- Talking to Kids About Foster Care
How should adults answer the many questions children have about foster care? How can information be provided that is simple and comprehensible? To address the questions, a Miami-based woman wrote The Foster Care Guide for Kids so children could more easily understand their experience.
Laura Greer volunteered at the Children's Home Society in Miami for many years and encountered situations where she needed to provide easy-to-understand answers to children regarding the foster care system, foster families, judges, and caseworkers. She wrote The Foster Care Guide for Kids in a question-and-answer format to be read to younger children or given to older children to read. The book is colorful, has many illustrations, and a glossary of terms.
The Department of Youth and Family Services and the Children's Home Society, both in Miami, have reviewed and approved the book. It will soon be available in Spanish.
For more information, contact:
Children's Home Society, Southeastern Division
P.O. Box 01-3241
Miami, FL 33101-3241
- Journal Spotlights Transitioning Foster Youth
How can communities and child welfare agencies help youth transition from foster care to independent living? The most recent issue of AdvoCasey, the Annie E. Casey Foundation's magazine, considers that question.
One article, "A Special Report on Foster Teens in Transition: Fostered or Forgotten?" spotlights policies that work"”and policies that don't"”by illustrating the programs of one State, New Jersey. Author Dick Mendel points out that in New Jersey"”as in some other States"”foster families, group home caretakers, and caseworkers often don't teach foster youth essential life skills. One expert interviewed by Mendel likens the situation to teaching driver's education without a car.
The article also notes positive steps being taken in New Jersey to improve services to foster youth, including State funding for emergency shelters and transitional housing as well as extension of Medicaid health coverage for teens who age out of foster care.
A second article, "Who Else is Making a Difference for Foster Youth in Transition? Four Models Worth Watching" offers brief profiles of programs in San Antonio, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; and Connecticut. In San Antonio, the Community Transition Services Center aims to give foster youth "one-stop shopping for a whole continuum of services." Lighthouse Youth Services in Cincinnati provides youth with various types of transitional housing and training in independent living. In Baltimore, the UPS School-to-Career partnership provides foster youth with steady jobs at a living wage, tuition reimbursement, and counseling support. Finally, the article spotlights Connecticut, which has a variety of services based on a comprehensive long-range plan to assist youth in the transition out of foster care.
The entire issue can be downloaded at AdvoCasey (http://www.aecf.org/publications/advocasey/fall2001/index.htm).
Search the archives of the Children's Bureau Express for other articles on foster youth transitioning to independence at http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/art_search.cfm
The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 offers grants to States to help current and former foster care youth gain self-sufficiency. More information on the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independent Program can be found at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/index.htm#state#3.
- Report Sketches Picture of Foster Care in America
How has foster care changed over the years? What are the current challenges? What is the outlook for the future? These are some of the issues covered in Foster Care Today, a paper by the Casey National Center for Resource Family Support.
Kathy Barbell and Madelyn Freundlich present factors that have influenced foster care over the years: changing societal expectations, increasing number of families with multiple problems, and the changing role of the child welfare system.
Among other things, the authors observe the following:
- The number of substantiated child abuse and neglect reports as well as the number of children in foster care has grown since the 1960s. Contributing factors include: high rates of re-entry into care and increased placement of children from other systems such as the mental health and juvenile justice systems.
- Families and children who are served through foster care are affected by poverty, homelessness, adolescent parenthood, parental substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS.
The authors review nearly 20 years of Federal legislation that has shaped current foster care practice. They also discuss other influential trends:
- Decreasing number of foster parents
- Changing role and expectations of foster families
- Relying more on kinship care
- Using concurrent planning.
They also forecast the issues they believe will become central to foster care practice in the future.
The document is available in PDF and HTML format at www.casey.org/Resources/Archive/Publications/FosterCareToday.htm.
For more information, contact:
Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support (CNC)
1808 Eye St. NW 5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20006
Access the National Foster Care Month toolkit, greetings from the President, and related materials from the National Center for Resource Family Support's website (http://www.casey.org/cnc/foster_care_month -- this link is no longer available.
For statistics on foster care placements, visit the Data and Info Systems page of the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/dis/index.htm.
- Treehouse Strives to Improve the Quality of Life for Foster Children
Based in Seattle, Washington, an organization called Treehouse works to improve the lives of abused and neglected children in small ways that make a big difference.
Treehouse was founded 15 years ago by a group of King County social workers to assist children in foster care by funding the "extras" that many families routinely provide for their children. Treehouse activities include the following:
- Little Wishes. Treehouse provides the funds to grant foster children's wishes for such things as music and dance lessons, martial arts classes, memberships in Scouts, youth group trips, sports teams, and other activities. Treehouse granted over 1,910 such wishes to 936 children in 2001. According to Paige Ruble, Treehouse Program Manager, the Little Wishes program fulfills a wide variety of requests. Ruble cited a class trip to Ecuador for a youth studying Spanish at an alternative school, Native American dance outfits, equipment for a Special Olympics participant, and a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities for a group of teens pursuing post-secondary education.
- Educational Support. Treehouse tutors assist many Seattle and Bellevue area foster children, providing them extra help so that they don't fall behind other children who may have had advantages such as having attended preschool or having been read to from an early age. Currently Treehouse has 14 full-time, paid tutors placed in 7 Seattle schools, each working with about a dozen students. Another program, "Coaching to College," recruits volunteers to advise foster care youth on education and training opportunities beyond high school.
- Camp. Treehouse provides funding to send foster children to the summer camps of their choice. Approximately 900 foster children were sent by Treehouse to camp last summer.
- Wearhouse. Since foster families only receive $100 annually from Washington State to spend on clothing for foster kids, Treehouse also supports foster families through its retail-like "Wearhouse." Corporations, organizations, and individuals donate new and gently used items. These include clothing, toys, school supplies, books, and hygiene items, which are given to foster children for free.
In addition to these core activities, Treehouse partners with other agencies that work to brighten the lives of foster children. One non-profit, known as the Brighter Birthday Club, finds local donors to help fulfill a foster child's birthday wish list. Treehouse also joined forces with the Division of Child and Family Services, YMCA Independent Living Program, and Casey Family Programs to help prepare foster youth for the workplace. Known as Project B.E.T.A. (Beginning Employment and Training for Adulthood), it provides 30 hours of job training followed by 12 weeks of mentored employment at the Treehouse Warehouse.
By responding to individual material, educational, and recreational needs, Treehouse helps to break the cycle of hopelessness, lack of self esteem, poverty, abuse, and neglect that may confront the children that pass through its doors.
Paige A. Ruble
Treehouse Program Manager
655 S. Orcas St.
Seattle, WA 98108
Phone: 206-767-7000 ext. 207
- New Newspaper's Staff Shares Background of Homelessness and Foster Care
A new publication is intended to help improve the lives of young people who may be suffering negative effects of foster care or homelessness. It takes a two-pronged approach: It provides a creative outlet to its writers who share backgrounds of homelessness and foster care; and it is designed to be read by young people in similar circumstances, written from a perspective that they can readily identify with.
The Mockingbird Times was created in Seattle as the first project of the Mockingbird Society, which was founded by Jim Theofelis, a political activist in Washington State. The title comes from the novel To Kill A Mockingbird: Theofelis wants to create a society that values children in a special way. The subject matter of this publication includes foster care and homelessness as well as music, book reviews, poetry, and other issues that may be of interest to its young readers.
This creative outlet provides a forum for talented young people to discuss their experiences and views about how service systems can be improved. "We can be reminded that a person coming through the system is more than somebody's treatment plan," states Theofelis in the inaugural issue. "That they also have the same kind of interests that all kids across the State have." He hopes that the Mockingbird Times will change people's views about children who have been in foster care and what they have to offer the community.
Writing in Connect for Kids, an electronic newsletter and website sponsored by the Benton Foundation, Deborah Fisher details the publication's history, funding, mission, and present composition. Read the article online at: http://www.connectforkids.org/.
The Mockingbird Times
1820 12th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122
See the following related article in the May/June 2001 issue of the Children's Bureau Express:
- "FosterClub: Online Resources for Foster Kids and Their Parents"
- Ideas On Improving Health Services for Young Children in Foster Care
A new publication focuses on the special problems related to the provision of health care to young children in foster care.
Improving the Odds for the Healthy Development of Young Children in Foster Care, a policy paper, was released in January 2002 by the National Center for Children In Poverty. The paper points out that young children under age 5 are the fastest growing population in foster care and that these children have special health care problems. Among these problems are higher than average incidences of prenatal exposure to maternal substance abuse, low birth-weight, and developmental delays.
The paper stresses the need for health, mental health, and developmental services appropriate to the needs of young children who live in foster care and the corresponding need for monitoring and tracking mechanisms to ensure that children receive these services. The publication identifies promising strategies and suggests action steps for communities.
The paper also recommends that all involved (courts, foster parents, child welfare workers) receive training and information to understand the health care needs of the children they serve.
To receive a copy of the NCCP report, contact Kate Szumanski at email@example.com or download a copy at: http://cpmcnet.columbia.edu/dept/nccp/ProEmoPP2.html
Also see "Alabama Doctor Centralizes Medical Records for Children in Foster Care" in this issue of CBX.
- Handbook Advises on Building Community Programs
What do communities need to know in order to start programs for children in foster care? How much time and money is involved? What resources are available? Inquiries such as these led to the creation of Guardian Angels—Helping Children in Foster Care—A Handbook for Building Community Programs, a guide for communities that want to create local enrichment programs.
Titled Guardian Angels—the image of an unseen, but always present and caring helper—and produced by The Families for Kids Partnership of Washington State, the handbook focuses on communities within the State of Washington but the principles and information can be used in any community. Barbara Fenster, the author, provides examples, outlines, tips, and suggestions from people who have created their own programs with the goal of giving children in foster care the everyday experiences of a normal childhood.
The handbook includes:
- An outline to follow through the process of program start-up
- Basics about community organizing, program start-up and management
- Examples from five models of community-based enrichment organizations
- Tips from these enrichment programs
- Suggestions for further reading and contacts
- A list of other available materials.
The Families for Kids Partnership offers free consultation and/or technical assistance within the United States to anyone who would like assistance in starting a program. For more information about this, contact:
Families for Kids Partnership
Phone: toll free at 800-456-3339 ext. 271 or 206-695-3271
The Guardian Angels handbook is available in PDF format at http://www.childrenshomesociety.org/GuardianAngelHandbook.pdf.
Spotlight on National Adoption Month
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
News From the Children's Bureau
- Applications Sought for FY 2002 Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants
Applications are now available for organizations seeking funding in the areas of adoption, abandoned infants, and the Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program. The Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACF) proposes to award approximately 19 new grants in fiscal year 2002. The size of the awards will vary and are based on the following approximate allocations:
- Adoption Opportunities Demonstration Projects ($8,400,000). ACF will fund projects to increase adoptive placement for minority children; develop post-legal adoption services; develop respite care projects for families who adopt children with special needs; operate and maintain a National Adoption Information Exchange System and the National Adoption Internet Photolisting website, AdoptUSKids; and address barriers to cross-jurisdictional placement.
- Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center ($700,000). ACF will award funds to operate the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center, which focuses on the needs of abandoned infants as well as infants at risk of abandonment and their families. The Resource Center will provide grantee service agencies and organizations with access to techniques and strategies to establish social and health care services to infants, young children, and their families affected by substance abuse and/or HIV infection. The Resource Center also will assist grantee service agencies and organizations in planning and implementing critical case management issues including safety, well-being, and permanency planning to improve outcomes for these children and families.
- Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program (Title II of CAPTA) ($1,078,350). ACF will award funds to operate the National Resource Center for Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS) Programs. The Resource Center will provide training and technical assistance to help States and tribes implement the federally funded CBFRS program and to build linkages among State, tribal, and migrant CBFRS initiatives. This priority area also includes three grants to tribes, tribal organizations, and migrant organizations for the purpose of establishing community-based prevention programs serving tribal and migrant families.
Applications must be received by 4:30 pm (Eastern Time Zone) on May 30, 2002. The announcement package is available on the Children's Bureau website (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb) under Funding Announcements. The required Federal forms are available online at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofs/grants/form.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)
For additional information, contact:
Director, Division of Data, Research and Innovation
- National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center Seeks Telephone Seminar Participants
Join the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (NAIARC) for its upcoming telephone seminar "Integrating Domestic Abuse and Substance Abuse Services." NAIARC's mission is to enhance the quality of social and health services delivered to abandoned infants and young children at risk of abandonment for reasons related to substance abuse or HIV. The Center provides training, technical assistance, research, resources, and information to professionals who serve these children and their families.
"Integrating Domestic Abuse and Substance Abuse Services" will highlight an innovative program addressing families affected by both domestic violence and substance abuse. The discussion will include problems encountered, lessons learned, successes, and research. The presenter is Carey Tradewell Monreal from the Milwaukee Women's Center. Date: June 11, 2002.
The 90-minute teleconference will take place from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. Presenters also will respond to questions from callers. Participants will receive a packet of materials including how to access the call, an agenda, biographical information about the speaker, and a participant roster.
The seminar costs $25 per person, and a limited number of scholarships are available. The registration form, further instructions, and additional information can be found on the NAIARC website at http://aia.berkeley.edu/training/teleconference/teleconference_series.php. For more information, call Margot Broaddus at 510-643-7018.
- News From the Child Welfare Training Resources (CWTR) Online Network: Issues in Domestic Violence Vi
News From the Child Welfare Training Resources (CWTR) Online Network: Issues in Domestic Violence Vi
In fiscal year 1999, C E Verifier, Inc. (a multimedia training development company) initiated the development of a program designed to meet the California State mandate that all public child welfare workers be trained on domestic violence. The Bay Area Academy subcontracted with C E Verifier to develop alternative training technology for the program. C E Verifier produced videos, participant manuals, and a patented CD-ROM-based assessment tool that provides options to verify the identity of a self-study registrant, audit his/her participation, assess mastery of learning objectives and report trainee results to management.
The program's primary goal is to educate human services professionals in any State about:
- The interrelationship of child abuse and domestic violence
- The impact of domestic violence on children and families
- The role of professionals in identifying and dealing with domestic violence
- The impact of culture on domestic violence cases.
The training program presents information from experts and practitioners working in the field of domestic violence. The program also presents the experiences and insight of persons who are dealing with or have experienced domestic violence in their lives.
The domestic violence training program focuses on five topic areas:
- Definitions and incidence
- Safety planning
- Effect of domestic violence on children.
Each topic area is presented as a training module and includes a videotape, a written manual, and a computer-based (CD-ROM) assessment component. The manual summarizes the key points of the video, provides additional information where appropriate, and presents written exercises to apply the information. It also includes assignments that apply the information on the job. The CD-ROM assessment tool measures the individual's comprehension of the video and the written material.
This training program can be used as technology-based self-study by an individual at his or her workplace or by a trainer in a classroom. Individually, a trainee views the videotape and, throughout the module, completes training exercises in the manual. At the end of each module, the trainee completes a computerized assessment (Knowledge Check) on the CD-ROM that measures comprehension. The Knowledge Check gives immediate feedback to the trainee's incorrect responses. It provides the correct information and also shows the segment of the video where the information is presented.
In the classroom, a trainer presents all or portions of each module video. The manual provides written material suitable as handouts and exercises adaptable for small group discussion or exercises. Use of the CD-ROM Knowledge Check media is optional.
In a related activity, NASW State Chapters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Missouri are collaborating with C E Verifier, Inc. to offer this product to licensed social workers seeking self-study continuing education credit. Several other State Chapters are engaged in the approval seeking process and anticipate involvement in upcoming months.
Ronald E. Hill, President
C E Verifier, Inc.
Stow, OH 44224
- NICWA Working to Improve Permanency Outcomes for Tribal Children
In the past two years the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) has been joined by the Child Welfare League of America, the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning, Casey Family Programs, and The Packard Foundation to conduct a series of Strategic Action Forums with the theme, "Permanency Planning and American Indian Families." These forums are specifically designed for tribal child welfare programs and State Indian child welfare specialists.
Members for 8-10 tribal teams are recruited from each tribe in a State or region and are selected via an application process. Each team consists of six representatives including the child welfare directors of each tribe, a tribal leader, a tribal court representative, a parent or foster parent, and a local public child welfare contact person. In addition, key State child welfare administrators and State Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) specialists participate.
The forums provide hands-on assistance to the tribes and States as they work to implement the safety and permanency provisions of the Adoptions and Safe Families Act (ASFA) while successfully meeting the mandates of ICWA. The forums are designed to build a consensus on the meaning of permanency in the context of American Indian culture and to examine ICWA as a permanency policy.
During each forum, teams work cooperatively to analyze and respond to policy issues. Participants examine the history of modern child welfare policy and consider ASFA's provisions from the perspective of Indian culture. Teams also model family group decision-making as they develop action plans for their communities. Teams also are briefed on resources available from the Administration for Children and Families, the federally funded National Resource Centers focused on child welfare, and NICWA.
To date, NICWA has conducted five forums with 47 tribal teams representing seven States. Two more are planned for the fall of 2002. For more information on these forums please contact Mary Mc Nevins at 503-222-4044 or visit the website at http://www.nicwa.org.
- How Training Caregivers Affects Their Participation in Juvenile Court Hearings, Improves Outcomes
A new report by the Center for Families, Children & the Courts in California examines how the training of caregivers within the child welfare system affects their participation in juvenile court hearings and outcomes for children in their care.
Published in January 2002, the 174-page report describes its main purpose as examining "how training in the dependency court process affects caregivers' knowledge and attitudes about participating in court hearings and the likelihood that they will participate." Moreover, the study looks at "what factors determine how information from caregivers is or could be used in decision making, and what effects might caregiver participation have on the well being of children in care."
The study involved 205 caregivers in California who participated voluntarily in training about the dependency court process and their rights and responsibilities within that process. It found very strong indications that caregivers want to receive such training and that such training can significantly assist them in participating effectively in court. In pre-tests, post-tests, and 6-month follow-up tests, participants were tested about their knowledge base of the court. They learned information quickly and easily—and retained that knowledge over time. In addition, the research team interviewed eight caregiver families and observed them in court over the course of a year. Detailed case histories for each family and court participation notes are included in the report.
Project Director Regina Deihl, J.D., and her colleagues also conducted several interviews with judicial officers, social workers, and attorneys to find out their perception of caregiver input for case planning and judicial decision making. The researchers found that information from caregivers was used and valued by system participants. She commented that the Judicial Council of California has produced a new two-page form (JV-290) for caregivers who prefer to submit information in writing to the court rather than answer questions in person. Information conveyed in advance of hearings and in writing from caregivers was preferred so other court participants would be better prepared. Deihl is in the process of training caregivers on using the form and getting it online.
The report includes specific conclusions and recommendations based on the research data. One overarching recommendation of the study is that a wide spectrum of people involved in the juvenile court process, including judicial officers, attorneys, social workers, caregivers, and researchers be convened to recommend next steps in implementing caregiver participation in court.
Since the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) requires that States provide foster parents and kinship caregivers timely notice and an opportunity to be heard in review and permanency hearings with respect to the child in their care, this report shows that this training prepares caregivers for court participation in a way that is useful and can contribute to positive outcomes for children in foster care.
Access a copy of Caregivers and the Courts: Improving Court Decisions Affecting Children in Foster Care online at: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs/cfcc/ programs/description/caregivers.htm
Regina Deihl, J.D.
Juvenile Projects Attorney
Center for Families, Children & the Courts
Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
See the following related articles in these past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:
- "Preparing Kids for Court" (September/October 2001)
- "Former Prosecutor Produces Educational Video for Child Witnesses" (September/October 2001)
- "Washington and Colorado Help Parents Navigate Courts" (July/August 2001)
- "California Guides Parents Through Dependency Courts" (July 2000)
- KIDS COUNT International Data Sheet Released
The 1990 United Nations World Summit for Children set an agenda for countries to improve the lives of all children. Based on the most recent internationally comparable data available from UNICEF and other United Nations organizations, the KIDS COUNT International Data Sheet reports dramatic improvements and continuing disparities in selected measures of child and maternal health, access to education, and teen birth rates.
The Population Reference Bureau and Child Trends—in collaboration with UNICEF—produced a wallchart of the world's 100 most populous countries that lists their respective status of children on 10 key indicators including mortality rates, malnourishment, births with a skilled attendant at delivery, and the number of AIDS orphans.
Highlights of the results include the following:
- Between 1990 and 2000, the global mortality rate for children under age 5 dropped more than 10 percent
- Worldwide, polio cases dropped by 99 percent from 1988-2000
- From 1990-1999, immunization against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) increased in former Central and Eastern Europe and USSR countries, Latin America, and the Caribbean but decreased in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
- Many nations improved access to sanitary waste disposal during the 1990s
- Teen smoking in developed countries was high: Data from 1997-1998 show that teens in Germany, Hungary, and France smoked more on a daily basis than teens in the United States
- During the 1990s, access to primary education ranged from 90 percent to 60 percent, and in some regions access was higher among boys.
The datasheet and summary can be found on the following websites:
Additional information on the data and sources can be obtained from:
Population Reference Bureau
1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 520
Washington, DC 20009-5728
- Washington State Study Focuses on Educational Attainment of Foster Children
As directed by the 2000 Washington State Legislature, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has compiled existing research that identifies ways to improve the educational attainment of children in foster care. The report is intended for use by advocates of improvements to policies and programs.
The report found that, on average, foster youth scored 15 to 20 percentile points lower than non-foster youth in statewide achievement tests; only 59 percent of foster youth enrolled in 11th grade completed high school versus 86 percent for non-foster youth; and twice as many foster youth had repeated a grade, changed schools during the school year, or were enrolled in special education programs compared to non-foster youth.
One surprising result found that a youth's length of stay in foster care did not appear to be related to educational attainment. The research found that foster youth in short-term care have on average the same educational deficits as those in long-term care.
The study did not evaluate specific interventions or programs to assist foster youth with education issues, but it did quantify the gap between foster youth and other students in Washington State. The report draws attention to the important factors associated with academic achievement and suggests improvements in maintaining and updating records for youth in foster care.
The entire report can be viewed at: http://www.wa.gov/wsipp/childfamily/pdf/FCEDReport.pdf.
- Alabama Doctor Centralizes Medical Records for Children in Foster Care
A new program launched in Jefferson County, Alabama, by a doctor named Alisa H. Hoffman, grew out of her frustrations in trying to provide quality health care to foster care children. Many of these children, due to having been moved from home to home, were brought to her medical office by people with little or no knowledge of the children's medical histories or special medical needs. Called Family Place Pediatric Practice, this program is designed to provide a permanent home for foster children's records and well as a familiar and comfortable location where foster children could go for medical care.
Learn more about the Dr. Hoffman's initiative to create a medical home for children in foster care by visiting the Benton Foundation's Connect for Kids website at: www.connectforkids.org/node/337
- Supporting Responsible Fathers in Baltimore, Maryland
A Workshop on Fathers and the Role of Men in Children's Lives was presented at the recent 7th National Child Welfare conference sponsored by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Randall Turner, Vice President of the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), highlighted the work of the NFI and its efforts to encourage responsible fatherhood on a national level. NFI's goal is to stimulate a broad-based movement to restore fatherhood as a national priority. NFI's activities focus on raising public awareness and promoting responsible fatherhood initiatives at the State and local levels.
In 1999, Joe Jones established the Center for Fathers, Families and Workforce Development (CFWD). He is the President/CEO of CFWD and a national leader in programming for men and fathers. CFWD programs and services include:
- Responsible Fatherhood: This program, which has served more than 450 men, includes a strong emphasis on case management, life skills development, and parenting education. The program seeks to involve the male counterparts of Healthy Start mothers in the delivery of pre- and postnatal health care services with the goal of reducing infant mortality.
- 50/50 Parenting: This program gives support to never-married parents, whether or not they are still a couple, in working together for the health and well-being of their children.
- Workforce Development: Based on a model developed by the East Harlem Employment Service STRIVE Baltimore is an intensive three-week job training and placement service. STRIVE blends self-examination, critical thinking, relationship building, affirmation, learning, and teaching with practical skill development and two-year post graduation monitoring. Since the program began, 75 percent of STRIVE Baltimore participants have graduated, and 79 percent have maintained employment. Through Strive Baltimore, more than 300 clients have found jobs with area companies.
One effort discussed at the workshop was the successful three-week job readiness program in Baltimore, Maryland, for fathers. Jones highlighted the program that focuses on enhancing job interviewing skills for fathers and provides assistance in finding employment. The workshop also included a recent graduate of the three-week program who discussed his direct experience with CFWD.
Recognizing that fathers play an important role in the lives of their children such as nurturer, mentor, disciplinarian, moral instructor, and skills coach, among other roles, President Bush in his 2003 budget has proposed $20 million to fund a new Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriages program. This program would award grants to faith-based and community organizations to help noncustodial fathers become and stay involved with their children.
National Fatherhood Initiative
101 Lake Forest Blvd, Suite 360
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
Joseph T. Jones
Center for Fathers, Families, and Workforce Development
3002 Druid Park Drive
Baltimore, MD 21215
See these following related articles in these past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:
- "Dads Make a Difference" (July/August 2001)
- "Institute Focuses on Latino Fathers" (July 2000)
- New Resources Offer Suggestions on Successful Parenting and Grandparenting
Two new guidebooks and a video serve as beacons in a parent's and grandparent's journey through the ups and downs of child rearing.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has published a book containing practical advice on parenting, based on decades of research as well as experiences of actual parents. Adventures in Parenting: How Responding, Preventing, Monitoring, Mentoring, and Modeling Can Help You Be a Successful Parent is designed as an aid to parents and grandparents of every background. The 63-page book gives practical advice and examples of real-life situations, organized by children's age ranges: under three; four to ten; eleven to fourteen. It also focuses on five aspects of successful parenting:
- Responding to the child in an appropriate manner
- Preventing risky behaviors
- Monitoring the child's contacts with the surrounding world
- Modeling of parental behavior to present a positive example for the child.
Understanding Children, a joint publication by the non-profit communications group Civitas and the publishing company TOP conveys the latest research and advice on children 0 to 3 years in a guidebook format. Areas covered include developmental stages, prenatal care and childbirth, health and nutrition, brain development, childcare, sleep, play, behavior, financial and legal issues, fathers, and grandparents. In a section on adoption, the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, one of the sponsoring organizations of the Children's Bureau Express, serves as a source for much of the data. Each section is presented in picture dictionary style, with a detailed answer to a "big question" followed by action items for caregivers, including recommended websites and reading lists. Colorful charts, photographs, and diagrams illustrate the facts. It is available in stores nationwide.
Another new item by Civitas, a video entitled Grandparenting: Enriching Lives, An Essential Guide for Today's Grandparents, provides grandparents with information on child development and ideas for maintaining healthy relationships with their children and grandchildren. The video, hosted by Maya Angelou, profiles several families and how they handle issues such as cultural and religious diversity, divorce, and long distance. It shows one grandmother involved with caring for her divorced daughter's children daily, while two other sets of grandparents live far away but communicate regularly through email and phone calls. Other grandparents in the video teach their grandchildren about their family histories and cultures, such as reading aloud in Spanish and sharing Japanese-American customs. Grandparents also develop bonds with their grandchildren by playing with them and they remain close with their adult children by respecting their choices and parenting styles. A Spanish version of the video is available.
To order a free copy of the NICHD book, contact the NICHD Information Resource Center at 1-800-370-2943 or download it at: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/ publications/pubs/parenting/adv_in_parenting_final.pdf
For more information about the Understanding Children guidebook or the Grandparenting videos in English or Spanish, contact Civitas at 312-226-6700 or visit http://www.civitas.org
See the following related articles in these past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:
- "Video Reaches Out to New Parents" (May/June 2001)
- "Survey Shows Parents Confused About Child Development" (January/February 2001)
- Family Violence and Criminal Justice: A Life-Course Approach
Payne, Brian K.; Gainey, Randy R. Anderson Publishing Co., Cincinnati, OH. 2002. 367 pp. $39.95. Paperback.
Family violence has become an issue of widespread concern among social workers, psychologists, and other professionals as a major social problem. The authors examine family violence from a life-course perspective, covering child maltreatment, domestic violence, and elder abuse and neglect. They apply the definition of family violence established by the National Research Council, that "Family violence includes child and adult abuse that occurs between family members..." and consists of "acts that are physically or emotionally harmful...." The criminal justice system often cannot meet the needs of victims. Domestic violence cases are complex and the courts resolve them either informally or formally, focusing on punishing the perpetrators and treating the victims. Recommendations call for:
- A universal standard definition of family violence
- Increased cooperation among practitioners, and increased collaboration among disciplines
- More integrated research efforts and broader research aims
- Reconsideration of existing laws
- Increased training for criminal justice officials and police officers.
Academics and criminal justice officials need to gain a better understanding of the causes and consequences of domestic violence, and develop a clearly focused victim-centered response.
To purchase a copy, contact:
Anderson Publishing Co.
2035 Reading Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 800-582-7295 or 513-421-4142
- Prize-Winning Essays by Teens in Foster Care
The perspectives and experiences of teenagers living in foster care in New York City are captured in a recently published anthology. The Winners: 100 Prize-Winning Essays by Teens in Foster Care presents 20 essays and 80 excerpts from winners of the Child Welfare Fund Awards for Youth in Foster Care contest from 1999 to 2001.
The essays are organized into the following categories:
- What the public should know about young people in foster care
- Ideas for improving the system
- How we've helped others
- Advice I would have given myself
- You can overcome the madness.
Mario Drummonds, one of the judges, wrote the last chapter "You Can Overcome the Madness." Drummonds spent 17 years in foster care and encountered various obstacles in achieving his goals. He is now the executive director of an agency that provides health care for children and parents. His advice to youth in foster care is:
- Create a vision of yourself beyond your current circumstances
- Transcend fear
- Be willing to work harder than the average person
- Be willing to embrace change.
To order the publication, complete the form located on the Web at http://www.youthcomm.org/Publications/ CWF-TheWinners-OF.htm, or contact:
224 W. 29th St.
New York, NY 10001
- The Ethics of Transracial AdoptionFogg-Davis, Hawley. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 2002. 156 pp. $25.00. Hardcover.
Transracial adoption is one of the most contentious issues in adoption politics and in the politics of race today. Some who support transracial adoption believe that race should not be considered. Many who are opposed draw a causal connection between race and culture, and argue that black adoptive parents best serve black children's racial and cultural interests. Fogg-Davis argues in favor of nondiscrimination in the adoption process. She challenges the notion that children get their racial identity from their parents and argues that, through a process of racial navigation, children should cultivate their own self-identification in dialogue with others. A bibliography and a list of court cases are included.
To purchase a copy, contact:
Cornell University Press
512 E. State St.
PO Box 250
Ithaca, NY 14851-0250
Phone: 607-277-2338 x251 or x254
- Strengthening Couples, Marriages in Low-Income Communities
Policy makers interested in crafting strategies designed to strengthen the institution of marriage will find suggestions in a new publication by Theodora Ooms of the Resource Center on Couples and Marriage Policy at the Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP).
In "Strengthening Couples and Marriage in Low-Income Communities," Ooms addresses why it is important to focus on the state of marriage in low-income communities, what is known about the patterns of family formation and marriage among the poor and near-poor, and what kinds of strategies may help strengthen low-income couples' relationships and marriages.
Ooms suggests that any marriage-strengthening strategy to assist low-income populations be guided by the following principles:
- Single individuals or single parents should not be stigmatized
- Coercive and punitive policies should not be used to promote marriage
- Low-income couples should be invited to help design and shape community-level initiatives
- The focus of strategies should be on the quality of a marriage, not just preserving its stability
- High-risk couples should be targeted when they are most ready and willing to get help
- Parents, regardless of marital status, should have available information, education services and supports to strengthen their relationship
- Substantial monetary incentives should not be offered, as it may be seen as the sole or principal reason to marry.
Ooms's paper was first published as Chapter 7 in Revitalizing the Institution of Marriage for the Twenty-First Century: An Agenda For Strengthening Marriage, edited by Alan J. Hawkins, Lynn D. Wardle, and David Orgon Coolidge (Praeger, 2002).
"Strengthening Couples and Marriage in Low-Income Communities," is available in PDF format at http://www.clasp.org/publications/strengthening_marriage_in_low-income.pdf. Revitalizing the Institution of Marriage for the 21st Century can be found on the Greenwood Publishing Group's website (http://www.greenwood.com).
- Security Risk: Preventing Client Violence Against Social WorkersWeinger, Susan. National Association of Social Workers, Washington, DC. 2001. $21.99. 89 pp. Paperback.
Research indicates that at least a quarter of professional social workers are likely to confront a violent situation on the job, and half of all human services professionals will experience client violence at some point during their careers. Weinger presents rational approaches for implementing safety guidelines in the social work environment, and provides easily applied methods and strategies for enhancing personal safety while maintaining the supportive, empathetic demeanor necessary for casework. She demonstrates how to recognize potential violence and how to apply prevention guidelines, specific personal and professional safeguards, and intervention strategies when violence occurs.
Special features of this guide:
- Consider why violence toward social workers is increasing
- Address the different types of violence, noting appropriate responses to each
- Identify risk factors and the degree of danger in different settings
- Discuss preventive techniques and strategies, including interview pointers
- Offer suggestions on managing the aftermath of a violent encounter
- Include section goals, activities, case studies, and points to remember.
To purchase a copy, contact:
PO Box 431
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701
Phone: 800-227-3590 or 301-317-8688
- Adoption and Assisted Reproduction, Volume 4 in the Adoption and Ethics SeriesFreundlich, Madelyn. Child Welfare League of America, Inc., Washington, DC. 2001. 111 pp. $18.95. Paperback.
The growing use of assisted reproduction, including sperm donation, gamete donation, and surrogate motherhood, has raised a number of ethical issues in common with adoption. These issues include the parties' roles, such as which participant(s) are considered the legal parent(s) and anonymity and the balance between the right to privacy of donors, and the right of persons conceived by these methods to their medical, or other background information. Further, there are concerns related to the growing role of money and market forces in assisted reproduction and adoption. Freundlich reviews the available literature and the wide range of current case law and statutes to provide a tool for adoption professionals that should serve as a first step toward a full discussion of the unresolved issues that these professionals currently confront in both policy and practice.
To purchase a copy, contact:
CWLA c/o PMDS
PO Box 2019
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-2019
- Video Explores Transracial Adoption in America
Just as immigration has made America a melting pot, transracial adoption has blended many American families together. A new video by Phil Bertelsen takes a closer look at how these families are faring from a personal point of view—his own adoption as a black child into a white family.
The one-hour film, which aired on public television stations nationwide in February 2002, is directed and narrated by Bertelsen. It tells the story of his adoption as a 4-year-old boy in the 1970s by a New Jersey couple who had already adopted children from other races and had biological children. A movement to end transracial adoption marked the period. In 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers declared that placing a black child in a white home was "cultural genocide" and a "diabolical trick." In 1994, Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA), which prohibits an agency that receives Federal assistance from delaying or denying the placement of a child on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the adoptive or foster parent, or the child involved. Recent research suggests that transracial adoption is a viable means of providing stable homes for waiting children and is not detrimental for the adoptee.
Bertelsen's parents did not discuss racial differences with their children growing up, but they could not insulate them from the prejudices of the outside world. They relate one story of being refused entry into a private campground because of their "rainbow coalition of children." Bertelsen learned that race matters. In a parallel story, Bertelsen introduces his sister Aline's two transracially adopted sons and finds history repeating itself. They are growing up in a predominantly white, middle class community in Arizona. He takes his 11-year-old nephew on a trip to his home in Harlem, New York, to help him develop his African American identity but finds him disinterested. "There I was force feeding my nephew tidbits of what I've come to know black culture to be but, like him, I was outside looking in on what I considered to be my own culture and community," states Bertelsen.
The film also chronicles the adoption in 2001 of a two-month-old African American infant named David by a white Chicago-area couple. It takes the viewer through the open adoption process, including interviews with Margaret Fleming, the Executive Director of Adoption-Link, who facilitated the adoption. The majority of adoptions in her agency are by white parents in an area where black children available for adoption outnumber white children by 4 to 1. According to Fleming, in the "adoption hierarchy" or demand by adoptive parents, the blond, blue-eyed healthy baby girl is at the top and the black male is at the very bottom. She believes that parents adopting transracially should go into it with their eyes wide open, so she requires enrollment in formal training to work through the issues involved. "There is a beginning of the process, when they say to me, 'Color doesn't matter.'...but it should matter...It's got to matter so that you can do a good job of helping your child learn to feel good about himself or herself," says Fleming. The vignette concludes with an emotional exchange between the adoptive parents and biological mother at the point of legal surrender, a time Fleming describes as "very painful" and a "holy moment."
Bertelsen's reunion with his foster mother and brother is also featured. It brings back memories of his toddler years, which had been erased by his closed adoption. Bertelsen hopes that newly adopted children like baby David in the film can learn from experiences like his. While he is encouraged by the trend towards cultural awareness and open adoptions, he feels there is much farther to go in order to meet the needs of transracially adopted children.
To order a copy of the video, contact Big Mouth Productions at 646-230-6228 or visit: http://www.bigmouthproductions.com
Read "Study Considers Role of Birth Culture in Adjustment of Transracial Adoptees" in the November/December 2001 issue of the Children's Bureau Express.
Visit the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse for the following related items (http://naic.acf.hhs.gov):
- Transracial and Transcultural Adoption factsheet
- Transracial Adoption Statistics (Note: this is no longer available)
Search the NAIC bibliographic database for other items related to transracial adoption (http://basis1.calib.com/BASIS/chdocs/docs/naicweb/SF).
- Guidelines for the Development of Foster Care Handbooks: What Foster Youth Have to SayHarrak, Terry; Jones, Maria Garin. Child Welfare League of America, Inc., Washington, DC. 2001. 31 pp. $8.95. Paperback.
Entry into foster care is often a difficult transition for children, particularly because they know very little about the system. To bridge this information gap, the Youth Involvement Initiative brought together youth currently or formerly in foster care to discuss the use and improvement of foster care handbooks. They reviewed a list of key questions and critical subject areas in order to craft a new handbook for use by agencies involved in foster care. Highlighting strengths and weaknesses, these foster children assessed existing State handbooks to determine how well each addressed the critical subject areas. They identified 30 subject areas for consideration, and developed 8 essential components for effective foster care handbooks.
To purchase a copy, contact:
CWLA c/o PMDS
PO Box 2019
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-2019
email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Distributor Website: http://www.cwla.org
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.
- How to Work With Sex Offenders: A Handbook for Criminal Justice, Human Service, and Mental Health Pr
How to Work With Sex Offenders: A Handbook for Criminal Justice, Human Service, and Mental Health PrFlora, Rudy. Haworth Press, Inc., Binghamton, NY. 2001. 252 pp. $22.95. Paperback.
This volume offers the reader an in-depth perspective of the various techniques used by mental health, human service, and criminal justice professionals who work with sex offenders. It is the first complete manual available on sex offenders for professionals who deal with this complicated population. Flora walks the reader through the criminal justice, human services, and mental health systems from start to finish, showing what happens to the offender from the point of arrest through prosecution, adjudication, and treatment. He emphasizes the etiology, intervention and treatment modalities of this population, and reviews various developmental factors, including biological, familial, environmental, and social influences, which can be instrumental in shaping their character. Approaches to treatment include individual, family, and group therapy, as well as pharmacology.
To purchase a copy, contact:
Haworth Press, Inc.
10 Alice St.
Binghamton, NY 13904-1580