CBX spotlights Interjurisdictional Placement, with an article from AdoptUSKids that describes the many ways this organization can help workers with placements across State lines. Other articles link you to resources on ICPC, ICAMA, and more.
- International Family Finding-Redux
In May 2011, Children's Bureau Express published "International Family Finding" about a Children's Bureau Family Connection grantee (ISS-USA) implementing an international family finding project. If you missed the article in May, you'll want to find out more about this type of interjurisdictional placement:
- Border Agreements Between States Expedite Placements of Children
Sometimes the best emergency placement for a child in State custody can be with a relative who lives nearby but in a neighboring State, and therefore, subject to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). In recent years, a handful of States have entered into agreements with their neighbor States to expedite these types of placements.
One such agreement is between the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and the Oregon Department of Human Services. The ICPC Border Agreement applies specifically to the border counties of each State, and it establishes an expedited process to assess the safety and suitability of prospective caregivers who have an existing relationship with the child. The agreement is intended to increase the timeliness of interstate placements of children within the defined geographic area and reduce the placement of children in foster homes where children do not know their caregivers.
The text of the agreement is available on the Washington Department of Social and Health Services website:
Another example of a border agreement is one between the northeast region of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services and the Virginia local Departments of Social Services for several counties in southwest Virginia. In this agreement, an individual who is a relative or person with whom the child has a significant relationship but who resides out-of-State but within the regions specified in the agreement may be considered for temporary placement, without the child being placed in the State foster care system in either State.
Details of this agreement can be found on pages 104-108 of The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children Procedures Manual, published by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.
- The New Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), written in 1960, has long set the standard for ensuring the safe and stable placement of children across State lines. Enacted by all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the ICPC determines who is legally and financially responsible for a child placed in another State and establishes supervisory requirements for foster care and adoption services to the child and family. Since 1960, major changes in child welfare practice, technology, and society have made the original version increasingly difficult to implement. In March 2004, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) began an effort to rewrite the ICPC to more closely match today's foster care and adoption practices. Throughout the rewriting process, APHSA relied heavily on the input of key stakeholders such as State administrators, Federal partners, and related national child welfare organizations.
The new ICPC, renamed the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, makes numerous improvements to more efficiently place children across State lines and increase accountability in the ICPC process. One major improvement aims to reduce confusion concerning private custody matters by clearly stating the new ICPC applies only to children in foster care or children being placed for adoption by a public agency. Other key areas of improvement include:
- A secure system for collecting and sharing case information
- Required timelines for the approval of placements
- An option for States to purchase home studies from licensed private agencies
- Procedures for administrative review of decision-making in cases when requested
- The establishment of an Interstate Commission to enforce and oversee the administration of the ICPC
The language in the new ICPC requires that 35 States must adopt it before it can go into effect. To date, 12 States have adopted it, and legislation has been introduced in another 2 States. Once the new ICPC becomes effective, the Interstate Commission will begin a collaborative process to develop rules and administrative procedures for all member States to follow. Although some States are concerned about the potential financial burden of the new ICPC or doubt its ability to significantly improve interstate processes, compact administrators highlight safeguards to address spending and to ensure State authority and involvement in the rulemaking process. APHSA emphasizes that the most important improvement in the new ICPC is the ability to hold States accountable through stronger rule enforcement, which will ultimately improve outcomes for children placed with families across State lines.
To better educate the States about the need to make the new ICPC effective nationwide, APHSA offers an extensive website that includes such helpful materials as:
- A history of the ICPC and description of the rewriting process
- A side-by-side comparison of the old and new ICPC and highlights of the revisions
- Frequently asked questions about the new ICPC and its effect in specific practice areas
Visit the APHSA website for more information:
In addition, the following APHSA website compiles State ICPC contacts and websites and summarizes State ICPC laws, practices, and procedures:
The American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law published frequently asked questions for legal professionals about the impact of the new ICPC on status offense cases for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Download The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and Status Offense Advocacy on the ABA website:
- How Effective Attorney Practice Can Improve Interstate Placements
Court Improvement Programs (CIPs) have been in place since 1993 when Federal legislation was passed to fund State programs to assess and improve the dependency court process. In 2008, State CIPs conducted and published assessments of interstate child welfare practice, revealing many areas in judicial and agency practice in need of improvement. In an article published in ABA Child Law Practice, author Scott Trowbridge drew on data from these assessments to discuss the role that the child welfare attorney can play in improving the timeliness of interstate placements. The article, “How Attorneys Can Improve Interstate Placements: Lessons Learned From State CIP Assessments,” describes several strategies child welfare attorneys can use to reduce delays:
- Explore other potential placement options, such as relatives, early in the case
- Advocate for concurrent planning and visitation with potential placement options, such as out-of-State relatives
- Advocate for a home study request, even if a placement may be further in the future
- If the case is clearly headed to adoption, ask whether the State can complete a dual or a preadoptive home study
- Because most States have streamlined processes for relative placements, clearly convey the relationship between the child and the proposed placement to the out-of-State agency
- Talk to the prospective family about the steps they need to complete and periodically check with them about progress
- Advocate for more frequent court or administrative reviews of the case
- Assist out-of-State families in requesting an administrative review in cases in which the family receives a negative home assessment
This article is available in the October 2009 issue of the journal ABA Child Law Practice and can be found online:
The State CIP Assessments
The recommendations for improved child welfare attorney practice were derived from an analysis of data collected for State CIP Assessments on the Legal and Judicial Role in Interstate Placement, which were mandated by the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006. States evaluated the court role in interstate placements by conducting surveys (more than 2,700) and interviews and reviewing case files. The individual State assessments include data as well as recommendations for improvements.
The State assessments are available on the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues website:
- How AdoptUSKids Can Help Your Agency With Interjurisdictional Placements
A service of the Children's Bureau, AdoptUSKids is in its ninth year of operation. The mission of AdoptUSKids is two-fold: to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public child welfare system and to assist U.S. States, territories, and Tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families and connect them with children within and across jurisdictional boundaries. Since October 2002, more than 30,000 waiting children have been photolisted on the AdoptUSKids website. Of those children, nearly 16,000 have been placed with adoptive families, many of them across county, State, and international lines.
Among the many services provided by AdoptUSKids, two in particular provide invaluable support to child welfare agencies for the placement of children across borders. Those two services are its photolisting website and training and technical assistance.
Find Hundreds of Families in Seconds for Waiting Children
With a simple click of a button on the AdoptUSKids website, child welfare agencies can find hundreds of possible matches of home studied, licensed families for children on their caseload. The feature is part of the website's Find a Family tool available for free to agencies registered with AdoptUSKids photolisting services. The tool searches through our database of more than 4,000 active profiles of families and matches them to the needs and criteria of a child or sibling group.
Watch a short video demonstration of the tool at http://video.adoptuskids.org/v/training/findafamily.swf (Flash - 5:30 minutes) to find out more about this service and how both public and private child welfare agencies can register for free on the AdoptUSKids website at http://adoptuskids.org/admin/OrganizationRegistration.aspx?r=cbx.
Get Free Training and Technical Assistance on Interjurisdictional Placements
The National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents (NRCRRFAP) at AdoptUSKids provides free training and technical assistance on interjurisdictional placements, as well as materials to support agencies' ability to facilitate interjurisdictional placements. The center will soon release a set of capacity-building materials to help jurisdictions build worker knowledge and skills and sustainable infrastructures that support interjurisdictional placements.
To find out more about the center's resources:
- View the video Beyond Borders: Achieving Child Permanence Across Geographic Boundaries at http://adoptuskids.org/professionalResourceCenter/interjurisdictionalResources.aspx?r=cbx.
- Download the NRC's Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) Checklists at http://adoptuskids.org/resourceCenter/atcPublications.aspx?r=cbx#interstat.
- Learn about free training and technical assistance at http://adoptuskids.org/professionalResourceCenter/aboutTTA.aspx?r=cbx.
If you have any questions about any the above services and how to access them, contact AdoptUSKids at 888.200.4005 or email@example.com.
Contributed by Vanessa Casavant of AdoptUSKids
- AAICAMA and Interjurisdictional Placement
The Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA) was written in 1986 and has been enacted into State law by 49 States to ensure that children eligible for adoption assistance who are placed across State lines continue to receive Medicaid and other services. Member States use consistent forms and services, and there is an ICAMA representative in each State who is the contact for these services.
To help ensure that ICAMA is applied consistently, the Association of Administrators of the ICAMA (AAICAMA) offers resources and training on ICAMA. The AAICAMA website includes a number of useful features, such as general information about ICAMA, definitions, training materials, and news on Federal and State laws. The website is designed to be a resource for State and local agency staff who work with families that have an adoption assistance agreement and move across State lines.
Visit the website to learn more:
Fostering Connections and Interjurisdictional Placement
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 has several implications for the placement of children with foster and adoptive families who live across State lines. The legislation, which was designed to improve outcomes for children in foster care, also mandates improved incentives for adoption of children with special needs and more support and connections for relative caregivers. According to AAICAMA, these are two areas where interjurisdictional placements may benefit from Fostering Connections.
The AAICAMA website offers guidance and links to these parts of the Fostering Connections legislation that most directly affect the work of ICAMA professionals:
Spotlight on National Adoption Month
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
News From the Children's Bureau
This month, we continue our Centennial Series with a brief look at the orphan train phenomenon, while other articles link you to information on the upcoming Evaluation Summit, CAPTA text, IRS wording on the adoption tax credit, and new items on the Children's Bureau website.
- Centennial Series: America's Orphan Trains
This is the third article in our Centennial Series, as we count down to the Children's Bureau's 100th anniversary next year. These articles address some of the social issues, practices, and policies at the turn of the last century that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.
The story of America's orphan trains, which ran between 1854 and 1929, is rooted in the history of child protection in a rapidly changing urban society. By the mid-19th century, early industrialization and the promise of jobs drew more and more families to the cities—including large numbers of immigrants—but this rapid growth caused overcrowding, disease, and squalid living conditions for many. As urban poverty grew, so did the number of children who were lost, neglected, or simply abandoned. While exact numbers are difficult to determine, 10,000 or more vagrant children were roaming the streets of New York City by the late 1840s (Holt, 2009).
In 1853, concerned with the conditions of this vulnerable population, a young clergyman named Charles Loring Brace established the Children's Aid Society (CAS) in New York City. Soon after, the CAS began its program of shipping children via trains to new families in other parts of the country, mainly west. Brace felt that a rural family setting, steady work at home or in the field, and proper schooling would offer these children the opportunity to grow into productive members of society (Holt, 2009).
Who were the children sent to new homes on the orphan trains? They were of all ages, from infants to teens, and many were immigrants. Some were true orphans from inner-city orphanages or from the streets, but many were children of single parents or parents who were ill or otherwise unable to care for their children. Some parents brought their children to CAS, hoping for a better life for them, and other children were recruited from poor neighborhoods by the CAS (Cook, 1995).
The children were sent in groups on the trains, along with an agent who was responsible for seeing that they were placed with families. Stopping at a designated station, the youngsters were taken by the placing agent to a railway platform or gathering place and lined up to be looked over by prospective parents (Holt, 2009). Siblings were often separated; if a child was not chosen at a specific town, he or she would board the train again and move on to the next destination to repeat the process (Trammell, 2009). Families who took in the children signed an agreement to care for them, although legal custody often remained with the CAS or with the children's birth parents—an arrangement designed to provide an escape clause for both children and families (O'Connor, 2001).
Some children were fortunate, landing with families who treated them with kindness and love. Others were treated as unpaid labor or even abused. During the course of 75 years, about 200,000 children were relocated from the New York area to other States by way of the orphan trains (National Orphan Train Complex, n.d.). These included children settled by the CAS, as well as children settled by other "child-saving" organizations.
Inevitably, many contemporary events had an impact on the orphan train practice. Many of the Western States where the children were placed began to protest that they were being used to provide homes for children who were a burden to their home States, and these Western States began to pass legislation banning or requiring large bonds for interstate placement (Trammell, 2009). As the perception of childhood began to shift, children were seen as innocent and in need of protection rather than as prospective laborers. Social reformers emphasized the importance of family life versus institutionalized care. Years of national campaigns eventually led to the White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children of 1909 (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1967). This symposium was instrumental in bringing the issue of child welfare to national attention and in the creation of the Children's Bureau in 1912. The new government agency supported programs and initiatives that helped reduce the need for orphan trains.
Cook, J. (1995). A history of placing out: The orphan trains. Child Welfare, LXXIV, 181-197.
Holt, M. I. (2009). The orphan trains as an alternative to orphanages. In R. B. McKenzie (Ed.), Home away from home. The forgotten history of orphanages (pp. 205-226). New York, NY: Encounter Books.
National Orphan Train Complex, inc. (n.d.) Orphan Train History. Retrieved from www.orphantraindepot.com/OrphanTrainHistory.html
O’Connor, S. (2001). Orphan trains: The story of Charles Loring Brace and the children he saved and failed. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Trammell, R. S. (2009). Orphan train myths and legal reality. The Modern American, 5(2), 3-13. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Children's Bureau (1967). The story of the White House conferences on children and youth. Retrieved from Georgetown University, Maternal and Child Health Library website:
In addition to the references listed above, the Internet offers access to some of the history about this chapter in child welfare. For more information, visit these sites:
- The Children's Aid Society: The Orphan Trains
- National Orphan Train Complex, Inc.
- Orphan Train: A WI [Wisconsin] GenWeb Project
- Orphan Train: An IA [Iowa] GenWeb Special Project
- Orphan Train Riders of New York to Minnesota
- Orphan Trains of Kansas
Access all of the articles in the Centennial Series from here: http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=125§ionid=1&articleid=3131
- The Children's Aid Society: The Orphan Trains
- CAPTA Booklet
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 is now available in a web-only booklet form on the Children's Bureau website. The booklet also contains the Adoption Opportunities program and Abandoned Infants Assistance Act, as amended. The updated text is an unofficial version that has been prepared based on the changes to the Act in P.L. 111-320, the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, to help States and other organizations as they prepare budgets, reports, and applications.
- 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:
- Adoption Excellence Awards Nominations—Nominations for the annual Children's Bureau Adoption Excellence awards will close on July 29. Find details and forms at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/current_initiatives/aea2011letter.htm.
- Washington State CFSR Final Report—The CFSR Final Report for Washington is the last posted report for Round 2 of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). Search all the State reports for both rounds at http://library.childwelfare.gov/cwig/ws/cwmd/docs/cb_web/SearchForm.
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- 2011 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit Agenda Updated: Register Now!
Register now for the 2011 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit! Space is limited, and spots are filling up quickly. Current registrants have already exceeded the number of attendees in 2009, so please do not delay. Learn more and register here:
The Summit will be held at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, DC, August 29-31, 2011, and will feature over 100 panel presentations, workshops, and roundtables and more than 50 posters that support the Summit’s themes of Building Evidence, Strengthening Practice, and Informing Policy. In addition, the Children's Bureau will host several roundtable discussions designed to generate ideas and priorities for the future of research in child welfare. As we finalize the agenda, we will continue to update the "Agenda-At-A-Glance" on the Summit website. View the agenda here:
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. We look forward to your participation in this year's Summit!
- Adoption Tax Credit Clarification
The IRS recently posted new language regarding eligibility for adoption assistance or subsidy agreements. Visit the IRS website to learn more:
Voice for Adoption, an advocacy organization, provides guidance on the adoption tax credit and related issues. Visit the webpage to learn more:
- CBX Survey Launches!
For the second time in its 11-year history, Children's Bureau Express (CBX) is asking for reader feedback. We want to know what you think about our content, topical coverage, format, style, number and timing of issues, display, and more.
Please click on the survey link in the right navigation bar to complete this brief questionnaire. We value your opinion!
The T&TA Network section shares news about new resources from the T&TA members, including family engagement strategies and performance-based contracting ideas.
- System of Care Family Engagement Strategies
The National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Child Welfare Systems of Care Grantees (NTAEC) has published an article on strategies and approaches child welfare agencies use to integrate meaningful family involvement into their service delivery systems. "New Roles for Families in Child Welfare: Strategies for Expanding Family Involvement Beyond the Case Level," by Erin Williamson and Aracelis Gray, is based on document reviews and interviews with 44 individuals from nine agencies that received grants as part of the Children's Bureau's Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care initiative. Grantees were interviewed about their family involvement planning and capacity-building activities.
Findings suggest that child welfare agencies primarily used human resource development to enhance family involvement. Specifically, they focused on three areas:
- Program staffing
- Family engagement
- Agency buy-in
- Training for both child welfare personnel and participating family members for capacity building
- Mechanisms that allow a direct way for child welfare staff and participating family members to voice concerns and give constructive feedback
- Hiring family members with child welfare experience as trained peer mentors
- Dedicated resources to establish and sustain family involvement efforts and ensure full integration into the child welfare system
The authors call for further evaluation for enhancing family involvement, identifying and disseminating best practices, and building capacity for agencies to integrate family involvement in service delivery.
"New Roles for Families in Child Welfare: Strategies for Expanding Family Involvement Beyond the Case Level," was published in Children and Youth Services Reviews, Vol. 33, and is available for purchase online:
The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health recently published Evidence-Based Practices/Practice-Based Evidence/Community-Defined Evidence Practices Currently Being Used by Systems of Care: A Snapshot of System of Care Communities Funded 2005–2009, which provides a table of programs in 32 States.
- More 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 has launched a new Introduction to Adoption section on its website:
Information Gateway also recently updated its Funding Adoption General Information Packet. The packet includes three factsheets for families: Costs of Adopting, Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted From Foster Care, and Employer-Provided Adoption Benefits:
- The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) will host a teleconference on July 13 at 10 a.m. PST on "Assessing for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Children." To register, go to:
[Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]
- The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) has published Introduction to Cross-System Data Sources in Child Welfare, Alcohol and Other Drug Services, and Courts. This guide describes the primary data-reporting systems used in the child welfare, drug services, and court systems:
http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA11-4630/SMA11-4360.pdf (1,137 KB)
- The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) has posted the first module in a new Leadership Academy for Supervisors training series called "Take the Lead," which consists of short, stand-alone modules that provide specific strategies for supervisors. The first module is on "Recruitment Strategies." To find out more and link to the free registration, go to:
- The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) has produced its spring 2011 Updata newsletter, which lists newly archived Federal data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) for 2009, a list of participants for the Summer Research Institute, and more.
- The National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (FRIENDS) has published the June 2011 issue of EBHV Connector, created for and by the Children's Bureau's Evidence Based Home Visitation grantees:
Also available is the spring 2011 edition of Parents and Practitioners, a newsletter produced by the FRIENDS' Parent Advisory Council:
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) has a new "hot topic" on its site. Child Welfare and Technology offers resources on new forms of technology, the use of social media, and more:
NRCPFC also has posted an updated response to its question to State foster care managers, "What specific strategies has your State used to maximize the placement of siblings together when they enter out-of-home care?" Five States have responded:
http://www.nrcpfc.org/fostering_connections/download/Strategies%20to%20Support%20Joint%20Sibling%20Placement.pdf (225 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) has produced a series of toolkits on youth leadership to help organizations include the young people they serve in their work:
- The National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System (QIC-ChildRep) offers a fee waiver to applicants who seek certification as a National Association of Counsel for Children child welfare law specialist. The deadline to apply is July 31:
- The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) has posted audio recordings of two webinars on "Family/Parent Partners Improving Outcomes in Child Welfare":
The TA Partnership has also produced A Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care:
http://www.air.org/files/FatherhoodInvolvementGuide.pdf (1.21 MB)
- Child Welfare Information Gateway has launched a new Introduction to Adoption section on its website:
- QIC Assesses Performance-Based Contracting Systems in Child Welfare
In 2005, the Children's Bureau funded the Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services (QIC-PCW) to research and test innovative strategies for implementing performance-based contracting and quality assurance systems (PCB/QA) within a privatized context. The goal of the center was to present data to the child welfare field on research and practice about the best ways for public child welfare agencies to contract with private providers for core services. The QIC-PCW chose its demonstration sites through a competitive proposal process, and in September 2006 the QIC began evaluating the Florida, Illinois, and Missouri sites.
Recently, the QIC published the executive summary to its final report, Cross-Site Evaluation of Performance-based Contracting and Quality Assurance Systems in Child Welfare. The summary includes site descriptions, outcomes, and lessons learned, and it indicates elements for success and tips for the field. The summary identifies four factors that influenced PBC/QA, the public-private partnership, and outcomes:
- Resources, budgets, and political climate
- Data systems
- Concurrent initiatives
The complete executive summary is available on the QIC website:
www.uky.edu/SocialWork/qicpcw/resources/pubs/ExecutiveSummaryFINAL.pdf (645 KB)
This month, CBX links you to new funding announcements, as well as articles on Children's Bureau grantees and their work.
- Site Visit: Nonresident Fathers in the El Paso, CO, Child Welfare System
The National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC-NRF) awarded subgrants in 2008 to projects in four States for fatherhood classes for nonresident fathers whose children have been removed from their homes. One of the four subgrants was awarded to the Center on Fathering (COF) of the El Paso County, CO, Department of Human Services (DHS) to locate and recruit nonresident fathers of children in the child welfare system to participate in fatherhood classes. The goal is to increase fathers' involvement with their children and the child welfare system.
The fatherhood classes meet for 20 weeks and use a curriculum developed by the QIC-NRF to support nonresident fathers in engaging their children. The curriculum covers topics such as navigating the child welfare system, supporting their children, and workforce issues. Between September 2008 and September 2010, 23 fathers participated in these classes.
COF also has developed a training for caseworkers about how to engage fathers. The training, which was conducted at five State academies throughout Colorado, included practical advice on topics such as bringing fathers back into the family dynamic, closing the revolving door on cases, and how father-child visits may be different—and should be evaluated differently—from mother-child visits.
The following are examples of successful strategies used by the project to recruit, engage, and work with the fathers:
- Completing the relative resource letters for DHS. After a child has been removed from the home, the child welfare agency, per Federal law, must send a letter to adult relatives notifying them of their options of becoming a placement resource for the child. COF sends these letters to the relatives on behalf of DHS for all removals. Sending these letters and receiving the responses helps the project get a head start on locating and contacting nonresident fathers.
- Using social networking websites, such as Facebook and MySpace, to contact and engage the fathers. One of the fathers helped develop the project's Facebook page, which includes articles and other resources for nonresident fathers.
- Having guest speakers attend the classes. This provides the fathers with face time with community leaders and experts who are intimately involved with the system. Guest speakers have included child welfare staff, local attorneys, nurses, and the child support enforcement staff.
Fathers interviewed during the site visit expressed how much the project has helped them with their children. The project helped them gain a better understanding of the child welfare and court systems and provided helpful information about child development and communication.
For more information about this project, contact Ken Sanders, Program Director, at KenSanders@elpasoco.com.
The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
The National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Residential Fathers and the Child Welfare System is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award #90CO1025). 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.
- Synthesis Compiles Information on Training Supervisors in IL Services
In 2005, the Children's Bureau awarded 3-year discretionary grants to five universities and one State to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate a training curriculum for public child welfare agency supervisors working with older youth in foster care and/or in Independent Living (IL) programs. The six projects funded in this grant cluster, Training of Child Welfare Agency Supervisors in the Effective Delivery and Management of Federal Independent Living Services for Youth in Foster Care, were:
- Department of Social Services, State of Massachusetts; Supervisory Training to Enhance Permanency Solutions (STEPS)
- Hunter College School of Social Work, CUNY Research Foundation; Preparation for Adulthood—Supervising for Success (PASS)
- San Francisco State University; Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project Child Welfare Supervisor Training
- University of Houston; Preparation for Adult Living: Supervisor Training and Empowerment Program (PAL-STEP)
- The University of Iowa; Improving Outcomes for Youth in Transition
- University of Louisville Research Foundation, Inc.; Evidence-Based Supervisor-Team Independent Living Training
Recently, Child Welfare Information Gateway and James Bell Associates produced a synthesis of the projects. Available on the Information Gateway website, the synthesis is presented in a format that allows the user to choose among four tabs: Summary of Projects, Overarching Themes, Evaluation, and Products. Each tab reveals a list of contents (such as youth involvement, logistics, participant recruitment) that is linked to detailed information.
Overall, the grantees' evaluations reveal improvements in the youth transition planning process following the training. Positive changes were reflected in individual attitudes and practices as well as at the agency level.
Read the full synthesis as well as individual site visit reports for each project on the Information Gateway website:
- Recent Grant Announcements
The Children's Bureau recently announced three more funding opportunities:
- Child Welfare—Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children With Child Welfare Involvement is offered to support school-based initiatives to implement multidisciplinary interventions building on protective factors for children who are at risk of child abuse and neglect or are currently in the child welfare system. The deadline is July 25, 2011.
- Child Welfare—Education System Collaborations to Increase Educational Stability is offered to build collaborations between child welfare systems and education systems to increase the educational stability of children in or at risk of entering the child welfare system. The deadline is July 26, 2011.
- Family Connection Grants: Using Family Group Decision-making to Build Protective Factors for Children and Families are offered to support demonstration projects that test the effectiveness of family group decision-making as a service approach that prevents children from entering foster care, thereby reducing the time that these children and families are involved with the child welfare system. The deadline is July 27, 2011.
In addition, modifications to two other funding opportunities were announced:
- Modified Improving Service Delivery to Youth in the Child Welfare System
- Modified Integrating Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Focused Practice in Child Protective Service (CPS) Delivery
- Child Welfare—Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children With Child Welfare Involvement is offered to support school-based initiatives to implement multidisciplinary interventions building on protective factors for children who are at risk of child abuse and neglect or are currently in the child welfare system. The deadline is July 25, 2011.
- Using Comprehensive Family Assessments to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes
A comprehensive family assessment (CFA) can improve child welfare outcomes by identifying and addressing the needs and strengths of all family members over time, rather than focusing only on the incident that brought the family to the attention of the child welfare agency. In 2007, the Children's Bureau sought to further research on the use of CFAs by awarding grants to five jurisdictions that would use the Children's Bureau's CFA Guidelines for Child Welfare to develop, implement, and institutionalize their own assessment protocols and interagency processes.
Comprehensive Family Assessment
- Recognizes patterns of parental behavior over time
- Examines the family strengths and protective factors to identify resources that can support the family's ability to meet its needs and better protect the children
- Addresses the overall needs of the child and family that affect the safety, permanency, and well-being of the child
- Considers contributing factors such as domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, chronic health problems, and poverty
- Incorporates information gathered through other assessments and focuses on the development of a service plan or plan for intervention with the family that addresses the major factors that affect safety, permanency, and child well-being over time
Since 2007, the grantees have developed, implemented, and evaluated protocols and processes that assess multiple domains for families, children, and youth in a strengths-based and culturally responsive manner. Effective working partnerships with families and between child welfare agencies and community partners have played key roles to guide grantees' decision-making and case service planning. The resulting broad set of practices includes enhanced assessment tools, motivational interviewing, clinical screeners, coaching and mentoring, meaningful family/father engagement, early and better identification of services, high quality documentation, data collection, and process measurement. Dissemination efforts at the local, State, and national levels provide information directly to service agencies, stakeholders, and researchers through conference and workshop presentations.
Brief descriptions of the five grantees follow.
- The Alabama Department of Human Resources (ADHR) is working in three pilot counties, implementing a comprehensive assessment process that includes four components:
- Intake assessment
- Family functioning–safety assessment (FFA)
- Protective capacity family assessment–individual service plan
- Protective capacity progress assessment
- The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is using its Integrated Assessment Program (IAP), adapting the CFA Guidelines for use with intact family services cases. The IL model uses a dual-professional family engagement approach. A specially trained Integrated Assessment (IA) screener conducts structured interviews to establish a baseline level of child and family functioning. The permanency worker, who accompanies the IA on the structured interview, is able to apply these clinical findings and recommendations in day-to-day casework practice.
- The Ramsey County (MN) project is based on the belief that safety, permanency, stability, and well-being are achieved through effective child welfare services that act constructively and respectfully on behalf of families. Caseworkers are learning how family functioning factors contribute to children being unsafe or at risk and how to design a case plan that is most likely to change behaviors. Cultural consultants are engaged to guide and assist in this process. Two specific evidence-based practices are critical to the implementation of this project: strengths-focused practice and critical thinking and analysis.
- Alamance County (NC) Department of Social Services (ACDSS) is partnering with The Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University to develop, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based model for conducting comprehensive family assessments, based on the CFA Guidelines. This project has developed CFA family engagement and caseworker visit policies, protocols, and procedures that are being implemented with a pilot team and a randomly selected intervention team. ACDSS staff are being trained and coached in motivational interviewing to develop partnerships and engage with families in the assessment and case planning process.
- Contra Costa County (CA) is implementing a Comprehensive Assessments for Positive Family Outcomes for all families in the east, west, and central Regions of the county. Using enhanced assessment tools and CFA principles, the agency is developing and implementing practices that include motivational interviewing, parent partners, team decision-making, individual strengths-based family-centered case plans, and father engagement.
Later issues of Children's Bureau Express will carry articles about visits to these sites, and their final reports will be archived in the Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants Library at http://library.childwelfare.gov/cbgrants/ws/library/docs/cb_grants/GrantHome.
For additional information about these projects, please contact the Federal Project Officer, Cathy Overbagh, at email@example.com.
Child Welfare News reports on new publications on prevention and immigrant children, as well as new research concerning runaway youth and permanency variations.
- Runaway Youth in Foster Care
The National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) conducted a research study in 2010 on runaway foster youth to learn why youth run away, what can be done to prevent youth from running away, and where youth go when they leave. As a part of the study, 50 youth who had run away from foster care in the previous 12 months were interviewed. Half were living in Chicago and half in Los Angeles County, and all were between the ages of 14 and 17 years old. The results of these interviews have been published by the National Runaway Switchboard in a short paper.
The interviews with runaway foster youth show some consistent findings:
- The two reasons youth gave for running away were wanting to be with family or friends and being unhappy with their current placement.
- Most youth returned to foster care voluntarily because they wanted to go back to school or home or wanted to stay out of trouble.
- A majority of the youth ran away to a friend's house or spent the night at a relative's home.
- Many of the youth felt they needed someone to talk to and that they could not talk to their foster parents.
- Youths felt that caseworkers did not provide enough support and that the caseworkers should have visited more frequently.
This brief, Running Away From Foster Care: Youths' Knowledge and Access of Services, can be downloaded from the NRS website:
www.1800runaway.org/assets/1/7/042111_Part_C_Exec_Summary.pdf (358 KB)
The original 2010 report, Why They Run: An In-Depth Look at America's Runaway Youth, can be found on the website:
- Examining the Well-Being of Immigrant Children
The latest issue of The Future of Children focuses on immigrant children living in the United States and efforts to improve the well-being of these youth, who are the fastest-growing population group in the country. Family arrangements for children, immigrants' role in welfare programs, and education and demographic trends are examined in the articles, among other issues.
Articles in the journal include:
- "Immigrant Children: Introducing the Issue" by Marta Tienda and Ron Haskins
- "Demography of Immigrant Youth: Past, Present, and Future" by Jeffrey S. Passel
- "The Living Arrangements of Children of Immigrants" by Nancy S. Landale, Kevin J. A. Thomas, and Jennifer Van Hook
- "Early Care and Education for Children in Immigrant Families" by Lynn A. Karoly and Gabriella C. Gonzalez
- "K-12 Educational Outcomes of Immigrant Youth" by Robert Crosnoe and Ruth N. Lopez Turley
- "The Physical and Psychological Well-Being of Immigrant Children" by Krista M. Perreira and India J. Ornelas
- "The Adaptation of Migrant Children" by Alejandro Portes and Alejandro Rivas
- "Poverty and Program Participation among Immigrant Children" by George J. Borjas
The Future of Children: Immigrant Children, Vol. 21, spring 2011, can be downloaded for free from The Future of Children website:
Last month, Children's Bureau Express included a short article about a new handbook from Loyola University's (Chicago) Center for the Human Rights for Children and the Center's Building Child Welfare Response to Child Trafficking. See "Handbook on Responding to Child Trafficking" in the June 2011 issue.
- Why Prevention Matters Series
Prevent Child Abuse America recently launched a new series of papers on different aspects of child abuse prevention written by experts across the country. Each paper provides a brief, general synopsis of research and current thinking on the prevention topic, followed by questions and answers with the author. The series includes the following:
- Dollars and Lives: The Economics of Healthy Children by Phaedra S. Corso
- Prevention Programs and Strategies: State Legislative Experiences by Kelly Crane
- A Better Future for America, A Better Future for America’s Children: Strengthening our Capacity to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect by Lisbeth B. Schorr
- Prevention Creates the Future by Transforming Culture by Jeff Linkenbach
- The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study: Child Abuse and Public Health by Robert Anda
- Better Lives for Children Lead to a Better Climate for Business by Michael E. Axelrod
The Making the Case: Why Prevention Matters series can be found on the Prevent Child Abuse America website:
- Exploring Timeliness to Permanency Variations
Partners for Our Children is conducting an ongoing study with the goal of better understanding the factors that contribute to permanency outcomes for children who are under the supervision of the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, Children's Administration (DSHS/CA). The organization recently published a series of resources titled Timing of Permanency Exits From Out-of-Home Care: The Importance of Systems and Implications for Assessing Accountability for Permanency Outcomes.
Notable findings from the study include:
- There is considerable variation across Washington State in levels of dependency court involvement.
- Differences in levels of dependency court involvement are partially due to differences in the availability of services to troubled youth.
- The rate of child reunification with parents is reduced by over two-thirds after a dependency petition is filed; in contrast, the rates of adoption and guardianship are more than doubled.
- Differences across the State in the timing of reunification are related to the likelihood and timing of the dependency petition filing.
The report also contains a discussion of the relationship between the timing of the filing of dependency court petitions and the differences in permanency rates across the State.
Partners for Our Children is affiliated with the University of Washington School of Social Work, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, and a number of private funders. The study's authors are Mark E. Courtney, Jennifer L. Hook, Tessa Keating, and Matt Orme.
Three publications on the study are found on the Partners for Our Children website:
- Serving Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth
The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project have teamed to publish A Place of Respect: A Guide for Group Care Facilities Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth. This guide offers tips for ensuring that transgender youth seeking services are treated fairly and not subjected to events that may be disrespectful or harmful. The guide tackles nine sample problems that are commonly faced by transgender or gender nonconforming youth and offers practical solutions that are easy to implement and that follow facility regulations.
The guide is broken into five sections:
- Understanding Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth
- The Challenges of Living With a Stigmatized Identity
- Group Care Facilities' Legal Responsibility to Treat Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth Fairly and Keep Them Safe
- Best Practices for Working With Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth
- Best Practices for Administrators for Changing Culture, Adopting Practice Guidelines and Policies, and Training and Evaluating Staff
The guide also includes a full appendix with definitions, resources, and an example of guidelines that are respectful of transgender and gender nonconforming youth.
The publication, by Jody Marksamer, with Dean Spade and Gabriel Arkles, can be downloaded from the National Center for Lesbian Rights website:
- Home Visiting Community Planning Tool
ZERO TO THREE now offers an online planning tool to guide communities through the process of creating new or expanding existing home visiting services for at-risk young children and their families. Users enter information about their community and existing home visiting services as well as answer questions to help them consider implementation issues at the program and system levels. The tool covers topics such as:
- Community demographics, strengths, and needs
- Strengths and gaps in existing home visiting services
- Public engagement and the recruitment and retention of families
- Staff qualifications and professional development
- Partnerships, collaboration, and coordinated governance
- Financing and sustainability
- Evaluation and quality assurance
In light of recent Federal funding for States and Tribes through the new Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, many of the questions in the tool also help communities consider how to connect their work at the local level to larger State efforts. Ultimately, ZERO TO THREE hopes the tool will help community leaders select and implement an evidence-based home visiting program according to the needs and strengths of their community.
Access the Home Visiting Community Planning Tool on the ZERO TO THREE website:
www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/state-community-policy/home-visiting-community-planning-tool-fillable-pdf.pdf (712 KB)
- Training in Child and Family Team Meetings
The North Carolina Division of Social Services uses a culturally adapted form of Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings that are integral to the State's family-centered child welfare practice. North Carolina State University's Center for Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) recently released an annual report on the North Carolina Family-Centered Meetings Project for 2009-2010, which details how the State's child welfare workforce is trained in CFT meetings. The report describes the curricula's guiding principles, training methods, evaluation, inclusion of family trainers, technical assistance, and cultural adaptation.
The report notes that the Center uses four guiding principles in developing, implementing, and evaluating training on CFT meetings:
- Cultural safety
- Family leadership
- Community partnerships
- Inclusive planning
The Center devised a CFT training program consisting of five courses:
- Step by Step: An Introduction to Child and Family Teams (mandatory for all workers and supervisors)
- Anchors Away! How to Navigate Family Meetings: The Role of the Facilitator
- Widening the Circle: Child and Family Teams and Safety Considerations
- The ABCs of Involving Children in Child and Family Teams
- Keeping it Real: Child and Family Teams with Youth in Transition
The report indicates that workers from more than 80 of 100 counties in the State participated in formal CFT trainings during the year. In addition, the Center also offered statewide forums, regional forums, and online policy events that focused on how agencies were implementing CFT State policies. Training evaluations were based on participant satisfaction forms (completed by 761 trainees) and trainers' feedback on issues and questions brought forward by trainees in the classroom. These issues helped shape curricula revisions.
Most notably, the curricula incorporated family and youth partner trainers to offer workers the perspective of those who had personally used the services and could talk about the impact of CFT meetings. Six months after the training, a majority of those who had heard from the family trainer said they had used what they learned from the family trainer on the job and their relationships with families improved as a result.
To read the full report, North Carolina Family-Centered Meeting Projects: Annual Report to the North Carolina Division of Social Services, Fiscal Year 2009-2010, Summary, by Joan Pennell, Dara Allen-Eckard, Jenny King, and Marianne Latz, visit the CFCE website:
- Guidance for Courts on Fostering Connections
A new publication, Judicial Guide to Implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (PL 110-351), offers guidance to the State court judges who have responsibility for providing judicial oversight on the new Federal law's implementation. Each section of the publication addresses a different provision of the legislation and provides an overview of the issue, judicial considerations, and questions to ask from the bench. Sections include:
- Kinship guardianship assistance payments
- Family connection grants
- Identification of and notice to relatives
- Allowing waivers for nonsafety licensing standards for relatives
- Transition plans for youth aging out of foster care
- Short-term training for child welfare agencies, relative guardians, and court personnel
- Educational stability and health stability for child in out-of-home care
- Sibling placement
- Equitable access for foster care and adoption services for Indian children in Tribal areas
- Improvement of incentives for adoption
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (P.L.110-351) is designed to promote permanent families for children and youth in foster care through encouraging family connections, supporting youth transitioning from foster care, ensuring the health and educational well-being for foster youth, and providing many Native American children important Federal protections and support for the first time by allowing Tribes to directly administer local child welfare programs.
This publication was produced by the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center, a collaboration between Casey Family Programs, the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, and Generations United, and is co-sponsored by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the National Center for State Courts. The publication is available on the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center website:
- Online Access to Benefit Programs
Nearly every State offers websites with information on low-income benefit programs for children and families. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) recently researched those websites and published a report detailing the different ways the public can access the following services online:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Child care assistance
Just as there is great variation in the types of services States provide through low-income benefit programs, there is great variation in the ways the public can interact with these State programs on the Internet. In addition to listing program websites in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, CBPP summarizes whether or not individuals can perform the following tasks online:
- Determine their potential eligibility for a program
- Apply for a program or print application forms
- Check the status of their application
- View or update account information
- Renew benefits
- Read policy manuals
- Access data on program use
The full report, Online Services for Key Low-Income Benefit Programs: What States Provide Online With Respect to SNAP, TANF, Child Care Assistance, Medicaid, and CHIP, is available on the CBPP website:
www.cbpp.org/files/1-14-04tanf.pdf (321 KB)
- Trauma-Informed Care Tip Sheets
Children exposed to violence are impacted in myriad ways that can be difficult to detect. Safe Start Center has developed and made available eight tip sheets aimed at those who care for and work with children who have been exposed to violence. Each tip sheet provides users with a list of age-specific warning signs, how to help, and advice on mandated reporting. Such a diverse topic needs multipronged approaches and resources, and Safe Start's tip sheets cover a range of trauma exposure scenarios and situations. Tip sheets include:
- Tips for child welfare staff
- Tips for engaging men and fathers
- Tips for teachers
- Tips for agencies working with immigrant families
Safe Start's trauma-informed care tips sheets are available on the Safe Start website:
- Families in Society E-newsletter
After a hiatus of several years, Families in Society has revived its e-newsletter version of Practice & Policy Focus. The newest edition, Immigration & Social Work, explores the aftereffects of immigration and provides professionals with insight, tips, and suggestions for cultural sensitivities, in articles that address topics such as:
- Postmigration mother-daughter relationships
- Effects of immigration raids on families and communities
- Citizenship choice conflict guidelines
Archived editions are available to online users as well, with back issues examining a variety of social work and child welfare topics.
To view the newest or archived editions of Practice & Policy Focus, visit the Families in Society website:
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through November 2011 include:
- 37th Annual NACAC Conference
North American Council on Adoptable Children
August 4–6, Denver, CO
- 12th National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention
National Children's Advocacy Center
August 23–25, New Orleans, LA
- National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit
Building Evidence, Strengthening Practice, and Informing Policy
Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
August 29–31, Washington, DC
- 34th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference
Eliminating Unintended Bias
National Association of Counsel for Children
August 29–September 1, San Diego, CA
http://www.naccchildlaw.org/resource/resmgr/files/2011_conference_brochure_-_e.pdf (2.93 MB)
- 24th Annual National Independent Living Conference
Growing Pains 2011
Daniel Memorial Institute
August 30–September 2, Grapevine, TX
- Putting the Pieces Together for Children and Families
The National Conference on Substance Abuse, Child Welfare, and the Courts
Children & Family Futures
September 14–16, National Harbor, MD
- Alliance and UNCA National Conference
Alliance for Children and Families and United Neighborhood Centers of America
October 17–19, Washington, DC
- CSWE 57th Annual Program Meeting
Increasing Access: Confronting Disparity and Inequality
Council on Social Work Education
October 27–30, Atlanta, GA
- Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare
American Humane Association
November 8–10, Chicago, IL
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- 37th Annual NACAC Conference
- School-Based Trauma Intervention
The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program is an evidence-based intervention for delivery by mental health professionals in schools. CBITS is designed to reduce trauma symptoms, including depression and behavioral problems, and improve functioning and coping skills. Using cognitive-behavioral techniques such as relaxation and social problem solving, CBITS can help students in 5th through 12th grade who have been exposed to various kinds of trauma, including abuse, accidents, and disasters.
The program consists of 10 group sessions and a smaller number of individual, parent, and teacher sessions. Materials and resources are available free of charge to professionals who register on the website. The CBITS website also includes success stories of jurisdictions where CBITS has been used, including in Louisiana to help children after Hurricane Katrina.
Find more details and registration information on the CBITS website:
RAND Corporation has reviewed CBITS and calls it "a program that works." Read the article on RAND's evaluation of CBITS: