Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

June 2015Vol. 16, No. 5Spotlight on Transitioning Youth

This month, CBX focuses on the challenges faced by youth in foster care transitioning to adulthood, as well as the supports and services they may need for a successful transition. We feature a financial empowerment toolkit for youth, a brief highlighting promising programs and policies for assisting transitioning youth, and more.

Issue Spotlight

  • Financial Empowerment Toolkit for Youth

    Financial Empowerment Toolkit for Youth

    A toolkit is now available to help caseworkers, Independent Living services providers, foster parents, and other supportive adults promote the financial understanding and capabilities of youth in foster care. Many youth who transition out of foster care as young adults will become responsible for their own financial situations, and they may not have sufficient support systems and guidance to be successful. The toolkit provides important information on financial education, opportunities for practicing financial skills, and resources to help youth navigate their finances.

    The toolkit, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Children, Youth and Families and the Office of Community Services, features a guide that includes sections covering the following topics:

    • The Importance of Financial Capability for Young People—Reviews financial capability terms and concepts and discusses why financial capability is important for youth in transition
    • Financial Capability Concepts—Explains how core financial capability concepts apply to youth transitioning out of foster care
    • Service Delivery Strategies—Addresses how to integrate financial capability into programs working with youth in foster care

    The guide also highlights tools for youth, programs that work with youth, and additional resources for programs looking to integrate financial capability approaches. Tools to help youth interpret their credit reports, learn about taxes, build their credit, and protect themselves and their possessions with insurance also are included in the toolkit.

    Access The Financial Empowerment Toolkit for Youth and Young Adults in Foster Care on the Children's Bureau website at

  • Risks for Youth Transitioning to Adulthood

    Risks for Youth Transitioning to Adulthood

    Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Child Trends investigated the risk patterns for youth as they transition to adulthood. The study focused on youths' and young adults' issues with heavy alcohol use, criminal behavior, and financial hardship and analyzed findings based on a variety of factors, including gender, race/ethnicity, and whether the individuals were native or foreign born. The study followed the youth as they moved from their late teens or early twenties (Wave III of the study) to their late twenties and early thirties (Wave IV). The following key findings were reported in the research brief for this study:

    • Young adults who had minimal problems in Wave III tended to continue to maintain a low risk level in Wave IV.
    • Young adults who had moderate or multiple problems in Wave III tended to have fewer problems in Wave IV.
    • Female young adults had fewer problems than males during both periods.
    • Foreign-born young adults had fewer problems than native-born young adults.
    • Compared to young adults who are Black, Latino, or of other races or ethnicities, White young adults are the least likely to have minimal problems and most likely to have multiple problems.

    The research brief Transitioning to Adulthood: How Do Young Adults Fare and What Characteristics Are Associated With a Lower-Risk Transition, by M. Terzian, K. Moore, and N. Constance, is available on the Child Trends website at (506 KB).

  • Using SOAR With Transition-Age Youth

    Using SOAR With Transition-Age Youth

    In March 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SOAR Technical Assistance (TA) Center hosted a webinar on increasing access to Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), among transition-age youth in foster care. Studies indicate that this youth population has higher rates of disability than their peers and, as a result, experience homelessness or are at a much greater risk of homelessness upon leaving care. Transition-age youth may also lack the knowledge and skills needed to understand and apply for SSA benefits. To address this need, the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) model was created to help increase access to and approval rates for SSA benefits for transition-age youth at risk for or experiencing homelessness.

    The webinar features presentations by a diverse group of SOAR providers and experts who have been successful in helping youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness access SSA benefits. A new issue brief is introduced and explores transition-age youth homelessness, SSA benefits, and SOAR's intensive engagement process and holistic approach to applying for SSI and SSDI benefits. The webinar and related materials, including the issue brief, are available on the TA Center website.

    Access the webinar and presentation at

    Access the issue brief Ending Youth Homelessness: Using SOAR to Increase Access to SSA Disability Benefits for Transition Age Youth, by A. Lemon, at (422 KB).

  • Improving Services for Transitioning Youth With Disabilities

    Improving Services for Transitioning Youth With Disabilities

    A new publication, The 2020 Federal Youth Transition Plan: A Federal Interagency Strategy, presents a framework developed by Federal Partners in Transition (FPT) Workgroup to improve transition outcomes for youth with disabilities. In the context of youth development, the term "transition" refers to the period of time in which adolescents are moving into adulthood and are often concerned with planning for postsecondary education, careers, health care, financial self-sufficiency, housing, and living independently. It can be a challenging process for any youth, and particularly so for young people with disabilities. Child welfare professionals working with youth with disabilities may be interested to know that research shows transitioning youth with access to appropriate support services—including community engagement, educational opportunities/vocational training, obtaining employment, finding stable housing, and accessing health care—achieve better outcomes.

    FPT was created in 2005 to improve interagency coordination across the disability-related and general service systems with the aim of enhancing youths' access to needed services. The workgroup includes representatives of several Federal agencies, including the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration.

    The goal of the plan is to improve outcomes by 2020 by enhancing interagency coordination, developing compatible goals between agencies, and helping agencies approach transition in a more integrated way. The FPT interagency strategy is based on the following two assumptions:

    • Each of the Federal agencies and their respective programs contribute to positive transition outcomes in different ways within the context of their own unique programs' missions and statutory mandates. Although the agencies differ in terms of approach and terminology, targeted populations, and even the "way of doing business," much of the work is, in fact, complementary.
    • Each agency, within the bounds of statutory authority, will continue to collaborate, coordinate, and contribute collectively to meeting the compatible outcome goals, and each is committed and accountable to meet one or more goals. Most of these goals apply across youth transition programs and policies, regardless of systems.

    The components of the plan include a discussion of the positive impact of cross-systems coordination on youths' outcomes, examples of current Federal cross-systems initiatives that support the FPT compatible outcome goals, and policy priorities that will inform FPT's work going forward.

    The 2020 Federal Youth Transition Plan: A Federal Interagency Strategy is available at (315 KB).

  • Access to Opportunities for Transitioning Youth

    Access to Opportunities for Transitioning Youth

    The journey from adolescence to adulthood can be a challenging time for any young person. For older youth in foster care transitioning to independence, this journey can be especially difficult. Youth in care may lack the support networks and healthy relationships helpful during this time of transition, and many youth encounter barriers to accessing basic resources such as housing, health care, and postsecondary education and employment opportunities. The good news is that there are programs and policies that can help.

    A policy brief developed by the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) explores the challenges transitioning youth face in three specific areas of need: sustainable social capital, permanency supports, and postsecondary opportunities. The brief examines the challenges and barriers in each area and identifies promising programs and policies currently in place to assist older youth in foster care in their transition to a healthy and successful adult life.
    Additionally, the brief presents several recommendations for State and Federal policymakers, service providers, researchers, and others related to:

    • Increasing investments
    • Highlighting postsecondary options
    • Systems coordination
    • Developing professional capacity
    • Engaging youth in decision-making
    • Expanding the conversation from "transitioning out of foster care" to "transitioning to opportunities" by including stakeholders from the child welfare, education, court, housing, workforce, and other related systems

    Creating Access to Opportunities for Youth Transitioning From Foster Care, by E. Russ and G. Fryar, is available on the AYPF website at (1 MB).

  • Chafee Foster Care Independence Program Evaluation

    Chafee Foster Care Independence Program Evaluation

    In preparation for future evaluation of activities funded by the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), contracted the Urban Institute and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago in 2012 to begin the evaluation planning process. Created by the Foster Care Independence Act (FCIA) as an amendment to title IV-E of the Social Security Act, CFCIP provides assistance for youth currently in or transitioning out of foster care to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

    States and Tribes with approved CFCIP plans receive grants to help youth with education, employment, financial management, housing, and other supports. The FCIA further required that some Chafee funds be earmarked for the evaluation of promising Independent Living programs. ACF completed an initial assessment of four programs in 2011. This next round of evaluations will build on the knowledge gained from this first process in order to expand upon current understanding regarding the efficacy of specific Independent Living programs.

    The Urban Institute and Chapin Hall recently published a project overview and a series of issue briefs presenting initial results from their planning process. Preparing for a "Next Generation" Evaluation of Independent Living Programs for Youth in Foster Care, the project overview piece, shares a conceptual framework, typology, and key conclusions from these planning efforts. Access the overview on ACF's Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) website at (397 KB).

    The first issue brief examines current knowledge regarding the educational attainment of youth in foster care and the effectiveness of educational programs. Access Supporting Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care—Issue Brief 1: Education Programs at (384 KB).

    Supporting Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care—Issue Brief 2: Financial Literacy and Asset Building Programs addresses the challenges to financial stability faced by youth transitioning out of foster care, as well as the effectiveness of financial literacy programs. Access the issue brief at (360 KB).

    The third issue brief discusses the employment outcomes of youth formerly in foster care and the effectiveness of employment programs. Access Supporting Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care—Issue Brief 3: Employment Programs at (391 KB).

    For more information on this evaluation project, visit the OPRE website at

    Recent Issues

  • July/August 2024

    Spotlight on Youth, Authentic Youth Engagement, and Lived Experience

    Spotlight on Youth, Authentic Youth Engagement, and Lived Experience

  • June 2024

    Spotlight on Reunification

    Spotlight on Reunification

News From the Children's Bureau

This month's "Associate Commissioner's Page" features part two of a conversation between the Associate Commissioner and a young foster care alumna, in which they discuss challenges often faced by youth transitioning to independent living. Nominations for the annual Adoption Excellence Awards are now being accepted, and a new issue brief on immigration and child welfare is now available.

  • Issue Brief on Immigration and Child Welfare

    Issue Brief on Immigration and Child Welfare

    A new resource from Child Welfare Information Gateway explores child welfare's work with immigrant children and families and examines current issues related to immigration and child welfare. Immigrant families often face a number of stresses in addition to the everyday challenges of family life. Many families are not able to migrate together, and these transnational families may deal with long periods of separation. Language barriers can make it difficult for parents to find a job and access services and for children to excel in their studies. Families who have fled dangerous or violent situations in their home countries may also face trauma-related issues.

    This issue brief gives a quick overview of the history of child welfare and immigration, provides current statistics and data related to immigrant families involved with child welfare, and addresses relevant policies and legislation affecting immigrant families and child welfare service delivery. The brief also offers information and strategies for working with immigrant families as well as providing culturally competent and trauma-informed practice. Resources for professionals, immigrant families, and immigrant youth are also included.

    Access Immigration and Child Welfare on the information Gateway website at

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express spotlighted child welfare and immigration in the July 2013 issue and topics related to diverse populations in child welfare, including immigrant children and families, in the February 2015 issue.

  • Certificate Program on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

    Certificate Program on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

    Georgetown University in Washington, DC, will host the 2015 School-Justice Partnerships Certificate Program: "Fostering Success for Youth at Risk." From September 28 to October 2, school and district staff, court professionals, juvenile justice, law enforcement, and other child-serving community leaders will have the opportunity to receive training and support aimed at helping them better address the long- and short-term needs of youth who are in or at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system.

    The certificate program is a partnership between the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy and the American Institutes for Research. The program will include training and support in the following areas:

    • For school and district staff: Positive management of school and classroom behavior, and creating safe and supportive learning environments for all students
    • For law enforcement, courts, and leaders from public agencies: Working with schools and school districts toward the creation of environments outside of school that promote better academic and social outcomes for youth

    The application window for the certificate program is now open through July 10, 2015. For more information about the program, including selection criteria, curriculum, instructors, and tuition, visit the program website at Questions may be directed to

  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more.

    Recent additions to the site include:

    • Bridging the Partner Gap - Best Practices and Working With the Courts – This webinar addresses the challenges, successes, and the implications related to sharing information between Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services and Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts:
    • Developing Interventions to Increase Permanence for LGBTQ, African-American, and American Indian Children in Foster Care, Part One: Operationalizing Interventions – This webinar was developed by the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) Training and Technical Assistance Team and two grantees, the California Partners for Permanency and the Los Angeles lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Center's RISE project:
    • Developing Interventions to Increase Permanence for LGBTQ, African-American, and American Indian Children in Foster Care, Part Two: Developing Fidelity Measures – This webinar was developed by the PII Training and Technical Assistance Team and two grantees, the California Partners for Permanency and the Los Angeles LGBT Center's RISE project:

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

  • Associate Commissioner's Page

    Associate Commissioner's Page

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

    Transitioning from youth into adulthood is an important, and often confusing, stage in everyone's life. For youth in foster care, it can be an especially challenging time. Youth in foster care who are transitioning to independent living often must do so without the supports that youth who are not in care may have. This can include a lack of permanent and meaningful connections to family or other caring adults, or difficulty finding safe and stable housing.

    This month, I would like to share the second half of my interview with Athena, a young woman formerly in care whose story illustrates the challenges often faced by youth in transition. The first half of our conversation was featured in CBX's May 2015 National Foster Care Month issue. Athena first entered foster care at the age of 8 and again at 14. She remained in care and experienced a number of placements until she was adopted at age 19. Although Athena now has the stability and permanence with her adoptive family that she craved as a child, the years leading up to her adoption were filled with the uncertainty of a young person facing adulthood without a permanent support structure. This month, Athena shares with us her experiences as an older youth in foster care preparing for adulthood.

    Joo: Previously, you mentioned that you were never consulted about your wishes as far as case plan goals or a permanency plan. What about a transition plan? Did your caseworker work with you to create a plan to help you transition to independent living?

    Athena: I never really had a transition plan, at least nothing written down. The goal was that I would enter transitional housing at age 21. When I turned 18, I was in panic mode. I worked to save every penny to create a cushion to fall back on. I was scared—I was in a temporary environment with little supervision, and many kids might have turned to drugs or gotten into other bad things. But I wanted to get my ducks in a row so I would be ready for when I turned 18 and might be homeless. However, my foster mother at the time helped me find a foster home through the Five Acres organization that was willing to care for me until age 21, so I applied for extended foster care assistance in my home State of California. I actually ended up being adopted by this last foster family.

    Joo: Were you provided all of your important documents, like a State ID/driver's license, Social Security card, birth certificate, contact information for family members, health and education records, etc.?

    Athena: When I started working at age 16, I needed to get a Social Security card and drivers permit, and I got those on my own. When I got adopted, my caseworker handed me a huge file with my immunization records, birth certificate, etc. I found that they were very organized about it, and that was helpful.

    Joo: There is new legislation (such as the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act) that aims to promote normalcy for children and youth in foster care. You mentioned that you have two younger siblings, whom you were separated from when you all entered foster care. It seems that you and your siblings have had very different experiences. How have these differences around normalcy and the lack of a clear transition plan affected you and your siblings?

    Athena: Mine was not a normal childhood. I had more than 10 placements from the time I was 14 years old. I witnessed too much, dealt with depression and anxiety, and was put on medication for it. But because I went through those things, I knew how to help my siblings direct their path. I was proactive about my relationship with them and made sure they were kept together. They feel less isolated being together, and they can rely on each other. When I was my sister's age and in foster care, I was in a state of panic and survival mode—making sure I made all the right moves and didn't miss opportunities to find supports I needed. I never gave myself the room to have the normal adolescent years, so I feel I missed out. My sister doesn't have that same panic—she is free to be a high school kid, and she knows she has me to fall back on. Because my siblings have been in the same foster home for more than 4 years, they've been able to have more stable relationships. They've had the same friends and other people in their lives, and they have stable supports and relationships to model after.

    Joo: Do you have any advice for youth who are or will be transitioning out of foster care?

    Athena: I would tell transitioning youth to try and set themselves up in an environment that will facilitate their goals. For example, if your goal is to go to university, try to move into an area close to a university. If you don't know what your goals are yet, think about what you DO know will happen, and prepare yourself for that. Take it one step at a time. If you're going to be emancipated, then prepare for emancipation and gain some stability that way. Once you have some stability, you can reevaluate your goals.

    Joo: Do you have any advice for the child welfare professionals working with these youth?

    Athena: For caseworkers, I say ask questions. I didn't ask questions when I was in care, so caseworkers need to do that. It's about setting youth up for their future. Know what youth want for their goals. If they don't have concrete goals, reach out and help them create goals. Some youth may resent being told what the best option is for them, instead of being asked. They're more likely to follow a plan and succeed if they've had a say in it. The youth I've talked to say they felt like the foster care system failed them when they had to emancipate. Foster care shouldn't be permanent—it should be a temporary solution.

  • Health Screenings for Children in Foster Care

    Health Screenings for Children in Foster Care

    To ensure children in foster care receive the health services needed to address their medical, developmental, and mental health issues, the Social Security Act requires that States have a plan for the oversight and coordination of health services. This ongoing coordination of services includes establishing a schedule for initial and periodic screenings, which may include medical, dental, hearing, vision, mental health, and other assessments. In addition, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is responsible for monitoring the delivery of health services as part of its oversight of States' foster care programs. A new report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services examines whether children in foster care receive required health screenings according to their States' schedules.

    Four States with large foster care populations (California, Illinois, New York, and Texas) were studied to determine whether children in foster care received health screenings required in each State's plan. Researchers examined a random sample of 100 children who were in foster care in each of the four States and enrolled in Medicaid between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. They also interviewed ACF staff to determine whether ACF ensures that the required screenings were received. Results from the study include the following findings:

    • Nearly one-third of children in foster care who were enrolled in Medicaid did not receive at least one required health screening.
    • Over one-quarter of children in foster care who were enrolled in Medicaid received at least one required health screening late.
    • ACF's reviews do not ensure that children in foster care receive required health screenings according to State schedules.

    Recommendations for addressing these issues include:

    • Expand the scope of ACF's Child and Family Services Reviews to determine whether required screenings are received according to the timeframes indicated in States' plans
    • Identify and disseminating State strategies to ensure that all children in foster care receive required screenings
    • Identify barriers preventing children in foster care from receiving required screenings
    • Identify, disseminate, and implement strategies for overcoming those barriers

    The report Not All Children in Foster Care Received Required Health Screenings is available on the OIG website at (453 KB).

  • Nomination Open for Adoption Excellence Awards

    Nomination Open for Adoption Excellence Awards

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau established the Adoption Excellence Awards in 1997 to honor States, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families who have made significant contributions to the successful adoption of children from foster care. The awards highlight leadership and innovation in the commitment toward rebuilding the lives of children in foster care and those who are waiting for adoption.

    Nominations are now being accepted for the 2015 Adoption Excellence Awards, and all nominations must be received by COB Friday, July 31, 2015. Awards will be presented in the following categories:

    • Family Contributions
    • Individuals/Professionals
    • Business Contributions/Initiatives
    • Media/Social Media/Public Awareness of Adoption From Foster Care
    • Child Welfare/Judicial Systemic Change

    Anyone may nominate one or more candidates, and self-nominations are welcomed. Nominations will be reviewed and scored by a panel of recognized experts in the adoption field, including members from Federal and State agencies, and multiple awards may be given in each category. A description of the award categories, eligibility and selection criteria, nomination forms, and a list of previous years' winners are available on the Children's Bureau website at

    If you have questions about the award, please contact LaChundra Lindsey at or 202.205.8252.

  • CFSR Factsheet for Tribes

    CFSR Factsheet for Tribes

    The Children's Bureau developed a series of factsheets to help specific groups better understand the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs), with one highlighting issues that are pertinent to Tribal child welfare officials. It provides background information on the CFSRs, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and the overlap of the two. The factsheet also describes findings related to Tribal child welfare from the CFSRs and how Tribal partners can be involved in the CFSR process.

    Children's Bureau Child and Family Services Reviews Fact Sheet for Tribal Child Welfare Officials is available at (310 KB), and the suite of factsheets is available on the Children's Bureau website at

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

We highlight four grantee site visits this month whose activities focus on using family group decision-making with target populations, improving early education services for children in foster care, and using family group conferencing to improve child welfare outcomes.

  • Site Visit: North Florida Child Welfare-Early Education Partnership

    Site Visit: North Florida Child Welfare-Early Education Partnership

    In 2010, a group of human services agencies in Duval County, FL, evaluated the services offered to children in the community who were between birth and the age of 3, and were also involved with child welfare. Although there were services available for school-age children and youth in transition (18 to 23 years of age), there were very few coordinated services available for preschool children. With Family Support Services of North Florida (FSSNF) as the lead agency, the group focused on providing services for young children in foster care through a 17-month grant within the Children's Bureau's Child Welfare-Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children With Child Welfare Involvement grant cluster. The Child Welfare-Early Education Partnership (CW-EEP) was formed, and its primary objective was to improve child care and early education services for young children in foster care, thereby improving educational outcomes for these children, and to increase the number of children in foster care enrolled in high-quality early education programs.

    It was determined that the following issues existed and would need to be addressed:

    • Caregivers and child welfare caseworkers did not clearly understand the benefits and importance of early childhood education.
    • Caregivers and child welfare caseworkers were not aware of the local resources available to help children access high-quality early childhood education programs.
    • Agencies mutually serving this population of children had limited interaction and few guidelines for working together.
    • Child welfare caseworkers and child care providers had limited interaction or exchange of information about jointly served children.
    • Child care subsidy referrals were not consistently processed.

    The project implemented several strategies, which are outlined below.

    Electronic child care subsidy application process: The CW-EEP developed a process for online completion and submission of the child care subsidy application that allows caseworkers to track the approval process. Project staff indicated that the new process holds both entities accountable for the application and approval process.


    • Foster parents—One night of PRIDE1 training is dedicated to teaching prospective foster parents about the importance of early childhood education and high-quality child care, why and how to select high-quality child care and early education providers, and the Guiding Starsprogram. In addition, a short training video describing the importance and benefits of early education, key indicators of quality child care and early education programs, and local service providers was developed by the project.
    • Child welfare caseworkers—The initial training for child welfare caseworkers includes a 2-hour presentation on the benefits of early childhood education.
    • Child care center staff—The role of the child welfare caseworker and the child protective service process are described to child care and early education services staff in Child Welfare 101 training. Training on trauma-informed care and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) were also provided to child care center staff. PBIS is a classroom management technique used with children who have behavioral issues.
    • Early education specialists—These specialists participated in a 5-day train-the-trainer course in PBIS.

    Foster parent requirement: Prior to being licensed, prospective foster parents are required to explore, select, and contact three child care providers from the Guiding Stars program to discuss using their services if a child under 5 years of age is placed in their home.

    CW-EEP Certification program: Child care providers can participate in the certification program and become preferred providers for young children in foster care. The child care directors participate in a 10-hour training course that includes Child Welfare 101, trauma-informed care, and PBIS. The child care director then presents a 2-hour summary training to their staff.

    Tracking system for young children in child care: CW-EEP developed a data system to ensure the number of children in foster care enrolled in Early Head Start, Head Start, or other quality child care programs was collected on a regular basis.

    The project's goal for increased enrollment of children in quality early childhood programs was 20 percent. The project far exceeded this goal—enrollment in quality early childhood programs increased 52 percent during the 17-month grant period.

    For more information on this project, contact Cynthia Harpman at The full site visit report for this project will soon be available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at

    The North Florida Child Welfare-Early Education Partnership project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CO1065). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from site visits made on behalf of the Children's Bureau.

    1 PRIDE is the training for prospective foster parents.
    2 The Guiding Stars program is a voluntary quality rating improvement system of child care providers in Duval County (

  • Site Visit: Nurturing the Resiliency in Wayne County Families

    Site Visit: Nurturing the Resiliency in Wayne County Families

    Using a Children's Bureau Family Connection grant, Homes for Black Children (HBC) developed and implemented the Nurturing the Resiliency in Wayne County Families: Rethinking the Family Decision-Making Model as Community-Centered Child and Family Work project (Resiliency Project). The focus of the project was to provide family group decision-making (FGDM) and other well-being services to the target population—African-American families at risk of having their children enter the foster care system or who have experienced recent reunification with their children. To develop and implement the project, HBC partnered with the Wayne County Department of Human Services (DHS), which was the primary referral source. DHS referred all Category IV1 cases to the Resiliency Project.

    As a demonstration project, the Resiliency Project established a treatment group and a comparison group. All families referred to the Resiliency Project are assigned to a family resiliency coordinator and a parent advocate/mentor, and are offered the standard services provided by HBC. The treatment group is comprised of those families that chose to participate in the FGDM meeting process in addition to HBC's standard services. The comparison group is made up of those families who received the standard services from HBC but did not choose to participate in the FGDM meeting process.

    Through the Resiliency Project, HBC offers a continuum of services and activities developed to assist families in strengthening child protective factors and decreasing stressors. It provides emotional and concrete supports, parent education, and assistance in creating/improving supportive social and familial connections. The project worked to improve child and family well-being through the use of four core strategies that support and build on the family's strengths:

    • FGDM—a process that includes a family meeting that brings family members together to build on family strengths in order to resolve issues, help assure child safety, and ultimately improve family well-being
    • Solution-based family counseling—individual and family counseling offered through HBC that engages family members in identifying successful coping skills and resources used in the past to help them resolve current challenges
    • Parent advocates/mentors—provide daily emotional support to participants and, through extensive research and networking, seek and generally find resources for families
    • Family well-being cluster—includes collaborative partners and providers committed to serving the families participating in the project, as well as services and cultural, educational, and recreational activities offered internally by HBC to participants and their families

    The project aims to meet families where they are and assist them in improving communication, strengthening relationships, and moving toward self-sufficiency.

    For more information, contact Jacquelynn Moffett, Project Director, at The full site visit report for this project will soon be available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at

    The Nurturing the Resiliency in Wayne County Families: Rethinking the Family Decision-Making Model as Community-Centered Child and Family Work project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CF0029). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from site visits made on behalf of the Children's Bureau.

    1 Category IV cases are the families in which child abuse and/or neglect were unsubstantiated, but DHS found that the families were experiencing issues that would benefit from further intervention.

  • Site Visit: Families United Family Group Conferencing Program

    Site Visit: Families United Family Group Conferencing Program

    Using a Children's Bureau Family Connection grant, the Youth and Family Services Division (YFS) of the San Diego YMCA, in partnership with San Diego County Child Welfare Services (CWS), Casey Family Programs, and Harder and Company Community Research, developed and implemented the Families United Family Group Conferencing Program. The project uses a regionalized service delivery model based on the Guidelines for Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare1 created by the American Humane Association. This demonstration project is measuring whether the use of Family Group Conferencing (FGC), which supports families in finding their own solutions to problems, will improve child welfare outcomes.

    The signed San Diego County Memorandum of Agreement requires that all CWS voluntary2 cases be referred to Families United. Initially, the treatment group and the comparison group both consisted of voluntary cases selected at random; however, the referrals that were received did not meet the projected number of cases. Therefore, 2 years into the project, Families United, with the Children's Bureau's approval, expanded the types of cases accepted in the project to include families receiving services from Kinship Support, a kinship program administered by YMCA Families United; CWS court-dependent cases; and cases of youth in long-term residential placements without a permanent family resource or a permanent connection. The evaluation process and methodology was modified to adjust for the changes in case type and case randomization.

    During part of the grant period, the FGC coordinators were colocated in two CWS offices in the county, which allowed them to attend and participate in multidisciplinary team meetings with CWS social workers, discuss cases with the assigned social worker, participate in case planning, and promote the project as a beneficial service to families served by CWS.

    Project staff, under the direction of Casey Family Programs, conducted Permanency Roundtables3 for 10 youth in long-term residential placements who did not have a permanent family resource or a permanent connection. In addition to the Permanency Roundtable, Family Finding4 was used to locate family members who may be a resource for the youth. Family members, once located, were invited to participate with the youth in an FGC meeting with the goal of establishing permanency for the youth with a family member.

    The project evaluators, in conjunction with the Advisory Team, developed a toolkit that will provide other grantees, as well as entities considering applying for a demonstration grant, with guidance on how to work with community partners on a grant and how to sustain effective collaboration in a research-based project.

    The project evaluation uses both process and outcome evaluations. The process evaluation assesses the implementation of the project, fidelity to the model, integration of FGC into the CWS process, and the achievement of project goals. The outcome evaluation uses the randomized controlled trial design to assess the effectiveness of the FGC compared with the typical CWS processes. The outcomes evaluation examines improvements in child and family well-being and the capacity to resolve the issues that led to CWS involvement.

    For more information on this project, contact Danielle Zuniga at The full site visit report will soon be available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at

    The Families United Family Group Conferencing Program is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CF0027). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from site visits made on behalf of the Children's Bureau.

    1 To review the Guidelines for Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare, please visit (1 MB).
    2 Voluntary cases are cases in which a substantiated incident of child maltreatment occurred, but the incident did not meet the standard for court involvement or removal of the child from the home.
    3 A permanency roundtable is a structured, professional case consultation that examines the barriers to establishing permanency for a child in out-of-home placement and results in a plan to expedite permanency for the child.
    4 Family Finding uses various methods and strategies to locate and engage relatives of children currently living in out-of-home care with the goal of connecting children with a family member.

  • Site Visit: New Jersey Kinship Connections Program

    Site Visit: New Jersey Kinship Connections Program

    In fiscal year 2011, the Children's Bureau awarded a Family Connection Grant to the Children's Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ) for a 3-year project to use family group decision-making (FGDM) to build and/or enhance protective factors for kinship families that are not actively involved in the child welfare system but are caring for relative children and youth at risk of entering or reentering the State's care. Project staff recognized that kinship families, many of whom live on low and/or fixed incomes, often experience challenges, including the inability to meet the basic needs of the children in their care, assist school-age children with homework, and manage difficult adolescent behavior. However, unlike foster families served by the child welfare system, kinship caregivers have access to and receive fewer support services. So, project staff posited, if kinship caregivers are provided with the necessary services and supports they need, then children can be safely maintained in their homes and families will experience less stress, thereby reducing the likelihood of placement disruption and child welfare involvement.

    The CHSofNJ's Kinship Connections Program (KCP) of Mercer County addresses the daily needs of grandparents and other family members voluntarily raising their kin children by providing support services, family activities, and referrals to resources and services in the community. Relative caregivers are also given the opportunity to participate in Family Success Conferences (FGDM meetings) with KCP staff to informally discuss the issues and needs of the family. CHSofNJ also maintains other interrelated grandparent/kinship caregivers programs, including the following:

    • GrandFamily Success Center—a community-based center for kinship caregivers that provides information, support in group settings and one-on-one, referrals, and services aimed at supporting the physical and behavioral health of caregivers and children
    • Kinship Navigator program—helps kinship caregivers explore government assistance programs, benefits, and eligibility; Kinship Navigator benefits and eligibility; and guides families through the Kinship Legal Guardianship process

    The KCP, the highlight of the project and subsequent site visit and resulting report, includes three service phases, and families are free to choose whether they participate in each graduated phase or participate in only Phase 1 or 2. They include:

    • Phase 1—Recruitment/Engagement: Caregivers and children are invited to visit the GrandFamily Success Center; participate in support groups, educational activities, programs, and events; receive information and referral to a variety of services, including those related to parent education, housing, employment, mental health and counseling, Early Head Start, respite care, youth mentoring, tutoring, life skills training, Kinship Legal Guardianship assistance, and more; and discuss the KCP project with staff and whether or not the caregiver wishes to proceed to Phase 2.
    • Phase 2—Trust Building/Service Provision: A KCP Family Service Worker is assigned to each kinship family to serve as case manager and FGDM meeting facilitator. At the beginning and end of this phase, families are asked to complete several assessments to determine their needs, the results of which, in conjunction with other information and interviews, informs the Family Service Plan. The plan, developed by the KCP Family Service Worker and caregiver, includes a list of goals that KCP staff will help the family achieve.
    • Phase 3—Family Success Conferencing (FGDM): If, after discussion about FGDM, the caregiver wishes to proceed with a Family Success Conference, the KCP Family Service Worker will work with the caregiver to identify and invite family, friends, and other supports and identify the issues that should be addressed in the meeting. At a location selected by the family, the meeting begins with introductions and a facilitator-led general discussion about the meeting and its purpose and agenda. This is followed by information sharing between staff and family of the issues and concerns, after which the KCP staffer leaves the meeting. During the family private time, a plan is developed, which includes goals and action items. The KCP Family Service Worker returns to the meeting to discuss and finalize the plan and, once the meeting is over, he or she monitors the plan's progress and assists the family in reaching goals.

    To determine project outcomes, data from assessments administered at the beginning of Phase 2 and at case closure were used to measure the results of project activities and services to participating families. Comparison data from the State child welfare agency was also analyzed to determine if project participants had child welfare involvement in the months following case closure. At the completion of the program, client satisfaction surveys and follow-up phone interviews were also conducted with program participant.

    Pretest and posttest data and surveys completed by KCP facilitators and program participants show:1

    • Families who participated in Phase 2 experienced improvements, showed an increase in family functioning and a decrease in parent stressors, but improvements in all measured areas increased more for families who also participated in Phase 3.
    • Families who completed Phase 3 were able to address 70 percent of Family Service Plan goals; this percentage decreased for families not participating in Phase 3.
    • Family Success Conferences were well received, closely followed the FGDM model, and successfully focused the kinship family on the needs of caregivers and children.
    • Program participants were able to list the best things about Family Success Conferences as well as areas that could be improved upon.
    • Overall, caregivers were very satisfied with the KCP program, felt that the project and Family Success Conferences were effective at addressing and resolving family issues, and believe that other families would benefit from KCP services.

    For more information on this project, contact Dolores Bryant at The full site visit report for this project will soon be available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at

    The Children's Home Society of New Jersey Kinship Connections Program project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CF0030). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from site visits made on behalf of the Children's Bureau.

    1 This is based on the results/data available in July 2014 when the site visit was conducted.

Child Welfare Research

CBX points to an article on a study examining the proportion of Latino children with noncitizen parents who are involved with child welfare, a study on the link between childhood adversity and food insecurity, and more.

  • Child Welfare Workers and Father Engagement

    Child Welfare Workers and Father Engagement

    A recent article in the Journal of Family Strengths examines a study on the challenges child welfare workers have in engaging fathers in case planning. The article discusses agency workers' feelings and opinions regarding working with fathers, the possible barriers to fathers' involvement with their children and engagement with child welfare, and ways for agency workers to work effectively with fathers. Many of the barriers highlighted indicate that a lack of father involvement is often rooted within family dynamics, socioeconomic issues, and absenteeism. The study provides recommendations to child welfare workers on how to actively engage fathers within four broad approaches:

    • Use diligent efforts to ensure fathers are present to contribute
    • Provide equitable services, support, and policies for fathers
    • Address father-specific needs
    • Promote a positive worker-father relationship

    Access the complete article "Exploring Child Welfare Workers' Attitudes and Practice With Fathers," by T. Coakley, A. Kelley, and R. Bartlett, Journal of Family Strengths,14(1), 2015, at (PDF - 263 KB).

  • Federal Funding of Child Welfare Programs

    Federal Funding of Child Welfare Programs

    A new report from the Congressional Research Service provides a detailed picture of the current levels of Federal funding for fiscal year (FY) 2015 for a wide array of child welfare programs. These programs are primarily administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau. There are also three competitive grant programs, authorized by the Victims of Child Abuse Act, administered by the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. The report discusses the effect of sequestration on FY 2015 funding and includes an appendix listing child welfare programs by funding authority type (mandatory or discretionary) and detailing whether they may be subject to sequestration.

    Specific funding levels are provided for programs funded under titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. Programs funded under title IV-B include:

    • Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services
    • Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program
    • Family Connection Grants
    • Child Welfare Research, Training, or Demonstration Projects

    Programs funded under title IV-E include:

    • Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Kinship Guardianship Assistance
    • Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development and Technical Assistance
    • Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and Chafee Educational and Training Vouchers
    • Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments

    Other funded programs include the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) program, including CAPTA State Grants, CAPTA Discretionary Activities, Community-Based Grants to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect, Children's Justice Act Grants, Victims of Child Abuse Act, Improving Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse Cases, Court-Appointed Special Advocates, Child Abuse Training for Judicial Personnel and Practitioners, and Adoption Opportunities and Abandoned Infants Assistance.

    Access Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding, by E. Stoltzfus, at (540 KB).

  • Citizenship Status of Child Welfare-Involved Latino Families

    Citizenship Status of Child Welfare-Involved Latino Families

    An article in Children and Youth Services Review describes the first study to use national data to estimate the proportion of Latino children with noncitizen parents who are involved with child welfare. Using data from the second round of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, the study showed that 5 percent of all children involved with child welfare and 19 percent of Latino children involved with child welfare had parents who were unauthorized immigrants. Most of the Latino children were citizens, but 20 percent were unauthorized immigrants.

    The study also found that foreign-born Latino parents, including those who are undocumented immigrants, were no more likely than Latino parents born in the United States to have substantiated cases of child maltreatment. This is especially interesting given the particular risk factors that immigrant parents face, such as higher rates of poverty and stress caused by migration, acculturation, and legal status. The article also describes protective factors that buffer these families against maltreatment, such as two-parent families and having lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse.

    To view the abstract or order the article, visit

    Cardoso, J. B., Dettlaff, A. J., Finno-Velasquez, M., Scott, J., & Faulkner, M. (2014). Nativity and immigration status among Latino families involved in the child welfare system: Characteristics, risk, and maltreatment. Children and Youth Services Review, 44, 189–200. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.06.008

  • Linking Childhood Adversity and Food Insecurity

    Linking Childhood Adversity and Food Insecurity

    A recent study examines the connection between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and food insecurity among adult caregivers. The Childhood Stress study interviewed 31 mothers of young children (less than 4 years old) in Philadelphia, PA, who reported levels of food insecurity in the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module. According to the study, children whose families are of lower socioeconomic status often have reduced access to nutritious foods. Children facing low food security are also likely to experience anxiety, emotional abuse, social isolation, and clinical depression. The impact of ACE and related food insecurity can have long-term effects lasting into adulthood.

    Parents and caregivers who experience these adversities as children often find it difficult to improve the overall health and well-being of their family as adults. The lasting effects of ACE and food insecurity may include depression and emotional problems that can affect people's education, employment, and financial stability. The study advocates for increased research and policy initiatives to reduce food insecurity and to enhance the social and emotional wellness of children and families. This includes the improved integration of nutrition assistance programs with other assistance programs to help ensure that families receiving nutrition assistance also have access to opportunities such as behavioral health support and housing and child care assistance.

    The Childhood Stress study was supported by a grant from the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research, made possible through funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, and was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at Drexel University.

    For more information, access "The Relationship Between Childhood Adversity and Food Insecurity: 'It's Like a Bird Nesting in Your Head'," by M. Chilton, M. Knowles, J. Rabinowich, and K. Arnold, Public Health Nutrition, 2015, at (692 KB).

Strategies and Tools for Practice

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

  • Factsheet on Children With Incarcerated Parents

    Factsheet on Children With Incarcerated Parents

    The Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a factsheet that summarizes the plight of children with incarcerated parents and provides suggestions for ways that public policy may help this vulnerable population. The factsheet highlights the unintended negative consequences of a parent's incarceration on his or her children—consequences that affect children both during their parent's incarceration as well as throughout the children's lifetimes.

    Long-term effects on children with incarcerated parents are deep and lasting. This loss of parental presence, coupled with the loss of financial support that the parent may have provided, takes an emotional toll. Children may need to move in with other relatives or friends, adding exponentially to their stress. Their parents are more likely to employ harsh parenting practices, suffer from mental illness, or struggle with substance abuse issues. In addition, the incarceration itself can cause children to experience feelings of guilt, anger, or confusion. Visiting the parent in a correctional facility can further exacerbate these feelings.

    The factsheet proposes several ways that policy might help these children:

    • Creating positive prison visitation experiences for children
    • Deferring the parent's child support payments
    • Training the children's teachers about the effects of these emotional stressors
    • Shortening mandatory sentences and reform "truth-in-sentencing" laws for low-risk, nonviolent offenders
    • Talking with children about their parent's incarceration and encouraging them to talk about their feelings

    Access the factsheet Beyond Bars: Children With an Incarcerated Parent at (551 KB).

  • Trauma and Well-Being Assessment Tool

    Trauma and Well-Being Assessment Tool

    The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) created an assessment tool, as a companion to the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale family of tools, which examines a family's functionality in the domain areas of trauma and posttrauma well-being. This tool is designed to help professionals and programs supporting families with children and youth who have experienced maltreatment identify symptoms and indicators of child trauma or posttrauma and assess parents and caregivers.

    The trauma and posttrauma domains each provide six subscales that address areas such as traumatic sexual and physical abuse of children, traumatic neglect, and emotional/psychological abuse, as well as posttraumatic cognitive/physical and emotional/psychological well-being of children and child social functioning.

    The NFPN Trauma and Well-Being assessment tool is available to purchase—in English and Spanish—as part of a training package on the NFPN website at

  • Exemplary Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs

    Exemplary Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs

    Children and families at risk for child maltreatment often have a complex array of needs that one program or organization may not be able to address on its own. There is a need for a multisector approach that addresses these needs together, utilizes increased collaboration across programs and systems, and blends funding to support broad program goals across categories. FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) published Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention: Exemplary Practices, a guide highlighting CBCAP programs from 16 States that achieved exemplary innovation and leadership in eight key categories:

    • Advocating for systems change
    • Coordinating and collaborating
    • Strategic program funding and assessment of needs
    • Reaching special populations
    • Promoting parent leadership and involvement
    • Training and supporting professional development and program quality
    • Evaluating programs
    • Fostering public awareness

    In addition to these eight key areas, three additional areas are highlighted showcasing other CBCAP achievements by States: contextual factors that influence prevention of child abuse and neglect, strategies for grant development, and an ambitious prevention goal and plan to achieve it.

    Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention: Exemplary Practices is available on the FRIENDS website at (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.

  • Website on Preventing Teen Pregnancy

    Website on Preventing Teen Pregnancy

    The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a bipartisan organization offering information, tools, and support for State legislatures, developed a webpage addressing teen pregnancy and pregnancy prevention. The website discusses topics such as the impact of teen pregnancy on the educational achievement and economic well-being of youth, and it includes information specifically on pregnancy among youth in foster care.

    While teen pregnancy rates have declined across the nation, statistics confirm that youth in foster care have higher rates of pregnancy than youth in the general population. In fact, girls in foster care at age 19 have pregnancy rates more than two times higher than youth who are not in care. The webpage discusses how teen pregnancy creates significant barriers for youth across many realms. For youth in foster care, pregnancy generates challenges and additional costs for the system as a whole.

    The webpage also addresses Federal funding of teen pregnancy education and prevention programs, such as the following:

    • The Personal Responsibility Education Program, administered by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families
    • Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program
    • Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, administered by the Office of Adolescent Health

    To read more about teen pregnancy, statistical data, and State-specific information, visit NCSL's Teen Pregnancy Prevention webpage at

  • CPS and the Rights of Domestic Violence Victims

    CPS and the Rights of Domestic Violence Victims

    Federal and State laws require agencies to make reasonable efforts to prevent a child's out-of-home placement and provide necessary preventative services. The identification, assessment, and impact of domestic violence and the presence of protective factors are key elements in child protective services' (CPS's) response to child maltreatment and efforts toward child well-being. The Washington State Coalition against Domestic Violence developed a guide to assist victims of domestic violence at different stages of a CPS investigation.

    Based on the Washington Department of Social and Health Services Children's Administration policies and practices guidelines, the guide focuses on the rights of domestic violence victims throughout the course of a CPS investigation. The guide discusses what happens when a report of child abuse and neglect is made, from the initial screening to the resulting CPS involvement, with child and victim safety as paramount concerns.

    Other relevant topics examined by the authors include:

    • Working collaboratively with caseworkers around a safety plan
    • Ensuring that domestic violence perpetrators are held accountable for their actions
    • Engaging in family team decision-making meetings
    • Seeking the assistance of domestic violence advocates

    The guide also provides a glossary of terms and additional information about parents' rights.

    Know Your Rights When CPS Comes Knocking is available on the Washington State Coalition against Domestic Violence website at (324 KB).

  • Using Social Media to Promote Youth Programs

    Using Social Media to Promote Youth Programs

    Social media can be an effective tool for growing youth programs, if used appropriately. Many programs can benefit from using social media to increase exposure to their resources and services. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) developed a series of tutorials to help programs share their services and successes more effectively. The Promote Your Youth Program courses are short, online tutorial videos on how to use blogs, videos, and social media to reach target audiences.

    A recently added tutorial focuses on helping youth programs develop a social media presence in the field. Topics discussed include how to budget time used for social media and maintaining a consistent professional voice.

    Access the social media module at For more information on this and other modules, read "Use Social Media to Promote Your Youth Program—New NCFY Course," and access all the modules at

Training and Conferences

Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.