- Supporting Early Care and Education Programs to Prevent Child Maltreatment
Evidence indicates that high-quality early childhood education programs that feature significant parent involvement have the potential to be an effective child abuse prevention strategy. A new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) presents an overview of effective programs across the country and discusses the role that State policymakers can play in supporting the development of these programs.
The report, Protecting the Youngest: The Role of Early Care and Education in Preventing and Responding to Child Maltreatment, cites research showing that early childhood programs can do much to prevent child maltreatment by promoting five key protective factors: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and children's healthy social and emotional development.
The report discusses the role of State policymakers in supporting the development of effective family supports in early childhood programs. Actions that policymakers can take in this effort include:
- Recognizing early care and education as promising family strengthening strategies
- Integrating a family strengthening approach into laws and policies that regulate early childhood licensing, training, professional development, reimbursement, and strategic planning
- Strengthening the links between early childhood programs and the child welfare system
The report was written by Steve Christian and Julie Poppe and is available on the NCSL website:
www.ncsl.org/print/cyf/protectingyoung.pdf (PDF - 239 KB)
- What Makes Parent Training Effective?
A recent analysis set out to identify the components of parent training programs that have the greatest impact on parent and child behaviors. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 77 published evaluations of parent training programs designed to help parents of young children (0-7 years old) acquire parenting skills for managing problem behaviors.
The results confirmed that such training programs can change parent behavior and prevent or improve early childhood behavior problems. Four program components showed large positive effects:
- Training that helped parents create positive interactions with their children had a significant effect on parent behavior and child externalizing behavior, such as noncompliance and aggression.
- Training that required parents to practice new skills with their children during the training sessions also had significant effects on parent and child behavior.
- Programs that included training in emotional communication had a positive impact on parent behavior.
- Programs that included parent training in using timeout and in responding consistently to children's behavior had a significant impact on child behavior.
Results support theories regarding the impact of the parent-child relationship on child behavior. Training that can help parents acquire positive communication skills—and that reinforces those skills—has the greatest impact on parent and child behaviors. These results have implications for designing or adopting parent training programs that will have the optimum effects on parent and child outcomes.
The full study, "A Meta-Analytic Review of Components Associated With Parent Training Program Effectiveness," by Jennifer Wyatt Kaminski, Linda Anne Valle, Jill H. Filene, and Cynthia L. Boyle, was accepted for publication in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and is available for purchase online:
- The Importance of Family Strengthening
Promoting family strengths is a key component of successful child welfare programs, including programs for preventing child abuse and neglect. A new policy brief by the Family Strengthening Policy Center takes a broad look at family strengthening initiatives and provides key recommendations for family-strengthening professionals, policymakers, and employers. The policy brief is based on a synthesis of 8 years of research and experience in family strengthening.
Citing recent research from the field, the brief identifies three fundamental elements of successful families and provides specific strategies to put them into practice. These elements include loving and nurturing relationships, financial stability, and positive connections to people and organizations. They are part of an ecological model that includes thriving and nurturing communities, quality support systems, and strong and supportive families.
The brief also includes a section on systemic change, suggesting that a change in cultural values is necessary so that society recognizes the importance of strong families for the well-being of children. Factors underlying significant changes include leadership from the family-strengthening field, public will, transformation of public policy, and changes in private policy and practice.
To read Family Strengthening Writ Large: On Becoming a Nation That Promotes Strong Families and Successful Youth, visit:
www.nassembly.org/fspc/documents/revbrief24.pdf (PDF - 2,148 KB)
- HHS Releases National Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect for 2006
According to data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Child Maltreatment 2006, an estimated 905,000 children were found to be victims of abuse or neglect in fiscal year (FY) 2006, representing a rate of 12.1 per 1,000 children in the population. The number and rate of victims has decreased since 2002, when there were an estimated 910,000 victims at a rate of 12.3 per 1,000 children.
Child Maltreatment 2006 is an annual report of data collected from the States' child protective services (CPS) agencies via the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. The report provides national and State statistics on topics that include reports of abuse and neglect, children, fatalities, perpetrators, and services provided to children and families.
An estimated 3.3 million referrals were made to CPS agencies in 2006, involving the alleged maltreatment of approximately 6.0 million children. Agencies screened in 61.7 percent of the referrals for investigation or assessment; as a result, at least one child was found to be a victim of abuse or neglect in approximately 30 percent of those investigations or assessments. Over the past several years, the rate of all children who received an investigation or assessment has increased, from 43.8 per 1,000 children in 2002 to 47.8 in 2006.
Of the children who were abused or neglected in 2006:
- 64.2 percent experienced neglect, 16.0 percent were physically abused, 8.8 percent were sexually abused, and 6.6 percent were emotionally or psychologically maltreated.
- Children in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization at 24.4 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population.
- An estimated 1,530 children died from abuse or neglect, reflecting a rate of 2.04 deaths per 100,000 children.
In 2006, approximately 80 percent of perpetrators of child maltreatment were parents, with other relatives accounting for another 6.7 percent of perpetrators. Approximately one-fifth of victims (21.5 percent) were placed in foster care as a result of an investigation.
To download the full report on national and State statistics, visit the Children's Bureau website:
- April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month
This year marks the 25th annual recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. For a quarter of a century, the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children's Bureau has coordinated many of the activities associated with this April observance, including the release of national statistics on child maltreatment. In recent years, the emphasis has shifted to coordinated efforts by many organizations across the country focused on strengthening and supporting families as they strive to provide safe, loving environments for their children.
The theme of strengthening families and communities is evident in the 2008 prevention resource packet, Promoting Healthy Families in Your Community. The packet was developed by OCAN, Child Welfare Information Gateway, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, and numerous national organizations and stakeholders, and it was released in time for organizations to obtain and distribute it as part of their National Child Abuse Prevention Month activities.
The packet materials support a wide range of service providers who work with parents, other caregivers, and their children with the common goal of promoting healthy families. The packet, which is an update and enhancement of the 2007 edition, discusses strategies for workers to develop and enhance five important factors that can help families protect children from the risk of abuse and neglect. Included are parenting tip sheets in both English and Spanish for workers to share with parents. The packet also describes ways to engage the community in family strengthening efforts and includes information on understanding and reporting child maltreatment.
More information on National Child Abuse Prevention Month and recent prevention efforts can be found in the updates to the Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect section of the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. This section includes new pages addressing cultural competence, shaken baby syndrome, preventing community violence, and family engagement and retention in prevention services.
Visit the Information Gateway website to view or order the 2008 Resource Packet or to find additional resources to support Child Abuse Prevention Month activities:
- New Studies Show Effectiveness of Parent-Led Prevention Programs
Recent evaluations point to the efficacy of two nationally known parent-led programs for preventing child abuse and neglect.
A July 2007 report conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency concludes that Parents Anonymous is a promising program for the reduction of child maltreatment. The longitudinal study assessed the impact of the Parents Anonymous program of parent mutual support and shared leadership on child maltreatment prevention.
The research included a national representative sample of diverse parents new to Parents Anonymous followed over 6 months. Evidence collected for the study showed statistically significant results for participating parents, including:
- Reduced child maltreatment outcomes, including reductions in parenting distress, parental rigidity, and use of psychological aggression toward their children
- Reduced risk factors, including reductions in parental distress, life stressors, domestic violence, and use of drugs and/or alcohol
- Increased protective factors, including improvement in quality of life, emotional and social support, parenting competence, and family functioning
The study concluded that continued participation in Parents Anonymous programs over time resulted in improvement in child maltreatment outcomes in parents with a wide variety of demographics, background characteristics, and needs.
The full report is available online:
www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/2007_Outcome_Eval_ParentsAnon.pdf (PDF - 871 KB)
Circle of Parents®
Circle of Parents uses a mutual self-help support group model as a means of strengthening families. Groups meet regularly to build protective factors and minimize or eliminate risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect. A report released by the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida in November 2007 examined Circle of Parents evaluations completed in Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Washington. The results indicate that participants in all four States showed improvement in multiple domains related to healthy parenting practices and social functioning. The findings were consistent across the States, despite a variety of program structures and diversity of group participants.
The report, Building the Evidence for Circle of Parents as a Model for Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: Participant Characteristics, Experiences, and Outcomes, is available online:
www.ounce.org/PDF/CoPEvaluationReport.pdf (PDF - 1,514 KB)
- How Children's Hospitals Help Prevent Child Abuse
Children's hospitals are in a prime position to provide parent education that can help prevent child abuse. A report by the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) highlights the efforts being implemented by 12 children's hospitals across the country working closely with families and communities to prevent child maltreatment.
One of the earliest hospital-based parent education programs was developed in 1998 by Dr. Mark Dias at the Women and Children's Hospital in Buffalo, NY. The model program included the use of a video, a commitment statement, and other information for parents and caregivers about shaken baby syndrome (SBS). Use of the program resulted in a 54 percent decrease in SBS. The NACHRI report notes that hospital-based programs nationwide have continued to use Dias's model with similar promising results.
Other methods that focus on educating parents and caregivers on child maltreatment include:
- Community-based programs, including SBS prevention programs designed for unrelated adult males and programs that teach child caregivers about sexual abuse prevention
- Programs that focus on reframing their prevention messages to reach either a broader public or a specific segment of adults
To view the full report, Children's Hospitals at the Frontlines: The Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, visit:
- The Costs of Child Abuse and Neglect
A new study from Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA) estimates the financial costs of child abuse and neglect in America in 2007 at almost $104 billion. The estimate includes more than $33 billion in direct costs, such as foster care, medical and mental health treatment, and law enforcement. Indirect costs comprise the remainder and include expenditures in such areas as special education, juvenile delinquency, long-term mental health care, criminal justice services, and loss of productivity.
While emphasizing the financial costs to society, the study's authors also note the long-term adverse outcomes for many children who experience abuse and neglect. These include an increased likelihood of poor physical and mental health, social and cognitive difficulties, participation in high-risk health behaviors, and other general behavior issues.
The report, Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States, by Ching-Tung Wang and John Holton, was released by PCAA with a companion report produced by the Pew Charitable Trust's Kids Are Waiting campaign. Time for Reform: Investing in Prevention: Keeping Children Safe at Home offers recommendations for government funding reforms that would increase the emphasis on prevention services and help to maintain children safely in their homes.
Total Estimated Costs of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States:
www.preventchildabuse.org/about_us/media_releases/pcaa_pew_economic_impact_study_final.pdf (PDF - 169 - KB)
Time for Reform: Investing in Prevention: Keeping Children Safe at Home:
www.kidsarewaiting.org/tools/reports/files/0011.pdf (PDF - 475 KB)
Spotlight on National Adoption Month
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
News From the Children's Bureau
- Adoption Certificate Program Guide for Mental Health Practitioners
A new guide for developing an adoption certificate program for mental health practitioners is now available from the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption. The guide includes an overview and history of certificate programs, a practical guide to develop the program, and a section on curriculum and pedagogical considerations to develop core curricula and train instructors. The guide also includes a wide selection of resources and tools, such as sample work plans, sample program descriptions, and sample course evaluations.
Adoption Competence: A Guide to Developing an Adoption Certificate Program for Mental Health Practitioners was written by Claudia Hutchison and is available online:
- Latest Children's Bureau Funding Announcements
The grant announcement season is in full swing, and the Children's Bureau offers a number of funding opportunities with deadlines over the next several months. These include:
- Abandoned Infants Assistance: Comprehensive Support Services for Families Affected by Substance Abuse and/or HIV/AIDS, No. HHS-2008-ACF-ACYF-CB-0045 (deadline May 27, 2008)
- Adoption Opportunities: Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System, No. HHS-2008-ACF-ACYF-CO-0046 (deadline May 29, 2008)
- Child Welfare Training: National Child Welfare Workforce Initiatives, No. HHS-2008-ACF-ACYF-CT-0047 (deadline June 5, 2008)
To check on the latest announcements, visit:
- New! On the Children's Bureau Site
The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.
Recent additions to the site include:
- PI-08-01 - Issued on February 20, 2008. Availability of Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Funds under the Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect program created by title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act as amended by P.L. 108-36.
- PI-08-02 - Issued on March 10, 2008. Availability of Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Children's Justice Act Grants to States Under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- White House Establishes New Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs
An Executive Order establishing the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was signed by President George W. Bush on February 7, 2008. A coalition of Federal agencies will form this workgroup, which will support communities and organizations working to help at-risk youth.
The new workgroup is the next step in the Helping America's Youth Initiative, a 3-year interagency initiative begun in 2005 and headed by the First Lady. The goal of the initiative is to raise awareness about the challenges facing our nation's youth, particularly at-risk boys, and to motivate caring adults to connect with youth in three key areas: family, school, and community. The newly created workgroup will further support communities and youth-serving organizations by:
- Expanding the work of the current Interagency Working Group on Helping America's Youth
- Enhancing collaboration among government organizations by identifying and engaging key government and private or nonprofit organizations that can play a role in improving the coordination and effectiveness of programs serving and engaging youth, such as faith-based and other community organizations, businesses, and volunteers
- Developing a Federal website on youth to provide a central location for high-quality interactive tools and resources that help youth-serving organizations create and execute plans to support youth in their communities
- Promoting better outcomes for at-risk youth by encouraging rigorous program assessments to determine best practices and initiatives, such as mentoring, that offer cost-effective solutions
A key accomplishment of the initiative is the development of The Community Guide to Helping America's Youth, designed to assist communities to form local partnerships, assess their communities' assets, identify local and Federal resources, and search for evidence-based programs to meet community needs. The guide is available on the Helping America's Youth website:
The text of the President's Executive Order is available online:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/02/20080207-15.htm
- Children's Bureau Associate Commissioner Update
Christine Calpin, who joined the Children's Bureau in January of this year as the Acting Associate Commissioner, officially has been named the Children's Bureau's Associate Commissioner. Ms. Calpin most recently served as the Associate Director of the Child Care Bureau.
Children's Bureau Express announced Ms. Calpin's move to the Children's Bureau in the February issue in "Children's Bureau Welcomes New Acting Associate Commissioner."
- National Resource Center for Organizational Improvement Adds Really Simple Syndication Feed
A new RSS (Really Simple Syndication) subscription is now available from the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI). The RSS subscription, or feed, is designed for professionals who want to receive NRCOI news and information in a timely and organized manner as it becomes available. The NRCOI feed includes information on website updates, training and technical assistance news, teleconferences, publications, and more.
- Training for Missouri's Rural Child Welfare Workers
Southwest Missouri State University, in collaboration with the Missouri Division of Family Services (DFS) and Community Partnerships of the Ozarks (CPO), has developed 18 competency-based training modules to prepare child welfare workers and supervisors to serve the unique needs of children and families living in rural areas. Thirty-one counties in the Southwest Region of the DFS are recognized as rural counties and serve as the focus of this project.
Early in the project, staff recognized the need for a standard set of training competencies. After a thorough literature review and a number of working meetings with key stakeholders, 140 competencies were identified. These competencies were then used to develop the 18 training modules and monitor training effectiveness.
Training modules cover a diverse range of topics, including poverty, domestic violence, conflict resolution, parent education, mental illness, and substance abuse. All of the modules were created in collaboration with the Children's Division of DFS so that trainings could fill in gaps that the State did not have the capacity to cover in its standard training system. Trainings also were opened up to foster parents in need of continuing education hours. Rural foster parents often find it difficult to find and receive good training, and providing these trainings met a real need in the community.
In addition to developing and providing training, project staff are working to improve community collaboration and awareness. They have learned that each community is different and that the key to community participation is identifying and involving the right community leaders. Staff also have conducted focus groups to identify barriers to services and needs in rural counties. In addition, multiple collaborative meetings have been convened to develop additional resources and create collaborative activities. These partnerships have helped to increase awareness and access to child welfare services in rural communities in Southwest Missouri.
While long-term effects of the training modules still are being measured, preliminary evaluation results indicate that all of the trainings have been high quality and positively received by participants. In addition, each time a training is conducted, there is a process for revising the module based on feedback. This method of continuous improvement is encouraging to participants and helps enhance each subsequent training session.
For more information, contact the project director:
Kelli Farmer, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.
149 Park Central Square
Springfield, MO 65806
The Missouri Training Program for Rural Child Welfare Workers project is funded under the Children's Bureau, Grant 90CT0127, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Training for Effective Child Welfare Practice in Rural Communities. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.
- Hague Update From U.S. Department of State
A message from the U.S. Department of State
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention) entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008. On this milestone day, the United States joined with more than 70 countries around the world in recognizing the importance of intercountry adoption and an adoption process that protects all those involved. A list of these countries can be viewed at www.hcch.net.
lmplementing the Convention and the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) has led to many changes in the U.S. intercountry adoption process. Some of these key changes are highlighted below. As more Americans expand their families through intercountry adoption, we are pleased that many of these families and the children they seek to adopt will receive increased protections during this significant, life-changing process.
Accreditation of adoption service providers: For the first time ever, U.S. adoption service providers (providers) are subject to Federal oversight by the Department of State and its designated accrediting entities, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CO) and the Council on Accreditation (COA). Only those providers that have been accredited or approved by CO or COA may provide certain key adoption services in connection with Convention adoption cases. A search feature for the providers that have been accredited, temporarily accredited, or approved is available on the Department's website at http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/agency_accreditation/agency_search.php. The database will be updated on a rolling basis as providers receive, or lose, accreditation or approval.
New DHS procedures and forms: New Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rules require prospective adoptive parents to identify the country from which they will adopt in their initial application. New Forms I-800A and I-800 will replace Forms I-600A and I-600 for Convention adoption cases. Form I-800A incorporates comprehensive requirements for home studies that are designed to protect children and ensure that the prospective adoptive parents have the skills, capacity, knowledge, and training to parent a child, including, if applicable, a child with any special needs. Through Form I-800, children adopted from a Convention country (incoming cases) must meet a new definition of a "Convention adoptee," which among other things allows for two parents to relinquish a child if they are incapable of providing proper care. Form I-800A must be filed prior to Form I-800. The I-800 is used to determine whether the child will qualify as a Convention adoptee.
New U.S. visa requirements: A consular officer must determine whether the child appears to meet the criteria for visa eligibility based on the evidence available before the adoption is finalized or custody is granted in the country of origin. After the adoption or grant of custody, Department of State consular officers in Convention countries will issue a Hague Adoption Certificate (HAC) or Hague Custody Certificate (HCC) and grant a visa in cases where the adoption or grant of custody has met the requirements of the Convention and the IAA. New visa categories, IH-3 and IH-4, will be used in Convention adoption cases.
Adoption Tracking: The Department will track both incoming cases and cases of children emigrating from the United States through an Adoption Tracking Service (ATS). A Hague Complaint Registry will track public complaints related to intercountry adoptions.
- Final Rule on the National Youth in Transition Database
The final rule on the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) goes into effect on April 28, 2008, with full implementation by States due on October 1, 2010. This rule requires States to collect and report data to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on youth receiving independent living services and on outcomes for certain youth who are in foster care or who age out of foster care. The final rule implements the data collection requirements of the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, which established the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program.
When fully implemented, States will report four types of information to the NYTD: services provided to youth, youth characteristics, outcomes, and basic demographics. Youth will be surveyed about outcomes related to their financial self-sufficiency, experience with homelessness, educational attainment, positive connections with adults, high-risk behavior, and access to health insurance. States will report data on youth at three specific times, including on or about each youth's 17th, 19th, and 21st birthdays.
Analysis of data from the NYTD will allow ACF to assess the impact of the Chafee Program on youth in foster care as they transition to independence.
- Child Abuse and Neglect Digital Library
A new database of citations of works relevant to child abuse and neglect is now available from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN). The database, canDL, stores a growing number of resources and includes hyperlinks and online articles when available. For added convenience, users can search the NDACAN database by datasets and other topical categories.
- Strengthening Families National Network
States and localities working to integrate a family-strengthening approach into their child welfare systems now can benefit from the Strengthening Families National Network (SFNN). Launched in February 2008 by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, SFNN provides a forum for sharing and disseminating information to improve systems of care that support families through early childhood and child welfare education.
SFNN participants include partners and affiliates around the country that are strongly committed to the strengthening families approach. Partners include States, Territories, and Tribes that have successfully implemented strengths-based practices across systems of care. Affiliates include States, Territories, or Tribes in the early stages of planning and implementing the strengths-based approach. Nine States currently are participating as partners and 14 States as affiliates.
SFNN participants will have the opportunity to participate in Learning Circles to disseminate promising ideas and develop strategies. The Learning Circles will convene once a month in a teleconference and schedule periodic meetings. SFNN participants also will attend symposia and summits and connect with one another through the SFNN online network.
SFNN plans to launch a website featuring tools for early education programs, planning materials for States and localities working to implement the approach, information on training, evaluation tools, and an interactive space for participants interested in collaborative work.
To read more about the Strengthening Families National Network, visit:
- Examining the Relationship Between Race and Outcomes in Child Welfare
A new report suggests that race is a significant factor associated with whether or not a child in foster care is successfully reunited with his or her family. The report reviews 11 articles and reports that analyzed data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being to examine the relationship between race/ethnicity and several child welfare outcomes. The outcomes included:
- Child factors and related services, including early childhood development, early intervention services, and mental health and substance abuse treatment
- Parental factors and related services, including parental arrest and child involvement with child welfare agencies
- Reunification and related services
While this report found that race/ethnicity was not a significant predictor in the receipt of services for children remaining at home or as a general indicator of whether children would be placed in out-of-home care, there were significant relationships between race and outcomes in other areas:
- African-American children were more likely to be placed in out-of-home care following a CPS investigation.
- African-American children were less likely to receive developmental services.
- African-American children ages 6 to 10 were less likely to receive mental health treatment.
- African-American infants and children older than age 10 were less likely to achieve reunification.
The report, Racial Disproportionality, Race Disparity, and Other Race-Related Findings in Published Works Derived From the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, was written by Keesha Dunbar and Richard P. Barth and published by the Casey-CSSP Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare.
- Mentoring Offers Benefits to Youth in Foster Care
Natural mentoring relationships may increase the likelihood that youth in foster care experience positive outcomes as they transition to adulthood. A recent study of youth in foster care compared young adult outcomes for youth with mentors versus youth without mentors. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the study analyzed 310 youth in foster care and found that mentored youth generally showed more positive outcomes. Mentored youth were defined as those benefiting from the presence of a nonparental adult over a period of at least 2 years between the ages of 14 and 18.
The study examined outcomes in four domains: education and employment, psychological well-being, physical health, and participation in unhealthy behaviors. In all four domains, mentored youth did significantly better than nonmentored youth. Participants who had a mentor performed better in school, led healthier lives, stayed away from unhealthy behaviors more often, and were significantly less likely to report psychological problems such as suicidal ideation.
The full study, "Youth in Foster Care With Adult Mentors During Adolescence Have Improved Adult Outcomes," by Kym R. Ahrens, David Lane DuBois, Laura P. Richardson, Ming-Yu Fan, and Paula Lozano, was published in the online version of Pediatrics and can be accessed at:
- Best Practice Standards in Adoptive Parent Preparation
Adoption professionals need sufficient training and education on the adoption process in order to fully prepare and support adoptive parents and families. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is tackling the issue of preparation for parents and adoption professionals through its Adoptive Parent Preparation Project. The focus of the initial phase is on the basic principles, key issues, methods, and content areas forming best practice standards regarding the preparation and education of adoptive parents, specifically in relation to meeting the mental health and developmental needs of adoptive children.
To assist in the development of effective curricula to educate and prepare adoptive parents, the Adoption Institute has issued a policy brief that offers the following general recommendations as a foundation for best practice guidelines:
- More information about adoption and foster care should be incorporated into professionals' graduate training programs, and better continuing education opportunities should be developed.
- Professionals should provide parent training/education both before and after the adoption; those who cannot offer such services themselves should provide appropriate referrals to their clients.
- Professionals should provide a balanced, realistic view of adoption that focuses on appropriate skills and expectations generally, and on the unique needs of the child to be adopted in particular.
- Because much of the current postadoption counseling comes through community-based mental health professionals, they should receive better training in areas related to adoption.
The policy brief also highlights the core beliefs and principles of parent preparation and education, obstacles to sufficient preparation, content areas and topics to include in parent education, and topics for specific types of families, including those who adopt from the child welfare system, from other countries, and across racial lines.
The second phase of the project will involve the development of a comprehensive set of curriculum modules for training adoptive parents on the mental health, developmental, and childrearing issues related to adoption.
The full policy brief, Adoptive Parent Preparation Project Phase I: Meeting the Mental Health and Developmental Needs of Adopted Children, written by David Brodzinksy, can be downloaded from the Adoption Institute website:
- Increasing Foster Care Capacity
A new publication from the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) examines the problem of diminishing foster care capacity in the State of Texas and makes recommendations that may be applicable to many States and jurisdictions facing similar challenges. Recognizing the complexity of foster care capacity problems, CPPP underscores the need to increase the quantity and quality of foster care placement options in order to meet the requirements of the growing and changing population of children entering the child welfare system.
CPPP offers six recommendations that build on the State's own action plan to increase capacity and incorporate components for effective capacity building developed by Casey Family Programs:
- Examine whether foster care rates are adequate.
- Examine whether the service level system is affecting capacity.
- Consider a no-reject/no-eject clause in contracts with private providers so that the cost of caring for children with greater needs is spread fairly among providers.
- Consider more funding for foster/adoptive parent training.
- Determine whether licensing standards and enforcement are reasonable.
- Consider hiring a third-party evaluator.
The new report, Creating Foster Care Capacity for Abused and Neglected Children, is available on the CPPP website:
www.cppp.org/files/4/capacitypiece311.pdf (PDF - 153 KB)
- Preparing Tomorrow's Leaders
Faced with potential leadership gaps as baby boomers in management positions approach retirement, many child welfare agencies are seeking strategies to improve their ability to promote workers from within the ranks of their agency. A recent article in Children's Voice magazine addresses these issues by highlighting leadership-building strategies being developed in agencies across the country.
Internal training and promotion programs can help agencies preserve institutional knowledge, promote agency growth, and reduce reliance on outside recruitment. In keeping with these goals, the Parsons Child and Family Center in Albany, NY, developed the Leadership Academy, an internal program in which selected staff members receive management training in preparation for leadership roles in the organization. Participants engage in class discussions and prepare written assignments that study the organization on three levels: departmental, agency, and future. The program also provides "stretch opportunities" that expose staff to the structure and services of other parts of the organization and encourage staff to build business relationships across departments.
According to the Children's Voice article, the Parsons' plan for leadership development suggests agencies can effectively address future leadership gaps by:
- Estimating the rate of retirement across all current leadership and planning accordingly
- Involving a wide variety of staff in the planning process
- Individualizing plans to the specific features of the organization
The article outlines the Parsons blueprint for leadership development and also describes the efforts of two other agencies in creating similar succession management and leadership development programs.
The full article, "Promoting From the Ranks" by Jennifer Michael, can be found in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Children's Voice. Read recent issues of the magazine on the Child Welfare League of America's website:
- Factsheet on College Aid for Foster Youth
Voice for Adoption (VFA) has developed a factsheet on the new college financial aid provisions for foster youth that will go into effect in 2009. The new provisions remove a financial disincentive to adopting teens from foster care by disregarding adoptive parents' income when calculating a youth's need for financial aid for youth adopted after their 13th birthday. The factsheet, which explains the details of the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act (FAFSA) that was signed into law in September 2007 as part of Public Law 110-84, is available on the VFA website:
- Positive Parenting Activities for Home Visitors
Home visiting by professionals and paraprofessionals is an important component of many prevention programs for families at risk for child abuse and neglect. A new manual, Your Guide to Nurturing Parent-Child Relationships: Positive Parenting Activities for Home Visitors, offers activities that visitors can use to strengthen parenting capacity and the parent-child relationship. Each chapter focuses on a parenting competency that can be supported through specific home visiting activities. These parenting competencies are:
- Empathy and caring
- Coping and resilience
- Problem solving
- Social competence
The manual's final section describes ways that the home visitor can help parents strengthen the relationship with their children at each developmental stage, up to age 5 years.
Your Guide to Nurturing Parent-Child Relationships was written by Nadia Hall, Chaya Kulkarni, and Shauna Seneca and is available from the Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company:
- The National Children's Study
Several agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (including the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been working together on the National Children's Study, a long-term look at the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children from birth to age 21. Researchers are investigating the impact of natural and manmade environmental factors, including physical surroundings, social factors, behavioral influences, and cultural and family influences on children's development. Several of the working hypotheses developed by the study's researchers have implications for child welfare, including hypotheses regarding the impact of traumatic brain injury, antecedents and resiliency to traumatic life events, and the impact of the family and the community on child health and development.
The National Children's Study recently announced another major step toward full implementation with the issuing of a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for additional study centers. The due date for submission of proposals is May 2. The study began in 2000, and the first study results will be available in 2010. The study is scheduled to continue to 2034.
Visit the website to learn more about the National Children's Study, the recent RFP, and how to subscribe to email updates:
- Guide to Federal Tax Benefits for Foster and Adoptive Parents
Just in time for tax season, a new resource guide, Federal Tax Benefits: Foster, Adoptive Parents and Kinship Caregivers: 2007 Tax Year, has been published by the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) to provide information on deductions and credits available to foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers. An increase in the adoption tax credit is among the tax code changes for the 2007 tax year. Application of the tax laws to individual circumstances may require reference to rules and policies that are not included in the guide. NFPA suggests that users give a copy of the guide to their tax advisors.
The guide is available online:
www.nfpaonline.org/uploads/2007_Federal_Tax_Benefits.pdf (PDF - 837 KB)
- Mazda Foundation Grants
The Mazda Foundation focuses much of its charitable giving on youth-oriented initiatives, funding nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, literacy, social welfare, scientific research, cross-cultural understanding, and environmental conservation. To apply for a grant, organizations must submit an application form, available on the Mazda Foundation website. Applications are accepted only between May 1 and July 1.
- Just in Time Parenting Webpage
As part of its sponsorship of the Cooperative Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has added a Parenting webpage to the Extension website. The Just in Time Parenting webpage offers a selection of parenting information in different formats, including:
- Information on newborn and toddler development that can be delivered through email newsletters at the appropriate time for a parent
- Answers from the experts to frequently asked parenting questions
- Access to parenting experts
- Announcement of local extension programs
- Online Sustainability Planning Resources
The Finance Project, a nonprofit firm whose goal is to support children, families, and communities by improving policies, programs, and financing strategies, has launched the online Sustainability Planning Information Resource Center to provide information about financial sustainability for community programs. The website lists resources and information related to seven elements of sustainability:
- Vision—how to craft and share a vision statement
- Results orientation—improving effectiveness through ongoing evaluation
- Strategic financing—including diversifying funding, creating flexibility in funding, and generating new sources of funding
- Broad-based community support—how to effectively communicate and collaborate with stakeholders
- Key champions—engaging powerful advocates
- Adaptability to changing conditions—monitoring trends and knowing the community
- Strong internal systems—implementing effective management strategies
- Assessment Tools in Spanish
Three assessment tools to help link case planning, services, and outcomes are now available in Spanish from the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN). The NFPN tools include the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General Services (NCFAS-G), the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for Reunification (NCFAS-R), and the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS). Each tool also includes a training package containing definitions, sample ratings, frequently asked questions, a PowerPoint presentation, and the case plan. To learn more about these new resources in Spanish, visit:
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 national conferences on adoption and child welfare through July 2008 include:
- National Foster Parent Association Annual Education Conference
National Foster Parent Association
May 12–16, Atlanta, GA
- Pathways to Adulthood 2008
National Independent Living/Transitional Living Conference
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Administration on Children, Youth and Families; Administration for Children and Families; Children’s Bureau; Family and Youth Services Bureau
May 14–16, Pittsburgh, PA
- Prevent Child Abuse America 2008 National Conference
Connecting the Dots: Turning Knowledge into Action
May 19–22, Milwaukee, WI
- Fifteenth Annual National Foster Care Conference
Footsteps to the Future
Daniel Memorial Institute
May 21–23, Orlando, FL
- 2008 Conference on Family Group Decision Making
June 3–6, Tucson, AZ
- 16th Annual Colloquium
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
June 18–21, Phoenix, AZ
- FFTA 22nd Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care
Foster Family-Based Treatment Association
July 13–16, The Woodlands, TX
- The 11th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference
Making IT Work: Achieving Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being for Youth
National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology
July 21–23, Washington, DC
- International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference
Family Research Laboratory & Crimes Against Children Research Center
July 27–29, Portsmouth, NH
- FFTA 22nd Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the "Conference Calendar Search" feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- National Foster Parent Association Annual Education Conference
- Online Guide for CPS Training
The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR), Division of Family & Children Services, has developed a training program for child welfare case managers that uses an online participant guide. While created for the Georgia workforce, the guide may offer information to other child welfare staff. This course is intended to:
- Teach case managers the skills and knowledge needed in child protective services (CPS)
- Emphasize DHR policy and procedures that guide practice to support the transfer of knowledge from the classroom to the field
- Emphasize family-centered practice principles to support families
This guide was designed with 11 modules, each of which contains information and related activities such as worksheets, scenarios, and discussions to aid in knowledge retention. By the end of training, participants should be better able to understand their roles and expectations as CPS case managers.
To view this electronic participant guide, please visit:
http://dhr.state.ga.us/DHR-DFCS/DHR_DFCS-Edu/Files/CPS%20Electronic%20PG%203-22-07.pdf (PDF - 3,310 KB)
The Georgia DHR posts many of its education and training curricula and handouts. To view the online selection, go to:
- Teen Project Training and Resources
Oregon's Teen Project was created to help promote positive and effective relationships with youth who have experienced abuse and neglect. The Teen Project website provides training curricula and resources for youth workers based on the most current information on adolescent maltreatment. Both the curriculum for trainers and the individualized learning modules are organized into five categories:
- Adolescent brain development
- Building relationships with youth
- Cultural considerations when working with youth
- Unique needs of youth
The website also offers a workbook for multidisciplinary team investigations of adolescent abuse and neglect.
The Teen Project is a collaborative effort of the Juvenile Rights Project, Inc., Portland State University School of Social Work, and Oregon's Department of Human Services. Access the curricula and workbook on the website: