of an investigation. Other nurses are available to provide medical expertise to caseworkers concerned about children in their caseload and to educate parents and other primary caregivers about children's medical needs.

    In addition, the OCP oversees a program called DC KIDS (Kid Integrated Delivery System) that is contracted out to the Children's National Medical Center. DC KIDS conducts Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) health and developmental assessments for all who enter care. One clinic and two mobile unit locations are available exclusively for the EPSDT assessments. Two of the DC KIDS staff are co-located in the OCP office, where they schedule screenings and enter medical information from the screenings into FACES. (FACES is the District's child welfare data system and is used to document all health needs and services, although it does not constitute the actual physical medical record.)

    The OCP has developed a number of relationships with providers in the community to ensure that children have access to dental care and any necessary specialists. Small Smiles provides dental examinations and care for children in the Medicaid Program. Specialty services are obtained at Children's National Medical Center, Howard University, and Georgetown University.

    Despite this significant progress in providing health care for children involved with child welfare, staff in the OCP continue to face a number of challenges, including:

    • Difficulties identifying all children in care who have medical needs
    • Inability to maintain medical records electronically due to a lack of resources
    • Lack of a sophisticated system for medical appointment alerts and tracking

    Dr. Williams and her staff have begun a number of initiatives to address these challenges. An electronic medical "passport" is being developed that will consolidate all medical information for a child in one system to improve both record-keeping and tracking. In addition, prescreening and EPSDT screenings will soon be conducted at the OCP facility. This will provide a more child-friendly environment for the screening, allow information to be gathered from birth parents, and permit greater coordination of care. Referrals to the OCP are also being streamlined and automated so that caseworkers can more easily refer children to OCP staff when the children have medical or other issues.

    For more information on the District of Columbia's CFSR results, visit the District's Child and Family Services Agency webpage:,a,3,q,643758.asp

    Many thanks to Deputy Director Dr. Cheryl Williams, Program Manager Patrina Anderson, and Special Needs Liaison Melissa Eversley from the Office of Clinical Practice, who provided the information for this article.

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News From the Children's Bureau

Catch up on the latest news and resources from the Children's Bureau and its Training & Technical Assistance Network, including the announcement of the 16 winners of Adoption Excellence Awards and the latest User Manual.

  • Recruiting and Retaining Child Welfare Workers

    Recruiting and Retaining Child Welfare Workers

    The Butler Institute for Families published its final report describing outcomes and lessons learned from a 5-year project to address recruitment, selection, training, and retention of child welfare workers. Funded by a grant from the Children's Bureau, the Western Regional Recruitment and Retention Project (WRRRP) developed training curricula and customized interventions to improve workforce issues in child welfare agencies at five rural and urban sites in Colorado, Arizona, and Wyoming.

    With the support of WRRRP staff, the sites identified specific aspects of the hiring process and work environment needing improvement in their agencies, such as staff cohesion and communication, agency culture, consistency in supervision, and recruitment and selection techniques. To address those issues, each site implemented some of the following strategies:

    • Interview protocols
    • Realistic job preview videos
    • Streamlined hiring processes
    • Training workshops and institutes
    • Flexible hours policies
    • Reward and recognition programs

    A number of evaluations were administered throughout the project to measure effectiveness and outcomes, including organizational assessments, process evaluations, and posttraining surveys. Major findings showed that:

    • Motivation, promotional opportunities, and supervisory support reduced burnout and improved job satisfaction.
    • Retention of supervisors, caseworkers, and case aides increased by 3 percent to 21 percent across all five sites.
    • All training participants self-reported increased knowledge and skills on the training competencies.

    Materials produced by the project include a recruitment and retention manual, realistic job preview video, and training materials.

    Download the WRRRP Final Report on the Butler Institute's website: (589 KB)

    Visit the project's website for more information:

    Related Item

    Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website for more resources on the child welfare workforce:

  • Adoption Excellence Awards Presentation

    Adoption Excellence Awards Presentation

    The Children's Bureau Agencies and Courts Meeting in Arlington, VA, was the setting for the recent presentation of the 2009 Adoption Excellence Awards. During the August 4 luncheon honoring the awardees, Jane Morgan, Director of Capacity Building, read aloud the contributions that the 16 award recipients had made to achieving permanency for children in foster care.

    Awards were made in four categories, and the awardees included individuals, families, adoption professionals, advocates, and the media:

    • Support for Adoptive Families
      • Creating a Family, Internet Radio Show
      • Generations of Hope
    • Individual and/or Family Contributions
      • Rita Goodman
      • Tammy DeHesa
      • Sharen E. Ford, Ph.D.
      • The Honorable Michael Nash
      • Elisa Esh
      • Kate Cleary
      • Joshua Ledbetter and Bethany Ledbetter Blank
      • Anthony and Iris Thorpe
      • John and Patricia Chapman
    • Adoption of Minority Children From Foster Care
      • Adoption Network Cleveland
      • Regina Louise
    • Media/Public Awareness of Adoption From Foster Care
      • Detroit Free Press
      • Rich Newman
      • The News Press

    The work of one of the awardees, Rich Newman, was highlighted during the opening session of the Agencies and Courts Meeting. Mr. Newman received an Adoption Excellence Award for his video, "The Road to Foster Care and Adoption," which captures the moving stories of children and teens who spent time in foster care before being adopted. Mr. Newman, who works for the Walt Disney Company in Florida and has been a foster parent, used his own vacation time and resources from his church to travel and film these personal stories. Mr. Newman also worked with AdoptUsKids to produce the video. More than 1,000 copies of the final video have been provided, free of charge, to child welfare agencies across the country and distributed at national meetings and conferences.

    To read more about the Adoption Excellence Awards and the 2009 awardees, visit the CB website:

  • Site Visit: National Network Promotes Faith-Based Adoption Efforts

    Site Visit: National Network Promotes Faith-Based Adoption Efforts

    The Virginia One Church One Child (OCOC) adoption advocacy program was funded by the Children’s Bureau in 2003 to establish the National Network of Adoption Advocacy Programs (NNAAP) as a way to recruit families to adopt African-American and other children. The goal for the NNAAP was to increase the number of States using the OCOC model, placing particular emphasis on States that have disproportionate numbers of African-American, Hispanic, or other minority children in waiting.

    The OCOC mission is for every participating church to find one family to adopt one child from foster care, and the OCOC model outlines how churches can recruit, train, and support adoptive families. The model also outlines how church congregations can provide postadoption support in a way similar to a traditional African-American extended family.

    The first year of the NNAAP was devoted to building a network and ensuring a strong program base for evaluation and program design. Over the following years, the NNAAP helped jurisdictions build programs on the OCOC model by providing conferences, speakers, technical assistance, peer-to-peer technical support, resources, and training. The program also administered mini-grants to help OCOC-modeled organizations build firm foundations.

    Much of the success of the program is attributed to the relationships that were built between churches and child welfare agencies. The OCOC model helped pave the way for these relationships so that churches and agencies could coordinate their work and support each other. For example, the Virginia OCOC has a Department of Social Services staff person in the OCOC office, and the OCOC engages participating churches in all aspects of child welfare, from prevention to permanency.

    Another crucial element for OCOC program success is the endorsement and support of pastors and church leaders. OCOC staff find ways to support and engage the pastors by getting to know them, helping them with fundraisers and other projects, and asking pastors they know to introduce them to new clergy. One program sponsors Clergy in Court for Kids by taking local clergy to Family Court 1 day a week so that the pastors hear what is happening to children in their community. This has proven to be an eye opener for many clergy and has helped the OCOC staff with garnering church support for their program.

    The church coordinator is another important component for the model. Each participating church identifies a coordinator who commits to being the liaison between the church and the OCOC program. In some cases, the person is an adoptive parent. The coordinator’s responsibilities include making presentations at the church, setting up OCOC displays, attending workshops, and speaking about the program at other churches. OCOC provides training on the child welfare system and also provides items such as presentation materials.

    Anecdotal evidence to date supports the success of this program. A program evaluator recently published a report on the best practices of the OCOC model programs, noting the following core services:

    • Partnership between faith community and public agencies
    • Recruitment for resource families within the faith community
    • Education with increased awareness for the faith community and the public about adoption
    • Advocacy for adoption in the faith community

    More information about the NNAAP and OCOC model can be found on the network's website, including information about its steering and advisory committee members, mini-grants, and additional resources:

    The best practices report is available on this website: (1,042 MB)

    For more information, contact the project director:
    Rev. Wilbert D. Talley
    7641 Hull Street Road, Suite 103
    Richmond, VA 23235

    To read the full site visit report, go to Child Welfare Information Gateway:

    National Network of Adoption Advocacy Programs: One Church, One Child is funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant #90 CO-0998, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area Developing a National Network of Adoption Advocacy Programs. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.

  • Connects to ARRA Funding Connects to ARRA Funding, the website that contains information on finding and applying for all Federal grant programs, has been upgraded to direct users to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant opportunities, other Recovery Act resources, webinars, and links to and In addition, held a series of webinars in August targeted at new grant applicants, and those archived webinars will be posted on the website.

  • 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.

    Fresh additions to the site include:

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

  • User Manual on Families With Substance Use Disorders

    User Manual on Families With Substance Use Disorders

    The Children's Bureau is pleased to announce that the latest release in the Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series, Protecting Children in Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders, is now available for download from the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

    The manual examines:

    • The nature of substance use disorders (SUDs)
    • The impact of parental SUDs on child development
    • In-home examination, screening, and assessment for SUDs
    • Treatment goals and approaches
    • The role of the child protective services (CPS) caseworker when an SUD is identified
    • Differences and similarities between CPS and SUD treatment providers
    • Collaborative relationships and techniques for making systems work for families

    The manual is part of the third edition of the User Manual Series, developed to reflect increased knowledge and the evolving state of practice. The User Manual Series, from the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect within the Children's Bureau, provides a foundation for understanding child maltreatment and the roles and responsibilities of child welfare practitioners in prevention, identification, assessment, and treatment.

    Read the manual on the Information Gateway website:

    The full series of User Manuals is available on the webpage:

  • The Feasibility of a National Registry

    The Feasibility of a National Registry

    The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently reported to Congress on the feasibility of establishing a national child abuse and neglect registry. Such a registry would consist of a national database of information on individuals with a history of committing child abuse or neglect. Currently, 40 to 45 States maintain their own registries, which are generally used for background checks of individuals who come to the attention of the child welfare system, foster and adoptive parents, and employees or volunteers who work with children.

    The ASPE study was required by Section 633 of The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-248) to examine the costs and benefits of establishing a national child abuse registry and to make recommendations regarding a due process procedure and data standards that should be considered in implementing such a registry. In the report, author Laura Radel describes key feasibility issues and concludes that implementation is not feasible under the statutory limitations of the authorizing legislation for the following reasons:

    • Potential benefits of a national child abuse registry are largely unknown.
    • A lack of incentives for participation could result in a database that includes little information and fails to fulfill its intent.
    • Before implementation could begin, legislative change would be needed to permit the collection of sufficient information to accurately identify perpetrators.
    • Clarification is required on several key issues that are ambiguous in the authorizing statute; these must be resolved either within HHS or by Congress before implementation could proceed.

    The author further concludes that it is unclear whether child safety would be improved substantially by a national database of child abuse perpetrators.

    The report, Interim Report to the Congress on the Feasibility of a National Child Abuse Registry, is available on the ASPE website:

  • Telly Award for Information Gateway

    Telly Award for Information Gateway

    Child Welfare Information Gateway, a member of the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network, recently received a 2009 Telly Award for its video "What is Child Welfare Information Gateway?" The Telly is a coveted industry award that recognizes the best commercials, traditional film and video productions, and online videos. Shot at the Information Gateway office with staff as the cast, the video promotes the clearinghouse and its products and services for child welfare professionals. The video won a bronze award in the direct marketing category.

    To view the award-winning video, visit the Information Gateway website or YouTube:

  • Updates From the T&TA Network

    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.

    Five regional Implementation Centers, funded in 2008 to facilitate peer-to-peer networking across State and Tribal child welfare systems, host regional forums, and support systems change projects, have all now established websites:

     Other resources from the T&TA Network include:

    • Child Welfare Information Gateway has updated its factsheet on child fatalities. Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities: Statistics and Interventions uses statistics from Child Maltreatment 2007 to provide a national overview of child fatalities due to maltreatment.
    • FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) offers a tipsheet on the proper elements of an outcome report. Writing Reports and Telling Success Stories describes how to share the results of your evaluation activities and help build greater understanding and strength for your family support and child abuse prevention services. (36 KB)
    • The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center has published a new factsheet, Standby Guardianship, which discusses how some seriously ill parents can provide for their children's permanency through flexible standby guardianship arrangements. (730 KB)
    • The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement's recent issue of its newsletter Child Welfare Matters includes articles on promoting collaboration between child welfare and the courts, including a lead article that lists 10 strategies that agencies and courts can use to build collaboration. (1,454 KB)
    • The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect has released new data sets on the national Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), Foster Care and Adoption Files for 2007.
    • The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System published the spring issue of its quarterly newsletter, QIC News, with the theme "Engaging Non-Resident Fathers in the Court Process." The newsletter includes personal stories from fathers, as well as articles by attorneys and advocates.
      [Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]
    • The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services and the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues have published Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys, which is available online and in hard copy. The online version contains appendices with expanded definitions and examples of key concepts, while the hard copy includes benchcards for use by judges.
    • The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology offers new tools on the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD), including a user's guide and practical strategies for the NYTD Youth Outcome Survey.
    • The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) has added new and updated information packets to its website. Listed as "Hot Topics," these useful tools include comprehensive resources for child welfare professionals. Some of the new topics are Prevention, Systems of Care, Cultural Competence, and Child Welfare Administration and Supervision.
      The NRCFCPPP also offers a Child and Family Services Plan checklist for Regional Offices to use as part of the plan review process.

    Read about more T&TA Network resources and news in the following articles in this issue of CBX:

Child Welfare Research

Research in the field looks at promising results from integrating differential response with systems of care and reports on chronic neglect, developmental delays, and community prevention of sexual abuse.

  • Chronic Neglect Special Issue

    Chronic Neglect Special Issue

    American Humane has undertaken a national initiative on chronic neglect, aiming to identify and develop strategies and tools to prevent chronic neglect, support at-risk families, and effect systems change. As part of this initiative, a recent issue of the Protecting Children journal (Vol. 24, No. 1) was devoted to articles on chronic neglect, focusing on innovative approaches and promising practices in prevention and intervention. Articles in the special issue, titled "Shining Light on Chronic Neglect: Core Issues Facing Our Most Vulnerable Families," include:

    • "How Can Neglected Organizations Serve Neglected Children?" by S. Steib and W. Whiting Blome
    • "Demonstration Models on Neglect: Lessons Learned" (focusing on projects funded by the Children's Bureau) by J. Denniston, S. M. Flanzer, and J. P. Shafer
    • "Mobilizing Community Responses to Chronic Neglect: A Research-to-Practice Approach" by K. Cahn and K. Nelson
    • "Building Healthy Families: An Innovative Approach to Working With Families Affected by Chronic Neglect" by M. Jonson-Reid, A. Swarnes, B. Wilson, M. J. Stahlschmidt, and B. Drake
    • "Chronic Neglect: Prediction and Prevention" by J. P. Mersky, J. Topitzes, and A. J. Reynolds
    • "Whatever It Takes: Illuminating a New Promising Practice for Responding to Chronic Neglect" by S. J. Altshuler, A. Cleverly-Thomas, and M. A. Murphy

    The issue, edited by Caren Kaplan, Patricia Schene, Diane DePanfilis, and Debra Gilmore, is available for purchase on the American Humane website: (1.17 MB)

  • Addressing Developmental Needs of Young Children

    Addressing Developmental Needs of Young Children

    A recent study funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, examined the developmental needs of young children (0 to 5 years) in the child welfare system and the degree to which these needs were being addressed. The report looks at data on more than 2,000 young children from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, which suggest the following:

    • A significant number, perhaps half, of these young children experienced developmental delays.
    • In a significant number of children, these developmental problems were unrecognized by caseworkers and caregivers.
    • Despite the availability of early care and education (ECE) center-based programs such as Head Start, children who qualified often were not enrolled.

    Researchers also conducted field study interviews in Colorado, foster parent surveys, and child welfare caseworker surveys to examine the problems associated with enrolling children in ECE programs. They outline strategies for promoting collaboration among professionals in order to improve assessment and enrollment. These strategies are described, with examples, in a number of areas, including:

    • Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C and B policy
    • ECE policy
    • Record keeping and sharing of information
    • Training
    • Interagency planning and collaboration

    The report concludes that early assessment and appropriate interventions may help young children in the child welfare system overcome early trauma and acquire the necessary skills to succeed in school.

    To access the full paper, Children at Risk in the Child Welfare System: Collaborations to Promote School Readiness by the Catherine E. Cutler Institute for Child and Family Policy, visit the following website:,%20for%20website.pdf (1,188 KB)

  • Promoting Healthy Environments to Stop Sexual Abuse

    Promoting Healthy Environments to Stop Sexual Abuse

    A recent report from the Prevention Institute analyzes the environmental factors and norms that contribute to child sexual abuse and exploitation and illustrates primary prevention strategies aimed at transforming our communities and preventing child sexual abuse. The policy brief, Transforming Communities to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: A Primary Prevention Approach, suggests that promoting healthy environments in all communities, rather than focusing on individual changes, is key to successful child abuse prevention.

    The issue brief cites some of the environmental factors that increase the risk of child sexual abuse:

    • Technology that makes it difficult to maintain healthy boundaries
    • Popular culture promoting sexualized messages and rigid gender roles
    • Marginalized communities' greater exposure to unhealthy advertising and commercial exploitation
    • Consumer culture that floods children with damaging messages

    An array of promising initiatives across the spectrum of prevention is described in six specific areas:

    • Influencing policy and legislation
    • Changing organizational practices
    • Fostering coalitions and networks
    • Educating providers
    • Promoting community education
    • Strengthening individual knowledge and skills

    The policy brief cites specific actions within each area, with examples of practices and policy initiatives that have the potential to bring about community and systems-level changes. By understanding and transforming environments, communities can prevent child sexual abuse before it occurs.

    Transforming Communities to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: A Primary Prevention Approach, by Annie Lyles, Larry Cohen, and Margot Brown, is available on the Prevention Institute website: (250 KB)

  • Enhancing Multiple Response With System of Care

    Enhancing Multiple Response With System of Care

    Agencies that use both multiple response systems (MRSs) and systems of care (SOCs) reap more benefits than those using an MRS alone, according to a recent issue brief from the Center for Child and Family policy. Multiple Response System and System of Care: Two Policy Reforms Designed to Improve the Child Welfare System describes how SOCs can enhance the effectiveness of MRSs to produce better outcomes for children and families.

    An MRS is a differential response approach in which selected reports of child neglect and dependency are assigned to a family assessment track rather than the traditional investigative approach. SOCs emphasize collaboration and coordination among agencies, family-centered practice, and building on existing strengths to support families.

    The issue brief describes North Carolina's pilot projects with MRSs in 10 counties, including 3 counties that also implemented SOCs funded through Children's Bureau grants. Evaluation findings allowed comparisons between the counties with just MRSs and those with both MRSs and SOCs. Counties with both garnered the following positive outcomes in their child welfare system:

    • More effective Child and Family Team meetings that adhered more closely to the model and tended to include more relatives and other participants
    • Community Collaboratives with increased levels of participation from stakeholders

    MRSs are now in place in all 100 counties in North Carolina, and the North Carolina Division of Social Services would like to integrate SOCs as well. The issue brief goes on to provide strategies for implementing SOCs without external grant funding. Strategies include:

    • Creating or strengthening the community collaborative
    • Implementing cross-agency training
    • Blending funds
    • Incorporating State-level support

    The issue brief, by Nicole Lawrence and Elizabeth Snyder, is available on the Center for Child and Family Policy website: (352 KB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

CBX links you to three toolkits designed to engage families, help parents whose children have been sexually abused, and preserve families.

  • Promising Practices in Family Engagement

    Promising Practices in Family Engagement

    Engaging families involved in the child welfare system in case planning and service delivery gives them a stronger voice in the decision-making process and improves outcomes for children and youth. A new online toolkit from the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) helps States and Tribes learn more about promising practices for family engagement in child welfare and how to incorporate those practices into their policies and programs.

    The toolkit focuses on five core principles of family engagement practice:

    • Caseworker engagement with families
    • Birth and foster family partnerships
    • Shared planning and decision-making
    • Cross-system partnerships
    • Stakeholder involvement

    For each core principle, the toolkit describes key elements and shares promising strategies States have used to improve practices in that area. The toolkit includes numerous references and links to online resources to learn more about family engagement strategies.

    "Family Engagement: A Web-Based Practice Toolkit" is available on the NRCFCPPP website:

  • Intensive Family Preservation Services Toolkit

    Intensive Family Preservation Services Toolkit

    The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN), which promotes Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) programs, has introduced a new toolkit to accommodate the most recent research on family preservation. IFPS programs are concentrated in-home services designed to prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement of children.

    As a guide for the development and maintenance of IFPS services, this toolkit includes:

    • Definitions
    • History
    • Benefits
    • Standards
    • Performance measures
    • Federal funding sources
    • Payment structure for contractors
    • Assessment tools
    • Latest research
    • Stepdown services
    • Evaluation measures
    • Success stories
    • Other information and resources for IFPS
    • IFPS information related to reunification services

    To download a copy of the IFPS ToolKit, visit: (805 KB)

  • Help for Parents of Sexual Abuse Victims

    Help for Parents of Sexual Abuse Victims

    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has developed a consumer-focused resource kit to give parents and caregivers information about how to support children and teens who have been sexually abused. Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know About Sexual Abuse is a multipart toolkit that covers the full range of effects of child sexual abuse and how parents, teachers, and even adolescent peers can help victims cope with trauma.

    The contents cover issues such as acquaintance rape, intrafamilial abuse, and coping with the emotional stress of the legal system. Articles include a factsheet for adults, a safety guide for teens, and questions and answers about child sexual abuse. The booklet dispels myths of child sexual abuse and acquaintance rape and stresses the value of acceptance, talking, and listening to children as a way parents and caregivers can help relieve the severe impact of abuse.

    NCTSN is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Visit the NCTSN website to download the file: (11 MB)



  • New Kids Count Data Book Measures Child Well-Being

    New Kids Count Data Book Measures Child Well-Being

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its 20th annual Kids Count Data Book, which provides information on child well-being in all 50 States based on 10 key indicators and using data from 2006 and 2007.

    Featured indicators for each State include the percentage of births to single mothers, the percentage of births to mothers with less than a high school education, the number of children 0-18 years old in households with incomes below the poverty level, and the percentage of young adults 18-24 years old who have not completed high school.

    This year's Kids Count Data Book also features an essay on the importance of data to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families.

    The Kids Count Data Book has its own website, with multimedia presentations about the data and the book, as well as quick links to such topics as State rankings.

    Visit the 2009 Kids Count Data Book website:

  • Birth Parent Stories

    Birth Parent Stories

    Two new books from Youth Connections (the publishers of Rise and Represent magazines) offer collections of stories from parents and others that can be used in training and general information sharing.

    • It Won't Happen Again: Stories About Reunification by Parents Affected by the Child Welfare System includes nine stories by parents who were reunited with their children after foster care placement. The stories discuss the difficulties that sometimes occur after reunification, addressing typical issues such as children's anger. The book includes discussion guides for use in staff training, parenting classes, or parent support groups, as well as worksheets to help parents think about their own experiences and develop healthy responses.
    • Building a Bridge: Stories About Connections Between Parents and Foster Parents includes stories by parents, foster parents, and teens in foster care, as well as interviews with child welfare experts. The goal is to promote collaboration between parents and foster parents that helps children feel more secure while in foster care and adjust more easily after reunification. Leader's Guides provide instructions for using the stories to promote openness and self-reflection in training and parent support groups.
  • Booster Club Supports Youth in Foster Care

    Booster Club Supports Youth in Foster Care

    FosterClub, a national online community serving current and former foster youth, has designed a new section for its website—Booster Club, for caring adults who wish to improve the lives of children in foster care. Booster Club highlights various initiatives to raise awareness and generate resources for children and youth in care. The new section covers:

    • Foster parenting
    • Online training
    • Child welfare tools
    • Message board for grownups

    In addition, Booster Club offers concrete ways for adults to support youth in foster care.

    For more information, visit the Booster Club section of the FosterClub website:

  • Using Family Teaming to Achieve Permanence

    Using Family Teaming to Achieve Permanence

    The rising use of family meeting models (sometimes called family teaming models) that engage youth, families, and others in child welfare planning and decision-making is the focus of the June 2009 issue of Connections Count, a newsletter published by Casey Family Services.

    Although many agencies use team-based models, tremendous variations in these models exist. Frequently used teaming models include Family Group Decision Making, Family Team Conferencing, Team Decision Making, and the Permanency Teaming Process.

    Differences relate to the purpose and goals of the decision-making process, the timing and frequency of meetings, and the type and level of preparation for meetings. Other variables include who facilitates the process, who participates, and who makes final decisions. In this issue, articles describe the similarities and differences in the models and examine research on the effectiveness of family teaming approaches.

    This issue is available online:

    Related Item

    Advocates for Children and Youth has published "Critical Elements for Family Team Decision Making," an issue brief that lists the essential elements of a plan to expand family-centered practice in Maryland, including the need for consistent models of practice and caseworker and supervisor training.

    The issue brief is available online: (206 KB)

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.

  • Leadership Academy Training for Supervisors and Middle Managers

    Leadership Academy Training for Supervisors and Middle Managers

    With the goal of building the capacity of the nation's child welfare workforce, the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI), a member of the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network, has developed leadership training consisting of two components: a Leadership Academy for Supervisors (LAS) and a Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM).

    The LAS offers extensive online training to supervisors in public, private, and Tribal child welfare agencies. Each web-based training module is self-paced and includes learning activities focused on adult learning, leadership principles, and succession planning. The Introductory Module, which is the first of six, will be available online in September 2009.

    The LAMM, which was created for mid-level managers, will take place over 5 years beginning in 2009. Each participant will take part in a 5-day residential training, followed by online and teleconference peer networking. Topics such as leadership, workforce and professional development, and succession planning are included in the LAMM training.

    More information, including enrollment material, may be found on the NCWWI website.

    Leadership Academy for Supervisors Core Curriculum: (182 KB)

  • Conferences


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

    October 2009

    • National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence
      Family Violence Prevention Fund
      October 9–10, New Orleans, LA

    • Third National Judicial Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children
      Many Things We Need Can Wait—A Child Cannot

      National Center for State Courts
      October 15–17, Austin, TX (308 KB)
    • Strengthening Families Leadership Summit
      Creating Opportunities in Challenging Times

      Center for the Study of Social Policy
      October 28–29, Atlanta, GA
    • Practical Considerations: The Nexus of Social Work and Law in International Child Welfare
      International Social Service
      October 30–31, Baltimore, MD

    November 2009

    • 55th Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education
      Bridging Rights, Culture, and Justice: Social Work as a Change Agent

      November 6–9, San Antonio, TX

    • NAEHCY 21st Annual Conference
      National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
      November 14–17, Denver, CO

    December 2009

    • National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health 20th Anniversary Conference
      Children's Mental Health Matters

      December 3–6, Washington, DC

    • 24th National Training Institute
      December 4–6, Dallas, TX

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