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May 2017Vol. 18, No. 3Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

This month's CBX spotlight features an article on the mental and physical health of children in foster care, a new podcast featuring three youth as they speak about their firsthand experiences with homelessness or foster care, a report about a survey-based study to determine who would most likely be willing to act as a resource family, useful tools for foster parents and caregivers on navigating the reunification process, and a guide for foster parents on family visits.

Mixed-race family embracing



Issue Spotlight

  • Resource Families Want to Help Youth and Birth Parents

    Resource Families Want to Help Youth and Birth Parents

    The Center for Poverty Research at the University of California-Davis released a policy brief describing a study to determine who would most likely be willing to act as a resource family, the level of knowledge the respondents had about fostering a child, and the most common motivations and deterrents to fostering.

    A total of 466 adults in California completed the study survey in 2016. African-American and Latino respondents each were more than twice as likely to report they would foster than non-Latino White respondents. Adults aged 25–34 were 67 percent more likely to foster than those aged 45–64. Parents who already had their own children were 144 percent more likely to foster a child than people who had no children. Additionally, the results of the survey indicated that most respondents had little knowledge about the foster care system, the experiences of youth in foster care, the foster system's goals for youth and families, and the support available to resource families.

    When asked about their motivations to potentially foster, respondents were 2–10 times more likely to focus on the perceived benefits to the child in foster care and their birth parents over any financial, social, or emotional benefits to themselves. Approximately half (52 percent) of respondents reported that the biggest deterrents to fostering were related to the financial strain of fostering a child and the anticipated challenge of caring for youth. About 40 percent of respondents reported they would have a difficult time caring for children and then having to give them up when the time came for the child to be reunited with their family or adopted.

    These results have implications for the way outreach efforts target potential resource families and boost public interest in supporting youth in foster care.

    To read the policy brief, Survey Shows Likely Resource Families Want to Help Youth and Birth Parents, visit (131 KB).

  • Youth Leaders Discuss How to Engage Rural Youth in Services

    Youth Leaders Discuss How to Engage Rural Youth in Services

    Homeless teenagers are often scared and either don't know where to turn for help or may be reluctant to receive services. In a new podcast from the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth (NCFY) of the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), rural youth leaders who were once homeless or in foster care themselves offer advice on how to engage vulnerable rural youth.

    In "Youth Speak Out: Shared Experiences Help Rural Youth Leaders Connect," three youth leaders from FYSB's Rural Homeless Youth Initiative talk about engaging youth, familiarizing them with transitional living programs, and connecting them with appropriate services. These young men—two from Vermont and one from Nebraska—provide advice on ways to engage rural youth in transitional living services, such as taking them on outings or to youth summits or conferences to encourage them to discuss their needs and expectations of transitional living programs.

    The podcast is available on the NCFY website at

  • A Guide for Foster Parents on Family Visits

    A Guide for Foster Parents on Family Visits

    Family visits help maintain strong family connections, and foster parents play and important role in facilitating these strong connections. When children in foster care have regular and frequent contact with their birth families, they experience shorter placements, less reentry into foster care, more successful reunification, and improved emotional well-being. A guide using information collected through interviews with foster parents, social workers, children, and birth parents aims to help foster parents understand how to be a strong resource for children and their birth families.

    Family Connect: Putting the Pieces of Family Visits Together: A Guide for Foster Parents highlights typical reactions children and parents may have before and after visits, how to relate effectively with birth parents, and strategies in preparing and transitioning children to and from family visits. Foster parents identified children's transition from family visits back to the foster home as the most challenging aspect of visitation. The guide offers a transition check list to help foster parents understand their own feelings about family visits as well as how the children in their care may feel after a visit.

    Other tips in the guide include establishing a “goodbye” ritual before leaving a child with his or her birth parent. The ritual can include blowing a kiss, a high five, or another exchange that serves as a signal to the child that the foster parent is leaving but will be back when the family time is over.

    To read more about facilitating successful and smooth family visits, go to (1,010 KB).

  • Study Examines Mental, Physical Health of Children in Foster Care

    Study Examines Mental, Physical Health of Children in Foster Care

    Either due to experiencing maltreatment or other risk factors, children in foster care often experience more depression and anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), developmental delays, asthma, and obesity than children who have not been placed in foster care. A recent article in the journal Pediatrics, "Mental and Physical Health of Children in Foster Care," reports on a study that examined and compared the mental and physical health of children placed in foster care with the health of children in the general population.

    The study was conducted using data from the 2011–2012 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), a nationally representative sample of 95,677 noninstitutionalized children in the United States. The study's main goal was to compare parent-reported mental and physical health outcomes of children placed in foster care, children adopted from foster care, children from specific family types (e.g., single-mother households), and children from economically disadvantaged households.

    The study measured children's mental and physical health; activity limitations due to a medical, behavioral, or mental condition; and diagnosis of a variety of conditions, such as a learning disability, ADHD, depression or anxiety, behavioral problems, developmental delay, asthma, obesity, speech or language problems, or hearing or vision problems.

    The results of the study support three main findings:

    • Children placed in foster care had more mental and physical health conditions than children not placed in foster care. For example, children placed in foster care were approximately twice as likely to have a learning disability and three times as likely to have ADHD. They were also twice as likely to have asthma and speech problems and three times as likely to have hearing or vision problems.
    • Although some mental and physical health outcome differences were explained by demographic characteristics of children placed in foster care and their households, many of the mental health differences still persisted after adjusting for these child and household characteristics, which suggests that foster care placement may have an effect on mental health.
    • Children in foster care experienced poorer mental and physical health compared with children in every other type of family or household situation, including those in economically disadvantaged homes.

    This study's findings are noteworthy because they show, for the first time, that children in foster care have significantly poorer mental and physical health than children in the general population.

    Read "Mental and Physical Health of Children in Foster Care," by Kristin Turney and Christopher Wildeman, Pediatrics, 138(5), 2016, at (669 KB).

  • How to Say Goodbye to Children in Your Home

    How to Say Goodbye to Children in Your Home

    The primary goal of foster care is the reunification of the child with his or her birth family. And although having to say goodbye to a child can be a trying part of the fostering experience, reunification is a time to celebrate and give the child a chance to be happy with, forgive, and love their birth family.

    How to Say Goodbye to Children in Your Home, produced by the Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association, is a useful tool foster parents can use to fill their remaining days with the child in their care with positive memories of their time together as well as make this time of transition easier on both the child and the foster family.

    Below are some ideas that can help foster families and the children they care for make the adjustment to reunification a positive one:

    • Create and finish a lifebook together to recount a time in the child's life that they might not otherwise have access to and is a good project to complete together.
    • Leave notes of encouragement and support and tuck them away among the child's belongings so the child finds them as he or she unpack. Notes can include encouragement to stay in school and a phone number where they can reach their former foster parent.
    • Create a craft together, such as a making a hand impression to keep in remembrance; having the entire foster family write encouraging messages on a pillow case; shooting a goodbye video featuring family, friends, teachers, and daycare providers wishing the child well and watch it together.
    • Celebrate the reunification with a celebration, such as eating at the child's favorite restaurant, cooking a favorite meal at home, having cake and ice cream, giving the child a gift, and even inviting the birth parents to participate.
    • Create a cookbook of simple recipes the child can easily make (depending on age) or prepare a care package of frozen meals the child can take.

    For more on how to navigate this joyful and sometimes heartbreaking time, visit (1,110 KB).

  • May Is National Foster Care Month

    May Is National Foster Care Month

    This year's National Foster Care Month (NFCM) theme, "Empowering Caregivers, Strengthening Families," highlights the importance of identifying, developing, and supporting prospective and current foster parents and kinship caregivers. The NFCM 2017 website is dedicated to offering an array of resources and tools aimed at addressing the unique needs of children in foster care; improving placement stability; and strengthening relationships between birth families, children and youth in foster care, and child welfare agencies. The resources and tools featured in the website include the following: 

    • A Resources for Parents page designed to help parents learn more about foster care, including what to expect, tips for building positive relationships with caseworkers and their children's caregivers, and information to help them find additional help or support
    • A Resources for Foster Parents and Caregivers page that provides information on parenting children in foster care, outlines ideas for working together with the permanency team, and offers helpful links for additional support
    • A Resources for Communities page that outlines who the children involved in foster care are, provides information on how to become a foster parent, and highlights other ways to contribute to the positive development of children and youth involved with foster care
    • A Resources for Youth page that can help youth in foster care understand what to expect, provide ideas for staying involved in the permanency process, and connect youth to additional help and support
    • A Resources for Tribes page that provides ideas to help identify homes for Native children and youth, outlines ways to develop an effective Tribal child welfare system, and offers additional links to support
    • A Resources for Child Welfare Professionals page that includes information about helping child welfare agencies build the pool of families they need, using child-specific recruitment strategies to locate and engage resource families, and improving support services throughout the permanency process

    The Children's Bureau, together with Child Welfare Information Gateway and other partner organizations, promotes NFCM each May and raises awareness about the important roles everyone can play in the lives of children and youth in care. Explore the 2017 NFCM microsite at

    Recent Issues

  • May 2024

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

  • April 2024

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

News From the Children's Bureau

Read about a new practical guide that reports on the findings from the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System as well as a study that details the trends from the cross-cohort analysis of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey for 2006, 2009, and 2014.

  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

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

    Recent additions to the site include the following:

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

  • Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014

    Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014

    The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services produced the technical report Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014 to detail the trends from the cross-cohort analysis of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) for 2006, 2009, and 2014. Data were collected about classroom characteristics (e.g., observed classroom quality and instruction), teacher characteristics (e.g., professional development, credentials, background), program characteristics (e.g., teacher staffing and turnover), and changes in observed classroom quality. The researchers tried to determine whether these changes were explained by teacher characteristics, such as prevalence of mentoring, who provides the mentoring, and level of teacher education.

    FACES used a variety of data sources, including one-on-one assessments of children at their Head Start centers, classroom observations, and feedback from parents, teachers, and program directors. The quality of each Head Start classroom was assessed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), which measures instructional and social-emotional aspects of the environment, and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R), which relies on structural features of the classroom.

    The following are key findings based on the trend analyses across FACES 2006, 2009, and 2014:

    • Classroom quality and instruction—Average ECERS-R teaching and interactions scores, average provisions for learning scores, and average instructional support scores generally improved across cohorts. There was no statistically significant change to CLASS emotional support and classroom organization scores from FACES 2009 to FACES 2014.
    • Teacher professional development—The prevalence of mentoring remained the same from 2006 to 2014, with about three-fourths of teachers reporting that they had a mentor. From 2006 to 2014, there was an increase in teachers receiving support from a mentor, a master teacher, or another Head Start teacher in the program.
    • Teacher credentials and background—There were no statistically significant changes in teacher experience or job satisfaction from FACES 2006 to FACES 2014, and fewer classrooms had a teacher with an associate's degree or less. In addition, the average level of depressive symptoms reported by teachers decreased from 2006 to 2014.
    • Teacher staffing and turnover—The employed teachers and prevalence of teacher turnover in Head Start classrooms did not change across cohorts.
    • Child demographic characteristics—The average age of children in Head Start classrooms increased from FACES 2006 (45.5 months) to FACES 2014 (47.9 months). The percentage of children with a family income below the poverty level also increased across cohorts, from 58 percent to 68 percent.

    These findings show that there was, on average, an increase in classroom quality from FACES 2006 to FACES 2014. Identifying the reasons for these increases may have implications for targeting resources for future quality-improvement efforts. However, additional research is needed to determine the causal relationships between quality-improvement efforts, teacher characteristics, and classroom quality.

    To read the full report, Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014, visit (1,220 KB).

    Related Item

    Previous rounds of FACES have been highlighted in the following articles in Children's Bureau Express:

  • Legal Representation Guide Now Available

    Legal Representation Guide Now Available

    Child welfare cases can present unusual situations that can have significant implications for a child’s legal advocate. The Children’s Bureau identified inadequate representation of children as a chief obstacle to achieving a well-functioning child welfare system.

    Children's Justice: How to Improve Legal Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System reports findings from the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System (QIC-ChildRep), a project of the University of Michigan Law School supported by the U.S. Children’s Bureau.

    This guide presents findings regarding the following:

    • Rationale for the QIC-ChildRep best practice model and the six core skills
    • Specifics of the training in the six core skills
    • Lawyer voices as they implemented the new approach
    • Improved child outcomes based on random assignment experimental design
    • Profile of lawyers representing children, their major activities, and the impact of those activities
    • Empirical support for social worker/lawyer teams representing children in child welfare cases  
    • Recommendations for the future of child representation based on the QIC-ChildRep experience

    Children's Justice: How to Improve Legal Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System is available for purchase in both hardcopy and e-book formats at

Child Welfare Research

We highlight a Child Trends report that focuses on successful community-based initiatives to support early, healthy childhood development and elements needed to grow them; a podcast that explores how home visit programs for parents being investigated in child maltreatment cases can dramatically reduce the percentage of young children being removed from their homes; and a study that looks at the impact of transitional living programs from the perspective of formerly homeless youth.

  • Benefits of Home Visit Programs

    Benefits of Home Visit Programs

    A new podcast explores a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that shows how home visit programs that include videotaped parent-child interactions can improve the parent-child relationship and reduce child maltreatment and removals from the home. The podcast discusses a recent article, "Promoting First Relationships: Randomized Trial of a 10-Week Home Visiting Program for Families Referred to Child Protective Services of Home-Visit Program in Child Maltreatment Cases Strengthens Parent-Child Interaction," which appeared in the November 2016 issue of Child Maltreatment ( The article features a study that was conducted over a 3-year period (between 2011 and 2014). It followed 247 families with children between 10 months and 2 years of age who were involved in an investigation by child protective services for recent allegations of maltreatment. The study randomly assigned families to either a telephone-based intervention service—including three 30-minute sessions and a packet of parent resource materials—or a home visiting program with 1-hour visits over a 10-week period.

    The research was specifically designed to review the Promoting First Relationships home visiting model, which helps primary caregivers become more aware of a child's social and emotional cues and increases parental sensitivity, competence, and insight over time. The intervention involves videotaping a parent's or primary caregiver's interactions with an infant or young child, which a training specialist then reviews with the parent to help make the parent become more aware of how they are responding to their child.

    Parents or caregivers participating in the 10-week home-based intervention were found to score higher than those receiving the telephone-based intervention on measurements of parental sensitivity and engagement, and the home-based intervention group experienced approximately less than half the number of home removals.

    The podcast features Dr. Valerie Maholmes, chief of the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and Dr. Monica Oxford, director of the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health at the University of Washington Department of Family and Child Nursing. It is available on the NIH/ NICHD website at

  • Supporting Early Childhood Initiatives

    Supporting Early Childhood Initiatives

    A new report from Child Trends highlights successful community-based initiatives to support early, healthy childhood development and elements needed to cultivate them. The report stems from a 2016 national symposium on investing in early childhood supports and explores innovative and varied initiatives underway in three diverse communities: Tulsa, OK; Durham, NC; and the State of Oregon.

    • Tulsa, OK, was selected because of its use of the Educare program, a public-private cross-sector collaborative effort that supports infants and young children, ages 6 weeks through 4 years, and their families through coordinated health, parenting, educational, and related services.
    • Durham, NC, was featured because of its place-based neighborhood initiative that spans a 120-block area and seeks to ensure all participating children graduate from high school and are prepared for college or a career. The East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) operated as both program coordinator and a service provider. It coordinated with over 40 partners to provide a continuum of early childhood-related services. Services provided by EDCI included a universal home visiting program and a half-day bilingual preschool program for children who would otherwise lack access to any formal preschool experience prior to entering kindergarten.
    • Oregon was chosen as the third community to demonstrate the role a State government can take in supporting community-based early childhood initiatives. The State's regionally based Early Learning Hubs were designed to bring multiple community partners together to ensure school readiness for young children.

    The February 2017 report features lessons learned from the various approaches and recommendations for establishing similar early childhood initiatives. It also highlights cross-cutting themes for successful community-based efforts, including the following:

    • Use of data to measure progress toward goals and evaluate outcomes
    • Broader supports and services at the county, city, or State level
    • Meeting community needs
    • Intentional and ongoing support
    • Evidence-based programs, innovation, and cross-sector collaboration

    The report, Building Our Future: Supporting Community-Based Early Childhood Initiatives, was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation and is available at (1,070 KB).

  • Supportive Community Important to Transitional Youth Housing Program

    Supportive Community Important to Transitional Youth Housing Program

    One of the greatest contributions of a transitional living program (TLP), a youth housing model, is the supportive environment it creates for its youth residents. A recent journal article points out that many youth in TLPs may have never before experienced positive relationships. While young people experiencing homelessness face many challenges, less is known about the effectiveness of programs designed to address these hurdles. This latest study, which was funded by the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation at the New York Community Trust, looks at the impact of TLPs from the perspective of former homeless youth.

    The study is based on interviews with 32 young people who had been part of a Chicago-based TLP. Interviewees emphasized the themes of family, individual connections, community, and their level of preparedness to be on their own as those that most characterize the TLP experience and make it a developmentally appropriate program model for youth in transition.

    The study participants emphasized how much they valued the family environment within the TLP and the ability to build a sense of community. Participants reported that the observance of everyday rituals and basic rules and responsibilities within the TLP environment were instructive in helping them adopt new habits that will be useful in attaining future goals. For some participants, the TLP was their first experience of hearing a regular "good morning" greeting or returning at the end of the day to a place where others cared about their well-being. Participants also shared that while living in a group home was difficult at times, it taught them valuable interpersonal skills they have found useful in subsequent living environments and the workplace.

    The author points out that the themes of family and supportive community are not generally included in discussions of the "housing first" approach, which places a priority on housing. What is most important to vulnerable young people, the study finds, are the emotional, practical, and developmental supports provided by the TLP model. Most participants valued the 24-hour access to support from staff and peers as a critical step toward long-term stability and believed that young people need time to adequately prepare for independent living. The study participants also emphasized the importance of preparing for independent living surrounded by those who share similar circumstances and goals and by those who can support their transition to stability and wellness.

    To view the article abstract, visit

    Holtschneider, Casey. (2016). A part of something: The importance of transitional living programs within a Housing First framework for youth experiencing homelessness. Children and Youth Services Review, 65, 204–215.

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.

  • New Protective Factors Podcast

    New Protective Factors Podcast

    Child Welfare Information Gateway released the first episode in a two-part podcast series called Protective Factors. Part 1 of this series focuses on the definition of protective factors as they pertain to child welfare, how child welfare professionals can identify and distinguish protective factors when working with parents and families, and how protective factors can be applied across entire communities and community-based programs.

    This podcast features interviews with Cailin O’Connor, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Study in Social Policy (CSSP) and a key figure in CSSP’s Strengthening Families Approach and Protective Factors Framework, and Tabitha Kelly, division chief with the Arlington County, VA, Children and Family Services.

    Ms. O'Connor discusses the five primary protective factors under the Strengthening Families Framework:

    • Parental resilience includes the ability of parents to thrive despite adversity and refers to parents’ mental health status and ability perform their parental duties despite the challenges they may be facing in their day-to-day lives.
    • Knowledge of parenting and child development includes having appropriate expectations for what children can do at certain ages, making appropriate decisions based on the individual child and his or her developmental readiness, and, particularly with families who have children with special needs, understanding their own child.
    • Social connections include the importance of having a support system for parents, such as having someone to call when they need someone to watch the children on short notice.
    • Concrete supports in times of need includes having access to services like child welfare intervention and domestic violence support, food pantries, and supportive neighbors during challenging times.
    • Nurturing children’s social-emotional competence includes supporting parents as they help their child develop social-emotional skills.

    Ms. Kelly describes some strategies that workers in Arlington, VA, use based on the protective factors framework to partner with families to create positive future outcomes for children. These strategies include asking parents questions that touch on each protective factor, interviewing families to get a better sense of their situations and support systems, and more.

    To listen to the first installment of the Protective Factors podcast series, visit

  • Guide to Mentoring Children Growing Up Without Fathers

    Guide to Mentoring Children Growing Up Without Fathers

    Having a father or father figure in a child's life contributes greatly to a child's well-being and positive outcomes. By offering a little time—as few as 12 hours per year—to a fatherless child, a mentor can make a large difference in a child's life. The National Fatherhood Initiative has put together a guide to encourage men to mentor children within their social networks who are growing up without fathers due to their father’s military service, business travel, incarceration, or other situations (e.g., death) that cause separation for an extended amount of time. This 19-page guide begins with a mentoring pledge, a brief introduction to mentoring, and breaks down mentoring into the following five points:

    • Find children in your "circle of influence"—This includes children who may be family members, living in the neighborhood, or a family member of someone living within the community.
    • Get permission—Ask permission from the child's mother or primary guardian and be clear about the types of activities the child will be partaking in.
    • Plan ahead—Make plans based on the child's interests and meet the child on their "turf."
    • Save your advice for later—Building trust is the first step to creating a meaningful mentoring relationship. Giving advice and trying to be a father figure should come second.
    • Encourage, encourage, encourage—Promote the child's interests as well as the importance of staying in school, going to college, and getting work experience.

    The guide also offers a list of possible activities, tips for how mentoring boys and girls can differ, and mentoring organizations and resources that can help mentors get started.

    To read the National Fatherhood Initiative's Guide to Mentoring Fatherless Children, visit (11,890 KB).


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.

  • Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections Facilities

    Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections Facilities

    There are currently more than 60,000 youth in juvenile correctional facilities, with a large portion of these youth being identified as having a disability. Despite these statistics, however, less than half of those youth report that they are receiving special education services while incarcerated.

    The toolkit, Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections includes evidence- and research-based practices, tools, and resources that families, educators, facilities, communities, and agencies can use to better support and improve the long-term outcomes for youth with disabilities in juvenile correctional facilities. This resource is part of the IDEAS That Work initiative of the Office of Special Education Programs within the U.S. Department of Education. Given the number of children and youth who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, this toolkit may be of interest to child welfare professionals.

    This toolkit is divided into four sections:

    • Facility-wide practices include a continuum of academic and behavioral supports and services, trauma-informed care, and restorative justice. They are aimed at ensuring a focus on prevention and consistent reinforcement of expectations across facility environments.
    • Educational practices include ensuring access to a high-quality education, individualized instruction, and compliance with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. They are organized into a tiered delivery system that can assist in meeting the varied educational levels and needs of incarcerated youth with disabilities.
    • Transition and reentry practices include beginning transition planning at entry, prioritizing family involvement, and coordinating after-care services. These practices are aimed at ensuring youth with disabilities are able to exit correctional facilities ready to return to school, community, or employment settings.
    • Community and interagency practices include interagency agreements, expeditious records transfer, and staffing. They focus on how services for these youth should be coordinated across a variety of partners, such as schools, community agencies, and probation programs.

    To learn more about the toolkit, Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections, visit

  • Toolkit to Help Build Social Skills in Children With Disabilities

    Toolkit to Help Build Social Skills in Children With Disabilities

    Being able to understand and navigate social and interpersonal situations is an important skill that every youth must learn in order to interact appropriately with others and handle difficult situations. Unfortunately, many youth with disabilities have difficulty building these skills, leaving them at a disadvantage in securing employment, developing relationships, and connecting with the community.

    The toolkit, Skills for Independent Living: Parents Help Build Social Skills, which was produced by PACER's National Parent Center on Transition and Employment, describes the following seven tools that parents can use to help their children practice and improve social skills:

    • Use social skills stories to build skills in understanding situations—Situational stories can be used to illustrate certain social skills. The stories should clearly identify the topic, who is involved, and where and when the situation usually occurs. Additionally, the stories should explain what is happening, how it happens, and why it happens as well as the reasoning behind what people think, do, or say in a given situation.
    • Define boundaries with a five-point scale—This tool is aimed at helping children understand that there are different degrees of behavior, different boundaries, and that there are consequences for going too far beyond a boundary. For example, parents can teach their children to rate their anger levels or the appropriateness of different behaviors using this scale.
    • Teach social boundaries with a circle chart—A circle chart made up of concentric circles can help define personal space, such as knowing when it is appropriate to hug or touch another person. The circle illustrates examples of groups a child may interact with, such as strangers, familiar people in the neighborhood, friends and acquaintances, personal caregivers, extended family and close friends, close family, and individuals.
    • Practice role playing—This tool gives children the opportunity to practice what they would do in various situations. Roll playing encourages children to think about, anticipate, and develop alternate plans for unexpected situations.
    • Create opportunities to practice skills—This tool encourages parents to create real-life opportunities for their child to interact with others, such as practicing how to greet someone and conversation starters.
    • Explore a social skills training program—This tool encourages parents to consider enrolling their child in a social skills training program that would give them a structured opportunity to learn and practice new skills, such as dating and relationships or ensuring personal safety. In these programs, trained instructors introduce new skills and the ways they are used and then models them for students. The student then models these new skills back and continues to practice at home.
    • Help young adults try social skills groups—Social skills groups can provide an opportunity for youth to explore, practice, and use the social skills they have learned with a group of peers. These groups can be centered on extracurricular activities or friendship groups at school, recreational groups in the community, or other educational activities.

    The toolkit also includes the "Parent Social Skills Action Plan" worksheet that allows parents to list their social skills goals for their children and determine the best course of action to help them attain these skills. This tool may be of interest to child welfare professionals working with children with disabilities and their families.

    The Skills for Independent Living: Parents Help Build Social Skills toolkit is available at (205 KB).

Training and Conferences

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

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption from May through July 2017 include the following:

    May 2017

    • 2017 Adoptive Family & Youth Training Seminar: Ties That Bind: Parents & Children Strengthening the Bond
      Family Matters Consulting, Inc.
      May 19–20, Atlanta, GA

    June 2017

    • One Child, Many Hands: A Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare
      Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania
      June 7–9, Philadelphia, PA

    July 2017

    • Family Focused Treatment Association 31st Annual Conference
      Family Focused Treatment Association
      July 16–19, Chicago, IL


  • Supporting Recovery in Parents With Co-Occurring Disorders in Child Welfare

    Supporting Recovery in Parents With Co-Occurring Disorders in Child Welfare

    The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, in partnership with the Minnesota Center for Chemical and Mental Health, created a three-part video series called Supporting Recovery in Parents With Co-Occurring Disorders in Child Welfare. This video series features experts discussing the challenges parents with co-occurring disorders (CODs) face and the resources and strategies child welfare workers can provide to help support these parents and their families.

    The first video, "Supporting Parents With Co-Occurring Disorders in Child Welfare," provides an introduction to the topic and defines CODs as a simultaneous diagnosis of mental health and substance use disorders. Experts in the child welfare field featured in the video report that approximately 70–80 percent of parents involved in child welfare have CODs, making it a significant hurdle to a family's well-being. The experts discuss the importance of understanding each disorder individually as well as part of the dual diagnosis in order to create an appropriate case plan that addresses the challenges associated with CODs. 

    The second video, "Case Planning That Supports the Path to Recovery," stresses the importance of identifying the correct providers and resources to help families dealing with CODs and emphasizes finding a provider who has an integrated approach to dealing with both diagnoses, collaborative case planning, and safety planning.

    The third video, "Integrated Approaches, Bias, and Meeting Parents Where They Are," focuses on roadblocks to recovery, specifically bias and other types of judgmental behavior, which can shape the way workers view the people they are working with and hinder their efforts to employ the appropriate case-planning strategies and support that parents with CODs need.

    The complete video series, Supporting Recovery in Parents with Co-Occurring Disorders in Child Welfare, is available at