September 2018Vol. 19, No. 7Spotlight on Workforce Development
In this month's issue, read an address from Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, highlighting the importance of developing a competent and stable child welfare workforce and the need for partnerships among stakeholders, as well as spotlight articles highlighting the personal, educational, and professional needs of the child welfare workforce and other professionals and stakeholders working to better the lives of children, youth, and families.
- Improving Legal Services for Children and Families
Improving Legal Services for Children and Families
A recent post on the Rethinking Foster Care blog proposes changes to how legal services are delivered in order to better serve children and families who are at risk or currently involved with the child welfare system. The author, a clinical professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, describes four principles regarding legal services for this population and then proposes several steps for improvement.
The following are the four principles set forth in the post:
- Families at-risk of crisis situations need access to legal advocacy services to help stave off crises.
- Families in crisis need access to legal assistance to advise them of their rights and resolve any issues.
- If a child is removed from the home, the family should have legal representation at or, preferably, before the first hearing.
- If the child remains in foster care, the lawyer should continue to support the family both in and out of the courtroom.
The following are examples of ways the author suggests to improve the system:
- Agency staff embracing legal advocacy for families
- Parent attorneys receiving training on family engagement
- Support pilot projects focusing on legal advocacy at the preremoval stage
To read the complete post, "Redesigning The Delivery Of Legal Services To Prevent Children From Entering Foster Care," visit https://rethinkingfostercare.blogspot.com/2018/07/redesigning-delivery-of-legal-services.html.
- Beyond Case Management: Improving Caseworker Skills
Beyond Case Management: Improving Caseworker Skills
Due to time constraints, policies, and other considerations, child welfare caseworkers often are relegated to conducting case management activities rather than engaging in more clinically oriented activities with children and families. An article in the Journal of Children's Services explores how child welfare systems can better equip caseworkers to use clinical interventions in their practice. It includes three examples of initiatives to improve caseworker skills being implemented with the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Social Work and other partners:
- National Center on Evidence-Based Practice in Child Welfare: The center uses two programs to support the capacity of the child welfare and mental health systems. It uses the Partnering for Success model to enhance the systems' ability to jointly assess and improve themselves. The center also teaches professionals from both systems about the use of a variety of cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions, with mental health professionals learning more about the clinical application and child welfare professionals focusing on learning core components and how to support families involved in those treatments.
- Motivational interviewing: M.S.W. students with a public child welfare focus in the UMD School of Social Work are taught motivational interviewing skills. They receive instruction in a didactic environment and then are able to practice their skills with actors while being observed by a motivational interviewing supervisor and classmates, which allows for immediate feedback.
- Training related to adoption and mental health: The UMD School of Social Work and the Center for Adoption Support and Education developed an online training to enhance the adoption competency skills of child welfare and mental health professionals. The training focuses on the clinical issues related to adoption (e.g., attachment, loss) rather than policy and processes.
"Equipping the child welfare workforce to improve the well-being of children," by Richard P. Barth, Bethany R. Lee, and Mary T. Hodorowicz" (Journal of Children's Services, 12), is available at https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JCS-05-2017-0017.
The Children's Bureau produced the podcast, "Collaborating Between Child Welfare and Mental Health," which features a group discussion focused on the Partnering for Success model. The Partnering for Success approach trains mental health and child welfare professionals together and emphasizes the fundamentals of assessments, evidence-based practices, and work processes. The discussion also focuses on the value of professional collaboration in clinically informed case management.
The podcast is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-collaborating-between-cw-mental-health.
- Virtual Child Welfare Expo 2018
Virtual Child Welfare Expo 2018
On Thursday, July 12, 2018, the Capacity Building Center for States, a service of the Children's Bureau, hosted the third annual Virtual Child Welfare Expo. This year's theme was "Fostering a Healthy Workforce." The Expo highlighted the importance of building agency capacity and implementing programs that encourage healthy work environments for child welfare professionals.
Subject-matter experts featured during the Expo included child welfare professionals, partners, parents, and youth. The Expo's sessions focused on strategies for conducting a collaborative workforce needs assessment, how to use coaching effectively within the context of child welfare supervision and casework practice, how to implement a simulation training program at a child welfare agency, and how to provide ongoing support to staff working in a trauma-exposed environment. Each session included presentations and a virtual reflection activity to help participants apply presentation concepts to their day-to-day work.
Although the live Expo has passed, a recording of all sessions and related resources is available in CapLEARN, the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative's learning center (registration required) at https://learn.childwelfare.gov/.
- Supporting the Psychological Well-Being of the Early Care and Education Workforce
Supporting the Psychological Well-Being of the Early Care and Education Workforce
Although much effort has been put into improving the competency and knowledge of early care and education (ECE) professionals, research suggests supporting the mental health needs of ECE staff also can have a positive impact on their work and on the children they work with. A recent report from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services looks at the linkages between various workforce supports and ECE teachers' psychological well-being.
The study used data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education, a nationally representative survey of the ECE workforce and landscape. The survey participants were asked to answer a six-item measure from the National Health Interview Survey as well as the Kessler-6 Psychological Distress Scale to assess psychological stress.
The report provides the following findings from the study:
- Fewer than 1 in 10 center-based ECE teachers have moderate psychological distress, and less than 1 percent have serious distress.
- Teachers reported less psychological distress when they experienced teamwork, respect, and stability at work.
- Teachers with less than a high school education, Asian teachers, and teachers with lower household incomes reported the highest levels of psychological stress.
- Teachers with more stable work assignments experienced significantly less stress than teachers who, for example, had been moved to another classroom or assigned to a different group of children at least once in the past week.
- Teachers who felt respected at work had significantly less stress than those who felt disrespected.
The article also lists recommendations to help alleviate psychological stress among ECE workers, including the following:
- Ensure programs have a supportive and rewarding workplace climate
- Support aspects of the workplace climate, such as teamwork and respect, that promote social connections and esteem among employees
- Explore practices or conditions that can help alleviate financial stressors for teachers
To read the article, Supporting the Psychological Well-Being of the Early Care and Education Workforce: Findings From the National Survey of Early Care and Education, visit https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/nsece_psychological_wellbeing_612018_to_opre_508_2.pdf (1,440 KB).
- Turnover Among Wraparound Care Coordinators
Turnover Among Wraparound Care Coordinators
Frequent turnover among wraparound care coordinators can have a negative impact on the children, youth, and families they serve as well as on other wraparound services staff. A recent article from the National Wraparound Initiative and the National Wraparound Implementation Center features a study that focused on the causes and impact of turnover and retention among wraparound care coordinators.
The study used an online survey to collect data about the respondents, their agencies, and what they thought were the reasons behind staff turnover and retention. A total of 331 complete responses were received from wraparound stakeholders in 39 states. The survey also asked if respondents were willing to participate in a follow-up interview that delved deeper into the potential causes of turnover at the individual, organizational, and larger system (e.g., county, region, or state) levels. For each level, researchers included questions that asked about specific factors that were particularly relevant at that level, such as burnout as an individual factor, job demands as an organizational factor, and state policies as a system factor. The researchers also asked the interviewees to give suggestions on the best ways to reduce turnover.
The study reported the following findings:
- About 40 percent of organizations experienced a turnover rate of less than 25 percent in the past year, whereas more than 25 percent reported they had to replace at least half of their staff in the past year.
- Forty-three percent of wraparound coordinators reported they had been at their job for less than 1 year.
- Sixty-seven percent of respondents replied that turnover hurts employee morale.
- Low pay was frequently cited as a reason for leaving the job, and care coordinators felt that their salaries were too low for the skill level required.
- Seventy-eight percent of interviewees reported that stress and burnout were the main reasons for staff leaving their jobs.
Respondents made the following suggestions to improve staff retention:
- Many respondents stressed the importance of having supportive and knowledgeable supervisors.
- Respondents felt that hiring practices should be improved by including a detailed and honest description of what the job of a wraparound coordinator entails.
- Step-structure pay increases and a clear career path entice employees to remain in their jobs.
- Respondents reported they felt more loyalty toward organizations that sought to lighten their burdens by, for example, implementing technology that makes the job easier and supporting wellness and self-care.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration produced a companion webinar, "Turnover Among Wraparound Care Coordinators: Rates, Causes, Impacts and Remedies," that highlights key findings from the report as well as presents questions and discussion. It is available at https://nwi.pdx.edu/previous-nwi-webinars/.
To read the article Turnover Among Wraparound Care Coordinators: Perspectives on Causes, Impacts, and Remedies, visit https://nwi.pdx.edu/pdf/Turnover-Among-Wraparound-Care-Coordinators.pdf (1,015 KB).
- The Need for an Expanded View of the Child Welfare Workforce
The Need for an Expanded View of the Child Welfare Workforce
Written by Jerry Milner.
National Workforce Month provides an opportunity to express gratitude for all who choose to work in child welfare. It is difficult and often thankless work, but it could not be more important. I sincerely thank everyone for their dedication to serving children and families. I believe it is critical to shine light on two incredibly important points: (1) the child welfare system is more than the child welfare agency and (2) the child welfare workforce is far more expansive than the social workers that populate the child welfare agency. The job of keeping families safe, together, and strong and promoting parent, child, and family well-being is simply too large and too important to belong to one agency and its employees alone.
To be sure, the child welfare agency and its employees are absolutely invaluable components of the system, but the system must be recognized as broad, including all other agencies, branches of government, partners, and stakeholders that touch the lives of children and families. The child welfare system workforce must be viewed as a network of contributors with different, but complementary, roles. The courts, attorneys for parents, children and the child welfare agency, prevention partners, community-based providers, peer mentors and partners, substance abuse treatment providers, mental health providers, foster parents, and so many others are part of the workforce. Simply stated, we all have a role to play, although too often those roles occur in silos and do not come together in unison to support children and families as effectively as possible.
I invite the workforce to come together in a more coordinated way to harness our collective impact for good with a unified purpose of strengthening families. So much of what makes child welfare work difficult and contributes to stress and burnout is the fact that we are working with children and families after bad things have happened, and we are in a constant state of crisis management and remedial efforts to pick up the pieces. This is largely due to the way our system is funded and structured, but there are steps we can take to begin to realign. If we mobilize around helping families enhance their protective capacities to care for their own children, I believe we will have far more to celebrate. I also believe we will be successful in reducing the trauma that children, parents, and the workforce experience, rather than invoking protective activities after bad things happen.
This effort requires a jointly owned vision across elements of the child welfare workforce and a joint commitment to seeking outcomes that focus on preserving and strengthening family health and resilience, the quality and strength of parent-child relationships, and the power of communities to support their families. I invite all to come together around the shared vision of primary prevention at the community level to help strengthen families and prevent maltreatment and unnecessary family disruption. It can be done.
- Exploring National Child Welfare Workforce Institute Tools and Resources
Exploring National Child Welfare Workforce Institute Tools and Resources
The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) produced a webinar series called Tools of the Trade 2018 to help child welfare professionals get the most out of the resources provided on the NCWWI website. The series consists of five 45-minute webinars hosted by NCWWI staff and features the following topics:
- Session 1: Finding the Right eResources on MyNCWWI
- Session 2: How Supervisors, Trainers, and Faculty Can Use NCWWI Microlearnings
- Session 3: Facilitating a Workforce Development Planning and Assessment Process
- Session 4: Accessing Leadership Activities for Staff at All Levels
- Session 5: Implementing Leadership Training for Supervisors and Middle Managers
Each session is accompanied by PowerPoint slides and handouts, as well as additional resources.
The webinar series is available at http://ncwwi.org/index.php/link/352-tools-of-the-trade-2018-exploring-ncwwi-tools-and-resources.
CBX has previously featured The Workforce podcast series, produced by Child Welfare Information Gateway on behalf of the Children's Bureau. The Workforce series provides information on maintaining a competent, committed, and diverse workforce while reducing turnover, building staff capacity, enhancing leadership skills, improving outcomes, and reducing costs. The Workforce series comprises four parts:
- Exploring the Self-Care Practices of Child Welfare Workers
Exploring the Self-Care Practices of Child Welfare Workers
Research has shown that child welfare workers experience higher rates of vicarious trauma, workplace stress, and compassion fatigue than other social service workers and that practicing self-care may help to alleviate the stress associated with this challenging line of work. A study brief published in Children and Youth Services Review discusses the self-care practices of child welfare workers in one southwestern state and examines the relationship between self-care practices and demographic as well as professional variables, such as financial situation, marital status, major area of study for their highest academic degree, type of employer (for profit or nonprofit), and membership in a professional organization.
The study used a cross-sectional survey to gather demographic (e.g., age, race) and professional (e.g., time in child welfare practice, education level and type) information from 222 participants. Next, researchers employed the Self-Care Practices Scale, an 18-item measure used to gauge the frequency in which study participants engaged in professional and personal self-care practices.
Findings from the study include the following:
- Study participants were only engaging in moderate professional and personal self-care.
- Data suggested that study participants who belonged to professional organizations were more likely to engage in self-care practices compared with those who did not.
- Participants who had better health and financial statuses were more likely to engage in self-care.
- Self-care scores were higher for participants who reported they were married or in a relationship.
The study also provided implications for child welfare agencies and emphasized the importance of promoting the well-being of staff by drawing systematic attention to organizational wellness initiatives that are supported by organization leaders and by gathering input from staff about ways to promote well-being and self-care.
"Exploring the self-care practices of child welfare workers: A research brief," by J. Jay Miller, Jessica Donohue-Dioh, Chunling Niu, and Nada Shalash (Children and Youth Services Review, 84), is available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740917308174.
- The Important Role of Lawyers as Partners in Prevention
The Important Role of Lawyers as Partners in Prevention
Attorneys and judges play an important role in the child welfare system and helping to keep children safe. A recent article in Child Law Practice Today written by Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, discusses the need to enhance partnerships with the legal system in order to create a well-functioning, effective child welfare system. Dr. Milner notes that true child maltreatment prevention is feasible only through strong collaborations with other agencies and organizations that serve the needs of children and families, including courts, schools, medical and other service providers, public and private agencies, and communities.
Reflecting on how a consent decree called for the state to revise how it served children and families while he was the state child welfare director in Alabama, Dr. Milner highlights the federal vision for reshaping child welfare in the United States. He explains how the Alabama consent decree pushed the state to center its child welfare services on respecting the parent-child relationship, taking an individualized approach to casework practices and service delivery, and valuing input from families and children—a focus he hopes to apply across the country. Further, the decree eventually led stakeholders to adopt guiding principles that focus on strengthening families and cross-system and community collaboration. In particular, collaboration between the legal and judicial community and the child welfare system can play a major role in preventing unnecessary placements by diligently working to keep families together, promoting child and family well-being, and recognizing the role of community supports..
"Reshaping Child Welfare in the United States: Lawyers as Partners in Prevention" is available at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/child_law/resources/child_law_practiceonline/child_law_practice/clp-today-2018/january---december-2018/reshaping-child-welfare-in-the-united-states--lawyers-as-partner.html.
Spotlight on Incorporating Youth Engagement and Lived Experience Into Child Welfare Practice
Spotlight on the Title IV-E Prevention Program and the Family First Prevention Services Act
News From the Children's Bureau
Read about a job-skills training program that aims to help disadvantaged youth learn skills and make important connections, a Children's Bureau podcast about a child abuse prevention program that works with families receiving financial assistance, and the latest updates to the Children's Bureau website.
- CB Website Updates
CB Website Updates
The Children's Bureau website hosts 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 the following:
- Child Welfare Administrative Data and Program Sustainability [webinar series]: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/administrative-data-program-sustainability-series
- Round 3 CFSR Stakeholder Interview Guide [document replacement]: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/round3-cfsr-stakeholder-interview-guide
- Adoption Data 2014: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/adoption-data-2014
- Toolkits: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/toolkits
- Child and Family Services Reviews Update Volume 12, Issue 2, June 2018: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cfsr-update-volume-12-issue-2
- 'The Power of the Parents' Voice' [podcast]: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-the-parents-voice
- Children's Bureau Vision Infographic: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cb-vision-infographic
- PI-18-07: Public Law 115-123, the Family First Prevention Services Act: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1807
- PI-18-08: Change in Expenditure Period Length for Children's Justice Act Grant Funds: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1808
- Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) Technical Bulletin #3: Modular Design and Review Guidance: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/ccwis-tb3
- Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews 2019 Schedule: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/title-iv-e-2019-review-schedule
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new.
- 'Prevention: Stabilizing Families Through TANF'
'Prevention: Stabilizing Families Through TANF'
Poverty is one of the conditions that can contribute to the likelihood of maltreatment. To help reduce the risk of child maltreatment in economically disadvantaged families, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides financial support and employment services that may alleviate some of the financial stresses these families face as they strive for self-sufficiency.
A recently released Children's Bureau podcast, "Prevention: Stabilizing Families Through TANF," showcases the Family Support and Connections program in Oregon. The Family Support and Connections program is a community-based child abuse prevention program that works with self-sufficiency program officers and families participating in Oregon's TANF program to identify families' needs, connect them with community resources, and stabilize and strengthen families.
This 35-minute podcast covers the following topics:
- How family advocates work with their self-sufficiency program counterparts to share information and serve families
- The shift to focusing on root causes when addressing the symptoms of poverty, maltreatment, and neglect
- Characteristics of a successful family advocate and what challenges they may face
This podcast and the accompanying transcript are available for download at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-prevention-tanf.
- Workforce Training Program for Disadvantaged Young Adults Boosts Initial Earnings
Workforce Training Program for Disadvantaged Young Adults Boosts Initial Earnings
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation looks at the implementation and initial impacts of the Year Up training program, which provided job skills training to over 3,500 young adults aged 18-24 with a high school diploma or the equivalent in eight cities between 2013 and 2014. Year Up is one of nine initiatives being evaluated in the federally sponsored Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation.
Launched in 2000, the Year Up program was designed to give economically disadvantaged young adults without postsecondary credentials an opportunity to develop skills and connections to help keep them engaged in the labor force. The program provides 6 months of full-time training in the information technology and financial service sectors followed by a 6-month corporate internship.
For the evaluation, the team randomly assigned the young adults to treatment and control groups. The report looks at both implementation and early impacts—following up 1.5 to 3 years later, depending on the outcome—with plans for future reports to look at program impacts with a cost-benefit analysis for up to 6 years. The report shows the following:
- Year Up was implemented with high design fidelity in all eight metropolitan locations.
- Year Up positively impacted the scope and nature of services and training received by its students.
- Year Up's effects on earnings were consistently positive (average quarterly earnings were $1,895 higher for treatment recipients than the control group in the sixth and seventh quarters of the program), and its impacts on other indicators of early career progress were likewise positive.
Bridging the Opportunity Divide for Low-Income Youth: Implementation and Early Impacts of the Year Up Program is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/resource/bridging-the-opportunity-divide-for-low-income-youth-implementation-and-early-impacts-of-the-year-up-program.
Child Welfare Research
We highlight a program that pairs young parent peer educators with health experts to facilitate a pregnancy- and disease-prevention curriculum for other youth and teens as well as the latest data on child well-being in the United States.
- 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book
2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book
2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, measures child well-being in the United States in four areas: economic security, education, health, and family/community. In addition, the report raises concerns over a potential undercount of America's children in the upcoming 2020 census and its impact on children and families.
The 2018 Data Book provides current data and, when possible, multiyear trends (from data obtained between 2010 and 2016). The following are data highlights about child and family well-being in the four domains:
- Overall, between 2010 and 2016, economic security improved for most children, as fewer children were living in poverty, more parents were employed, and less income was being spent on housing.
- Around 84 percent of high school students graduated on time in the 2015-2016 school year, which was an all-time high.
- Far fewer children lacked access to health insurance than in previous years.
- Thirteen percent of U.S. children continued to live in communities where poverty rates were at or above 30 percent between 2012 and 2016.
The report also points out that many children are never counted in the census because they are in families that move frequently, are homeless, or speak another language other than English. The authors note that the households most likely to be missed often have a disproportionate number of young children and tend to be immigrant families or those of color. According to the report, almost a quarter of all children under age 5 live in neighborhoods that are considered difficult to count—those where poverty is high and where multiunit apartment buildings and rental housing are the norm. Some households may also fail to count all members on the survey, particularly the youngest children who are not yet school age.
The report expresses concern that the most underrepresented children would likely be those most in need of the type of services that would be jeopardized by an undercount. "If we don't count the kids facing the greatest obstacles, we essentially make them and their needs invisible—and their future uncertain," the report warns. The report outlines the following ways an undercount might affect communities:
- Reduce federal funding allocations for programs providing critical assistance to low-income families
- Misrepresent the appropriate political representation—based on population—which in turn affects voting district boundaries
- Underestimate state and local needs for infrastructure, services, and investment
- Provide inaccurate data for research and advocacy organizations
In order to ensure a more accurate representation of America's children, the report recommends the following actions:
- Maximize the U.S. Census Bureau's capacity to do a thorough and accurate count
- Fund state and local census outreach and awareness campaigns
- Expand the number of "trusted messengers" (e.g., service providers, Early Head Start and Head Start programs, public program offices) to reach households that are hard to count
- Make internet access widely available to households least likely to have it
- Address concerns surrounding privacy and confidentiality
2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being is available at http://www.aecf.org/resources/2018-kids-count-data-book/.
- Perspectives on Young Parents as Peer Educators
Perspectives on Young Parents as Peer Educators
Young parents employed as peer educators in teen pregnancy prevention programs often advance their own professional skillsets while successfully engaging the youth, according to a recent research brief in Child Trends. The brief looks at a teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention program—called Re: MIX—developed by a global women's health organization, EngenderHealth.
The program pairs peer educators who are young parents with health experts to facilitate a pregnancy and disease prevention curriculum. Child Trends evaluated the delivery of the program in Austin, TX, during 2017-2018. Peer educators participated in three activities: training on how to facilitate the curriculum, classroom implementation of the curriculum, and professional development activities. Peer educators successfully engaged with teens by sharing their personal stories and in so doing developed their personal and professional skillsets.
Child Trends uncovered six major themes in its research:
- Pairing peer mentors with professional health educators resulted in strong curriculum delivery.
- The career trajectories of the peer educators were buoyed by their facilitation experience.
- Peer educators successfully engaged teens by sharing their stories.
- Investing in greater professional development leads to greater success in curriculum delivery as peer educators become more knowledgeable and confident.
- Peer educators suggested they would benefit from enhanced classroom management and facilitation training.
- Peer educators may have unmet needs and benefit from childcare, mental health counseling, or housing.
The authors note that while their work highlights the benefits of the peer educator model, future implementers should consider their organization's capacity to deliver the program as well as the circumstances of the proposed peer educators.
Perspectives on Young Parents as Peer Educators in a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is available at https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/EngendgerHealthBrief_ChildTrends_June2018.pdf (471 KB).
Strategies and Tools for Practice
This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other resources that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.
- Mapping Transformation: Developing a Theory of Change to Get to Better Outcomes
Mapping Transformation: Developing a Theory of Change to Get to Better Outcomes
Written by the Children's Bureau's Capacity Building Center for States.
When establishing goals with families, child welfare workers ask them to envision the results they want to see and what steps they might need to reach them. Similarly, a theory of change helps an agency think through the steps needed to get from an identified problem ¬to a desired outcome. A strong theory of change—developed with stakeholders—helps chart a logical and feasible path to better outcomes.
The Center's new Change and Implementation in Practice brief describes the following five tasks for developing a theory of change:
- Gather information on the root cause(s) and target population: The starting point for developing a theory of change is identifying one or more root cause(s)—the underlying source of the problem to be addressed—and the target population that is affected most directly by the problem.
- Identify a long-term outcome: Identify the change in behavior or process that will result if the agency effectively addresses the root cause(s). The desired outcome should be clear, directly related to the problem, and realistic.
- Develop the pathway of change (causal links): A theory of change includes a series of causal links (or "building blocks")—changes that must unfold and build on each other to achieve the desired long-term outcome. The links make up the pathway of change from the root cause(s) of the problem to the outcome. Starting with the long-term outcome, identify the changes that need to occur, and work backward to the root cause(s). Use data related to the problem and its root cause(s) to identify and justify each causal link.
- Define Actions: After developing the causal links, identify the actions that must be taken to lead to the needed changes. Brainstorm ideas in terms of, "if we do x, we can achieve y."
- Document Assumptions and Rationale: Clarify the underlying assumptions related to the causal links to reveal expectations about the proposed theory of change. Tying assumptions to available research strengthens your theory of change.
Theory of Change Example
- Problem: Noncustodial fathers are not receiving adequate services to meet their needs.
- Root cause of the problem: Caseworkers don't recognize the positive effect of noncustodial fathers on outcomes, and often lack the necessary skills and experience to engage noncustodial fathers successfully.
- Target population(s): Noncustodial fathers (and the caseworkers who serve them).
Pathway of Change
Causal Link 1: Caseworkers develop and apply the knowledge and skills necessary to engage and work with noncustodial fathers.
Causal Link 2: Caseworkers engage noncustodial fathers in frequent and quality contacts.
Causal Link 3: Caseworkers assess noncustodial fathers' strengths and needs comprehensively and accurately.
Causal Link 4: Caseworkers refer noncustodial fathers to services that address their needs.
Desired long-term outcomes:
- More noncustodial fathers receive services that meet their needs.
- The resilience and well-being of noncustodial fathers is enhanced, which fosters healthier relationships and parenting and contributes to the safety, permanency, and well-being of their children.
- Provide training and coaching for caseworkers on effectively engaging with noncustodial fathers.
- Examine how the agency measures contact frequency and quality, including those with noncustodial fathers.
- Ensure agency leaders and policies communicate the importance of fathers and demonstrate a commitment to their inclusion and engagement.
- Ensure service accessibility.
- Caseworkers receive limited or no training and support on engaging noncustodial fathers.
- Effective services that match noncustodial fathers' needs are available in the community.
The Change and Implementation in Practice series offers further information to help agencies engage in a research-based process to effectively make changes to improve outcomes. The following resources can help with exploring problems and developing theories of change:
- Center for States. (2016). Change and implementation in practice: Problem exploration. Available from https://capacity.childwelfare.gov/states/topics/cqi/change-implementation/problem-exploration.
- Center for States. (2016). Change and implementation in practice: Theory of change. Available from https://capacity.childwelfare.gov/states/topics/cqi/change-implementation/theory-of-change.
- Practice Guidelines for Investigating Suspected Psychological Maltreatment
Practice Guidelines for Investigating Suspected Psychological Maltreatment
The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, in partnership with The New York Foundling, produced a set of practice guidelines for child welfare professionals to use when investigating and determining whether there was psychological maltreatment (PM) of children and adolescents. PM can also be known as mental, emotional, or psychological abuse and neglect. The exact definition of this type of abuse is different in every state but includes not meeting a child's vital need to feel safe, loved, and respected as a valued individual. Frontline child welfare professionals can use the information and tools in this packet to gain a clearer understanding of what PM is, how to detect it and determine the nature and severity of it, and how it relates to other forms of maltreatment.
This resource includes definitions and explanations of the different forms of PM; information on its prevalence, effects, and risk factors; considerations of PM in investigations; and how to assess and determine PM. It also includes three worksheets that allow frontline child welfare professionals to organize evidence by subtype and record evidence of risk factors and harm to the child.
A companion monograph that provides a more indepth look at the PM guidelines, including case examples, strategies, and guidance for case- and system-wide interventions, among other things, is also available.
The Investigation and Determination of Suspected Psychological Maltreatment of Children and Adolescents is available at https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/4700a8_00c9fcfe4997493cbdad67b8af8f7d8c.pdf (1,200 KB).
This section of CBX 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.
- Human Trafficking Report Emphasizes Empowering Communities as First Line of Defense
Human Trafficking Report Emphasizes Empowering Communities as First Line of Defense
The U.S. State Department's most recent Trafficking in Persons Report focuses on steps local communities and their governments can take to combat human trafficking. The report focuses on local communities as the first line of defense against human trafficking and explores ways their governments can empower them to prepare local law enforcement, religious and tribal leaders, business executives, teachers, and other civic leaders to collaborate against this threat.
The report features several special interest topics, including the following:
- The experience of confronting trafficking at the provincial level in Ontario, Canada
- How to promote resilience and safety in former victims of human trafficking
- Child institutionalization as a trafficking risk factor
- Implementing a trauma-informed approach to serve trafficking survivors
- The role of governments regarding domestic servitude in diplomatic households
- Promising practices for tracking suspicious financial activity
- Multilateral efforts to fight trafficking through global and regional engagement
The 2018 report is available at https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2018/ (8,500 KB).
- What Families Need to Know About Opioid Misuse and Treatment During Pregnancy
What Families Need to Know About Opioid Misuse and Treatment During Pregnancy
Opioid use continues to be an issue throughout the nation, affecting families in all socioeconomic levels and in all parts of the country. It is important for those struggling with opioid use disorder to receive the support they need from the important people in their lives in addition to any professional help they may require, especially during pregnancy. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has created a guide for expectant mothers with opioid use disorders and their families to help with prenatal care, delivery, newborn health, breastfeeding, social supports, and what to expect after delivery.
This resource aims to help expectant women and their families by first acknowledging the difficult feelings one can have during pregnancy, especially if a woman has mixed feelings about being pregnant and having a child. Each section provides actionable tips on what can be done, such as making an appointment with a mental health professional during times of depression and anxiety or being mindful of not using judgmental language when speaking to the mother.
The latter half of the guide shifts to how to provide support after the baby is delivered, including a brief overview on neonatal abstinence syndrome and an emphasis on the need to continue supporting the mother in the weeks and months after the delivery.
Pregnancy & Opioids: What Families Need to Know About Opioid Misuse and Treatment During Pregnancy is available at https://drugfree.org/download/pregnancy-opioids/.
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.
Upcoming conferences and events on child welfare and adoption include the following:
- 2018 CityMatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference
University of Nebraska Medical Center
September 12-14, Portland, OR
- 2018 Families Learning Conference
National Center for Families Learning
September 24-26, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- 2018 Partners in Prevention Conference
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Prevention and Early Intervention Division
September 25-27, Arlington, TX
- Zero Abuse Project Conference 2018 Abuse, Trauma-Informed Care, and the Legal System
Zero Abuse Project and Mitchell Hamline School of Law
September 28, Saint Paul, MN
- 6th Annual Safe & Together Conference
Safe & Together Institute
October 3-5, San Antonio, TX
- 2018 ZERO TO THREE Annual Conference
ZERO TO THREE
October 3-5, Denver, CO
- ATTACh 30th Annual Conference
The Association for Training in the Attachment of Children (ATTACh)
October 4-6, Virginia Beach, VA
- 2018 American Association of Health and Human Services Attorneys (AAHHSA) Annual Education and Training Conference
American Public Human Services Association (APHSA)
October 13-17, Monterey, CA
- 15th Annual Connecting for Children's Justice Conference
Tennessee Chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers
October 14-16, Murfreesboro, TN
- JuST 2018 Conference
Shared Hope International
October 16-18, San Diego, CA
- 2018 International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement
University of Denver Colorado
October 16-19, Vail, CO
- 2018 Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health 29th Annual Conference
National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health
November 1-3, Houston, TX
- AFCC 13th Symposium on Child Custody
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
November 8-10, Denver, CO
- Council on Social Work Education 64th Annual Program Meeting
Council on Social Work Education
November 8-11, Orlando, FL
- APHA's 2018 Annual Meeting & Expo
American Public Health Association (APHA)
November 10-14, San Diego, CA
- 4th Annual CQI Community Conference
Illinois CQI Community Group
November 28-29, Champaign, IL
- 2018 CityMatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference
- Youth Thrive Course
Youth Thrive Course
The Center for the Study of Social Policy developed a course based on the key components of the Youth Thrive Framework, including understanding the impact of trauma on development; youth resilience; the importance of social connections; helping young people better understand their own development; concrete supports in times of need; and social, emotional, behavioral, intellectual, and moral competence in youth.
This intensive course is recommended for anyone involved with residential, educational, or community-based programs; services and supports for adolescents and their families; social services; parents, guardians, and adult allies; and others. The Youth Thrive Framework modules focus on the following themes:
- Young peoples' development
- Youth resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete supports in times of need
- Social, emotional, behavioral, intellectual, and moral competence in youth
This course consists of three 6-hour classes and participants receive a manual, handouts, and access to additional resources. For more information on the course, visit http://www.youthworkacademy.org/youth-thrive-framework/ or contact email@example.com. Please note that registration fees may apply.