November's CBX highlights the 2016 National Adoption Month initiative, as well as other resources for professionals working to help children and youth find forever homes.
- Open Adoption With Gay and Lesbian Parents
Much has changed in adoption over the last several decades to offer greater adoption options for children and parents. Two encouraging trends—one toward openness in communication between birth and adoptive parents (open adoption) and another toward removing barriers to adoption for lesbian and gay prospective parents—are the topic of a recent article from the Donaldson Adoption Institute. Authors David Brodzinsky and Abbie Goldberg examined data from the 2015 Modern Adoptive Families Study to compare survey responses from 880 heterosexual, lesbian, and gay male adoptive parents about the extent of their contact with their child's birth family.
Their findings, which also compared private agency and child welfare adoptions, showed the following:
- Regardless of parents' sexual orientation, families that adopted through private agencies were more likely to have had some contact with their child's birth families than families that adopted through child welfare agencies (85 vs. 75 percent).
- Among child welfare adoptions, gay male parents were more likely to have had some contact with birth families than were heterosexual or lesbian parents (87 percent vs. 78 and 67 percent, respectively).
- Likewise, all family types that adopted through private agencies were more likely to be in current contact with their child's birth family than families that adopted through child welfare agencies (75 vs. 58 percent).
- Among child welfare adoptions, gay male parents were more likely to be in current contact with birth family members than were lesbian or heterosexual parents (74 percent vs. 56 and 55 percent, respectively).
The authors highlight the significant percentage of postadoption contact in both private and child welfare adoptions in this recent survey, noting that these percentages (85 and 75 percent, respectively) are a substantial increase from postadoption contact found in the 2007–2008 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. They suggest that these increases may indicate continuing trends for open adoption from both types of agencies.
Given these trends, the authors offer the following practice guidelines for open adoption with gay and lesbian parents:
- All agency personnel, from directors to placement professionals, should receive comprehensive and objective training on open adoption.
- Agencies should ensure that all clients receive comprehensive preparation, education, and services on open placements.
- Adoption professionals should be aware of receptivity to open adoption by most lesbian and gay prospective parents and of the positive relationships they typically form with birth families.
- Adoption professionals should explore birth parents' receptivity (and that of their relatives) to placing their child with lesbian or gay parents.
- Adoption agencies should promote positive stories about lesbian and gay adoptive families in the media.
- Adoption professionals should work with both gay and lesbian families and with birth families around sharing information about parents' sexual orientation with others.
Practice Guidelines Supporting Open Adoption in Families Headed by Lesbian and Gay Male Parents: Lessons Learned From the Modern Adoptive Families Study, by David Brodzinsky and Abbie Goldberg, is available on the Donaldson Adoption Institute website at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/DAI_MAFReport2.pdf (669 KB).
- November Is National Adoption Month
Every year, there are more than 100,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system waiting for permanent families. This year's National Adoption Month theme, "We Never Outgrow the Need for Family—Just Ask Us" focuses on supporting professionals in beginning and reengaging older youth in conversations about adoption. Permanent family connections are critical for older youth to have legal and emotional support as they transition into adulthood and strive for achievement, growth, and well-being. However, older youth in foster care are less likely to find permanent homes and may age out of care to face independence without any secure, lifelong connections.
The 2016 National Adoption Month website features tools and resources aimed at increasing adoption of older youth currently in foster care. The website includes an entire section dedicated to providing adoption and permanency-related resources and tips for families, including families considering adoption and families that have adopted. The website also supports child welfare professionals in preparing families for adoption and talking with older youth who may feel they are too old to be adopted. Youth, families, and professionals can also visit the website to do the following:
- Watch and listen to personal stories, and share the examples of older youth in foster care finding permanent families through adoption
- Learn ways to help involve, support, and empower older youth in foster care to prepare and plan for their future
- Read the tip sheet, Talking With Older Youth About Adoption (PDF - 1 MB), for help in talking with older youth about adoption and the importance of family
National Adoption Month, funded each November by the Children's Bureau, is a partnership between AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway. Visit the National Adoption Month website throughout November at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/.
The Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG) created a framework to help guide its work with eight sites across the United States in developing evidence-based models to address the prepermanency and postpermanency support and service needs of children and youth in foster care. Read more in August's CBX.
- Webinar Highlights Importance of Effective Response Systems for Diligent Recruitment
Comprehensive diligent recruitment of foster and adoptive families can improve placement stability and permanency for children and youth in and/or adopted from foster care. An integral component of the diligent recruitment process is an effective response system, and the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) at AdoptUSKids released a webinar focused on the importance of implementing quality response systems for replying to questions from prospective foster and/or adoptive families.
Webinar presenters offer lessons learned from implementing such systems, in addition to:
- Offering information for agencies to consider when selecting a system for responding to questions and feedback from prospective families
- Providing examples for child welfare agencies to improve existing response systems
- Discussing technical assistance and other support offered by the NRCDR
In addition to the webinar PowerPoint, the NRCDR also has made available a publication, Is Your Response System Family Friendly?, and an agency self-assessment for identifying the strengths and areas of improvement in existing response systems.
The webinar, First Impressions: The Power of an Effective Response System, and accompanying materials are available at http://www.nrcdr.org/webinars/response-systems.
- Study Examines the Effect of State Policies on Rates of Adoption
In most cases, when a child has been placed in out-of-home care, the State child welfare agency must make reasonable efforts to reunify the child with his or her family. If, after making this effort, it becomes clear that a child cannot be returned home safely, the State must take timely action to find an alternative, permanent home for the child, with an adoptive home as the preferred permanency goal. A new publication from The Center for State Child Welfare Data, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, examines whether differences in State adoption policy can explain State-to-State differences in the rate of adoption.
A key step in the adoption process is the termination of parental rights (TPR). Federal statute lays out specific criteria that permit TPR. To expedite permanency for children who cannot return home safely, several of the criteria, sometimes referred to as "fast track" criteria, involve egregious behavior on the part of parents that releases States from the obligation to work toward reunification. States have the discretion to build on this framework, and many States' laws do provide additional grounds for TPR or provide for shorter timeframes for initiating a TPR action.
The Chapin Hall study looks at two specific questions:
- Do States that have more "fast track" exceptions to the reasonable reunification efforts mandate have higher rates of adoption than States with fewer exceptions?
- Do States that have shorter mandated TPR timeframes have higher rates of adoption than States that allow more time before initiating TPR actions?
For the study, data from Chapin Hall's Multistate Foster Care Data Archive were used to calculate each State’s adoption rate. The study population included 214,286 children from 20 States who entered foster care for the first time between 2006 and 2007, with outcomes through December 31, 2011. Of the 20 States in the study, 15 had 11 or more "fast track" exceptions listed in their State adoption laws; 5 of these listed as many as 18 to 20. Most States follow the "15 out of the last 22 months" timeframe found in Federal statute; only six States had a shorter timeframe.
The analysis revealed that, for the most part, these stronger policies do not lead to their intended outcomes. States with more "fast track" exceptions did not have faster adoptions than those that had fewer, and States with shorter length-of-stay standards did not finalize adoptions any faster than States with longer timelines.
Testing the Effect of Fast-Track Adoption Policy on Adoption Rates is available at https://fcda.chapinhall.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/adoption-policy_web-final.pdf (71 KB).
Spotlight on Child Welfare Data and Technology
Spotlight on Tribal Child Welfare
News From the Children's Bureau
We highlight the 2016 Adoption Excellence Awards, new guidance from the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, newly released Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data, and more.
- 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:
- Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #23 - A report providing preliminary estimates of AFCARS data for FY 2015: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/afcars-report-23
- Fiscal Year 2016 Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Awards: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/discretionary-grant-awards-2016
- New Hampshire Subsequent Primary Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Review (2016): http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/new-hampshire-subsequent-title-iv-e-2016
- Kentucky Subsequent Primary Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Review (2016): http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/kentucky-subsequent-title-iv-e-2016
- Child Welfare Information Gateway Podcast Series - Audio podcasts support learning-on-the-go and allow users to hear the outcomes, experiences, and tips from innovators across the child welfare continuum: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/capacity/child-welfare-podcast-series
- Cross-Center Evaluation Design: Capacity Building Collaborative - A brief describing the framework and methods being used in the 5-year Cross-Center Evaluation of the Capacity Building Collaborative: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cross-center-evaluation-design
- Annotated Bibliography Informing Training and Technical Assistance - An annotated bibliography that supports the Permanency Innovations Initiative grantees in better meeting the needs of children and families: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-annotated-bibliography-informing-tta
- IM-16-05 New Legislation: Public Law 114-198—The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 - An Information Memorandum (IM) to inform States of the enactment of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and provide basic information on the resulting changes in CAPTA for child abuse or neglect prevention and treatment programs: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/im1605
- IM-16-03 Executive’s Guide to CCWIS - An IM informing State and Tribal IV-E agencies about the publication of the Executive’s Guide to the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS): http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/im1603
- IM-16-04 CCWIS Notice of Intent Checklist Template - An IM providing State and Tribal IV-E agencies submission instructions for a Notice of Intent (NOI) as described in regulations at 45 CFR 1355.52(i)(1) and 1355.56(d)(1). This IM also provides an optional NOI checklist that title IV-E agencies may use: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/im1604
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb.
- Number of Children in Foster Care Increases for the Third Consecutive Year
Newly released data show the number of children in foster care nationally has increased for the third year in a row.
Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data released by the Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), show a continued increase in the numbers of children in foster care. After declining more than 20 percent between fiscal years (FY) 2006 and 2012 to a low of 397,000, the number of children in foster care increased to 428,000 in FY 2015. This represents a 3.4-percent increase from FY 2014, when States reported 414,000 children in foster care.
Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of States reported an increase in the numbers of children entering foster care from 2014 to 2015. The five States with the largest increases were Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Arizona, and Minnesota; these five States were also among the States with the largest increases between 2013 and 2014.
Although there is variation in how States report factors that contribute to foster care cases, it appears that parental substance use may have contributed to the growth in the child welfare population. From 2012 to 2015, the percentage of removals where parental substance use was cited as a contributing factor increased 13 percent (from 28.5 percent in 2012 to 32.2 percent in 2015)—the largest percentage increase compared to any other circumstance around removal. Though ACF's efforts to improve State reporting have likely contributed to the overall rise in cases, the greater prevalence of parental substance use among cases may also explain some of this increase. In addition, neglect as a circumstance around removal also increased from 56.4 percent to 60.7 percent over the same time period.
"The national number of children in foster care is still far below where it was 10 years ago, but any increase is cause for concern, and we've now seen increases for the past 3 years," said Mark Greenberg, HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families.
Officials at the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) interviewed child welfare directors in States experiencing the highest increase in foster care numbers, and State officials informed ACYF what the data suggest: a rise in parental substance use is likely a major factor driving up the number of children in foster homes. Citing opioid and methamphetamine use as the most debilitating and prevalent substances used, some State officials expressed concern that the problem of substance use is straining their child welfare agencies.
State child welfare directors also emphasized that recent trends in substance abuse are sometimes affecting entire families and neighborhoods, making a child's placement with relatives an unviable option. Increased collaboration across service providers and community leaders will be necessary to address this rising challenge.
"The increases we are seeing in the foster care population, and the rise of parental substance use as a contributing factor, is not limited to one or two States—this is a concern across the country," said Rafael López, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. "Investing in prevention, treatment, and innovative approaches is critical to keeping children safe and families together and strong. We can, and must, do better."
One such approach is the Children's Bureau's regional partnership grants program, which specifically focuses on improving the safety, permanency, and well-being of children who have been removed from the home as a result of parent or caregiver substance use. The President's FY 2017 budget request includes an expansion of the regional partnership grants from $20 million to $60 million annually to improve the well-being of children and families affected by substance abuse. Families who participated in previous regional partnership grants projects experienced enhanced outcomes, including successful recovery, increased number of children remaining at home, increased reunification rates, decreased recidivism, and dramatic differences in the rate of children who returned to out-of-home care as compared to families who did not participate in the regional partnership grants projects.
Because too many Americans with substance use disorders do not get the treatment and care they need, the President's FY 2017 budget request calls for $1.1 billion in new funding to help make sure everyone who seeks treatment can get it.
"ACYF and SAMHSA's partnership through the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare is focused on helping the child welfare and behavioral health systems work together to create coordinated, multisystem approaches to care that can prevent the need for children to enter the foster care system," said HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Principal Deputy Kana Enomoto. "With an emphasis on recovery for pregnant and parenting women and their families, we're supporting the development of policies and guidelines to address the full spectrum of intervention opportunities—from prepregnancy, prenatal, and postpartum treatment, and continuing throughout a child's development."
The FY 2015 AFCARS report, including a table showing reasons for removal from home, is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/afcars-report-23. Trends since 2006 in foster care and children adopted with child welfare agency involvement are available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/trends-in-foster-care-and-adoption-fy15.
All ACF news releases, fact sheets and other materials are available on the ACF news page. Follow ACF on Twitter for more updates.
- Treating Pregnant Women With Opioid Use Disorders
Noting the sharp increase in the use of opioids across the country, even among pregnant women, a new guide highlights the benefits of a coordinated, multisystem approach to providing services to address this emerging epidemic within this vulnerable population. The guide outlines a variety of causes of opioid misuse and dependence, as well as its effects: an increase in child welfare caseloads created by the number of infants and young children entering foster care, in addition to hospital reports of infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS is defined as the pattern of effects associated with opioid withdrawal in newborns.
The guide presents specific information on the treatment of pregnant women with opioid use disorders, approaches implemented by organizations across multiple disciplines, a framework to organize these approaches in communities, and a practice guide for community planning.
Five opportunities for intervention are outlined in the framework:
- Prepregnancy: Promoting awareness of the effects of prenatal substance use on infants
- Prenatal: Screening pregnant women for substance use as part of routine prenatal care
- Birth: Testing newborns for prenatal substance exposure at the time of delivery
- Neonatal: Conducting developmental assessments of newborns and ensuring access to services
- Throughout childhood and adolescence: Providing coordinated services for affected children and families
The authors note that a collaborative approach, while showing promising results where implemented, can be challenging to establish for reasons such as competing priorities, unmet training needs, use of different terminologies, limits on time and resources, information gaps, and more. To counter some of these challenges, the guide provides a list of questions to ask when establishing joint planning, as well as a description of a collaborative team, including a steering committee, a core team, and work groups.
The guide was developed by the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A Collaborative Approach to the Treatment of Pregnant Women With Opioid Use Disorders is available at https://ncsacw.samhsa.gov/resources/opioid-use-disorders-and-medication-assisted-treatment/default.aspx.
The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare announced the 2017 Policy Academy: Improving Outcomes for Pregnant and Postpartum Women With Opioid Use Disorders, and Their Infants and Families, which will be held February 7–8, 2017, in Baltimore, MD. Applications for participation in the Policy Academy are due Friday, November 4, 2016, at 5:00 p.m., PDT. For questions about this opportunity or the application process, please contact Amanda Kellerman at email@example.com or 714.505.3525.
- Adoption Excellence Awards 2016
Each year, the Children's Bureau announces the winners of the Adoption Excellence Awards as part of its celebration of National Adoption Month in November. Since 1997, the Children's Bureau has presented the Adoption Excellence Awards to honor States, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families for outstanding achievements in providing stable, permanent homes for our nations' children in foster care. For 2016, nine Adoption Excellence Awards were approved in four categories by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families' Commissioner Rafael López.
The 2016 Adoption Excellence Awards were presented to the following:
In the category of Family Contributions:
- Nedra and Matt Cox, Denver, CO
In the category of Individuals/Professionals:
- Adam Pertman, Boston, MA
- Sarah Gojkovic, Sierra Vista, AZ
- Barbara Stair, Anchorage, AK
- Addie Williams, Southfield, MI
In the category of Media/Social Media/Public Awareness of Adoption From Foster Care:
- Tim Wieland, Denver, CO
- Rut N. Tellado Domenech and Jorge Ramirez, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
In the category of Child Welfare/Judicial Systemic Change:
- Kidsave of Los Angeles – Randi Thompson, Culver City, CA
- Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services, Adoptions and Resource Homes Units – Terri Lowther, Annapolis, MD
To read more about the Adoption Excellence Awards and award winners, including past years' winners, visit the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/adoption-excellence-awards.
- Collaborations for Strengthening Families and Improving Outcomes
The Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) recently announced a number of new public and private sector commitments focused on strengthening families and improving outcomes for youth in foster care. The exciting new opportunities were announced at the 20th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.
These commitments are made possible through collaboration among five Federal departments, multiple private foundations, and university researchers:
- Public-Private Partnership (PDF - 234 KB) presents collaborative efforts among ACYF, Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago designed to reduce foster and congregate care placements, provide evidenced-informed prevention services, and support children and teens currently in foster care. The set of commitments also includes new research projects, grants, and capacity building initiatives.
- Interagency Commitments to Advance Equity and Opportunity for Children and Families in Child Welfare (PDF - 260 KB) announces three new initiatives from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. This includes new policy guidance focused on protecting the civil rights of families as well as new initiatives to improve education and employment outcomes and to expand housing options for youth currently and formerly in foster care.
- "Break the Cycle" is ACYF's new, short video that underscores the importance of breaking the cycle of poverty and neglect by supporting struggling families though mental health and substance use treatment and parent mentorship. Viewers are encouraged to share this 50-second video with their networks through social media, newsletters, and on their websites.
For more information, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/20th-nccan-closing-plenary.
- New Joint Guidance on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act
On October 19, 2016, the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint guidance letter to State and local child welfare systems on the requirements of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. The guidance aims to ensure that child welfare systems know about their responsibilities to protect the civil rights of children and families. The guidance is part of an ongoing partnership between the departments to help child welfare agencies protect the well-being of children and ensure compliance with Federal nondiscrimination laws. Last year, the departments issued guidance on the intersection of child welfare requirements and title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Additional information on the new guidance is available in English and Spanish at the following links:
- Standardized Safety and Risk Assessments and Tribal Communities
The child welfare field has seen the increased development and use of standardized tools to improve the assessment of child safety and risk for child maltreatment in families. However, most tools are less useful with American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) families because they fail to accommodate and integrate AI/AN cultural and family values. A recent Research to Practice Brief from the Administration for Children and Family’s (ACF's) Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) traces the evolution of child safety and risk assessments in child welfare, describes the different types of assessments, discusses the importance of integrating AI/AN values into tools used with Tribal families, and provides examples of how five Tribes developed or adapted child safety and risk assessments.
The brief's authors note that, since the 1980s, family assessments have moved away from traditional case studies and toward more structured assessments. Today's child welfare agencies most often use safety and risk assessment tools that are strength based and include both safety and risk components. But few of these tools accommodate the unique cultural elements of AI/AN communities, such as the safety factor that results from the extensive involvement of family and community members in parenting children and the risk factors that may result from Tribal adverse events or trauma.
Some Tribes have developed unique approaches to address the lack of culturally relevant safety and risk assessments, and this research brief cites five examples:
- The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska partnered with the developer of the Structured Decision Making model to customize the standard assessment for use with Tribal families.
- The Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boys incorporated its Tribal values into Montana’s safety assessment instruments through the use of culturally responsive questions.
- The Cook Inlet Tribal Council used its 2006 ACF grant on Coordination of TANF and Tribal Services to validate the North Carolina Family Assessment Scales for use with AN families.
- The Oglala Sioux Tribe developed a curriculum of culturally responsive training to prepare its child protection staff to make safety and risk decisions.
- The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians developed a program called Building Strong Native American Families to increase knowledge and awareness of child abuse and neglect in both staff and in the community.
The authors conclude that these examples of Tribal approaches to safety and risk assessments provide some promise for the potential to improve child welfare decision-making in AI/AN communities.
Find Child Safety and Risk Assessments in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities, by Kim Keating, Brandie Buckless, and Pirkko Ahonen, on the OPRE website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/safetyassessmentbrief2016_b508.pdf (411 KB).
This month's CBX features a guide to help practitioners use cost analysis tools to quantify the economic benefits of child abuse prevention programs, as well as a report exploring recent work by a multiservice organization that offers an array of supportive and therapeutic services for children affected by trauma.
- Fidelity of Trauma Treatment in Under-Served Communities
A comprehensive service model for treating trauma-affected children and families points to the need for reliable and low-cost tools to improve the fidelity of evidence-based practices and the challenges of doing so in community-based settings. Improving Service Delivery for Children Affected by Trauma—An Implementation Study of Children's Institute, Inc. is a recent project of MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and education policy research group that seeks to improve the well-being of low-income populations.
The August 2016 MDRC report explores recent work by the Los Angeles-based Children's Institute, Inc. (CII), a multiservice organization that offers an array of supportive and therapeutic services for children affected by trauma, including physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, or violence in the community. CII relies on evidence-based practices to treat children's mental health needs, provides classes for parents and caregivers to help them care for their children, offers early child care and Head Start programs, and sponsors youth activities to create protective factors in its communities.
The study was designed to evaluate CII's service model and its delivery of evidence-based practices, including a fidelity study of its Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT). The study concluded that:
- CII engages holistically with clients in multiple services.
- A third of children receiving clinical services were treated with evidence-based practices.
- Treatment recipients were shown to have at least a 50 percent chance of receiving half of the practice's required therapeutic components.
The fact that CII therapists were not able to offer all of TF-CBT's required treatment components—consistent with findings from other community-based studies—leads the study authors to point to the need for "robust and low-cost tools to help providers deliver evidence-based treatments with fidelity." MDRC President Gordon L. Berlin writes in the preface that the report "adds to the understanding of the challenges of implementing evidence-based practices in community-based settings, where the highly specified protocols of these practices meet the realities of providing services in high-needs and under-sourced communities."
The report is available at http://www.mdrc.org/publication/improving-service-delivery-children-affected-trauma.
- Quantifying Cost Benefits of Prevention Services
A new guide is available to help practitioners use cost analysis tools to quantify the economic benefits of child abuse prevention programs. The guide's authors note that cost analysis can go a long way toward demonstrating the long-term societal value of investing in programs to prevent child maltreatment.
The Practitioner's Guide to Cost Analysis: First Steps and Cost Analysis Case Study from Children's Trust Fund of Missouri is the result of interviews conducted by the University of Kansas' Center for Public Partnerships and Research on behalf of the FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) to better understand the use of cost analysis in CBCAP programs. The University of Kansas interviewed CBCAP leads in 10 States, which were chosen based on a State's readiness for cost analysis. This was determined by a State's prior experiences with cost analysis work, its ongoing use of robust evaluation procedures, and its involvement in public-private partnerships and sustainability planning.
The June 2016 guide discusses how to achieve stakeholder buy-in, how to access and streamline data collection and processing, and how to communicate and use results. The guide points out that effective cost analysis will answer the following questions:
- What are the true costs and benefits of prevention programs?
- How do costs compare to other interventions with similar goals?
- What long-term costs are avoided by doing front-ended prevention work?
In closing, the guide references a case study by the Children's Trust Fund of Missouri, which showed that prevention services offered through Missouri's CBCAP program saved millions of dollars by cutting down on the need for hospitalizations, child welfare services, and law enforcement. Access the guide at http://friendsnrc.org/jdownloads/Cost%20Analysis/cost%20analysis%20guide%20final.pdf (376 KB).
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.
- Special Initiative Month: National Runaway Prevention Month and Homelessness Awareness
Every year, thousands of youth become homeless for myriad reasons—including running away from home or foster home. These youth often experience trauma that can have lifelong effects.
November has been recognized as National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) since 2002. This year's NRPM theme, "Friends Helping Friends," centers on how youth, parents, family members, and other concerned adults can help youth through tough times by being a friend who provides trust, support, and care.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers resources about the effects of homelessness on youth, as well as resources for communities and families at http://www.nctsn.org/resources/public-awareness/national-homeless-youth-awareness-month.
- The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act site, http://youthhomelessness.acf.hhs.gov/, showcases the different experiences youth have, the progress that has been made to end youth homelessness by 2020, and how you can help support a local program.
- The Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center, funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau, is available at http://rhyttac.net/ and has education, services, and resources that can help mitigate the challenges programs and professionals face when serving this population.
Additionally, November 12–20 is National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week (H&H Week). Held every year the week before Thanksgiving, it is a time to remind us to think about what we are thankful for and be aware of those who are experiencing hunger and homelessness in our community. The National Coalition for the Homeless urges people to reach out help end hunger and homelessness in their communities through activism and local government. Visit http://nationalhomeless.org/about-us/projects/awareness-week/ to learn more about H&H Week and what you can do to help.
Visit the NRPM website at http://www.1800runaway.org/runaway-prevention-month/ to learn more about how you can help support youth and teens. From national and local events to spreading the word on social media, encourage your community to #EndYouthHomlessness.
- Delivering Services to Refugee Families
Understanding the perspectives and unique needs of families from refugee backgrounds is an essential component in delivering effective, culturally responsive services. Best Practices Guide for Working with Families from Refugee Backgrounds in Child Welfare, produced by the Center for the Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW), is designed to help frontline workers understand the strengths and protective factors, different cultural norms, and unique challenges and barriers involved when working with families from refugee backgrounds.
Through an extensive literature review and interviews with refugee families, this best practices guide explains how resettlement into a new culture influences child and family welfare. For example, refugees' prior experiences often facilitate a variety of factors that aid families in the resettlement process, like strong social support and the belief in one's ability to cope. This resource also provides practical tips for utilizing these inherent protective factors, as well as addressing the unique challenges that are associated with refugee families.
These tips include the following:
- Specific questions to ask in order to ascertain parent background and understanding
- Topics to address when explaining the child protection system
- Phrases to avoid when discussing mental health concerns
Access Best Practices Guide for Working with Families from Refugee Backgrounds in Child Welfare on the CASCW website at http://cascw.umn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/BestPractices.pdf (153 KB).
- Policy Briefs on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
The Center for the Study of Social Policy released two policy briefs—one for practitioners and one for policymakers—exploring the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) visa. The briefs note that the recent influx of migrant children to the United States, particularly from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico, requires specific support services and professionals to address the unique trauma and well-being needs of this vulnerable population.
The SIJS is highly sought after for migrant children because it is specifically designed for those who cannot return to their home country due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. However, the U.S. State Department has placed a temporary hold on issuing visas for children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador due to the high number of applicants. SIJS visas will be immediately available for children and youth from Mexico with the start of the new fiscal year (October 1, 2016).
Both briefs outline the process for securing an SIJS visa and defines terms, including special immigrant juvenile, unaccompanied child, lawful permanent residency, and title IV-E funding.
The brief for practitioners outlines the implications of the State Department's hold on SIJS visas, specifically the impact on children and youth involved with child welfare. Federal law prohibits immigration status from being a barrier to receiving services; however, permanent resident status is required in order to receive federally funded foster care or adoption subsidies. This brief also outlines recommendations for promoting the well-being and permanency of children and youth.
The brief for policymakers outlines options at the Federal and State level for supporting migrant children and youth. For instance, the brief suggests Federal policymakers advocate for alternative options such as deferred action, Parole in Place, and Temporary Protected Status, all of which are available to children and youth with approved SIJS petitions and who are awaiting visa availability.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence: Guidance for Policymakers to Protect Children and Youth From Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico in the Absence of Visa Availability is available at http://www.cssp.org/policy/other-resources/SIJS-Fed-States.pdf (1.17 MB).
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence: Guidance for Practitioners to Protect Children and Youth From Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico in the Absence of Visa Availability is available at http://www.cssp.org/policy/other-resources/SIJS-Fed-Practitioners.pdf (2 MB).
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.
- Toolkit for Transitioning Foster Youth
There are more than 400,000 children and youth in our nation's foster care system, and more than 23,000 of those in care are aging out. Transitioning to adulthood can bring with it a host of challenges. As such, a new toolkit from the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Labor provides youth and youth-serving professionals with tips and resources for navigating the many systems with which they'll have to interact.
The toolkit was designed for use by both youth in and youth formerly in foster care who are in the process of transitioning to independent living and adulthood. It also was designed for the supportive adults involved with these youth, including foster and/or adoptive parents and kinship caregivers, caseworkers, educators, and others. Information on transition planning, job searches and career support, financial management, and housing and transportation services are provided. Two appendices outline organizations serving youth in and formerly in foster care and information about State tuition waivers and vouchers, respectively.
The Foster Care Transition Toolkit is available on the U.S. Department of Education’s website at http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/foster-care/youth-transition-toolkit.pdf (1 MB).
- Toolkit for Supporting Transgender Youth in the Workforce
Life experiences of transgender youth may be marked by rejection and discrimination, specifically when seeking and gaining employment. A new guide for case managers, Transgender Youth Employment Toolkit, addresses some common job-related challenges and presents ideas and activities to prepare and support transgender youth entering the workforce.
The guide is intended to help employment caseworkers tailor and strengthen service delivery to transgender youth; however, its contents may also be applicable to other youth-serving professionals. For instance, the toolkit outlines terminology pertaining to gender identity, including a key vocabulary, best practices for employers, and indicators of transgender friendly workplaces.
Specifically, the toolkit emphasizes the importance of treating transgender clients with respect by using correct gender pronouns and educating employers about sensitive models for working with transgender employees to facilitate the development of nondiscriminatory and all-inclusive protocols.
Some of the relevant areas explored in this toolkit include:
- Understanding hormone replacement therapy
- Connecting youth with mentors and support groups
- Finding suitable transgender-friendly employers
- Securing and keeping a job
A list of community agencies and online resources that professionals may share with their transgender clients is also provided.
Developed as a part of a Transition to Work pilot project in the Los Angeles area and based on lessons learned over a period of 9 months, the Transgender Youth Employment Toolkit is the product of a collaboration between the Los Angeles LGBT Center, University of California at Los Angeles' Community Based Learning Program, the City of Los Angeles Workforce Development Board, and the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department.
The Transgender Youth Employment Toolkit is available here at https://lalgbtcenter.org/social-service-and-housing/transgender/t2w.
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 February 2017 include:
- International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement
Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect
November 1–4, Ft. Worth, TX
- 2016 JuST Conference
Shared Hope International
November 9–11, National Harbor, MD
- ZERO TO THREE’s Annual Conference 2016
ZERO TO THREE
December 7–9, New Orleans, LA
- 2017 Children’s Law Institute
Southwest Region National Child Protection Training Center at New Mexico State University
January 11–13, Albuquerque, NM
- SSWR 2017 Annual Conference
"Ensure Healthy Development for All Youth"
The Society for Social Work (SSWR)
January 11–15, New Orleans, LA
- 31st San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment
Chadwick Center for Children and Families & Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego
January 29–February 3, San Diego, CA
- 2017 National Conference on Juvenile Justice
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
February 12–15, New York, NY
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 https://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/.
- International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement
- National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center Webinar Series
Before closing its doors after 25 years on September 29, 2016, The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) hosted a 2-day webinar series that focused on lessons learned from AIA grantees. AIA grantees shared their findings from working with young families affected by substance use and/or HIV. Each webinar highlights the practices grantees developed and/or implemented to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, and the health and stability of families impacted by substance use and/or HIV.
The agendas topics for each day were as follows:
- "The Power of Peer Support for Pregnant and Parenting Women Affected by Substance Use"
- "Supporting Strength and Strengthening Support: Minimizing Child Welfare Involvement for Substance Exposed Newborns and Their Families"
- "Better Together: Lessons Learned From Collaboration"
- "Families Growing Together: Integrating Evidence-Based Interventions and Direct Practice"
- "Practicing Safety Mindfulness Project for Mothers in Drug Treatment: Adapting Interventions in a Clinical Setting"
- "Family 2 Matters: Lessons Learned From Supporting Families in a ‘Judgement-Free Zone"
- "Lessons Learned in Implementing Electronic Tools in the Field"
- "Families First: Lessons Learned on Creating and Implementing an Integrated Service Delivery Model for Families Impacted by HIV"
- "Cross-Site Evaluations: Lessons Learned and a Sneak Peak into FY15 Data"
To access the webinar series, visit http://aia.berkeley.edu/training/online/lessons-learned/.