This issue of CBX highlights the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), which was enacted to enhance support services for families to help children remain at home, reduce the unnecessary use of congregate care, and build the capacity of communities to support children and families. Read a message from Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg about the Children's Bureau's four main priorities and the importance to leveraging the experiences of children, youth, and families in building a better child welfare system. This issue also includes the latest resources and tools for child welfare professionals and the families they serve.
- A Message From the Associate Commissioner
Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg
In March, I will celebrate my second anniversary as the Associate Commissioner. We have accomplished so much over the past 2 years. When I started, I made it a priority to take time to listen to what people had to say about what children and families need. I set aside time to listen to youth, parents, external organizations, my colleagues in the federal government, as well as the team at the Children’s Bureau. These conversations took time; however, it was a priority to seriously consider how people have been impacted, what we can do differently, and what is important now. As a result of those conversations, we created our four Children’s Bureau priority goals: (1) prevention; (2) support for kinship caregivers; (3) ensure youth leave care with strengthened relationships, holistic supports, and opportunities; and (4) invest in the workforce.
We have made progress with respect to goals 1 and 2. We are raising awareness about the fact that so many children come into care due to poverty and that this is often confused with neglect and maltreatment. We have approved Family First prevention plans in 44 jurisdictions, and we have established our plan to promulgate a regulation that would advance equity and provide much needed support for kinship caregivers. There is still a lot of work to do, but I am encouraged about how far we’ve come.
As I launch into my third year, I want to leverage the conversations that I’ve had with youth and young adults impacted by the foster care system. They have been so generous with me about sharing the challenges that young people face when they have to transition out of foster care—particularly when they don’t have everything they need to succeed as adults. We have to do more. We have to do everything we can to ensure that youth and young adults are fully equipped to experience success. The fact is that they are the next generation of parents and kin caregivers, and they are the pipeline into the workforce. When we support young people—we are tackling all four of the priority goals. We must employ a multigenerational strategy; Our investment in young people today will benefit generations to come. So, in this third year, I will spend time having action-oriented summits with young adults from all over the country so that they can help us prioritize what they need to be set up for success. We will lean into their vision of success for themselves. Together, we will explore the federal tools the Children’s Bureau can use to support their vision in a way that will have a lasting impact for them and their children. This is not only about their future; inevitably, it is about ours. Let’s lean forward.
- Promoting the Health and Well-Being of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth Involved With Child Welfare Through FFPSA
Children and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or gender expansive, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) experience both disproportionate involvement with child welfare and, once involved, disparate outcomes, including more placement instability and longer stays in foster care. The Center for the Study of Social Policy published a brief, Advancing Healthy Outcomes: Eight Ways to Promote the Health and Well-Being of LGBTQ+ Youth Involved With Child Welfare Through FFPSA, which explores how systems can leverage the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) to improve outcomes and well-being for LGBTQIA2S+ children and youth involved with child welfare.
The brief suggest eight strategies that systems should implement to promote family preservation, healthy adolescent development and well-being, and successful transitions into adulthood as well as to affirm identities:
- Ensure prevention services are responsive to LGBTQIA2S+ youth needs
- Expand the definition of family
- Implement policies to prevent overplacement of LGBTQIA2S+ youth in congregate care
- Focus on recruiting and retaining affirming foster parents
- Develop and implement training and guidance on affirming practices
- Implement nondiscrimination policies
- Use performance-based contracting to ensure service providers are affirming
- Ensure accountability mechanisms are effective at addressing discrimination
The changes that FFSPA makes to child welfare is an opportunity to create programs and practices that will address the unique needs of this population and create a more supportive, holistic system that reduces disparity. LGBTQIA2S+ partners within the community should be engaged with when developing the suggested training, guidance, policies, and services.
- Family First Prevention Services Act Celebrates 5 Years
Since 2018, the Family First Preservation Services Act (FFPSA), which was signed into law as part of Public Law 115–123, has helped states enhance their support services for families to help children remain at home, reduce the use of congregate care, and build the capacity of communities to support children and families. On the eve of its 5-year anniversary, the Children’s Bureau, within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would like to acknowledge the efforts of states so far in creating their plans and achieving their goals for the preservation of families involved with child welfare.
FFPSA amended the title IV-E programs to create new optional IV-E funding for time-limited prevention services for mental health, substance use, and in-home parent skills-based programs for children or youth who are candidates for foster care, pregnant or parenting youth in foster care, and the parents and kin caregivers of those children and youth. States and title IV-E-eligible tribes interested in claiming the new funding submitted Title IV-E Prevention Services Plans to the Children’s Bureau for review of compliance with FFPSA requirements. As of January 12, 2023, 50 title IV-E prevention program 5-year plans have been submitted and 39 plans have been approved.
To support development of Title IV-E Prevention Services Plans, ACF established the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse to systematically review research on programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent foster care placements. The clearinghouse, developed in accordance with FFPSA, rates programs and services as “promising,” “supported,” “well-supported,” or “does not currently meet criteria.” As of December 2022, the clearinghouse has reviewed 129 programs and services, and 62 of these programs have been rated as promising, supported, or well-supported.
As of October 1, 2019, states and tribes with an approved Title IV-E Prevention Service Plans have been able to claim title IV-E for a portion of trauma-informed, evidence-based mental health services, substance use services and in-home parent skills-based programs. The Capacity Building Center for the States offers an infographic of the evidence-based programs included in the approved Title IV-E Prevention Services Plans. For more information on valuable FFPSA resources from the Center for States, visit its website. You can also read the article “Resources to Support Title IV-E Prevention Program Planning” in the Strategies and Tools for Practice section of this issue.
- Family First Prevention Services Act Opportunities for Early Childhood Programs
The BUILD Initiative released the fifth webinar in its Child Welfare and Early Childhood: Cross-Systems Collaboration to Improve Outcomes for Young Children and Their Families series, "Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) Opportunities for Early Childhood Programs."
The objectives for the series are centered on raising awareness about young children and their families encountering the child welfare system, educating participants about racial disparities in family separation due to child welfare involvement, promoting opportunities and strategies for prevention, and providing examples of cross-system collaboration. This 90-minute webinar is particularly focused on how FFPSA is being used to expand home visiting programs and examining one state's expanded home visiting program.
Panelists provide insight into a number of different initiatives supporting these programs. Viewers can find brief explorations of several topics related to the intersection of FFPSA and early childhood programs, including the following:
- Which states have developed prevention plans, including those that include community pathways in their redesign
- What benefits, opportunities, and challenges exist when developing prevention plans
- What types of collaboration are needed and who needs to be involved
Agency leaders, service providers, and policymakers can use the lessons learned about how the state's expanded home visiting was implemented and how it impacted well-being and positive outcomes when exploring how to use FFPSA to expand their own early childhood programs.
- Congregate Care in the Age of FFPSA
The Capacity Building Center for States published a brief, Congregate Care in the Age of Family First, for those interested in learning how to use the provisions in the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) to improve their use of congregate care and qualified residential treatment program assessments. Although it is preferred to keep children in the least restrictive setting when they need to be in out-of-home care, children and youth who have complex behavioral or clinical needs may benefit from a short-term stay in a residential treatment facility. The passage of FFPSA opened pathways of funding for states to focus on building and supporting children's connections to family through prevention services and improving the quality of residential care for the children who do need it. Child welfare managers, administrators, and others can find foundational information in the brief for implementation and potential next steps.
The brief breaks down the law into three main tenets: (1) prevention of entry into care, (2) family-based placements, and (3) residential treatment program requirements. It also includes considerations for planning, strategies, and state examples. Agency leaders and policymakers can also find suggestions for creating a collaborative and data-driven process when planning for the appropriate use of congregate care, such as the following:
- Develop an internal implementation team.
- Convene a partner group.
- Examine the data.
- Explore other state's approaches.
- Create a plan.
For more detail on planning considerations, read Congregate Care in the Age of Family First on the Center for States website.
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
Spotlight on Child Welfare Workforce Development
News From the Children's Bureau
In this section, find the latest news, resources, and publications from the Administration for Children and Families, the Children's Bureau, and other offices within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as a listing of the latest additions to the Children's Bureau website.
- HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a strategic plan to address the gaps between the need for mental health care and substance use disorder care and the accessibility of such services. Concerns about the importance of mental health and challenges of substance use increased in the wake of the pandemic. Self-reported symptoms of anxiety and the rate of overdose deaths have both increased, while the use of mental health and substance use disorder services has decreased. President Biden has made mental health a priority and created a three-pillar strategy to address it:
- Strengthen system capacity
- Connect Americans to care
- Support Americans by creating health environments
The HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration also examines what further steps can be taken to advance the President's Mental Health Strategy through integrated care and equity. Integrating behavioral health into larger health-care and social systems—and vice versa—helps treats a person holistically and makes behavioral health services easier to access. Ensuring equity helps decrease disparities in care received and increase access to care for underserved populations.
The brief highlights selected policies and programs HHS is pursuing to support the pillars of the President's Strategy. While it is not an exhaustive list of all the behavioral health initiatives within the department, it is a showcase of efforts intended to help drive the Nation toward integrated care and a transformation of the U.S. behavioral health system.
- CB Website Updates
The Children's Bureau website hosts information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, federal reporting, and much more.
Recent additions or updates to the site include the following:
- Technical Bulletin #20 — Data Elements for Out-of-Home Care and Adoption and Guardianship Assistance Data Files
- Technical Bulletin #21 — XML File Structure and Encryption
- Technical Bulletin #22 — Reporting Population & Data Extraction
- Technical Bulletin #23 — Compliance and Penalties
- Responding to Human Trafficking Among Children and Youth in Foster Care and Missing From Foster Care
- Statewide Data Indicator Syntax Zip File
- Title IV-E Prevention Program Data Submission Fall 2022 Webinar
- Best Practices to Strengthen Family Support in Child Maltreatment Reporting and Prevention (HHS-2023-ACF-ACYF-CA-0015)
- Building Early Childhood-Child Welfare Partnerships to Support the Well-Being of Young Children, Families, and Caregivers (HHS-2023-ACF-ACYF-CA-0011)
- Standing Announcement for Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants (HHS-2022-ACF-ACYF-CS-0079)
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new.
- Letter Provides Guidance to States on SUPPORT Act Requirements
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a letter regarding changes made through the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities (SUPPORT) Act (Pub. L. No. 115-271). The SUPPORT Act would expand the mandatory Medicaid eligibility to individuals who were in foster care from other states and simplify eligibility determinations and enrollment processes for this population. The guidance in this letter provides states and stakeholders with new information regarding the effective date and requirements for the new requirements outlined in the SUPPORT Act.
Currently, youth who were formerly in foster care in a state other than their state of residence were not eligible to be part of the mandatory Medicaid eligibility group. The modified SUPPORT Act would deem these youth eligible for Medicaid if they were receiving Medicaid while in foster care in any state, after meeting all other eligibility requirements. In addition, the new guidance would allow youth formerly in care to be eligible for the mandatory Medicaid group even if they also meet requirements for another mandatory eligibility group as long as they are not enrolled in the other group.
These changes apply exclusively to individuals who turn 18 years old on or after January 1, 2023, and meet the following additional requirements:
- Are under age 26
- Are not enrolled in an eligibility group described in section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i)(I)-(VII) of the Social Security Act (even if they meet the eligibility requirements for such group)
- Were in foster care under the responsibility of any state upon attaining age 18 (or such higher age as the state has elected in its title IV-E plan)
- Were enrolled in Medicaid in any state while in such foster care
Read the letter to learn more about these important modifications to the SUPPORT Act.
- ACF Releases Resources to Strengthen the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new resources to help state agencies and community providers strengthen the child welfare response to human trafficking. These resources include tools to help human services professionals, including child welfare professionals, respond to and prevent human trafficking of children and youth at risk for, currently experiencing, or have previously experienced trafficking.
The set of resources include a SOAR training module, Responding to Human Trafficking Through the Child Welfare System, delivered through the ACF Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center. The accredited training module is free to access and aims to prepare professionals for their work in preventing trafficking among the families they serve and to ensure their work aligns with priority actions outlined in the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.
The training module is accompanied by an information memorandum (IM), published jointly by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, Family and Youth Services Bureau and OTIP, that highlights resources available to help states in meeting the legal requirements to protect children and youth from negative outcomes associated with human trafficking.
The IM can help child welfare agencies develop client-centered, trauma-informed screening and reporting protocols to ensure children and youth who have experienced or at increased risk of human trafficking, particularly those returning to foster care after going missing, are appropriately screened and connected to supportive and culturally competent services.
Visit the resources on the ACF website to learn more.
- AFCARS Report #29
The latest data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) are now available. State and tribal title IV-E agencies are required to report AFCARS case-level information on all children in foster care and on children who have been adopted and have had title IV-E agency involvement. The data are intended to help policymakers at the federal, tribal, and state levels to assess how many children are in foster care, the reasons they entered care, and how they exited care as well as to develop strategies to prevent unnecessary out-of-home placements. The AFCARS report also provides information about the children who are removed from their homes, their placement details, and foster/adoptive parents.
Some notable data from the current report, which presents data from fiscal year 2021, include the following:
- There were 391,098 children in foster care in 2021, which is a drop from 407,318 in 2020.
- A total of 216,812 children entered foster care.
- A total of 214,971 children exited care.
- A total of 606,031 children were served by the foster care system.
- A total of 113,589 children were waiting to be adopted.
To view the complete AFCARS report for fiscal year 2021, visit the Children's Bureau website.
This section features resources and updates from the Children's Bureau's technical assistance partners to support practices and systems that improve the lives of children and families.
- Updates From the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Partners
The Children's Bureau funds several technical assistance centers to provide professionals with tools to better serve children, youth, and families. The following are some of the latest resources from these partners.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Social Media: Tips for Foster Parents and Caregivers
- Social Media: Tips for Youth in Foster Care
- Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect
Visit the Information Gateway website for more.
Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative
- Center for States
- Center for Tribes Tribal Information Exchange
Visit the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative website for more.
FRIENDS National Resource Center
- “Using the FRIENDS TA Portal to Compile Annual Report Information” [Video]
- “Family Resource Center Discussion Series – Session 1: Introduction to FRCs and FRC Networks” [Webinar]
- “Evidence-Based Practice in CBCAP” [Video]
Visit the FRIENDS National Resource Center website for more.
Children's Bureau Learning and Coordination Center (CBLCC)
- “Supporting Children and Youth Dealing With the Loss of a Parent or Caregiver” [Digital Dialog]
- "Transforming Experience Through HOPE" [Training module]
- "Caregiver Well-Being Matters: Children’s Social Emotional Development and Mental Health" [Video]
Visit the CBLCC website for more.
- “Adopted Son Inspires His Parents” [Blog post]
- "The Impact of the Great Resignation in Child Welfare"
- Assessing the Racial and Ethnic Cultural Competence of Your Support Services
Visit the AdoptUSKids website for more.
National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN)
- Regional Partnership Grants National Cross-Site Evaluation (RPG-4) [Dataset]
- Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG) [Dataset]
- Rockwool-Duke Global Child Welfare Database [Dataset]
- Office Hours Spring 2023
Visit the NDACAN website for more.
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI)
- Cultivating a Sustainable Workforce: A NCWWI Breakthrough Series Collaborative
- “How Hope and Resilience Can Lower Burnout Among Child Welfare Workers” [One-page summary]
- "Centering Child Welfare Worker Well-Being" [Infographic]
Visit the NCWWI website for more.
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD)
- “Announcing Rapid Cycle Recruitment Sites” [Blog post]
- "Supportive Supervision and a Resilient Workforce"
- "How Can Supervisors Support New Employees?"
Visit the QIC-WD website for more.
National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW)
- “Improving Systems Through Collaboration: Top Down or Bottom Up? Both!” [Webinar]
- “Specialized Technical Assistance Programs Overview” [Webinar]
- “How Using Contingency Management Can Support Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders” [Webinar]
Visit the NCSACW website for more.
James Bell Associates
- Addressing Prenatal Alcohol and Other Drug Exposure in Tribal Communities: Key Takeaways From an Environmental Scan
- The Child Welfare Reasonable Efforts Findings Study: Understanding the Study Design
- Language Bias in Child Welfare: Approaches to Identifying and Studying Biased Language to Advance Equitable Child Welfare Practice
Visit the James Bell Associates website for more.
- QIC-EY Asks a Foundational Question: What Is Authentic Engagement of Children and Youth?
Before beginning the work of advancing child welfare programs and practice to ensure the authentic engagement and empowerment of children and youth, the Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth in Finding Permanency (QIC-EY) had to explore a fundamental question and, in doing so, define what authentic engagement of children and youth meant and how to elevate these efforts in child welfare. To answer this question and set a solid foundation for the project, the QIC-EY completed an environmental scan of the current child and youth engagement landscape and identified strengths and areas in need of improvement. QIC-EY leadership also worked in connection with its National Youth Engagement Advisory Council, the Workforce Council, and other partners. This collective effort resulted in the QIC-EY’s definition of authentic youth engagement.
Authentic engagement means actively and intentionally partnering with children and youth about their lives, on their terms, and in ways that make sense to them. To authentically engage children and youth, child welfare staff must use the following strategies:
- Be committed, flexible, self-aware, and open to shared decision-making
- Use strong communication skills to build trusting relationships with children and youth
- Be guided by knowledge of child and adolescent development and trauma-informed care
- Use a strength-based approach
- Have a vivid self-awareness of potential power dynamics
- Have cultural humility
- Partner with, prepare, inform, and advocate for children and youth
With the definition in place and core elements for professionals clearly laid out, the QIC-EY continues its work engaging pilot sites and developing a training curriculum and coaching materials. Stay tuned for updates from the QIC-EY by joining the mailing list.
- Transforming Experience Through HOPE
The Children's Bureau Learning and Coordination Center has a training module, "Transforming Experience Through HOPE (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences)," that is intended to help child welfare professionals build an understanding of how positive early experiences can lead to healthy outcomes and well-being later in life.
This module is based on the work of the HOPE National Resource Center and guides participants to do the following:
- Become grounded in seminal research on the long-term impacts of early adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
- Learn more about the research on positive experiences and their effect on future health and well-being.
- Learn more about the biological mechanisms by which positive experiences impact the brain and body.
- Learn more about the building blocks of HOPE and how to incorporate HOPE principles into casework.
The module walks participants through a description of ACEs, including how they can affect long-term outcomes, and how HOPE can help mitigate the negative consequences of ACEs. It also includes activities and videos from Dr. Robert Sege, who is leading the HOPE work nationally.
To learn more and to participate in the learning module, visit the Children's Bureau Learning and Coordination Center website.
In this section, we highlight recent studies, literature reviews, and other research on child welfare topics.
- Child Trends Paper Highlights Importance of Positive Youth Development Approaches in Child Welfare
A paper from Child Trends explores the importance of implementing positive youth development (PYD) and racial equity and inclusion approaches in child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Research indicates that PYD approaches that focus on young people’s assets and build on protective factors can improve their mental and physical health, education, and employment outcomes. These approaches are especially important for young adults, as data shows that youth who interact with the child welfare and justice systems have difficulty adjusting to independence and living healthy, fulfilling lives. These outcomes are even more prominent for young people of color and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or gender expansive, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit (LGBTQIA2S+).
The paper outlines the following reasons for implementing equity-oriented PYD approaches:
- Research in adolescent brain science, youth development, and trauma underscores the need for age-appropriate support and resources that foster positive development.
- Experts have called for a reduction of congregate care.
- Some service providers have begun to implement strengths-focused and positive youth frameworks.
- Data document the disproportionate number of Black, American Indian, Hispanic, and LGBTQIA2S+ youth in child welfare and justice systems.
The paper also introduces “STRENGTH,” a conceptual framework that programs and communities can use to guide their work supporting adolescents and young adults in child welfare and justice systems. The “STRENGTH” model focuses on positive characteristics rather than a young adult’s deficits and is structured around eight principles drawn from PYD frameworks: systems integration; trustworthy and safe; relationships; equity, inclusion, and belonging; needs are met holistically; growth, leadership, and opportunities to fail and learn; training and education; and healing. These principles provide public systems with a roadmap to reevaluate how they approach youth and families.
The paper is part of Child Trends’ ongoing work related to integrating PYD and equity-driven approaches in child welfare and justice systems. The next step is to develop a toolkit to provide concrete supports to programs and systems that are implementing or expanding on these approaches for young adults.
More information is available in the paper, Integrating Positive Youth Development and Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Approaches Across the Child Welfare and Justice Systems, which is available on the Child Trends website.
- Report Documents the Ways Child Welfare Is Failing Youth Who Age Out of Care
Think of Us published a second edition of its report on how the child welfare system is failing youth transition out of foster care. The report is based on research conducted between fall 2019 and spring 2020 in five participating sites: Santa Clara County in California, First Place for Youth in Solano and San Francisco Counties in California, The New York Foundling in New York City, Hennepin County in Minnesota, and Uplift Family Services in San José, California. At these sites, researchers engaged a total of 206 youth in care, youth who were formerly in care, child welfare staff, supportive adults, foster papers, and other participants.
Findings from the study demonstrate that youth who age out of the foster care system are largely left unhealed, unprepared, and unsupported. The report is organized into the following three chapters:
- Healing and Dealing With Trauma: This chapter explores the impact of trauma on the lives of foster youth, including the ways in which the foster care system should respond to trauma to promote healing.
- Preparing for Adulthood: This chapter discusses the system’s current attempts to prepare youth for adulthood and ways in which those attempts can improve.
- Building a Supportive Network: Based on the experiences of study participants, this chapter demonstrates that youth in care often do not have supportive adults in their lives and that the system needs to help them build these social networks.
These three major issues addressed in the report are illustrated through the stories of five fictional characters/archetypes who exemplify the experiences of the 81 youth who participated in the study.
The first edition of the report was published in December 2020. The second edition was prompted by the needs of transition-age youth being intensified by the pandemic and a growing urgency to address those needs.
More information is available in the report, Aged Out: How We’re Failing Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care.
This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other resources that provide evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.
- Resources to Support Title IV-E Prevention Program Planning
Written by the Capacity Building Center for States
In February 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) was signed into law with the potential to radically reform child welfare. The FFPSA incentivizes jurisdictions to reduce the use of congregate care and allows payment of federal title IV-E funds for programs and services to prevent children from entering foster care. Jurisdictions must have a 5-year title IV-E prevention program plan approved by the Children's Bureau to use these funds, which are available for mental health and substance use treatment and prevention services and for in-home parenting skill programs. Implementing the FFPSA and prevention plans will help jurisdictions improve the quality of services and supports to strengthen and keep families together, build the capacity of communities to support children and families, and ensure children and youth grow up in safe and loving families. By the fifth anniversary of the FFPSA, most states, eligible tribes, and territories have opted into the use of title IV-E funds for prevention programs and are in various stages of the planning and implementation process. Wherever jurisdictions are in this process, the Capacity Building Center for States has readily available resources to support plan implementation; build infrastructure to sustain and improve efforts; enhance community collaboration; and, for those just starting out, support plan preparation and revision.
Implement and Sustain Prevention Plans
Find resources to put plans into action and navigate both the technical and adaptive challenges of prevention planning and implementation.
- Prevention Planning Into Action—Find resources to help you tackle common adaptive challenges and identify collaborative, data-driven, and equity-centered approaches to planning and delivering prevention services.
- Strategic Planning in Child Welfare—Find tools to help you identify opportunities to align your prevention plan with other federal and internal agency processes and support coordinated strategic and long-term planning, monitoring, and review processes.
- Continuous Quality Improvement and Implementation—Find resources, such as learning experiences, peer networking opportunities, practical guides, and tools, to support child welfare leaders as they implement and manage change.
Engage Others in Planning
Build a more racially equitable, prevention-oriented approach to child welfare by engaging youth, families, and collaborative partners in planning.
- Visioning for Prevention: Protecting Children Through Strengthening Families Series—Find tools, publications, and digital resources to aid in active collaboration between agencies, community partners, service providers, families, and youth to cocreate a shared vision and develop strategies to build protective factors, support families, and prevent child abuse and neglect.
- Strengthening Families Through Prevention and Collaboration: Child Welfare Virtual Expo (CWVE) 2020—Find videos and a discussion guide presented by people with lived and professional child welfare expertise in order to help you explore collaborative approaches to advance prevention.
Enhance Kinship Programming and Reduce Congregate Care
Lessen the trauma that results when children are placed in out-of-home care by supporting kin caregivers and reserving customized congregate care for children and youth with complex clinical or behavioral needs.
- It’s All Relative: Supporting Kinship Care Discussion Guides and Video Series—Find videos with discussion guide activities and questions to help you create a more supportive environment for kin caregivers.
- Congregate Care in the Age of Family First—Find resources to help you better understand the congregate care provisions of FFPSA and what they might mean for your agency.
Learn From People With Experience
Find out what works and which pitfalls to avoid by listening to other people’s experiences.
- “Visioning for Prevention: Transforming Partnerships to Achieve Change Advice Reel Podcast"—Listen to an attorney and a parent ally, both partners with Washington State’s child welfare system, explain how parent partner programs are essential to prevention services.
- Prevention Planning Roundtable—Listen in as child welfare leaders from Kentucky, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Washington engage in a conversation about their experiences with developing and implementing prevention plans.
Start Here if You're Just Beginning to Plan
Get everyone on the same page with resources to help you build common understanding among collaborative partners about prevention services and change management.
- Change and Implementation Prevention Planning Crosswalk—Read this to guide your thinking about specific considerations for applying change and implementation topics to your prevention work. Pay special attention to the following sections of the crosswalk as you think about how to get started with prevention planning: Readiness, Teaming, and Problem Exploration.
- Working Across the Prevention Continuum to Strengthen Families—Learn about what an integrated, comprehensive, prevention-focused approach looks like along a three-tiered prevention continuum and how you can establish common understanding of the continuum among community partners, legislators, child welfare agency staff, caregivers, youth, and other partners.
Looking for more support?
Find resources to help your agency form collaborative partnerships and establish a vision for prevention on the Center for State’s Prevention-Focused Systems page. To learn more about key provisions of the FFPSA and find tips and strategies to support implementation, check out the Center for State’s FFPSA and Advancing the Children’s Bureau’s Vision: Family First Prevention Services Act pages. For technical assistance to support your agency’s response to the FFPSA, contact your state’s Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative liaison.
- Addressing the Developmental and Mental Health Needs of Infants and Toddlers Involved in Child Welfare
Addressing the Developmental and Mental Health Needs of Infants and Toddlers Involved in Child Welfare
The National Center for Children in Poverty published a brief in 2022 that examines strategies used in three states to address the developmental and mental health needs of infants and toddlers involved in child welfare. This population is at risk for poor social-emotional, behavioral, and learning outcomes for a variety of reasons, including trauma, maltreatment, and separation from primary caregivers. The brief explores the roles of state and local child welfare and Part C early intervention (EI) agencies in promoting the well-being of these children.
The brief lists four reasons for focusing on child welfare and EI:
- Child welfare is a critical point of contact for many infants and toddlers who have experienced or are at risk of maltreatment.
- EI is the program most explicitly mandated to address early developmental difficulties in children.
- States must have procedures that support the referral of children involved in founded cases of abuse or neglect to EI, as mandated by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
- Children of color are disproportionately involved in child welfare and deserve equitable access to child development supports.
The brief includes strategies for children in founded cases and those in unfounded cases, who also experience high rates of developmental and mental health issues.
More information, including information about EI, state strategies, and recommendations, are available in the brief, Child Welfare and Early Intervention: Policies and Practices to Promote Collaboration and Help Infants and Toddlers Thrive.
This section of CBX presents interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials, that can be used in the field or with families.
- Webinar Discusses Grandfamilies' Mental and Emotional Welfare During the COVID-19 Pandemic
A webinar hosted by Generations United and its partner, Humana, examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on grandfamilies’ health, welfare, and social isolation. In the hour-long webinar, Dr. Deborah Langosch, a clinical social worker, trainer, psychotherapist, and consultant, and a diverse and unrelated virtual panel of grandfamily members and professionals convene to discuss the pandemic’s impact on families, with a focus on supporting families’ mental health and emotional well-being.
View the webinar, “Let’s Talk About It: Supporting Grandfamilies’ Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being While Navigating Pandemic Challenges,” and access the presentation slides and related grandfamily caregiver tip sheets on the Generations United website.
- Tools Support Emotional Well-Being of Children and Youth
While many children and teens experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, these challenges can be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. New challenges like social distancing, changes to routine, missed significant life events, and a lost sense of security and safety can leave youth particularly vulnerable.
To help young people build confidence and better cope with adversity, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, convened a group of experts to develop and disseminate a collection of web-based tools based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to promote the mental and emotional well-being of children and youth.
The Tools for Supporting the Emotional Well-Being In Children and Youth webpage presents tools to support children and youth. A 4-minute introductory video, animated in a colorful comic book style for younger audiences, provides an overview of emotional wellness and the CBT skills that that can be learned to support it, including the following:
- Deep breathing
- Calming your mind
- Catch, check, and change your thoughts
- Doing fun or favorite activities
The tools are displayed in two categories—tools for younger children with their parents and tools for youth and teens, and each tool includes a short video and a downloadable PDF in the same comic-book style as the video. Spanish translations are available. Finally, a list of frequently asked questions that includes referrals to additional resources is provided.
While development of these tools began in response to the stressors youth faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts agree that CBT skills may help children experiencing anxiety or trauma related to other issues, such as those involving systemic racism or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Teachers, child welfare professionals, and related professionals may also find these resources helpful in their work with children and families.
For more information, visit the NASEM website.
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.
Upcoming conferences and events on child welfare and adoption include the following:
National Substance Use Disorder Summit [Virtual]
Brazelton Touchpoints Center
2023 Healing Together Conference
Native American Fatherhood and Families Association
Mesa, AZ, February 15–17
Crossnore Communities for Children
Winston-Salem, NC, February 16
Inaugural Race Equity Virtual Training Series [Virtual]
National Association of Counsel for Children
6th Asia Pacific Safe and Together Model Conference
Safe and Together Institute, Berry Street, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare & Safe and Equal
Melbourne, Australia, March 9–10
2023 National Conference on Juvenile Justice
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Addison, TX, March 19–22
41st Annual Protecting Our Children Conference
National Indian Child Welfare Association
Reno, NV, April 2–5
23rd National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect [Virtual]
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau
April 11–13 and April 18–20
24th Annual Families and Fathers National Conference
Fathers and Families Coalition of America
Los Angeles, CA, April 25–27
2023 National Conference
Child Welfare League of America
Washington, DC, April 26–28
- Register Now for the Latest Webinar From the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development
The Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development will be hosting a webinar in response to questions about promising practices in managing a hybrid workforce. The webinar takes place on on February 8, 2023, at 2 P.M. ET.
The webinar aims to answer the following questions submitted by professionals in the child welfare field:
- How can CWDs [child welfare divisions] effectively balance the flexibility desired by staff with concrete, set expectations regarding work hours, schedule, visibility, in-office days, etc.?
- How are they holding staff accountable?
- How are they measuring effectiveness?
- What effective strategies have other jurisdictions used to foster workplace relationships and connections without bringing staff back into the office full time?
- How can managers build rapport in a program in which most workers don't come into the office?
To learn more, register for the webinar, "Supporting Virtual Supervision as Part of a Hybrid Workforce."
- Project LIFE Offers Independent Living Skills Curriculum to Help Youth Transition to Adulthood
Project LIFE has a free curriculum available for caseworkers, foster parents, and others looking to teach life skills to older youth in foster care. The curriculum includes two to four workshops in each of the following categories: career preparation, health and nutrition, money management, education, housing and home management, and risk prevention.
Each workshop is designed to help young people in need of learning, enhancing, or supporting life skills to effectively transition to adulthood. The workshops include guides for those facilitating the curriculum as well as other resources, such as factsheets, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, game sheets, examples, and more.
The resources are free for anyone to download and are available on the Project LIFE website.
- QIC-WD National Webinar Series
The Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD), a technical assistance service of the Children's Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has a webinar series that aims to solicit questions from the field and provide answers to common child welfare workforce issues. Participants will also be connected to relevant resources from QIC-WD and the other Children's Bureau partners.
The first webinar, "Supporting New Workers: Evidence-Informed Strategies for Those in Supervisory Roles," provided a general framework for best practices in onboarding, examples from QIC-WD's work with various jurisdictions to support supervisors who work with new workers, and evidence-informed strategies to help new workers feel like they are part of something bigger. This recording of this webinar can be accessed here.
The following are upcoming webinars:
- "Supporting Virtual Supervision as Part of a Hybrid Workforce"
- Wednesday, February 8, 2023, 2 P.M. ET
- "Measuring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Your Child Welfare Workforce"
- Tuesday, April 11, 2023, 2 P.M. ET
- "Attracting and Hiring Workers: Evidence-Informed Strategies"
- Tuesday, June 6, 2023, 1 P.M. ET
Follow the link to each webinar to register.
- "Supporting Virtual Supervision as Part of a Hybrid Workforce"