This month, CBX celebrates National Adoption Month, bringing you information about this Federal initiative that includes a public campaign and website. Read about how agencies celebrate National Adoption Month, and find out more about the latest adoption resources and research.
- National Survey of Adoptive Parents Releases First Data
The National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP) is the first national large-scale survey of parents who have adopted children through private adoption, intercountry adoption, and adoption from foster care. Sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the Administration for Children and Families and conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the telephone survey collected data in 2007-2008 from 2,089 parents.
Public use files for the data are now available, and studies from these files will eventually provide information about adoptive families in the United States, including:
- Characteristics, health, and well-being of adopted children and their families
- Adoptive parents' experiences in choosing and preparing for adoption
- Parents' use of postadoption supports and services
Adoptive families can supply insights into the variables that help or hinder the success of adoptions. Their feedback on postadoption supports and resources will also inform adoption specialists about what services the families find most helpful. These data also provide information on parents' reasons for adoption, decisions about adoption type, openness, postadoption financial and nonfinancial service use, and other factors.
Detailed information about the survey's content, including survey instruments and procedures for accessing the data, is available on the CDC website:
Public use files for the data are available from the National Center for Health Statistics: www.cdc.gov/nchs/index.htm
A second, related survey, the National Survey of Adoptive Parents of Children With Special Health Care Needs, collected survey responses from approximately 1,000 parents who had adopted children with special needs. More information is available on the CDC website:
- Celebrate National Adoption Month!
November is National Adoption Month, a time to call attention to the 130,000 children and youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. Recognized by Presidential Proclamation, National Adoption Month is a priority of the Children's Bureau, which sponsors the National Adoption Month website. This campaign urges Americans to "Answer the Call" to adopt children and youth from foster care. This year, the campaign is particularly focused on children of color, older children, and teens and sibling groups who need to be placed together.
The National Adoption Month initiative is a partnership among the Children's Bureau, AdoptUSKids, and Child Welfare Information Gateway.
The National Adoption Month website, produced by Child Welfare Information Gateway, provides resources for professionals and families who are planning activities to raise awareness of the need for adoptive parents for children and youth in care. Visitors to the website can download materials and link to resources.
National Adoption Month homepage: http://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/nam
- Postadoption Support Guide
Adoptive families often need help and support to ease the adoption transition for their child and family and, sometimes, to address issues specific to their adoption situation. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has produced a new guide, A Step-by-Step Guide to Post-Adoption, to help parents identify and find the resources they need. The guide stresses that postadoption challenges are normal and that the adoption process does not end at finalization but should include ongoing support.
The guide answers four questions:
- What are postadoption resources?
- How can parents prepare for the adoption?
- How can parents find and select postadoption resource providers?
- How can parents advocate to create new postadoption resources in their community?
The guide ends with a list of national resources and contact information.
Download the guide from the Dave Thomas Foundation website:
Or, order a free copy through the Foundation website:
- Court Collaboration Expedites Adoptions
A new report from Michigan's State Court Administrative Office describes how 13 counties with the largest adoption dockets in Michigan achieved a 14-percent increase in adoptions in 1 year. The State's Court Improvement Program funded a collaborative project that focused on achieving permanency for children with an identified adoptive parent whose goal was adoption but who had been waiting more than 1 year for the adoption to be finalized.
According to the report, each county involved with the project was asked to gather a cross-disciplinary team of child welfare agency staff, court professionals, and other stakeholders to assess their court practices and develop and implement strategies to expedite the adoption process. County teams were also invited to three adoption forums to provide progress updates, share successful strategies, and identify best practices across the State.
Based on the counties' assessment efforts and results from the forums, the report synthesizes information on issues such as barriers to adoption, child-specific recruitment strategies, and court involvement in permanency planning. The counties identified some best practices to address adoption delays, including:
- Hold frequent trouble-shooting meetings among stakeholders
- Create special court dockets to handle problem cases
- Use an adoption checklist to keep all parties apprised of progress
- Reduce adoption workers' caseloads to increase productivity
- Have judges intervene in lengthy interstate adoptions
- Set paperwork deadlines and bring individuals to court if there are undue delays
Due in part to the project's success, 10 more Michigan counties with the largest adoption dockets have joined the effort, and the focus has expanded to include all foster children awaiting permanency. The project will continue holding forums and disseminating best practices within the State and across the country to improve outcomes for all children and families involved with the child welfare system.
Download the full report, Adoption Forum I: Final Report, from the Michigan State Court Administrative Office website:
- Positive Outcomes for Late-Placed Adoptees
An increase in the percentage of children adopted at older ages prompted a new study that compared early- and late-placed adoptees on various measures of adulthood success. "Age at Adoption: Long-Term Measures of Success in Adulthood" used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth to assess socioeconomic status, educational level, and mental health of 141 adoptees who had been adopted at infancy, when they were 1 to 5 years old, or when they were 6 years or older. Researchers looked at adoptees' annual incomes, number of divorces, home ownership, levels of education, and cases of depression.
Findings show that age at adoption did not have a significant impact on later success. By the time the adoptees were in their 30s, the only difference was in educational attainment, with late-placed adoptees showing lower percentages of high school and college completion. The study highlights the need for greater educational subsidies and support of late-placed adoptees while presenting some encouraging data regarding adoptees' outcomes.
"Age at Adoption: Long-Term Measures of Success in Adulthood," by Susan Decker and Megumi Omori, was published in Adoption Quarterly, Volume 12(1), and can be purchased online:
- Adoption Month Calendar Features Innovative Activities
The 2009 National Adoption Month calendar illustrates the many ways that National Adoption Month is observed around the country. As in past years, the calendar provides a list of activities—one for every day of the month—that adoption agencies and communities can use to celebrate National Adoption Month and raise awareness about the children in foster care awaiting their "forever families." But this year's calendar is unique in that local agencies contributed their own ideas for a number of the listed activities.
The idea to solicit contributions from agencies was the brainchild of staff at AdoptUsKids. In an e-blast to their listserv of about 8,000 adoption workers, the staff asked, "What do you do for National Adoption Month?" Many of the responses made their way to the 2009 calendar.
- Bellefaire Jewish Children's Bureau in Shaker Heights, OH, contributed the idea to create a recruitment theme (November 2 on the calendar). Staff at Bellefaire are particularly excited about their 2009 theme, "Celebrate Me Home." As part of their celebration of National Adoption Month, Bellefaire is hosting a party and inviting back all of the people touched by the agency through adoption or foster care. The festivities will include professional family portraits, Bellefaire's TEENS 2 HOMES choral group (composed of foster and adoptive youth), special activities for children, and a resource room for prospective families interested in finding out more about foster care and adoption.
- Burdened by an oversized photolisting of all the children available for placement, Children Awaiting Parents came up with the idea of creating pocket-sized photolisting booklets that include about 30 children each (November 5 on the calendar). The booklets are customized for particular events and printed onsite. When staff from the national agency attend a State conference, they can display their comprehensive listing of children, and they can distribute pocket-sized booklets that include only children from that State. The agency's recruiters and its Board have been delighted with the new format and the flexibility it provides, and the pocket-sized books are easily displayed in libraries and other public areas.
- Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria counts on community partners to help them increase awareness of adoption in central Illinois (November 9 on the calendar). In this case, the partners are local banks, and Catholic Charities uses the theme "Kids Are Banking on You" to spread the message about adoption and the need for parents. The awareness campaign is a low-cost way for the agency to get high visibility through window placards, stickers, and fliers placed in banks. As a result of the campaign, a number of families, including bank employees, have contacted the agency to find out more about adoption. The agency holds informational events in November and December to respond to the increased interest generated by the bank campaign.
You'll find more great ideas on the National Adoption Month calendar. View the calendar online:
For even more information on recruitment, visit the AdoptUsKids website:
- Parent-to-Parent Support for Adoptive Families
Drawing on their years of experience working with adoptive parent support networks, the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) has issued a new publication that highlights the value of peer support groups for parents who adopt children with special needs. The manual, Developing a Parent-to-Parent Support Network, aims to help parents set up peer networks in their own communities based on model programs from around the country.
Information on six successful peer support network programs is provided, with the most detailed information on Minnesota Adoption Support and Preservation, a parent support network operated by NACAC. In a separate section, the process of developing a parent-to-parent network is presented, which covers issues such as:
- Partnering with others
- Defining the community and its needs
- Identifying funding sources
- Establishing trust and providing support
- Setting boundaries and maintaining ethics
- Evaluating the program
The manual is available on the NACAC website:
- New PSA Campaign Recruits Families for African-American Children
The Children's Bureau and AdoptUsKids have partnered with the Ad Council once again to produce a series of humorous and heartwarming public service announcements (PSAs) designed to encourage the public to consider adoption from foster care. While the theme "You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent" continues to serve as the touchstone for the campaign, this year's ads target the recruitment of families for African-American children.
Of the 496,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, 130,000 are waiting for families to adopt them. African-American children continue to be overrepresented in the foster care system, and children of color often wait longer to be adopted.
Since the adoption PSA campaign began in 2004, each year's PSAs have offered a lighthearted look at family life—often with a focus on recruiting families for particular populations of children, such as families for teenagers or families for Hispanic children. This year's ads are no different in their humorous approach, but the visual (television and print) ads show African-American parents and children. Each vignette portrays a family activity or task with a comical twist at the end reminding the viewer that "you don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent." The videos and photos show parents running after children to give them bag lunches, setting the barbeque aflame, and conducting an overzealous session of paintball. The situations are designed to trigger both a smile and some deeper thinking about adoption.
The Children's Bureau and other sponsors hope that families will see themselves in the ads and consider the possibility of adoption from foster care.
To view the press release, visit the Ad Council website:
To visit the AdoptUsKids website, go to:
Spotlight on Child Welfare Data and Technology
Spotlight on Tribal Child Welfare
News From the Children's Bureau
CBX links you to news about new Federal leadership, grantee awards and a grantee site visit, conference presentations, and the latest from the Training and Technical Assistance Network.
- 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:
- Information Memorandum ACYF-CB-IM-09-03, which informs States of the procedures for determining the Adoption Incentive grant amounts and the schedule of payments to be used by ACF in awarding the Adoption Incentive funds to States (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/im/2009/im0903.htm)
- Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Call To Action, a publication by Region IV about local communities' experiences with grandparents raising grandchildren, available in English (www.acf.hhs.gov/opa/doc/grandparents.pdf) and Spanish (www.acf.hhs.gov/opa/doc/grandparents_spanish.pdf)
- Adoption Excellence Awards Ceremony Photos, for the year 2009, now available for viewing and downloading (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/current_initiatives/aeawards09_photos.htm)
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- Assistant Secretary Nazario Debuts on YouTube
Carmen Nazario, the new Assistant Secretary for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, took her message to the public recently with a short video on YouTube that describes the mission of ACF and the goals of her administration. She stresses three objectives:
- Helping families achieve economic success
- Supporting healthy and comprehensive child development
- Improving ACF's institutional capacity to make a difference in the lives of children
The message ends with a reference to President Obama's inclusive philosophy that welcomes the leadership of everyone—not just experts and policymakers.
The video can be seen on the ACF homepage or directly on YouTube:
- Updates From the T&TA Network
The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway recently launched an Information Systems and Data section on its website. Topics include planning and implementing an information system; collecting data; improving data quality; using data to inform program improvement; using data to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families; and information sharing.
Information Gateway also updated its Adoption web section on Search and Reunion:
- FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) released Evidence-Based and Evidence-Informed Programs: Prevention Program Descriptions Classified by CBCAP Evidence-Based and Evidence-Informed Categories, a directory that supplies information to State lead agencies to help them identify programs to fund and to classify programs' reporting requirements.
http://www.friendsnrc.org/joomdocs/eb_prog_direct.pdf (659 KB)
FRIENDS also produced Best Practices for Maximizing and Sustaining Collaborative Efforts, a program for assessing the status of State lead agencies' collaborations, their efforts to sustain those collaborations, and their abilities to build on what they have been able to achieve.
http://www.friendsnrc.org/joomdocs/max_collab.pdf (156 KB)
- The National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) has issued a "Request for Applications for Doctoral Dissertation Support." Four doctoral students whose proposals are approved will each receive $25,000 a year for up to 2 years to support their research as it applies to differential response. For applications received by Jan. 15, 2010, awards will be announced on March 15, 2010.
www.differentialresponseqic.org/assets/docs/rfa-doctoral-dissertations.pdf (120 KB)
- The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC-NRF) released its summer 2009 newsletter, focusing on the theme of "Making the Child Support-Child Welfare Connection Work for Kids."
www.fatherhoodqic.org/Summer09final.pdf (522 KB)
The QIC-NRF also published Advocating for Nonresident Fathers in Child Welfare Court Cases, by Andrew L. Cohen et al., to help attorneys and other advocates in their work with noncustodial fathers.
www.fatherhoodqic.org/advocating%20for%20non-resident%20fathers%20book.pdf (1.69 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services collaborated with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Family Violence Prevention Fund to publish Child and Family Service Review Outcomes: Strategies to Improve Domestic Violence Responses in CFSR Program Improvement Plans, by Shellie Taggart, to help stakeholders develop effective PIPs to achieve safety, permanency, and well-being in domestic violence cases.
www.nrccps.org/documents/2009/pdf/Strategies_To_Improve_Domestic_Violence_Responses__in_CFSR_PIP.pdf (340 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections has developed a resource list of "Tools for Working With Kinship Caregivers." The list includes training and curriculum materials, manuals, assessment tools, handbooks, a directory, website addresses, and more.
www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/Tools%20for%20Working%20with%20Kinship%20Caregivers.pdf (150 KB)
- Child Welfare Information Gateway recently launched an Information Systems and Data section on its website. Topics include planning and implementing an information system; collecting data; improving data quality; using data to inform program improvement; using data to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families; and information sharing.
- Children's Bureau Conference Presentations Available
Resources from two Children's Bureau conferences are now available online.
The Children's Bureau Agencies and Courts Meeting, held in August in Arlington, VA, carried the theme "New Strategies for the Changing Times" and included workshops under the categories of the Federal Perspective, Safety, Permanency, Well-Being, and Challenging Child Welfare Issues. Those presentation materials, including PowerPoints and handouts, can be found online:
The National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit, held in May in Washington, DC, with the theme "Knowledge Building, Knowledge Transfer, Implementation," included presentations about the current state of evaluation practice in the field of child welfare. Materials from those presentations can be found on the James Bell Associates website (scroll down):
- CB Announces Discretionary Grant Awards
The Children's Bureau has announced the recipients of its 2009 Discretionary Grants, including the awards for its National Resource Centers (NRCs). As part of the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network, the NRCs provide T&TA, as well as support, research, and consultation to help States and Tribes improve their child welfare systems in accordance with Federal requirements, especially the Child and Family Services Reviews.
While incumbents won awards for eight NRCs (with some slight changes in NRC names), awards were also made to two new NRCs:
- NRC for In-Home Services
- NRC for Tribes
Children's Bureau priorities also were reflected in a number of other Discretionary Grant awards, including:
- Rigorous Evaluations of Existing Child Abuse Prevention Programs
- National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System
- Abandoned Infants Assistance Act Grants
- Family Connection Discretionary Grants
- Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants
For a complete listing of the awards, awardees, and funding amounts, visit the Children's Bureau website:
- Site Visit: Leadership Institute Helps in Implementing System of Care
The goal of the National Child Welfare Leadership Institute (NCWLI) is to build leadership skills in midlevel managers in public and Tribal child welfare agencies to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. In a recent project called Embedding Lessons Learned, NCWLI worked with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to help staff better understand the State's system of care reform.
DCYF experienced a problem with internal and external communications that came to the fore when, in 2005-2006, State executive staff implemented a system of care program as a component of the Rhode Island child welfare system reform initiative. DCYF line staff and midlevel managers, who had not been included in planning or developing this new model of service delivery, felt a lack of ownership and commitment to the new model—which created problems with implementation. Using the NCWLI model, DCYF staff learned how to effect successful system change in a process that included:
- Accepting the need for change
- Understanding what to change and how to change it
- Committing to and practicing change
- Applying, monitoring, and institutionalizing the change
The Rhode Island team and NCWLI staff identified gaps in DCYF staff knowledge of the system of care initiative, noted staff concerns, and developed a plan to increase staff knowledge and participation in the process. Together they discussed an element that had been missing in the original initiative: to help child welfare staff and midlevel managers see the system of care not as a threat but as a positive change that would improve services to the children and families and would make their jobs a little easier.
Among the lessons learned in the project was the critical importance of including the facilitators of systems change in the process of developing the change, giving them opportunities early on to offer feedback and input, and taking advantage of their expertise and knowledge of the community. The project developed several methods of communication, including an agencywide newsletter, all-staff emails, formal meetings, and informal brown-bag lunches and focus groups.
These communication tools and other key recommendations coming out of the project will be advanced and embedded in DCYF's policy and practice.
Visit the NCWLI website: http://www.ncwli.org
For more information, contact the project directors: Norma Harris, Ph.D.; Director and Principal Investigator, email@example.com; and Raymond Kirk, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator, firstname.lastname@example.org
The full site report will be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
National Child Welfare Leadership Institute is funded by the Children's Bureau, CFDA #93.648.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.
Research from the child welfare field includes surveys of State Part C coordinators about services, of judges about TPR, and of workers about job satisfaction.
- Job Satisfaction for Public and Private Workers
A recent study published in the Journal of Public Child Welfare compared job satisfaction and related issues for frontline workers in public agencies and those in private child welfare in performance-based contracting environments. Researchers examined the degree of job satisfaction and the factors that contributed to and detracted from that satisfaction by surveying 190 frontline child welfare workers (76 percent public and 24 percent private).
The authors analyzed their results in qualitative and quantitative terms. Qualitative findings showed that workers from both environments valued positive relationships with client families, and this contributed to job satisfaction; administrative duties detracted from that satisfaction. Quantitative results indicated that private agency workers were generally more satisfied than public workers with their work environment and extrinsic rewards. Both groups expressed dissatisfaction with pay levels.
"Job Satisfaction Among Child Welfare Workers in Public and Performance-Based Contracting Environments," by Karla T. Washington, Dong Pil Yoon, Colleen Galambos, and Michael Kelly, was published in the Journal of Public Child Welfare, Vol. 3(2), and is available for purchase online from the publisher:
- Judges' Thoughts About Termination of Parental Rights
Some judicial and child welfare professionals have raised concerns that the shortened timeframes for termination of parental rights (TPR) mandated by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) have, in some cases, led to the creation of "legal orphans," that is, children who no longer have legal ties to their birth families, yet have no adoptive families. To address these concerns, Child Trends sponsored a study in which telephone interviews were conducted with a sample of 20 judges representing 18 States. In the interviews, the judges shared their perspectives and experiences with TPR and the challenges they face when making TPR decisions.
The findings suggest that some judges are concerned with creating legal orphans, and the absence of an identified adoptive family for a child does make some judges apprehensive about terminating parental rights. Other concerns included the opposition to adoption by some older children, the objection by some potential adoptive parents to take on the care of a child whose birth parents' rights were still intact, and the potential loss of ties between the child and birth family. Some judges noted that recent changes in case practice have provided the opportunity to make better, less divisive decisions.
The Timing of Termination of Parental Rights: A Balancing Act for Children's Best Interests, by Raquel Ellis, Karen Malm, and Erin Bishop, is available on the Child Trends website.
- Using Part C Services for Social-Emotional Well-Being
Considerable variation exists in how States define "developmental delay" for the purpose of identifying infants and toddlers eligible for services through the Early Intervention Program for Infant and Toddlers With Disabilities, which is Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Research suggests that a significant gap exists between the number of children who need Part C services and those who actually receive them, especially services to address children's social and emotional needs.
In an effort to determine how States make decisions about providing Part C services to address social and emotional well-being of toddlers and infants, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) recently sponsored a study and published the results in Promoting Social-Emotional Wellbeing in Early Intervention Services. The study's authors surveyed Part C coordinators from 48 States to determine whether States were maximizing current policies, including fiscal policies, to integrate social-emotional developmental strategies into early intervention services. The coordinators reported on their States' efforts to support:
- Screening, referral, and evaluation
- Strategies within the early intervention service continuum covered by Part C
- Services and supports for children who are at risk but ineligible for Part C
According the survey results, 70 percent of States recommend using validated screening tools to detect social-emotional developmental delays, yet many States also recommend screening tools that are not standardized. Nearly 90 percent of States work to promote early identification by primary care physicians. However, only eight States include at-risk children as eligible for Part C services, and only 17 of the remaining States have written agreements in place to guide referral and services for young children who are at-risk for social-emotional developmental delays but ineligible for Part C services. The report offers a number of legislative and research recommendations for increasing services to infants and toddlers with social-emotional developmental delays.
Promoting Social-emotional Wellbeing in Early Intervention Services: A Fifty-State View was written by Janice L. Cooper and Jessica Vick and is available on the NCCP website:
Find tools and examples that can help you replicate an evidence-based program, prepare your agency for disaster, and involve youth and families in treatment planning.
- Involving Youth and Families in Mental Health Treatment
While most treatment providers understand the importance of partnering with families, they continue to need specific, evidence-based strategies to support such partnership efforts. A new report from the Chadwick Center for Children and Families attempts to fill this knowledge gap by offering best practice guidelines for partnering with youth and families receiving mental health treatment for child abuse. Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the report was informed by extensive research as well as input from mental health and child welfare professionals and families involved with both systems.
The report is separated into sections for treatment providers and for agency administrators, highlighting the benefits of youth and family involvement, general recommendations, and strategies for overcoming barriers to involvement. An extensive reference section lists national and State resources and offers information on relevant publications, curricula, toolkits, and DVDs.
The report's key recommendations suggest that treatment providers strive to:
- Educate and empower youth and families to play an active role in their service delivery
- Encourage a peer-to-peer network for current and former clients
- Work collaboratively with other systems affecting their clients
The report recommends that agency administrators implement the following strategies:
- Create a family advocacy board and/or integrate youth and families into the agency's advisory board
- Develop partnerships with other systems serving youth and families
- Revise training programs to emphasize client involvement
- Integrate youth and family partnership values throughout the agency
The full report, Closing the Quality Chasm in Child Abuse Treatment, Volume II: Partnering With Youth and Families in Mental Health Treatment for Child Abuse, is available on the Chadwick Center website:
- Pennsylvania's Nurse-Family Partnership Initiative: Lessons Learned
In times of economic distress, investing funds in proven preventive programs, such as nurse home visitation, becomes even more essential. A recent report from Public/Private Ventures (P/PV), Growing What Works: Lessons Learned from Pennsylvania's Nurse-Family Partnership Initiative, draws on P/PV's experience working with Pennsylvania's Nurse-Family Partnership initiative (a nurse home-visiting program) to offer lessons learned about implementing models statewide. After citing the research supporting the program and some of the fundamentals of successful program replication, the report provides recommendations on:
- Choosing the right agency
- Ensuring the program is well received and integrated into the community
- Creating a community of practice
- Closely monitoring results
- Engaging local administrators
- Investing in evaluations
The report concludes by stating that successful replication requires deliberate support from all key players to ensure sites are adhering to the model, which is critical to the success and future expansion of the program. In addition, the report notes that the Nurse-Family Partnership initiative has saved the State approximately $317 million over the past decade.
The report, by Jennifer Collins Stavrakos and Geri Summerville with Laura E. Johnson, is available on the P/PV website:
www.ppv.org/ppv/publications/assets/299_publication.pdf (1,661 KB)
- Be Prepared for Disasters
Both natural and manmade disasters have raised awareness about the need for fully developed disaster preparedness plans within child welfare agencies. The Annie E. Casey Foundation has developed a resource guide for child welfare agencies to prepare for these events. Gathering research and expert opinion, the resource guide presents practical information for State and Tribal agencies to use in developing their plans for disasters and integrating some of the preparation work into everyday child welfare work.
After presenting a 10-point checklist agencies can use to assess their preparedness for disaster, recommendations are given in three areas:
- Mitigation and preparedness
Each of the 27 chapters begins with a scenario of a possible disaster and how it would affect a child welfare agency, for instance, "Suppose wild fires destroy two child welfare agencies and all of their records" or "Suppose foster families evacuate because of a natural disaster and then run out of money," followed by a listing of likely obstacles, recommendations, and resources. An appendix includes information about pandemic disaster, as well as an index of resources.
Disaster Preparedness Resource Guide for Child Welfare Agencies, by Rebecca Berne, is available on the Annie E. Casey website:
- Strengthening Military Families
As our nation's military personnel continue to support overseas missions and face the challenges of multiple deployments, it is important that child and family-serving organizations are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to effectively support military families. The latest Virginia Child Protection Newsletter discusses the strengths and needs of military families and describes programs to support those families in Virginia and nationwide.
While growing up in the military can offer children several social and emotional benefits, military families also face unique stressors that may place children at greater risk for maltreatment. The newsletter cites two recent studies whose findings indicate increases in substantiated cases of child maltreatment immediately before and after deployment, as well as higher rates of neglect and physical abuse by nonmilitary parents during deployment.
To address the risk of child maltreatment, the newsletter includes articles on some of the many services offered by the military to strengthen families, such as shared parent-child reading programs, child development centers, new parent support programs, in-home child care services, and school-age and youth programs. Other articles address combat stress and family advocacy.
The issue, "Strengthening Military Families," Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, Vol. 86, was edited by Joann Grayson, and is available online:
- Giving Indian Children a Voice in Court Proceedings
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) has increased Tribal control over the adoption and foster care of Native American children. While the Act recognizes a role for children's wishes in dependency court hearings, case law often ignores the perspectives of youth on issues impacting their well-being.
A recent article, "The Voice of the Indian Child: Strengthening the Indian Child Welfare Act through Children's Participation," by Barbara Atwood, illustrates specific ICWA provisions as well as norms of international and Tribal law that acknowledge the potential for children's participation in State proceedings. According to the author, increased involvement in dependency court hearings can benefit both the youth and the participants in the decision-making process.
In an effort to address the specific needs of Native American children and their families, the author explores ways to strengthen Indian children's right of participation in legal processes determining their future placements. Special attention is also given to the potential consequences of expanding such participation and potential challenges faced by children's representatives.
The article was published in the Arizona Law Review, Vol. 50(127), and can be downloaded from the website:
www.law.arizona.edu/Journals/ALR/ALR2008/VOL501/Atwood--FINAL.pdf (299 KB)
The Tribal Law and Policy Institute's Tribal Court Clearinghouse offers a comprehensive listing of resources on child abuse and neglect, including those that address child witnesses to domestic violence, as well as ICWA issues. The Institute has worked extensively with issues relating to child victimization and the development of Tribal-specific resources and strategies to address child maltreatment. Visit the Institute website to access the links: www.tribal-institute.org/lists/child.htm
An online booklet for families released by the Office of Ombudsperson in Minnesota highlights the requirements of ICWA, answering questions from families and providing comprehensive information on permanency timelines for out-of-home placement of Indian children. Access A Family Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act, by Michael Hogan and Dawn Blanchard: www.ombudsfamilies.state.mn.us/Brochures/A%20Family%20Guide%20to%20the%20Indian%20Child%20Welfare%20Act%20doc%20II.pdf (73 KB)
- Legal Advocacy for Youth in Foster Care Who Are Parents
The role of legal advocacy in addressing the needs of youth in foster care who are pregnant or parenting is discussed in an article in the September 2009 issue of ABA Child Law Practice. In "Advocacy for Young or Expectant Parents in Foster Care," authors Lisa Pilnik and Laura Austen note that the health and education needs of these youth are a crucial concern.
Using a question-and-answer format, the authors present many of the issues that practitioners face when advocating for these youth, including:
- The eligibility of the youth's child for foster care maintenance payments under title IV-E, even if the child is not in State custody
- The role that the youth's attorney plays in ensuring that the child welfare agency provides the services the teen needs to parent successfully
- The basic principles that a lawyer should keep in mind when representing a teen parent in a child welfare proceeding
The article begins on page 110 of the September issue and can be found online:
- IASWR Listserv Moves to SWRnet
In a move made to streamline the activities of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR), the IASWR Board recently voted to close IASWR and to assign its functions to other entities. For 15 years, the IASWR served as a link among social work researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. The IASWR was founded in 1993 by the National Association of Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, the Association for Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, and the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education; in 2000, the Society for Social Work and Research also became a supporting organization.
An important communication tool during these years has been the IASWR weekly listserv announcement, which contained information on calls for papers, conferences, funding, and research. That weekly email will continue as the Social Work Research Network (SWRnet) and will be published by the Boston University School of Social Work. The new version will continue to provide timely information for social work researchers and practitioners. For more information or to subscribe, visit the new website:
- A Realistic Look at a Career in Child Protective Services
The Arizona Department of Economic Security has produced a new video that offers an overview of Child Protective Services (CPS) and the many facets of being a CPS worker. This video may help prospective social workers determine if CPS is a good fit for them by offering a realistic perspective of the work from seasoned frontline workers and real-life clients. The video outlines key points to consider before becoming a CPS worker, including attributes and qualities that make a good case manager. By providing real-life scenarios, the video illustrates both the rewards of the work as well as the difficult situations that CPS workers face in their everyday activities.
To view the video "It's Not Just a Job: A Realistic Look at a Career in Child Protective Services," 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.
- Preventing Child Maltreatment in ORR/DUCS-Funded Care Provider Programs
The Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) website now offers comprehensive training materials for working with unaccompanied refugee children. The training is a collaboration among the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement's Division of Unaccompanied Children's Services (ORR/DUCS), the Children's Bureau, the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services, and BRYCS.
The curriculum covers professional ethics and boundaries, identifying and responding to incidences of abuse and neglect, reporting maltreatment, and prevention strategies for ORR/DUCS-funded programs. The training materials, offered in English and Spanish, include a trainer's manual, participant's manual, and PowerPoint presentation.
For details, visit the BRYCS website:
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through February 2010 include:
- National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health 20th Anniversary Conference
Children's Mental Health Matters
December 3–6, Washington, DC
- 24th National Training Institute
ZERO TO THREE
December 4–6, Dallas, TX
- 24th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment
The Chadwick Center for Children and Families
January 24–29, San Diego, CA
- CWLA 2010 National Conference
Children 2010: Leading a New Era
Child Welfare League of America
January 25–27, Washington, DC
- International Conference on Parent Education and Parenting
The University of North Texas Center for Parent Education-and-International Sociological Association Committee on Family Research
February 18–19, Denton, TX
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health 20th Anniversary Conference
- Online Classes Expand Adoption Competency
Portland State University (PSU) offers a series of online courses and evidence-based workshops for mental health and child welfare professionals through its Therapy With Adoptive and Foster Families program. The program covers:
- Effects of abuse, trauma, and neglect on children
- Ways to recognize and enhance foster and adoptive family members' resiliency and parenting skills
- Selection and preparation of families for parenting children with maltreatment histories
The program is certified for academic credit. Online courses are offered through Blackboard, an application that also supplies video streaming for workshops and case consultations. Instructors are experts in the fields of adoption, foster care, and mental health.
More information, including an application packet, is available from the program's website: