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News From the Children's Bureau

  • Tools for Leaders: National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement

    Tools for Leaders: National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement

    Effective leadership is key to creating organizational change. In the latest issue of Managing Care (Vol. V, No. 1;, the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement's online publication, four departing child welfare directors offer tips and strategies for leaders seeking to make an impact.

    The directors--Jess McDonald of Illinois, Susan Dreyfus of Wisconsin, Chuck Harris of North Carolina, and Susan Chandler of Hawaii--discuss how they achieved program improvements by using data and outcomes, investing in prevention, focusing on worker training, and collaborating with community service providers, among other strategies. The issue also features recommended reading on leadership, additional resources, and an Agency Inventory and Assessment Tool designed to help child welfare administrators begin the change process by understanding how their agency is actually working.

    A service of the Children's Bureau, U.S. Administration for Children and Families, the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement provides training and technical assistance services to State, Tribal, and county child welfare agencies. The Center also offers a number of valuable resources through its website (, including training curricula, a catalog of relevant publications, and a teleconference series, Mapping the Changes: Using Child and Family Services Reviews to Achieve Outcomes for Children and Families.

    The Center's goal is to improve management and operations, bolster organizational capacity, promote service integration, and develop supervisory and management systems resulting in improved outcomes for children and families. For more information or to discuss technical assistance services, call (800) HELP KID or email

  • Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 Signed Into Law

    Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 Signed Into Law

    On June 25, 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-36). The Act reauthorizes the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), the Adoption Opportunities program, the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act, and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, authorizing funding for fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

    Some key provisions include:

    • Basic State Grant funding to improve the child protective services (CPS) system through attention to case management; training, supervision, recruitment, and retention of caseworkers; and improved reporting of suspected child maltreatment.
    • Grants for demonstration projects to support linkages between CPS agencies and public health, mental health, and developmental disabilities agencies.
    • A focus on the prevention of child abuse and neglect through support for community-based services to families.
    • Programs that increase the number of older foster children placed with adoptive families, including a grants program to eliminate barriers to placing children for adoption across jurisdictional boundaries.
    • Requirements for Abandoned Infants Assistance grantees to give priority to infants and young children who are infected with or exposed to HIV, have a life-threatening illness, or have been perinatally exposed to a dangerous drug.
    • Changes to State plan eligibility requirements, including policies and procedures to address the needs of infants born addicted to and identified as being affected by prenatal drug exposure; provisions and procedures to require a CPS representative to advise individuals of complaints and allegations against them at the initial contact; provisions requiring improved training of CPS workers regarding their legal duties, in order to protect the legal rights and safety of children and families; and provisions to require a State to disclose confidential information to any Federal, State, or local government entity with a need for such information.
    • Removal of the "nonprofit" restriction placed upon participating entities receiving Federal technical assistance.

    To access the full text of this legislation, visit THOMAS, the legislative tracking service of the Library of Congress, at|TOM:/bss/d108query.html|.

    Related Item

    Read more about the "Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003" in the March 2003 edition of Children's Bureau Express.

  • Congressional Summit Yields Recommendations for the Future of Child Welfare

    Congressional Summit Yields Recommendations for the Future of Child Welfare

    In response to concerns expressed by Members of Congress, the Center for the Study of Social Policy and its Center for Community Partnership in Child Welfare sponsored a Congressional Summit on November 18, 2002, to explore the challenges facing today's child welfare systems and to highlight innovative community approaches. Summit findings were released in April in the report, Looking to the Future—an Examination of the State of Child Welfare and Recommendations for Action.

    Twenty-one recommendations for changes to legislation and Federal policy are proposed in the report, clustered around the following five themes:

    • Prevention strategies for keeping children safe at home
    • Ensuring timely and appropriate decision-making: Workforce development
    • Strengthening permanency options and successful adoptions
    • Creating assets and supports for youth leaving foster care
    • Augmenting accountability

    A broad spectrum of child welfare stakeholders participated in the summit, including administrators, practitioners, parents, researchers, former foster youth, community advocates, judges, and legislators. While not all participants supported all recommendations, the report represents a broad consensus.

    The full text of the report, along with a 12-page executive summary, can be found on the Center for Community Partnership in Child Welfare website at A print copy of the report can be requested by emailing

  • HHS Assistant Secretary Testifies Before Congress on the President's Child Welfare Proposal

    HHS Assistant Secretary Testifies Before Congress on the President's Child Welfare Proposal

    The President's proposal for improving the child welfare system was the focus of testimony delivered by Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, to a House subcommittee on June 11. The proposal, included in the President's 2004 Budget, allows States the option to receive their foster care funding as a flexible grant for a period of 5 years or to maintain their programs as currently funded.

    In his testimony before the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Dr. Horn noted the Child Welfare Program Option "responds to criticisms about the current structure for addressing the needs of at-risk children and families and the Administration's desire to support innovation in addressing this critical issue."

    Under the new proposal, States could use the funds for a much broader range of programs than permitted under the current funding structure, including foster care payments, prevention activities, permanency efforts (including subsidized guardianships), case management, administrative activities (including developing and operating State information systems), training, and other service-related child welfare activities. States could also receive up-front funding to develop innovative programs that would result in cost savings in later years.

    States selecting the Child Welfare Program Option would still need to maintain child safety protections required under current Federal law, including those addressed in the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Though States would commit to the new funding structure for the full 5-year period, they would be able to access additional funding in a crisis through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) contingency fund.

    "The proposal would provide States with the flexibility to develop a child welfare system that supports a continuum of services to families in crisis and children at risk while removing the administrative burden of many of the current Federal requirements," said Dr. Horn. He concluded, "We believe this proposal will result in the development of innovative child welfare programs that ultimately will better serve vulnerable children."

    Dr. Horn's testimony was followed by a panel of invited witnesses that included:

    • Barbara Riley, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
    • Elaine M. Ryan, American Public Human Services Association
    • Dianne Edwards, on behalf of the County Welfare Directors Association of California
    • Terry Cross, National Indian Child Welfare Association

    A complete version of testimony by Dr. Horn and other witnesses is available on the Committee on Ways and Means website at

Child Welfare Research

  • Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification

    Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification

    Short-term gains achieved by family preservation programs do not appear to persist over time, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in December 2002. These conclusions are based on the evaluation of four family preservation and reunification programs in four States.

    Three States used the Homebuilders model, which provides in-home, short-term services to families in crisis, with an emphasis on changing family behavior. One State used a broader home-based model that focuses on changing how the family functions as a whole and within the community. In each State, the evaluation compared two groups of families whose children were considered to be at equal risk for out-of-home placement. One group received these specialized preservation and reunification services (experimental group); the other received typical child welfare services (control group).

    Findings included the following:

    • Rates of placement, child protective services case closings, and subsequent child maltreatment did not differ significantly between the experimental and control groups.
    • Some aspects of family functioning (e.g., economic functioning, household condition, child care practices, caretaker depression, and child behavior) improved, but these improvements often diminished over time.
    • In two States, significantly more families in the experimental group compared to the control group reported seeing "great improvement" in their lives.

    Some aspects of the evaluation design may have contributed to the lack of more positive results. For instance, family preservation services were designed for families whose children are at imminent risk of out-of-home placement. However, as indicated by the relatively low placement rate found in the control group, very few families served by these programs were actually at risk of placement.

    Based on these findings, the study's authors suggest family preservation programs may want to consider:

    • Shifting the focus from preventing placement to improving family and child functioning.
    • Focusing on specific groups of families (e.g., families with substance abuse problems or young, isolated mothers) instead of serving broad groups of families who are experiencing a wide variety of different problems.
    • Offering a variety of service lengths and intensities to meet the needs of each family.

    A full copy of the final evaluation report can be obtained at

    Related Item

    An interim evaluation report from this study was described in "Study Sheds Light on Family Preservation Programs" in the May/June 2001 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

  • Seeking Causes: Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare

    Seeking Causes: Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare

    Though it is well known certain racial and ethnic groups are overrepresented in the child welfare system, the reasons for this are not clear. In September 2002, the Children's Bureau hosted a Research Roundtable on Racial Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System in Washington, DC, to explore this topic further. Seven papers commissioned for that roundtable were recently published in a special issue of Children and Youth Services Review (25:5/6).

    By considering the ways in which children both enter and exit the child welfare system, the papers explore a number of possible explanations for racial and ethnic disproportionality. Some of the findings include:

    • Disproportionality may be more pronounced at some decision-making points (e.g., investigation) than at others (e.g., substantiation) (Fluke, Yuan, Hedderson, Curtis).
    • Family structure was found to be significant. Race and ethnicity were found to have a different effect on family reunification rates in two-parent families than in single-parent families (Harris and Courtney).
    • Changes in policy and practice may be effective over time in reducing racial and ethnic disproportionalities, particularly those arising from differences in duration of out-of-home care (Wulczyn).

    An eighth paper on the topic will appear in a forthcoming issue of Children and Youth Services Review. (Articles can be ordered online at All papers highlight the need for additional research in this area.

    Related Item

    Read more about racial disproportionality in child welfare in "Disproportionality in Juvenile Justice System May Have Roots in Child Welfare" in the December 2002/January 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

  • Former Foster Youth Spend Summer on Capitol Hill

    Former Foster Youth Spend Summer on Capitol Hill

    Eight former foster youth spent 6 weeks this summer on Capitol Hill serving as Congressional interns, as part of a program co-sponsored by the Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCAI). The Foster Youth Intern Program's goals are twofold: offer foster youth a prestigious Hill internship usually reserved for well-connected constituents, and make foster care and adoption real to Members of Congress and their staff by putting a face on the issues.

    The interns were selected from more than 80 applicants across the country. To be eligible, students must have completed at least their sophomore year of college and have spent their teen years in foster care or been adopted as a teen from the foster care system. During the program they participated in Congressional briefings on adoption issues and in social networking events. One highlight of this year's program was the opportunity to meet Bruce Willis, who came to Washington, DC, to premiere his latest movie and meet with Members of Congress to discuss foster care reform.

    Congressional participants included Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio).

    Funding for this year's program came from private foundations, including the Dave Thomas Foundation. Next year OFA and CCAI hope to place 75 interns on Capitol Hill and in Federal agencies that can further their career goals.

    OFA executive director Eileen McCaffrey notes, "Opening the door to government service through this program will help more foster youth enter the workforce and become tomorrow's good citizens."

  • New Research Sheds Light on Kinship Care Issues

    New Research Sheds Light on Kinship Care Issues

    Three research briefs published in April by the Urban Institute explore kinship placements and their impact on involved children and families. The briefs, When Child Welfare Agencies Rely on Voluntary Kinship Placements, Finding Permanent Homes for Foster Children: Issues Raised by Kinship Care, and Foster Children Placed with Relatives Often Receive Less Government Help, discuss the findings from intensive case studies of local kinship care policies and practices in 13 counties in Alabama, California, Connecticut, and Indiana, conducted during the spring and summer of 2001. Suggestions for practice and future research are also offered.

    Some of the findings include:

    • Practices regarding voluntary and private kinship care vary widely across States and, to a lesser degree, among counties within a State and among individual offices and workers within a county. (When Child Welfare Agencies Rely ...)
    • Child welfare agencies often pursue permanency less vigorously when children are placed with kin. (Finding Permanent Homes ...)
    • Birth parents may be less motivated to follow through with requirements for reunification when children are living with relatives. (Finding Permanent Homes ...)
    • Most relatives are willing to adopt; however, many kin face disincentives to adoption. (Finding Permanent Homes ...)
    • Kin generally receive fewer services than non-kin foster parents, despite often having fewer resources and greater needs. (Foster Children Placed with Relatives ...)

    Part of the Assessing the New Federalism project, the briefs can be found on the Urban Institute website at PublicationsbyTopic/Income/ChildWelfare/Child.htm.

    Additional Resources on Kinship Care:

    • Two recent articles in Child Welfare Journal also explore the impact of kinship care on families. "Training and Services for Kinship and Nonkinship Foster Families," in the November/December 2002 issue, finds few differences between kinship and nonkinship caregivers in terms of training or services, demographic characteristics, or foster children's problems. In the January/February 2003 issue, "A First Look at the Need for Enhanced Support Services for Kinship Caregivers" presents the findings from a series of focus groups with kinship caregivers. Abstracts of both articles can be found on the Child Welfare League of America website at
    • A literature review of research regarding kinship foster care, "Kinship Family Foster Care: A Methodological and Substantive Synthesis of Research," is available on the University of Tennessee website at and will appear in a future issue of Children and Youth Services Review.

    Related Items

    Read more about kinship care practices in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Kinship Care Policies Differ by State, Continue to Evolve" (March 2003)
    • "Kinship Caregiver Programs" (April 2002)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Meeting the Challenge: Recruiting and Retaining Quality Staff

    Meeting the Challenge: Recruiting and Retaining Quality Staff

    Research shows widespread problems such as poor pay, a lack of growth opportunities, and limited guidance and support pose great challenges to frontline social service workers, including those in the child welfare field. A new, in-depth study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation identifies the attributes of social service systems that have a real chance of recruiting and retaining quality workers who can make a difference for children and families.

    These attributes, detailed in the report The Unsolved Challenges of Systems Reform: The Condition of the Frontline Human Services Workforce, include:

    • Flexibility and freedom to recruit for the skills needed
    • Rewards for superior performance and effectiveness
    • Reasonable workloads that let workers deploy their skills
    • Career paths that build on workers' skills rather than moving them up and out
    • Clear performance expectations that relate to a coherent organizational mission
    • Training and development opportunities on the job
    • Ability to change bad management and supervision
    • Adequate base compensation that can help stem turnover

    The report, which addresses job conditions in the fields of child welfare, child care, juvenile justice, youth services, and employment and training, is available online from the Annie E. Casey Foundation at

    Related Items

    The Brookings Institution Center for Public Service released a study, The Health of the Human Services Workforce, that includes a survey of the same five sectors as the Annie E. Casey Foundation's research. The report is available online at

    Read more about workforce challenges in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

    • "GAO Reports on Child Welfare Staffing Challenges" (June/July 2003)
    • "News From the Child Welfare Training Resources (CWTR) Online Network: CWLA Releases Documents on Workforce Issues" (January 2002)
  • Building Successful Collaborations Between Child Welfare and Substance Abuse Treatment

    Building Successful Collaborations Between Child Welfare and Substance Abuse Treatment

    Studies suggest 40 to 80 percent of families in the child welfare system are affected by parental addiction to drugs or alcohol, but treatment services, especially those that allow families to stay together, are relatively scarce. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA), which set time limits on reunification services for families and accelerated the permanency planning process, created new challenges for these families and the systems that serve them.

    Safe & Sound: Models for Collaboration Between the Child Welfare & Addiction Treatment Systems, a new report by the Legal Action Center, provides background on the problems of addiction in the child welfare system, discusses ASFA's implications for families at risk, and presents case studies of two local collaborations among addiction treatment, child welfare, and family court systems.

    Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Cook County, Illinois, were selected to represent a county-administered and a State-administered child welfare system, respectively, that recognize the role of parental addiction. The report documents how these systems have taken steps to facilitate collaboration, along with the continuing challenges they face. A model for addressing addiction among families involved in the child welfare system presents promising approaches from each case study. The model includes suggestions for identifying funding, developing criteria for assessments, cross-training, and questionnaires for treatment providers and child welfare agencies.

    The report is available online from the Legal Action Center at

    Related Items

    Read more about links between substance abuse and child welfare in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

    • "HHS Launches National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare" (October 2002)
    • "CWLA Addresses Intersection Between Substance Abuse and Child Abuse" (November/December 2001)


  • Compassion Capital Fund Website Launches

    Compassion Capital Fund Website Launches

    The Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) launched its website in June 2003. CCF was created to help faith-based and community groups build capacity and improve their ability to provide social services to those in need.

    The site ( offers helpful information about the fund, a detailed introduction to the history and purpose of the CCF National Resource Center, links to funding announcements and applications, and a toolkit for faith-based and community organizations. It also provides links to the 21 "intermediary organizations" whose purpose is to help smaller organizations operate and manage their programs effectively, access funding from varied sources, develop and train staff, expand the types and reach of social services programs in their communities, and replicate promising programs.

    You can contact the Resource Center at (703) 752-4331 or for more information.

  • Parenting Newsletters Provide the Right Information at the Right Time

    Parenting Newsletters Provide the Right Information at the Right Time

    An online collection of "just in time" parenting newsletters provides developmental information, answers to common questions and concerns, and other age-appropriate tips for parents of children from birth to age 5. Each newsletter covers a specific period in a child's life (usually 1 to 3 months at a time) and is short (no more than four pages) and easy to read. Some information in the newsletters is State specific. All newsletters are in English; some are also available in Spanish.

    The newsletters are produced and distributed by the National Network of Extension Specialists in Child Development and Family Life, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. Some of the nation's leading universities participated in the research and development of their States' newsletter series.

    The newsletters can be found on the Just in Time Parenting Information website at

  • National Review of State Child Protective Services Policies

    National Review of State Child Protective Services Policies

    State child protective services (CPS) policies generally appear to reflect Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requirements and principles recommended by such professional organizations as the Child Welfare League of America, according to a recently released report, National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts: Review of State CPS Policy. There were, however, wide variations among the States in terms of specific details. Information from this report may be useful for States that are revising their CPS policies.

    Other key findings include:

    • Much of the responsibility for carrying out CPS policies rests at the county or local level.
    • Nearly all States included the four major types of maltreatment discussed in CAPTA in their policies, and many included additional types as well.
    • 23 States specified high evidentiary standards for substantiating maltreatment.
    • Timeframes for completing investigations ranged from 2 weeks to more than 4 weeks.
    • 20 States indicated that they offer alternative responses to address child or family needs in cases where it was not determined that maltreatment occurred. Types of alternative responses varied widely.

    The National Study, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was initiated to examine the current status of CPS systems and improvements. The Review of State CPS Policy is one of five study components. The study also includes a literature review (released in May 2001), a local agency survey report (published in April 2003), a site visit report, and a symposium background paper and proceedings document (both forthcoming in 2003).

    Print copies of the reports may be requested from:

    Human Services Policy, Room 404E
    Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    200 Independence Ave, SW
    Washington, DC 20201
    Fax: (202) 690-6562

    More information about the National Study and links to electronic copies of the reports (as they become available) can be found at

    Related Item

    For more information about the literature review, see "Lit Review Looks at Changes in CPS" in the July/August 2001 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

  • Creative Funding for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Programs

    Creative Funding for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Programs

    A new publication, Funding the Work: Community Efforts to End Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, provides valuable information for community organizations seeking to end domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. Primarily focused on Federal funding opportunities from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), the document also offers suggestions for seeking funding from State and local governments, private foundations, and corporations.

    This paper arose out of the Greenbook Initiative--a collaboration between HHS and DOJ to address the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child maltreatment in six pilot sites. It contains a number of innovative examples of how organizations around the country have drawn on available resources to fund their work.

    Funding the Work is published by the American Public Human Services Association, through a subcontract with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and in collaboration with the Family Violence Prevention Fund. It is available online, along with further information about the Greenbook Initiative, at A limited number of print copies are available from:

    American Public Human Services Association
    810 First Street NE, Suite 500
    Washington, DC 20002
    Phone: (202) 682-0100

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.

  • Managing for Results in Child Welfare

    Managing for Results in Child Welfare

    The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) asks child welfare managers to achieve more specific results in shorter periods of time, while continuing to ensure child safety. A training developed by the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare is designed to help managers meet this challenge and realize better outcomes for children and families.

    Results-Oriented Management in Child Welfare is an online training course and learning community for public child welfare managers and front-line supervisors. The training is self-paced and open-ended; participants can complete as many or as few of the modules as they choose. A total of 25 interactive modules are being developed in three sections:

    • Section 1: Policy Context for Child Welfare Practice. This section covers the main points of ASFA and other relevant legislation from the perspective of managing field operations.
    • Section 2: Overview of Managing for Results. This section covers performance measurement in child welfare, outcomes measurement, and factors that affect data usage.
    • Section 3: Evidence-Based Practice for Achieving Outcomes. This section presents practices documented in the child welfare literature as well as other practices that show potential for improving outcomes.

    Free registration is required to access the training modules. Participants who finish all 25 will earn a certificate of completion.

    The training was developed in collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Division of Children and Family Services, as a result of a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. It can be accessed on the University of Kansas website at

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through November 2003 include:


    • 14th National Family Preservation Conference "Teaming for Families and Communities: Walking the Talk" (New Mexico State University School of Social Work; September 3 through 5, San Antonio, TX;—this link is no longer available).
    • 4th International Respite Conference 2003 "A Universal Break: Respite for Caregivers" (ARCH National Respite Network; September 16 through 19, Orlando, FL;
    • 8th International Conference on Family Violence Advocacy, Assessment, Intervention, Research, Prevention and Policy (Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute; September 16 through 20, San Diego, CA;—this link is no longer available).
    • First National Symposium for Community Building and Child Welfare "Building Communities for 21st-Century Child Welfare" (Child Welfare League of America; September 22 through 24, Albany, NY;
    • 15th Annual ATTACh Conference on Attachment and Bonding (Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children; September 24 through 27, Pittsburgh, PA;— this link is no longer available).



    • Children's Rights Council 14th National Conference "Effecting Positive Outcomes for Children" (November 7 through 8, Hanover, MD;
    • Tools that Work: Improving Child Welfare Services Through Research, Performance Measurement, and Information Technology (CWLA Walker Trieschman Center; November 12 through 14, Miami, FL;
    • Federation for Children's Mental Health 15th Annual Conference "Families Deserve the Best ... Promising Interventions and Best Practices for Serving Children with Mental Health Needs" (November 20 through 23, Washington, DC;

    Further details about national and regional child welfare conferences can be found in the "conferences" section on the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website at

    Further details about national and regional adoption conferences can be found in the "conferences" section on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website at