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February 2015Vol. 16, No. 1Spotlight on Diverse Populations

The children and families touched by child welfare come from all walks of life and represent many ethnicities, races, cultures, lifestyles, sexual orientations, and gender identities. This month's CBX explores some of the issues faced by diverse populations in child welfare as well as efforts to improve services, outcomes, and opportunities for all children and families.

Issue Spotlight

  • Report on LGBTQ Health and Well-Being

    Report on LGBTQ Health and Well-Being

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS's) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Issues Coordinating Committee issued its annual report on the national state of LGBT health and well-being. The fourth such report since a 2011 Presidential directive to determine how HHS could work toward improving the health and well-being of the LGBT community, the report reviews key accomplishments in this arena during 2013 to 2014 and outlines the main objectives for continuing this work in 2015. Some of the accomplishments detailed in the report occurred in areas such as health-care reform, youth and families, and cultural competency.

    The White House and HHS hosted a joint outreach summit aimed at helping LGBT communities and leaders access resources that will help them work with LGBT families in obtaining health insurance via the Marketplaces. The Administration for Children and Families and the Department of Housing and Urban Development worked together on a project to prevent LGBT youth homelessness, called the LGBT Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative. The project goal is to help Federal agencies and local communities implement strategies that will help prevent LGBT youth homelessness and find a way to quickly help youth who have become homeless for the first time. In an effort to increase cultural competency, the Office of Minority Health and other partners published an updated National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care with language that includes sexual orientation and gender identity in its definition of "culture."

    The report delineates seven main objectives HHS will work toward in the coming year. Among these are a continuation of efforts to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the funding of research on LGBT health inequities, and the improvement of cultural competency regarding the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) LGBT/two-spirit community, including the creation of an external advisory committee on issues related to AI/AN LGBT/two-spirit health and mandatory training on AI/AN LGBT/two-spirit issues for senior management.

    To read Advancing LGBT Health and Well-Being: 2014 Report, visit the HHS website at (150 KB).

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express covered the Resources to Support Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQI2-S and Their Families toolkit, which includes resources on working with AI/AN LGBT/two-spirit youth in the April 2014 issue. Read "Resources to Support LGBTQI2-S Youth, Families."

  • Report Examines State, Tribal Implementation of ICWA

    Report Examines State, Tribal Implementation of ICWA

    The Federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted in 1978 to govern the removal and out-of-home placement of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children. A new report by David E. Simmons of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) provides a brief history of ICWA and explores how ICWA has inspired the creation of other new State laws, policies, and practices in child welfare focused on improving services and outcomes for AI/AN children and families.

    Research has shown that there is a direct link between the well-being of AI/AN children and families and their connection to their culture, extended families, and Tribal communities. Yet, Federal and State child welfare policies and practices often fail to support these connections. ICWA is intended to correct policies and practices that previously broke cultural and familial connections among AI/AN families. This report describes the basic requirements of ICWA, offers an overview of Tribal child welfare and court systems, and discusses the continued disproportionality of AI/AN children in the child welfare system and how this affects trends in ICWA compliance.

    The challenges to creating effective services within Tribal communities are addressed, as is the need for State child welfare agencies to develop more effective processes for handling cases that involve AI/AN children. The report concludes by providing examples of promising practices in ICWA implementation, including State laws, intergovernmental agreements, Tribal-State forums, consultation policies, court procedures, and State agency policies or guidance.

    Improving the Well-Being of American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Families Through State-Level Efforts to Improve Indian Child Welfare Act Compliance, published by NICWA and First Focus State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center, is available at (364 KB).

    Related Item

    For information on new proposals in President Obama's budget to strengthen Tribal child welfare, see the "Associate Commissioner's Page" article in this issue of Children's Bureau Express.

  • Family Structure Among Low-Income Hispanic Families

    Family Structure Among Low-Income Hispanic Families

    According to a recent brief from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families (the Center), Hispanics are currently the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the United States, accounting for 17 percent of the national population and 25 percent of children younger than 18 years old. However, there is a significant gap in knowledge about the family structure and dynamics of Hispanic families, and this lack of information can be problematic for programs and professionals who work with Hispanic clients. In order to assist in narrowing this gap and help family-serving professionals better understand the communities they serve, the Center created a research brief that presents a snapshot of current trends in family structure and formation among Hispanic families, with a particular focus on low-income families.

    It is estimated that, of the Hispanic children currently living in the United States, about two-thirds live in low-income households and approximately one-third live in poverty. The Center used data collected from the 2006–10 National Survey of Family Growth, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, to examine data related to relationship and childbearing among a sample of low-income Hispanic men and women between the ages of 15 and 44 years. The study compares U.S.-born Hispanics to foreign-born Hispanics, and data for non-Hispanic white and black populations also were examined.

    Findings show that there are some differences between foreign-born and U.S.-born Hispanics that can affect outcomes and service provision. For example, foreign-born Hispanic parents and families may have a more difficult time accessing services due to language or legal barriers. However, children born to foreign-born parents were more likely to be born into a two-parent household, which means more foreign-born fathers may be present to participate in family strengthening and preservation services.

    To read more about the study and the implications of its findings, access Family Structure and Family Formation Among Low-Income Hispanics in the U.S. at (2 MB).

  • Increasing Opportunities for Women and Girls of Color

    Increasing Opportunities for Women and Girls of Color

    In observance of African-American History Month, this issue of Children's Bureau Express features a report highlighting the efforts of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Created by President Obama during the early months of his first term, the Council is tasked with ensuring that Federal Government agencies, offices, and departments consider the needs and goals of women and girls of color in all of their work. This report may be of interest to child welfare professionals working with African-American women or girls, or other girls of color, who often are disproportionality represented in child welfare.

    The report discusses the challenges and barriers that women and girls of color in the United States face in several areas, such as education, health issues, economic security, violence, and criminal and juvenile justice. Each section also addresses how specific initiatives under the Obama administration are helping women and girls overcome these barriers and find avenues to new opportunities. For example, there is a gap for women and girls of color in careers and education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To help narrow this gap, the administration has supported a number of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting STEM education and careers for students from elementary school through college, including many girls of color. The U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top grant program allowed competitive preference points for applicant plans that featured a focus on STEM study and careers and included considerations for underrepresented groups and girls.

    Women and girls of color are at higher risk for several health conditions and face clear disparities with regard to certain health indicators. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act ensured that women with private health insurance have increased access to women's preventative services. Many other initiatives have worked to improve the health and well-being of women and girls of color in the United States, such as the Centers for Disease Control's nationwide campaign to increase HIV testing among Black women and the President's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative 2010–15, which focused on preventing teen pregnancies and births in high-rate communities such as Black and Hispanic girls ages 15 to 19 years.

    Read more about the challenges faced by this population and the opportunities to overcome these challenges supported by the Federal Government by accessing Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity at (1 MB).

  • New Law's Provision Promotes Well-Being for Youth in Care

    New Law's Provision Promotes Well-Being for Youth in Care

    Research has shown that engaging in extracurricular, social, and cultural activities helps promote a sense of normalcy among youth in foster care. While these activities have been shown to support their social, cognitive, and emotional development, youth in care often face legal barriers to participating in certain activities in the same ways their classmates and other peers do. Among the provisions of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183), signed into law September 29, 2014, is a requirement for States to implement a "reasonable and prudent parent standard" that will empower foster parents or other designated decision-makers to make decisions to allow youth in foster care to participate in healthy and developmentally appropriate activities such as field trips, sleepovers, and other extracurricular activities. This standard is intended to expand opportunities for youth in care to engage in activities that will promote their well-being.

    A new issue brief from the Center for the Study of Social Policy discusses how the appropriate implementation of the standard can support the healthy development of all youth in care. Some of their specific recommendations include the following:

    • Incorporate "nurturing" into the definition of a reasonable and prudent parent so that a caregiver is able to support a youth's emotional development
    • Include protective and promotive factors in the requirements for reasonable and prudent decision-making
    • Ensure that healthy sexual development is addressed in efforts to promote well-being
    • Leverage existing financing structures to fund programs that support well-being

    In addition, the brief examines how implementation can be tailored to meet the needs of youth with special needs, particularly two subgroups of youth: expectant and parenting youth in foster care and youth in care who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). For expectant and parenting youth, recommendations include supporting their emotional and developmental needs, including and supporting young fathers, and providing parent training and education. For LGBTQ youth, the importance of providing safe and nurturing spaces for youth to explore their sexuality and providing training for caregivers is stressed. A list of resources is also included.

    Promoting Well-Being Through the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard: A Guide for States Implementing the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980) is available at (961 KB).

  • Child Welfare Policies in Support of Immigrant Children, Families

    Child Welfare Policies in Support of Immigrant Children, Families

    Each day, more people emigrate from their home countries to the United States in search of opportunities for brighter futures. As the U.S. immigrant population increases, so does the incidence of immigrant families who come into contact with child welfare. In order to provide the most appropriate and helpful services, it is important that child welfare agencies have defined policies in place for working with immigrant children and families.

    The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare (CICW), formerly the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, is creating a series of briefs that explore emerging policies being used in California child welfare agencies to meet the specific needs of immigrant children and families. CICW surveyed county child welfare agencies throughout California to compile information on innovative practices and policies currently being implemented so that other counties and States can use them as examples to improve their own services and policies for working with this population.

    The first brief in the series is now available and presents information on the use of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between U.S. child welfare agencies and foreign consulates to aid in the coordination and provision of services to transnational families. Thirteen of the 46 counties surveyed by CICW had MOU with the consulate of Mexico. The brief examines four provision categories that were common across the MOU that were assessed: (1) agency obligations, (2) consular obligations, (3) service provision for Mexican children and families, and (4) procedural components. Each category and its corresponding provisions are discussed in detail.

    Other topics to be addressed in future briefs in this series include the following:

    • Placement of Children With Parents or Relatives in a Foreign Country
    • Placement of Children With Undocumented Relatives in the United States
    • Case Planning for Parents Residing in a Foreign Country
    • Immigration Relief Options for Undocumented Youth in Care
    • Financial Eligibility Including Permanent Residence Under Color of Law (PRUCOL)
    • Language Access

    All the briefs, including Memoranda of Understanding With Foreign Consulates, can be found at More briefs will be added as they become available.

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News From the Children's Bureau

We highlight President Obama's reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, a report that reviews research on home-visiting programs, and new funding opportunities for Tribal title IV-E Plan Development and Family Group Decision-Making programs. We also introduce Child Welfare Information Gateway's enhanced website.

  • Effectiveness of Home-Visiting Programs

    Effectiveness of Home-Visiting Programs

    The U.S Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) published a report that reviews research on home-visiting programs to determine programs' effectiveness. This review, performed by Mathematica Policy Research, was conducted to help meet the stipulations of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which was established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. MIECHV requires States and territories to use provided funds on home-visiting program models that have been proven effective through evaluation research.

    The Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) project evaluated models that employ home visiting as the primary method to deliver services and that focus on working with families in at least one of eight main issue areas delineated in legislation. The report summarizes the HomVEE team's systemic process for identifying, reviewing, and evaluating the programs, including a rating system for evaluating the rigor of the impact studies they analyzed. As of 2014, the HomVEE project has reviewed and evaluated 40 home-visiting program models, of which 17 met the stipulations for an evidence-based early childhood home-visiting program.

    The report includes a table that summarizes the evaluation results of these 17 programs. Program impacts and implementation requirements are also discussed. To read Home Visiting Programs: Reviewing Evidence of Effectiveness (OPRE Report #2014-60), visit (180 KB).

  • Historic Child Care Program Reauthorization

    Historic Child Care Program Reauthorization

    In November 2014, President Obama signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 into law, reauthorizing the child care program for the first time since 1996. The Office of Child Care (OCC), Administration for Children and Families, offers a number of resources with information about the new law, including an overview, statutory language, and a message from the director of the OCC.

    The CCDBG Act of 2014 includes the following important provisions:

    • Health and safety requirements for child care providers
    • Transparent consumer and provider education information
    • Family-friendly eligibility policies
    • Activities to improve the quality of child care

    The new law does not indicate the extent to which many of the new provisions apply to Tribes, and the OCC will issue policy guidance on how provisions apply to Tribes after consultation with Tribal Leaders and administrators.

    For more information on the CCDBG Act of 2014, including a link to CCDBG reauthorization training and webinars, visit the OCC website at

  • Child Maltreatment 2013 Report Released

    Child Maltreatment 2013 Report Released

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Maltreatment 2013. This is the 24th in a series of reports designed to provide State-level data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). The annual reports include information on reports of abuse and neglect made to child protective services (CPS) agencies, the children involved, types of maltreatment, CPS responses, child and caregiver risk factors, services, and perpetrators.

    Highlights of the 2013 report include the following:

    • During Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2013, CPS agencies received roughly 3.5 million referrals.
    • The national estimate of unique victims for Federal fiscal year 2013 was 678,932. Children from birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization. Boys accounted for 48.7 percent of victims, compared to girls, who accounted for 50.9 percent of victims.
    • The majority of victims consisted of three ethnicities: (1) White, 44 percent, (2) Hispanic, 22.4 percent, and (3) African-American, 21.2 percent.
    • The most common type of maltreatment was neglect (more than 75 percent), followed by physical abuse (at 18 percent), and sexual abuse (less than 10 percent).

    A press release highlighting the report and its findings is available on the website for the Administration for Children and Families at
    The full report is available on the Children's Bureau website at

  • Funding Opportunity Announcements

    Funding Opportunity Announcements

    In December 2014, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families announced new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs).

    Information about FOAs is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants Forecast website at

    To find the Children's Bureau's FOA forecasts, go to the forecast website and enter the title or Funding Opportunity Number (FON) in the search box. Please check the forecast site regularly, as forecasts are subject to change.

  • A New Look for Child Welfare Information Gateway

    A New Look for Child Welfare Information Gateway

    Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children's Bureau's information service, recently launched an enhanced website ( featuring a clean design, easy-to-use navigation, and more mobile-friendly access. The changes strengthen Information Gateway's ability to serve child welfare and related professionals as well as the public.

    Through a more modern design and streamlined organization of content, the new site improves access to the same high-quality resources, publications, data, and services on child welfare topics from prevention to permanency, including child abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption. Information Gateway implemented these changes in response to audience feedback and to meet the changing needs of the Children's Bureau and the child welfare field as they continue to work to improve the lives of children and families.

    For more information, contact Child Welfare Information Gateway at 800.394.3366 or


  • Associate Commissioner's Page

    Associate Commissioner's Page

    The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current Children's Bureau Express (CBX) Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

    I am excited that our first 2015 Spotlight theme highlights diverse populations. From the rich cultural backgrounds of the children and families served—and the varied backgrounds of the professionals with whom families work—to the wide ranging strengths and challenges faced by these populations, child welfare is truly a diverse field. The Children's Bureau is committed to ensuring all children and youth achieve permanency and that all families are safe and stable. We also recognize that Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) compliance requires effective child welfare services within Tribal communities.

    That is why President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget includes two proposals designed to support capacity and the development of infrastructure within Tribal child welfare. The first proposal provides enhanced match to provide "start up" funding for Tribes to implement title IV-E programs. All Tribes would also receive an increase of $20 million through the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program to build child welfare programs and enhance staff capacity.

    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008 authorized federally recognized Tribes, Tribal consortia, and Tribal organizations to apply to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to receive title IV-E funds directly for foster care, adoption assistance, and, at Tribal option, for guardianship assistance programs. The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe of Kingston, WA, was the first Tribe to have an approved title IV-E plan in 2012, followed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Pablo, MT, in March 2013. In December 2013, the Children's Bureau approved the title IV-E plan for the South Puget Tribal Planning Agency of Shelton, WA—the first Tribal consortium to be approved to operate the title IV-E program directly. Information about these approvals was featured in the February 2014 issue of CBX at


  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    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.

    Recent additions to the site include:

    Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new at

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

The Children's Bureau released a discretionary grants toolkit to assist grantees with project implementation. We also highlight a synthesis on the Bureau's recent work related to comprehensive family assessments (CFAs) in child welfare.

  • Site Visit: Fostering Youth Educational Success in North Carolina

    Site Visit: Fostering Youth Educational Success in North Carolina

    Data indicate that youth in foster care in Cumberland County, NC, were experiencing multiple placements and multiple school settings during their time in foster care. Child-serving agencies in the county, including youth and family organizations, social services, schools, courts, and mental health, had strong partnerships and used Child Family Team (CFT) meetings to decide the best course of action for youth and their families involved with child welfare. These community agencies, in partnership with the North Carolina State University Center for Family and Community Engagement and Department of Social Work, determined more could be done to improve educational success for youth. Using a 17-month Children's Bureau grant, Fostering Youth Educational Success (Fostering YES) was established and, throughout the grant period, developed youth leadership strategies and systems-of-care collaborations to stabilize educational placements and to work toward long-term permanency goals for youth. According to project staff, the logic model for the project was based on the belief that partnering within the community is necessary to overcome the barriers to educational stability and permanency for youth in foster care.

    Fostering YES established a Project Advisory Council and a Youth Advisory Council to help guide the work of the project. The Project Advisory Council was supported by the Center and the Department of Social Work and composed of representatives from Cumberland County Department of Social Services, Cumberland County Schools, Cumberland County Juvenile Court, Cumberland County Department of Health, and a liaison from the Youth Advisory Council. The Youth Advisory Council was coordinated by a foster care alumna and youth from the Independent Living program. Project staff reported that having a youth council and a strong liaison between the two councils made youth feel as though they had a voice and it was being heard by decision-makers.

    Focus groups of youth in foster care were conducted to determine their views on what promotes or interferes with educational success. Information from the focus groups was later used to develop a survey, which was completed anonymously by youth in care.

    In addition, the project matched de-identified social services and school system administrative data, and used geographical information system mapping technology. These data were analyzed to determine the reasons for placement and school changes and transportation costs related to youths' movement away from their original schools. According to project staff, the challenges with analyzing the data were missing data elements and the difficulty in matching data sets. To more effectively track placement and school moves, Cumberland County Social Services developed automated forms. In addition to youth focus groups, project staff interviewed representatives from local organizations to ascertain available community resources to support youth in foster care.

    The findings from the youth focus groups and surveys, community member interviews, and the administrative records data analysis were used to guide policy development and were incorporated into training curricula. The project enhanced existing training and developed new training for youth in foster care, community partners, social services and education staff, and foster and kinship care providers. Training topics focused on promoting educational success and how to effectively guide and support youth in transition, including youth participation in CFTs and resources available to youth. The training was delivered by trainers experienced in delivering child welfare services, who also partnered with a youth partner trainer who had experienced out-of-home care. According to project staff, the cotraining approach assisted training participants in understanding the impact of trauma, encouraged a focus on factors promoting youth success, and modeled youth-agency partnership. As part of the project evaluation process, a template was developed for securing feedback from training participants. The input from participants was used to improve the curricula.

    The infrastructure developed by Fostering YES allowed Cumberland County Social Services to move away from a paper-based system and establish a comprehensive electronic record system for children in foster care. An electronic record system makes data more readily available for policy development and consolidates different forms, helping workers and supervisors by making record searches and updates easier. Staff can now create and/or search child records, update foster care placements and removals, and enter CFT documentation.

    Although the grant period ended February 28, 2013, the community partners and the Center made plans to continue the work of Fostering YES, including, but not limited to the following:

    • The training enhanced and developed by/for Fostering YES will continue to be offered and presented by the Center using the cotraining model.
    • The analysis of youth in foster care data from Cumberland County will continue and be used to assist the county and State in policy development.
    • The learning from Fostering YES supported a Youth Leadership Café to ascertain ways of promoting the leadership of youth in care.

    Fostering YES disseminated information about the project through news releases and websites (, community and campus presentations, and through State, national, and international conference venues. Project staff had the opportunity to present project processes and findings to State-level groups, such as the North Carolina Educational Stability Task Force, which was beneficial in developing new policy to improve stability in education for youth in foster care throughout the State. In addition, an upcoming book, International Perspectives and Empirical Findings on Child Participation: From Social Exclusion to Child-Inclusive Policies (Oxford University Press), will include a chapter, "Child and Family Team Meetings and Restorative Justice for Foster Youth," which will discuss the Fostering YES project. The final evaluation report for the project is available here

    For more information, please contact Dr. Joan Pennell, Center for Family and Community Engagement, North Carolina State University, C. B. 8622, Raleigh, NC 27695-8622, or via email at

    The Fostering YES project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CO1075/01). 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.

  • Site Visit: Family Group Decision-Making for In-Home Services

    Site Visit: Family Group Decision-Making for In-Home Services

    Family participation in child welfare decision-making has been a key ingredient in a project in Larimer County, CO, titled No Place Like Home (NPLH): Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) for Children and Families Receiving In-Home Services. The project is funded by a Children's Bureau Family Connection grant cluster and is under the administrative oversight of the Larimer County Department of Human Services (DHS), in partnership with the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and Casey Family Programs. The NPLH project selected three sites with existing FGDM programs—Larimer County, CO; Rapid City, SD; and Dallas and Fort Worth, TX—to evaluate the effectiveness of FGDM in safely preventing children from entering or reentering foster care.

    According to Larimer County NPLH staff, families are capable of making changes and decisions that protect their children; they just need the opportunity to come together in a decision-making forum and the right tools to make the changes. It is believed that by galvanizing the family group and their commitment to their children, and including their perspectives through family meetings, it is more likely that children will remain in and stay connected to their extended family systems.

    The following is an illustration of one parent's experiences with a series of family meetings in Larimer County, CO, based on a telephone interview conducted in September 2014. The parent, who participated in the NPLH project, reported that her participation in the family meeting processes was life changing. She described that the open, honest communication during the preparation stage and during the actual family meetings held her accountable to her family, particularly to her children, for the changes in lifestyle necessary to have her children in the home with her. She reported that the DHS caseworker and the FGDM facilitators helped direct the planning and the decision-making process, which helped ensure that the appropriate services were in place to keep the children safe and to meet the mother's treatment needs. The family had monthly family meetings during the life of the case, which allowed for consistent monitoring of the plan and addressing any new issues that arose. The children, a teenager and a child under age 10, attended the monthly family meetings. Their participation provided them with an opportunity to share their concerns about their mother's substance abuse, the effect it had on their lives, and their hopes for her recovery from substance abuse.

    Project staff reported that, at times, it was difficult to plan the meetings to ensure everyone who needed to attend could, but even if the meetings did not go smoothly, they always brought the real issues into focus. The mother reported that no one could be dishonest in the meetings because any dishonesty was confronted immediately.

    The mother shared that this was not her first experience with DHS and that her children had previously lived outside of her home because of her substance abuse. She also reported that she successfully completed a treatment program, is substance free, is attending an educational program, and is living with her two children. She credits the NPLH project and the FGDM meetings with the successful outcome of her case.

    The Kempe Center is currently conducting data analyses of families who received services through NPLH, looking closely at outcomes and fidelity measures. However, the findings were not available at the time of this article's publication.

    For more information on this project, contact Catherine Weaver, DHS Project Coordinator, at

    The No Place Like Home: Family Group Decision-Making for Children and Families Receiving In-Home Services project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CF0051). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from site visits made on behalf of the Children’s Bureau.

  • Comprehensive Family Assessments Grants Synthesis

    Comprehensive Family Assessments Grants Synthesis

    A recent publication from Child Welfare Information Gateway summarizes the Children's Bureau's recent work in relation to comprehensive family assessments (CFAs) in child welfare. As a result of Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) findings indicating a connection between CFAs and positive child and family outcomes, the Children's Bureau supported the development of Comprehensive Family Assessment Guidelines. The guidelines explore the nature of CFA and its relationship to other agency operations.

    To move the guidelines into practice, the Children's Bureau funded a cluster of 5-year discretionary grants in 2007 to develop, implement, and evaluate CFAs in the child welfare arena. Information Gateway's CFA brief includes individual synopses of the five Children's Bureau CFA grant projects, with links to specific project information, grantee reports, and resources.

    According to the CFA guidelines, "Comprehensive family assessment [CFA] is recommended when it is determined that the child welfare agency is responsible for serving the family. Such assessment goes beyond the investigation to permit the identification and provision of services that are specifically targeted to address the family's needs and problems and insure the child's safety, well-being, and permanency."

    To access the guidelines, visit To learn more about the Using Comprehensive Family Assessments to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes project, visit and read Comprehensive Family Assessment: A Brief Synthesis at (263 KB).

  • Site Visit: Technology Promotes Project Knowledge, Implementation

    Site Visit: Technology Promotes Project Knowledge, Implementation

    The Village Family Service Center, partnering with the North Dakota Department of Human Services, developed and implemented the Family Engagement for Native American Youth project. The project, funded by a Children's Bureau Family Connection grant, implemented two family engagement processes —Family Team Decision-Making (FTDM) and Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM). The project serves Native American children, birth to 18 years of age, currently in out-of-home care or at imminent risk of placement out of the home, in rural and urban locations, in four regions of the State.

    The project employed six group meeting facilitators who worked in multiple locations across the four regions of the State, with some working more than 4 hours away from the Village Family Service Center's main office. In order to ensure consistency in communication and training among the facilitators, the Project Evaluator, Melanie Sage, Ph.D., used information technology to establish communication venues and storage for forms and other relevant project information.

    Dr. Sage began the process by creating a blog using the free website The project blog site became an online manual for the project. It includes the following pages:

    • Home. New blogs are posted when project procedures are updated. Project facilitators are informed of the new blog post via email.
    • Scripts. The evaluator worked with the facilitators to develop scripts to guide facilitators when explaining the project to parents, other participants, and children and to explain and obtain consent for project participation. Use of these scripts improves the consistency of practice across the four regions.
    • Consent. There are explanations of, and scenarios about, who can provide consent for services based on the various child custody types encountered by the facilitators.
    • Forms. The website stores project forms and files. A link to each form is embedded in the project blog site, allowing facilitators easy access to the forms they need. In addition, this page includes guidelines for completing the paperwork for both types of meetings, FGDM and FTDM.
    • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Answers to questions asked by the facilitators are included within this page. The facilitator who asked the question writes the answer/response that was provided to the question, which is then reviewed by the evaluator, and added to the FAQs. This procedure allows the facilitator to demonstrate understanding of the response and to provide information to ensure consistency in the future.
    • Resources. Resource topics included within this page are Regional/Tribal Services, History and Information on North Dakota Tribes, National Resources, Education and Training, and Grant-Related Presentations.
    • Project Updates. This page features chronological updates on grant activities and events.
    • Contact Information. This page includes information on staff, including phone numbers and email addresses.

    The project blog site,, is not password protected, but, in order to provide a degree of privacy, it is set as "unindexed" so it will not show up during an Internet search.

    In addition to the other information on the project blog site, Dr. Sage developed nine video logs to inform project staff about project research and to instruct facilitators on how to complete the various project forms. Using Windows Live Movie Maker, Dr. Sage created and edited the videos and used a free screen-capture software, Jing (, to show images of forms with voice-over explanations for how to use and complete them. The videos were uploaded to and links were posted to the blog site. Facilitators are able to view the instructional video logs at their convenience. was used to assess facilitators' understanding and knowledge resulting from the instructional video logs and other project training. According to Dr. Sage, all of the facilitators successfully completed quizzes on, which indicated that they watched the video logs and understood the project's purpose and processes. If a facilitator completed a document or form incorrectly, they were asked to view that video log again. Two new facilitators were hired during the project. Access to the blog site and video logs allowed them to complete the training at their convenience and ensured consistency in their training, despite their different geographical locations and employment start dates.

    The free technology used by the project did have its limitations, including limited storage space and concerns about confidentiality since the blog site could not be password protected; however, expanded services available for a fee provide more storage space and will ensure the protection of confidential information. The Family Engagement for Native American Youth project did not include any confidential information on its blog site.

    Although the project covered a large geographic area, and project facilitators were in offices across the State, the technology used by the project allowed for consistency in communication and training and was seen as a useful tool by the project staff and the project evaluator.

    For more information on this project, contact Sandi Zaleski, Project Director, The Village Family Service Center, at

    For more information about the technological and evaluation processes of the project, contact Melanie Sage, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, B.S.S.W. Program Director, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, at

    The Family Engagement for Native American Youth project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CF0033). 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.

  • Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Toolkit

    Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Toolkit

    The Children's Bureau recently released a toolkit for discretionary grants that provides information to assist grantees as they implement their projects. It includes links to official resources on Federal websites as well as supplemental, unofficial information from other sources, such as Child Welfare Information Gateway. The toolkit provides information on the Children's Bureau, grants management, reporting, evaluation, dissemination, sustainability, and closeout.

    The toolkit is available on the Children's Bureau website at

Child Welfare Research

CBX explores the demographics of children in foster care in Alaska and a research study comparing educational outcomes of youth involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) to youth with no CPS involvement.

  • Massachusetts' Efforts to Address Children's Complex Trauma

    Massachusetts' Efforts to Address Children's Complex Trauma

    Child abuse and neglect are traumatic experiences for children, and that trauma can be compounded if child protective services must remove the child from home and place the child in foster care. The child may suffer additional trauma if he or she experiences repeated separations and loss due to placement changes. The chronic and cumulative effects of abuse, neglect, and parental loss that children can experience in the child welfare system are called "complex trauma," and a lack of placement stability can negatively impact a child's long-term capacity to have healthy attachments and relationships.

    In response to findings from the 2011 Child and Family Services Review indicating that the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families ranked 43rd out of 51 States in composite measure of placement stability, the State launched the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project (MCTP). Funded by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau, the project aims to improve the placement stability and outcomes of children involved in the Massachusetts child welfare system suffering from complex trauma and augment the capacity of child welfare workers and child mental health providers to identify, respond to, and provide early intervention for children traumatized by chronic loss, abuse, neglect, and violence.

    A recent article published in the Children and Youth Services Review provides an early look at the work of the initiative thus far. The article describes the major components of the MCTP, activities that informed implementation, the evaluation plan, and preliminary implementation findings in the initial year (October 2012–September 2013). It presents the findings to date regarding organizational readiness; implementation of child trauma trainings for child welfare staff and resource parents; implementation of child welfare-led Trauma-Informed Leadership Teams (TILTs) that include the participation of mental health providers, child welfare workers, and consumers; and utilization of evidence-based treatments.

    The paper concludes with a description of next steps, including an evaluation of implementation across the intended audiences, an examination of satisfaction with trainings, and an analysis of the relationship between implementation success and factors related to child and family improvements. A cost study offering information to practitioners and policymakers on how best to allocate resources to address child trauma in their communities also is included.

    "Implementation of a Workforce Initiative to Build Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice and Services: Findings From the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project," by Jenifer Goldman Fraser, Jessica L. Griffin, Beth L. Barto, Charmaine Lo, Melodie Wenz-Gross, Joseph Spinazzola, Ruth A. Bodian, Jan M. Nisenbaum, and Jessica Dym Bartlett, Children and Youth Services Review, 44, is available for purchase at

  • Services for Families Affected by Parental Methamphetamine Use

    Services for Families Affected by Parental Methamphetamine Use

    In order to improve services and outcomes for children and families affected by parental methamphetamine use and other substance use disorders who are also involved with child welfare and the family court, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) awarded funds to expand services to these families. The grants were awarded in October 2010 to 12 grantees in seven States as part of CSAT's Grants to Expand Services to Children Affected by Methamphetamine in Families Participating in Family Treatment Drug Court (also known as the Children Affected by Methamphetamine [CAM] grant program).

    The grant program's goal was to provide direct services to children and youth, ages 0 to 17, and support services to parents, caregivers, and families. Additionally, because these services addressed a multitude of issues—such as child abuse and neglect, co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, prenatal substance exposure, parent-child bonding and attachment issues, and multigenerational trauma—cross-system collaboration was essential to effectively meet the varied and complex needs of these families.

    At the culmination of the CAM grant program in September 2014, SAMHSA developed a brief that provides an overview of the grant program and the 12 grantees; summaries of grantees' experiences; lessons learned; implications for the field; and the interim safety, permanency, recovery, and well-being outcomes of the 1,850 families served during the grant's first 3 years. A number of tables and graphs accompany text and enforce the preliminary findings that CAM participants experienced positive outcomes.

    The November 2014 SAMHSA brief Grants to Expand Services to Children Affected by Methamphetamine in Families Participating in Family Treatment Drug Court is available at (936 KB).

  • Demographic Trends Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska

    Demographic Trends Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska

    A November 2014 publication from the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), reports on the demographics—specifically, age, gender, race, and geographic location—of children in foster care in Alaska between 2006 and 2013. Trends in Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska presents an analysis of data from the Office of Children's Services, Alaska's State child protection agency.

    A summary of the authors' findings, which are detailed in the report, follows:

    • Despite the nationwide decline of children in foster care between 2002 and 2012, the number of children in foster care in Alaska remained static, with approximately 2,000 children in care in any given month between 2006 and 2013.
    • During the study period, children in Alaska were twice as likely as children nationwide to be in foster care.
    • The population of children age 9 and younger in foster care in Alaska grew from 57 percent in 2006 to 65 percent in 2013, and toddlers age 4 and younger made up the largest group, constituting over a third of all foster children in Alaska in 2013.
    • Children in the Western region of Alaska were almost twice as likely as children in other regions to be in foster care.
    • Alaska Native children make up about 20 percent of all children in the State but accounted for about 60 percent of all children in foster care from 2006 through 2013.
    • In 2013, Alaska Native children were seven times more likely than White children to be in foster care in Alaska; 30 of every 1,000 Alaska Native children were in foster care.

    Following the analysis of demographic data, the authors include a discussion section, which underscores the importance of this information for State policymakers working to improve services and outcomes for abused and neglected children. The discussion section also highlights questions raised by data analysis, including areas where additional research and data are needed to better serve and protect children and youth in foster care in Alaska.

    Trends in Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska, by Diwakar Vadapalli, Virgene Hanna, and Jessica Passini, is available on the UAA website at (796 KB).

  • Educational Outcomes of Youth Involved With CPS

    Educational Outcomes of Youth Involved With CPS

    The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare's (CASCW's) Minnesota-Linking Information for Kids project published findings from a research study conducted in Minnesota that compared educational outcomes of youth involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) and/or who had experienced out-of-home placement (OHP) to those who had not experienced CPS involvement. The study also examined the influence of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status of youth on academic achievement. Child welfare-related data were derived from the State's Department of Human Services and education data from its Department of Education via the Minnesota Automated Reporting Student System and the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment.

    In an effort to evaluate the link between academic achievement and CPS involvement, researchers created three groups of youth who attended school during the 2009–10 academic year:

    • The Child Protection (CP) group, which included youth who were involved in either a child protection or assessment case in Minnesota during or preceding that academic year, but who did not experience OHP
    • The OHP group, which included youth who had previous or existing CPS involvement and OHP
    • The General Population (GP) group, which included all children and youth from kindergarten through grade 12 who were not in the CPS or OHP groups

    Findings showed a marked difference in academic achievement between the two groups with CPS involvement and the GP group. Youth in the CP and OHP groups showed lower achievement levels, particularly in reading and math, than youth in the GP group with no CPS involvement.

    Read more about the study and its findings in the report brief Child Protection and the Achievement Gap, by Kristine Piescher, Gregg Colburn, Traci LaLiberte, and Saahoon Hong, available on the CASCW website at

Strategies and Tools for Practice

This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other instruments that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.

  • Providing Quality Residential Interventions for LGBTQI2-S Youth

    Providing Quality Residential Interventions for LGBTQI2-S Youth

    The American Association of Children's Residential Centers (AACRC) publishes a series of papers that provide residential treatment professionals with guidelines, strategies, and resources to support quality services. AACRC recently published the 12th paper in the series, which addresses the provision of quality residential interventions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and two-spirit (LGBTQI2-S) youth. The paper focuses on challenges youth face when exploring issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity in residential programs.

    The guidelines and strategies presented draw from the efforts and experiences of programs that have successfully developed and implemented organizational cultures that are positive and inclusive toward sexual and gender minorities. The paper defines key terms related to sexuality and gender, highlights several concerns regarding LGBTQI2-S youth within residential settings, and makes recommendations for implementing an organization's philosophical framework for working with LGBTQI2-S youth. Ten specific strategies are discussed for how organizations can align their practice to this framework, and links are included to several resources for additional information and guidance.

    Access Redefining Residential: Ensuring Competent Residential Interventions for Youth With Diverse Gender and Sexual Identities and Expressions on the AACRC website at (126 KB).

  • Improving Services for LGBT Youth

    Improving Services for LGBT Youth

    The American Institute for Research (AIR) created an interactive video for professionals in child-, youth-, and family-serving systems aimed at improving the quality of care for youth with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. "10 Standards of Care: Improving Services for LGBT Young People" is based on information from Improving Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes for LGBT Youth: A Guide for Professionals and focuses on helping professionals develop an action plan that will work toward alleviating challenges that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and families may face in their interactions with organizations and communities.

    Jeffrey Poirier, principal researcher at AIR and coeditor of the professional's guide, talks through each standard and identifies ways in which professionals can implement change in their roles. The standards range from assessing competence at individual and organizational levels and supporting healthy peer relationships to fostering positive connections and engaging the community. The interactive nature of the video allows for a tailored experience, giving users the option to navigate through the standards and select what is most relevant to their interests.

    To access the tool, visit

  • Engaging Families Through Family Team Meetings

    Engaging Families Through Family Team Meetings

    Child welfare agencies are increasingly making efforts to engage families in case planning and placement decisions, and Federal legislation such as the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 recognizes the importance of including families in decision-making processes and encourages the use of family teaming. There are a number of different approaches that have evolved for how to engage families, and many of them share similar characteristics and components. While there currently is no strong basis in evidence for the effectiveness of one approach over another, the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released a paper that describes four approaches to family team meetings that have a strong preliminary research base. 

    Four Approaches to Family Team Meetings was designed to help child welfare professionals understand the concepts behind and components of Family Group Decision-Making, Family Team Conferencing, Permanency Teaming, and Team Decision-Making Meetings. The paper includes tables that describe each approach's structure and components and draw comparisons among the components. Professionals can use this paper in their efforts to determine which approach might best help them to improve family outcomes.

    Access Four Approaches to Family Team Meetings on the Annie E. Casey Foundation website at (2 MB).

    For more information on family engagement and family team meetings, explore Child Welfare Information Gateway's Family Engagement Inventory at


This CBX section provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.

  • Web-Based Tool on Trauma-Informed Care

    Web-Based Tool on Trauma-Informed Care

    JBS International's Disability Services Center and Georgetown University's National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health launched a new web-based, video-enhanced resource for child welfare systems and professionals. Trauma Informed Care: Perspectives and Resources aims to help professionals become more familiar with trauma-informed care in order to support their work with children and youth who have experienced trauma.

    This tool offers observations and resources pertaining to children, youth, young adults, and their families. Additionally, the tool includes resources for working with foster and kinship families who have experienced trauma. There are three main components presented in the tool: issue briefs, video interviews, and resource lists. Through a series of modules, these components offer useful guidance for agencies and professionals looking to increase their capacity in trauma-informed services. The modules focus on the following topics:

    • Understanding Impact of Trauma
    • Trauma-Informed Child-Serving Systems (Federal, State, and local levels)
    • Creating Trauma-Informed Provider Organizations
    • Evidence-Based Treatments Addressing Trauma
    • Public Health Approach and Cost-Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care
    • Youth and Family Perspectives on Trauma-Informed Care
    • One Year Later
    • What's Next? The New Frontier for Research and Practice in Trauma-Informed Care

    Increasing awareness of the impact of trauma on children and youth is an important task for Federal, State, and local child-serving systems. To learn more, access Trauma Informed Care: Perspectives and Resources by visiting


  • Guide for Implementing the Parents' Assessment of Protective Factors

    Guide for Implementing the Parents' Assessment of Protective Factors

    Protective factors are strengths and resources that can help mediate or serve as a buffer against risk factors that contribute to maltreatment in families. The National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood and the Center for the Study of Social Policy developed the Parents' Assessment of Protective Factors, a tool that professionals can use with parents to help measure and assess parental beliefs, feelings, and actions that can indicate the presence and strength of specific protective factors in a family.

    The assessment package includes a users' guide, which provides definitions and indepth discussion of the concepts behind the five protective factors on which the evaluation is based and instructions for how to perform and score the assessment.

    Parents' Assessment of Protective Factors: User's Guide and Technical Report is available at (3 MB).

    To learn more about strengthening families and protective factors, and to access the assessments in both English and Spanish, visit the Center for the Study of Social Policy website at

  • Understanding and Responding to Problematic Sexual Behaviors in Youth

    Understanding and Responding to Problematic Sexual Behaviors in Youth

    Funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth (NCSBY) offers a wide array of resource materials about the nature and prevalence of, appropriate responses to, and management of problematic sexual behaviors in children and youth. The website is designed for service providers and professionals across different disciplines as well as policymakers, youth, and families.

    NCSBY's new web section for parents and caregivers addresses common questions and concerns caregivers may have about sexual behavior in children and adolescents in order to promote a better understanding of childhood sexual development, identify differences between typical and problematic sexual behavior, and create a safety plan. Some of the areas covered in this web section include the following:

    • What is problematic sexual behavior?
    • Safety planning
    • Advocating for your child
    • Finding the right treatment
    • Facing a family crisis
    • Understanding adolescents with illegal sexual behavior
    • The legal system and child protective services
    • Preventing future illegal sexual behavior

    The web section offers indepth information on these and other related topics, connects users to additional resources and pertinent websites, and includes a rich bibliography. In addition, the NCSBY website will soon feature new sections for youth and professionals.

    To access the resources, visit NCSBY at

Training and Conferences

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.

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through May 2015 include:

    March 2015

    April 2015

    May 2015

    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 at


  • Improving Tribal and Cultural Child Welfare Practice

    Improving Tribal and Cultural Child Welfare Practice

    The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) recently published the Relational Worldview: A Tribal and Cultural Framework for Improving Child Welfare Outcomes video training for professionals and organizations working with American Indian communities. The training was developed for CASCW's Permanency and Adoption Competency Certificate (PACC), a professional training program established in response to community demand for improved adoption-competent child welfare services, particularly for American Indian children and families.

    Developed in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the video introduces the Relational Worldview, a model developed by NICWA Executive Director Terry Cross. The 3.5 hour training features Cross as well as respected Tribal child welfare professionals Sandy White Hawk, Rachel Banks Kupcho, and Bryan Blackhawk and addresses a variety of topics, which are presented in the following sections:

    • Introduction to the Relational Worldview
    • The Relational Worldview as a critical thinking tool
    • Taking the Relational Worldview to the organizational level
    • History of colonialism
    • Manifestations of colonialism
    • Removing children
    • Impact of historical trauma on Native children, youth, and families
    • Healing our families and communities
    • Decolonizing our organizations

    For more information, to access the brochure, and order a copy of the training, visit

  • Representing Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

    Representing Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

    Practitioners who will be counseling or representing unaccompanied immigrant children facing removal proceedings can now access a four-unit, independent e-learning course that is offered at no cost by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). Using recorded webinar presentations, readings, and sample documents, the course is designed to help participants better understand the laws and skills required to represent unaccompanied children. The issues and topics covered include the following:

    • The factors contributing to the large numbers of Central American children seeking refuge in the United States
    • The current policies relating to detention and release of unaccompanied children
    • Special considerations involved in representing children, including best practices for interviewing and counseling children and for addressing ethical concerns
    • Key remedies available to unaccompanied children, including special immigrant juvenile status, asylum, U and T visas for victims of criminal activity and/or human trafficking, motions to suppress, and prosecutorial discretion

    Course participants will also receive information related to pro bono opportunities to represent unaccompanied children. Participants who are unfamiliar with removal proceedings also can access the CLINIC e-course, Overview of Representing Children in Removal Proceedings, which reviews the fundamentals of immigration court proceedings.

    Independent Study: Representing Unaccompanied Children: What to Do and How to Do It is available at