This month's issue of CBX highlights the importance of well-being and the interventions that promote the well-being of children and youth as well as their families. Read a message from Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, that expands on the need to achieve well-being as a primary prevention effort for both parents and their children. The issue also includes a variety of resources and publications for child welfare professionals and the families they serve.
- Prevention Is Well-Being Work
Written by Melissa T. Merrick, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist, detailee, Office of the Commissioner, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau
As I reflect on my 20 years working with and for children and families, I'll never forget the day I was confronted with the reality that I was not in the business of preventing child abuse and neglect.
In walked a young couple with a 9 month old child, the same age as my daughter at the time. The baby presented with patterned bruising on her torso, and the parents described just needing her to stop crying. As tears streamed down all of our faces, they continued, "We just didn't know what to do!" The father had been spending most of his days looking for work, but there were few jobs for someone with his level of education and nonexistent job training that would actually pay the family's bills. The mother was also unemployed and was struggling to comfort her difficult-to-soothe infant. She did not have access to the mental health services she knew she required to help her cope with her own unresolved trauma. They had no family or social support in their neighborhood, having just moved. They spoke only Spanish and asked whether all Americans regarded Spanish speakers as "less than."
"Ok," I thought for a split second, "maybe I am just crying because I am postpartum and emotional." No. I was crying because the situation was very sad. It was sad that we, as a field, were not in the business of prevention. We, as a field and as a society, were actually in the business of blaming parents, particularly young parents, single parents, and parents of color for their challenges and circumstances. We were in the business of saving children from their big, bad, terrible parents, rather than responsibly assuming the roles we must all play to prevent child abuse and neglect and to build, bolster, and strengthen families and communities.
This same day, I realized that I yearned to be in the business of prevention for children and families—and, frankly, for my own mental health—I joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortly thereafter.
A public health approach requires that we assure the conditions for lifelong health and well-being before parental stress becomes unbearable and crisis mode is fully engaged. It requires that we implement policies and practices that stop early adversity like child abuse and neglect before it begins, thereby stemming the flow of children and families who encounter the child protection agency in the first place. It requires that we identify and address the structural, contextual, and historical barriers to thriving communities, families, and children. Given the multigenerational impacts of trauma and adversity and the systemic inequities that accompany such, a multigenerational prevention solution that improves the conditions within which parents are caring for their children is imperative.
We know that children and families will reap more of the benefits of treatment and clinical services if the conditions within which they are living and developing improve. Not to mention, they will be able to make it into treatment and services in the first place if their basic necessities are met and they have access and means to access services and preventive interventions.
Prevention is possible if we are willing to work in a different, collaborative, and, dare I say, empathetic way. We must work across systems, across silos, and across disciplines to call for a new narrative for all children and families. My now 10-year-old daughter, and all of our sons and daughters, are more likely to thrive if all children are thriving. Please join me in the actual business of prevention.
- Family Time Is a Critical Well-Being Intervention
Written by Dr. Susan Cohen Esquilin, Ph.D., ABPP-Clinical, and Jey Rajaraman, chief counsel, Family Representation Project-Legal Services of New Jersey
In many child welfare cases, the removal of a child from parental custody marks the first time the child has ever been out of the care of one or both parents. Whatever the reason for the removal, it is a traumatic event for the child, siblings, and parents. A child who is removed from his or her family and placed in foster care fears the unknown and feels scared and hopeless. The parents are also traumatized. They may worry about where their child is, who is taking care of him or her, and whether his or her special needs are being met. Separation between a parent and child is a known trauma. People involved in the child welfare system are faced with the question of how to prevent trauma and minimize the impact of separation. Recognizing the importance of protecting these connections and ensuring parents and children have continuous contact is paramount. The time spent together between the parent and child should be in an environment that reflects the child's home and community.
The development of a collaborative relationship between the parent and foster parent can help increase the amount of family time or visitation, if foster parents are willing to supervise visits that require oversight. In addition, this relationship can reduce stress for a parent whose anxiety decreases when they can speak with the child's caretakers about the child's needs and adjustment. Collaborative relationships between parents and foster parents also increase the quality of parent-child visits, when children and parents feel secure in knowing that reunification is supported by foster parents and that the relationships between the adults is a positive one.
Visitation or parenting and family time is essential for a child's well-being while he or she is placed in out-of-home care and away from his or her family. The objective purpose of parenting time is to maintain the parent-child attachment, reduce a child's sense of abandonment, and preserve their sense of belonging as part of a family and community. A child needs to see and have regular contact with his or her parent(s), as this relationship is the foundation of child development. In the majority of these cases, reunification between the child and his or her family is the primary goal. Visitation maintains and supports the parent-child relationship necessary for successful reunification.
The importance of family visits for children in out-of-home placements cannot be overstated.
Research shows that frequent and lengthy parent-child visitation achieves the following:
- Supports parent-child attachment and reduces children's sense of abandonment while in care.
- Increases the well-being of children in out-of-home care. For example, children with frequent family contact show higher verbal and nonverbal IQ scores.
- Positively affects the parents' feelings about the child placement, including reduction in parental worries about their children.
- Is strongly associated with placement outcomes and with fewer months in care—that is, both family reunification and other permanency outcomes, such as adoption and kinship guardianships.
Frequent and lengthy family visits for children in out-of-home placement is critical to family reunification, shortening the time spent in out-of-home care, enhancing the social and mental well-being of children, and encouraging parents. The standards for parenting and sibling time mandated by statutes, regulations, and case law are clear. However, the practical compliance with these standards continues to lag behind the intent of the standards.
New Jersey has long recognized parent-child contact through parenting time. In an effort to ensure that parenting-time schedules are specific to the circumstances of the individual family, New Jersey has created a form order and visitation judicial bench card for child welfare matters. Starting in 2018, courts must include a visitation schedule for the child and his or her parents, siblings, and other family members. In cases where ordered parenting time does not occur, courts must engage in a thorough review of the reasons and develop a plan to mitigate barriers (e.g., transportation, work and school schedules).
Ensuring families receive meaningful family time requires active engagement of all involved to ensure that barriers to visitation are not only identified but eliminated. Child welfare case workers must be creative in case planning, and state and local child welfare agencies must support front-line case workers to achieve these outcomes. Development and continued support of positive parent and foster parent relationships is crucial. Judicial involvement and oversight through the use of bench cards and form orders can further support assurance that meaningful visitation will be effectuated.
- Parent Well-Being and Parent-Child Relationships Are Key to Promoting Child Well-Being
Written by Jerry Milner
For far too long, the concept of well-being has been something of an afterthought in child welfare, falling a distant third to ensuring physical safety and pursuing permanency. While it is clear that a person cannot experience well-being in the absence of feeling and being safe, in child welfare we can and often do achieve physical safety without addressing overall well-being. The result is that we protect many children and youth from harm without arming them with the strength and skills needed to become healthy, resilient adults who can thrive in the world they live in.
When we do consider and talk about well-being, we most often do so in terms of the child's well-being, often in isolation from the family's or parent's or community's well-being. Perhaps arising from the fact that many "well-being" services fall under the purview of organizations and entities other than the child protection agency, it becomes easy for the agency to focus on those aspects of well-being that are within its control. For example, we focus on making sure medical appointments are made and kept to comply with case plan and policy requirements, that educational records are available and individualized education plans are in place, or that mental health screenings are conducted. These are important for sure but not as often do we engage in assessments, develop case plans, and provide supports that address psychological and emotional well-being and what children and families need to feel connected, supported, secure, and, ultimately, to thrive. While we have begun to place more value on social and emotional health since the passage of Fostering Connections, this, too, has fallen short and most commonly manifests in policy and practice to promote school stability and to "normalize" foster care rather than approaching well-being in a holistic manner.
While we have a responsibility to address child well-being when we are called upon to intervene in their lives, I believe that we must also be concerned with the well-being of the parents and families that we want to be able to attend to their children's needs. Given the intergenerational cycles of trauma, family disruption, and unresolved difficulties experienced by so many of our families, failure to address their needs for well-being can only perpetuate such cycles. Our goal should be nothing less than helping them to thrive. I recently met with a group of parents in a community-based family support program and asked them what it meant to them to thrive. The responses were telling—a house without mold, educational opportunities, access to effective mental health services. No one mentioned wealth or extravagant material possessions.
Attending to the well-being of parents and families goes to the heart of the most obvious influence on the well-being of children: the strength of parent-child relationships. Removing children from struggling parents, even when necessary, can inflict and/or increase existing trauma for children, parents, and families. By attending to well-being through primary prevention efforts, we have an opportunity to avoid so much of that trauma. We also have tremendous opportunities to rethink how the foster care experience itself, when necessary, can support, rather than harm, the parent-child relationship and strengthen this essential component of well-being.
A commitment to addressing well-being signals an equal commitment to child protection agencies to work in an integrated manner with other entities that can and do affect well-being every day—the courts, the legal community, service providers, foster caretakers, and community groups and organizations. It cannot—and should not—be attempted in isolation of these key partners and others. I urge everyone to think of parent well-being and healthy, safe intact families as key strategies for achieving child well-being. Let's not forget that the most important thing a child needs is a safe and loving adult and that for the vast majority of children, that safe and loving adult, or adults, are his or her parents.
- Let's Enhance the Well-Being of All Children by Building Vibrant and Healthy Communities Together
Written by Frank L. Alexander, director, Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services, Boulder, Colorado
It is time for us to lift our eyes from the consuming confines of our individual agency work and aim higher—much higher. We have been working for decades to reach the moment that we have before us, an opportunity to truly transform our historically isolated child protection agencies (CPAs) into component parts within integrated systems of care that build vibrant communities and enhance the well-being of all children. We all know this must be done, we know it is not impossible, and, yet, we can't quite see the path forward. That should only further encourage us to sit together with determination and urgency and get to work. When answers are not easily seen, and when fear of failure arises, we need to be thoughtful in how we approach the work we must do. Carl Jung stated, "in sterquiliniis invenitur", meaning that which we most need to find will be found where we least want to look.
Last year, CPAs received 4.1 million referrals involving 7.4 million children. Every day across the United States, we receive referrals on more than 20,000 children. Our child protection systems are overloaded responding to the needs of families with children aged 0 to 5 years that should be met much earlier in our communities. Nationally, between 1,750 and 5,250 children die as a result of maltreatment; 84 percent of child maltreatment fatalities occur in children between the ages of 0 and 5 years, and 50 percent of those occur before the age of 1; 62 percent of all child fatalities occur before the age of 1; the rate of child maltreatment is highest among children under the age of 1, at 24.8 per 1,000, and 50 percent of all child maltreatment occurs before the age of 5; and of the 700,000 children that spent time in care last year, a full 40 percent (280,000) were under the age of 5. The highest rate of fatalities, near fatalities, egregious incidents, out-of-home placements, and child victimization are experienced by children under the age of 1, followed closely by children under age 5. We know that 75 percent of founded instances of child maltreatment are neglect. We know that rates of child abuse and neglect are five times higher for children in families with low socioeconomic status. With all of that being said, we still illogically define child safety as the absence of repeat maltreatment, not the freedom from maltreatment. It is time that we establish a collective national goal to prevent child maltreatment and eliminate child fatalities among our youngest children ages 0 to 5 by positively and proactively supporting strong and healthy families.
We do not have a problem that should be or can be owned by the child protection system, we have a public health problem that requires a much more comprehensive solution. The social and economic costs of child maltreatment rival every major public health issue, including diabetes, cancer, stroke, obesity, and chronic heart disease. For children, there are physical, psychological, and behavioral outcomes that negatively impact lifelong health and social vitality. For society, the annual cost associated with child maltreatment is $80 billion, and the estimated lifetime economic burden resulting from new cases of child maltreatment each year is $124 billion. Significant public health issues require coordinated policy and practice solutions across sectors.
To prevent maltreatment and eliminate fatalities, we need a new foundation. The cornerstone of this foundation is built on strengthening our national alignment among critical federal health and human agencies; private foundations; state and local child protection, human services, and public health agencies; and community agencies serving children and families. By combining direct services for children and families with population-level strategies, we can support the building of vibrant and healthy communities and advance the necessary work of deconstructing the siloes that still largely operate among the health-care, public health, housing, education, and human services systems. The child well-being system needs strengthening and better coordination. Only by activating broad cross-sector coalitions far beyond the child protection agency will we improve child well-being and address the community drivers of health.
Together, we know much of what needs to be done. A broad swath of well-documented studies outline the need to advance child abuse and neglect prevention strategies within broad community efforts around strengthening economic supports for families, supporting parents, providing quality care and education early in life, promoting healthy child development, and developing interventions that lessen harm and prevent future risk. Child well-being is cultivated within vibrant and healthy communities. It is time for us to aim higher—much higher. Let's name child maltreatment the public health problem that it is, roll up our sleeves, and build the public will and national alignment necessary to end it.
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
Spotlight on Child Welfare Workforce Development
News From the Children's Bureau
Read about the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation's research related to its family-strengthening division during fiscal year 2017, an Information Memorandum from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) that highlights the importance of fatherhood initiatives and describes how fatherhood programs are interwoven into the various ACF programs, and the latest updates to the Children's Bureau website.
- Integrating Approaches That Prioritize and Enhance Father Engagement
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its commitment to making sure that fathers—including noncustodial caregivers—have the support they need. In October 2018, ACF released information memorandum (IM) ACF-ACF-IM-18-01, which emphasizes the importance of meaningful father engagement and details the efforts being made to make this priority happen and to enhance father engagement across ACF-funded programs.
A father's positive involvement in his child's life can lead to better outcomes. It builds a strong foundation for learning and success in school, reduces the risk of children and youth engaging in risky behaviors, and contributes to family stability and well-being, which can reduce the time a child spends in out-of-home care and keeps families together.
The IM describes how fatherhood programs are interwoven into the various ACF programs. For example, it highlights the use of Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention program funds in Washington, DC, to support a home visiting program for fathers as well as the Office of Family Assistance providing grant funding for responsible fatherhood activities to 36 organizations in order to develop father-child involvement skills and address barriers to involvement.
The IM showcases the following improved outcomes for children and families:
- Father-infant play may help improve a child's social skills and stimulate cognitive
competence during early development.
- Fathers' economic contributions affect their children's health and development by allowing them to live in safer neighborhoods, have the support materials they need for school, and have lower levels of food insecurity.
- Involved fathers can enhance family stability and well-being in general.
The IM is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/acffatherhoodim_final.pdf (529 KB).
- Father-infant play may help improve a child's social skills and stimulate cognitive
- CB Website Updates
The Children's Bureau website hosts information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, federal reporting, and much more.
Recent additions to the site include the following:
- Child and Family Services Reviews Update, Volume 13, Issue 1, December 2018: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cfsr-update-volume-13-issue-1
- Notice of biennial publication of allotment percentages for states under the title IV-B subpart 1, Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program (Volume 83, Number 230): https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/states-title-iv-b-volume-83-number-230
- PI-18-09: State Requirements for Electing Title IV-E Prevention and Family Services and Programs: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1809
- PI-18-10: Tribal Title IV-E Agency Requirements for Electing Title IV-E Prevention and Family Services and Programs: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1810
- PI-18-11: Requirements for Participating in the Title IV-E Kinship Navigator Program: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1811
- PI-18-12: Approval of a revised form for reporting financial data on the title IV-E Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, Guardianship Assistance, Kinship Navigator and Prevention Services Programs: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1812
- Tribal Courts and Child Welfare: Adapting to Child Welfare Cases [podcast]: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-tcip1
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new.
- Report Describes Wide-Ranging Projects Aimed at Strengthening Families
A recent report from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes research related to family strengthening during fiscal year 2017. OPRE's research in this area considers the impact of family-strengthening initiatives on mothers, fathers, couples, families, children, and youth.
OPRE's Division of Family Strengthening evaluates programs designed to strengthen family relationships, nurture children through home visits with their families, prevent teen pregnancy and family violence, and support fatherhood and positive youth development. The division emphasizes research in four key areas: healthy relationships, parenting, transition to adulthood, and community connections.
This report describes a variety of initiatives on responsible fatherhood, relationship building (for couples, parents and children, healthy marriages, etc.), home visiting, positive youth development, overall capacity building, family strengthening for American Indians and Alaskan Natives, and cross-cutting research. It also provides a list of additional links to more information on the projects and initiatives.
The report also provides a listing of additional links to more information on these projects and initiatives.
The report, Family Strengthening Research, is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/resource/family-strengthening-research-fy2017.
We highlight a special journal issue that features state-led evaluations of efforts to replicate and scale up evidence-based home visiting as well as a Child Trends brief that focuses on first-time parents' knowledge of childhood development and how it can inform programs and practice.
- Parenting Knowledge Among First-Time Parents of Young Children
When parents are more knowledgeable about child development, they tend to experience higher quality interactions with their children and are more likely to participate in more developmentally supportive activities. To that end, Child Trends published two reports that seek to understand what first-time parents know and want to know about parenting and childhood development, how they want to get that information, and how this information varies across different parent groups.
To gather this information, Child Trends conducted a comprehensive literature review of 260 sources on parenting knowledge. Some of the findings and recommendations include the following:
- Parents lack the knowledge they want and need.
- The amount of knowledge available is overwhelming and inconsistent in quality.
- It is unclear which parenting interventions are most effective and why.
- It is important to build a strong evidence base through rigorous methods to study how parenting knowledge varies and how interventions can be tailored.
- Parents need guidance on how to evaluate sources and more effectively use the information.
In addition to reviewing research, Child Trends conducted focus groups with parents of young children across socioeconomic and cultural groups. These focus groups aimed to not only to see what parents in each group typically knew and wanted to know about child development but also to see how the knowledge may have differed. Some of the key findings include the following:
- Parents generally do not feel uninformed but have many questions—especially related to social-emotional development and knowledge on how to specifically apply best practices.
- Parents' research spikes during transition periods (e.g., when the child starts preschool), and they rely on the internet for information, generally using multiple sources to reach a consensus in information.
Professionals and programs can use the information and recommendations from these studies to inform their programs and practice.
The report, First-Time Parents' Knowledge of Infant and Toddler Development: A Review of the Literature, is available at https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ParentingKnowledgeLiterature-Review_ChildTrends.pdf (304 KB). The report, First-Time Parents' Knowledge of Early Child Development: Focus Group Report, is available at https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/FGReportOnParentKnowledge_ChildTrends-9.4-v2.pdf (484 KB).
- Special Issue Highlights State-Led Evaluations of Efforts to Scale Up Home Visiting Programs
A special issue of Maternal and Child Health Journal highlights the state-led evaluations of efforts to replicate and scale up evidence-based home visiting under the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.
The introductory article, "Introduction to the Special Issue on Taking Home Visiting to Scale: Findings from the MIECHV Program State-Led Evaluations," describes the special issue and its focus on the evaluations from 11 state awardees (Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee).
MIECHV has provided over 3.3 million home visits to at-risk families since it was launched in 2010. States and territories receiving MIECHV funding are encouraged to evaluate their programs in order to contribute to the overall understanding of their replication, scale up, and effectiveness. Each year, 3 percent of MIECHV funding supports research and evaluation on the implementation and effectiveness of these programs. The article notes that 124 state-led evaluations have been conducted since 2011, with 58 having been completed.
The authors note that the abstracts for this special issue were selected based on their rigor and potential relevance for the home visiting field. The resulting articles address four topics: understanding and enhancing the quality and fidelity of home visiting programs, family engagement, workforce development, and the impacts of home visiting—including evidence-based models, promising approaches, and model enhancements—on maternal and child health outcomes.
For more information, visit https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10995-018-2539-5.
This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other resources that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.
- Are You Ready? Assessing Readiness for Effective Implementation
Written by the Children's Bureau's Capacity Building Center for States
Agency leaders and staff at all levels must be both willing and able to put new programs and practices in place for new and ongoing initiatives to succeed. In other words, they must be ready for change. The Capacity Building Center for States' brief Change and Implementation in Practice: Readiness describes how agencies can assess their level of readiness for implementation and use the findings to proactively prepare for a successful change initiative. Some ideas from that brief are highlighted below.
What Is Readiness?
Organizational readiness for implementation is the extent to which an organization is both willing and able to implement and sustain a selected intervention (Dymnicki, Wandersman, Osher, Grigorescu, & Huang, 2014). When organizational readiness is high, successful implementation of a new program or practice is more likely; when readiness is low, change efforts are more likely to fail (Dymnicki et al., 2014; Weiner, 2009).
Components of Readiness
Three aspects of readiness are especially important for successful implementation (Dymnicki et al., 2014; Scaccia et al., 2015):
- Motivation—The willingness or desire of individuals in an organization to change and adopt a new program or practice. Factors that influence motivation for an intervention include compatibility with agency values and needs, manageability, and prioritization.
- General (or foundational) capacity—Aspects of an organization's healthy functioning required to achieve its goals. An agency with strong general capacity will have effective leadership, appropriate staff, and clear expectations and procedures for how to do things. Agencies also must have structures in place that support a change process (e.g., strong data systems to explore needs and track changes, training systems to build new skills).
- Intervention-specific capacity—The specific knowledge, skills, structures, and supports needed to implement a particular program or practice effectively. Intervention-specific capacity may include, for example, program champions, strong agency and service provider relationships, and data systems and training specific to the new program or practice.
A simple equation makes it easy to remember the three components (Scaccia et al., 2015):
Readiness for Implementation = Motivation x General Capacity and Intervention-Specific Capacity
Each of the three components is important for agency readiness. If any one component is very low, then the organization is unlikely to be ready. As an agency becomes stronger in each area, its level of readiness for successful implementation grows.
Assessing readiness involves taking a close look at the motivation and willingness of those involved with change efforts and examining factors that both contribute to the organization's overall ability to change and help the organization prepare for specific changes it is implementing. Such assessments can identify where supports are needed and help agencies set a strong foundation for solutions that address identified problems.
To support readiness assessments in child welfare settings, the Center's readiness brief presents a list of sample assessment tools and highlights key areas assessed by each. Teams may decide to use one of the existing tools, modify a tool (if appropriate), or develop a new one. The Parent Partner Program Navigator contains an example of a tailored tool with items related to different aspects of motivation, general capacity, and intervention-specific capacity.
Readiness assessment findings can reveal agency strengths and capacity needs. An agency is rarely "ready" in every area, and frequently an agency will need to focus its attention on improving particular aspects of readiness incrementally over time. Teams can use the assessment findings to inform capacity building and implementation planning.
Once agency teams assess their readiness for implementation and address their findings, they will be better positioned to initiate and sustain new programs and practices aimed at improving outcomes. For more information on assessing readiness for change and implementation, visit the Change and Implementation in Practice webpage on the Center for States website.
Dymnicki, A., Wandersman, A., Osher, D., Grigorescu, V., & Huang, L. (2014). Willing, able, ready: Basics and policy implications of readiness as a key component for implementation of evidence-based interventions. Retrieved from http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/14/IWW/ib_Readiness.pdf
Scaccia, J. P., Cook, B. S., Lamont, A., Wandersman, A., Castellow, J., Katz, J., & Beidas, R. S. (2015). A practical implementation science heuristic for organizational readiness: R=MC2. Journal of Community Psychology, 43(4), 484-501. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4676714/
Weiner, B. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4. Retrieved from https://implementationscience.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67
- Embedding Evidence-Based Practices in Child Welfare
Although evidence-based programs have been shown to be effective in providing children and families involved with child welfare with the services they need to achieve well-being and positive outcomes, it is important to make sure these programs are implemented in a way that follows the program's design and is sustainable. A guide from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the National Implementation Research Network provides a roadmap for child welfare professionals that focuses on the following three components of implementation:
- Effective practices, or what is implemented: These include strategies or interventions that are supported by evidence, are feasible to implement, fit the needs of the community, and are well defined.
- Effective implementation, or how the program is implemented: These require an intentional and visible infrastructure to support effective practices.
- Enabling context, or where or with whom the program is implemented: This requires collaboration, communication, and feedback loops as well as ongoing use of data to support effective practices.
The guide explains four implementation activities for child welfare systems that represent the above components:
- Assessing and selecting interventions: This activity focuses on using program indicators—which assess new or existing programs or practices that will be implemented based on evidence, support, and usability—and implementing-site indicators—which assess the extent to which a new or existing program or practice is appropriate for the implementing site based on population need, fit, and capacity.
- Establishing and maintaining implementation teams: This activity focuses on building teams that make sure families and community members are included in decision-making; define practice clearly and align it to the context; establish implementation support; create mechanisms for measuring and improving fidelity; set goals and create strategies for achieving greater equity; and ensure the intervention achieves and sustains outcomes.
- Developing and aligning implementation infrastructure: This activity focuses on building practitioner competency with the evidence-based intervention, fostering mutual accountability among stakeholders, and aligning system support to create a favorable environment for successful implementation.
- Supporting data use and communications for continuous quality improvement: This activity focuses on the importance of using data to understand how well services are being delivered, whether services are meeting the needs of children and families, and whether services are producing desired outcomes.
The guide, Blueprint for Embedding Evidence-Based Practices in Child Welfare, is available at https://www.aecf.org/resources/a-blueprint-for-embedding-evidence-based-programs-in-child-welfare/.
This section of CBX provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.
- Sex Abuse Prevention Program for Children Added to Child Welfare Evidence-Based Registry
A sexual abuse prevention program to help teach children ages 5 through 8 about their personal boundaries and "safe touches" has been added to the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare.
The Safe Touches program trains facilitators to use special puppets in a classroom setting to teach children about the concept of body safety and personal boundaries. Sessions are 40 to 50 minutes each, with a question-and-answer period at the end. Children are given an age-appropriate workbook on body safety to complete with their caregivers at home.
In addition to preventing child sexual abuse, the goals of the program include helping children to differentiate between safe and unsafe touches, how to respond when they feel unsafe or confused, and how to identify safe adults they can go to when they feel unsafe.
Find out more about Safe Touches at http://www.cebc4cw.org/program/safe-touches/.
- 'WAKE UP! To Your Potential' Leadership Training
Be Strong Families, an organization that offers technical assistance to programs and communities to help strengthen families, has developed three leadership training courses:
- "Wake Up! To Your Potential Orientation"—A 3-hour workshop for parents and providers that introduces the concepts and learning activities of the Wake Up! development system.
- "Wake Up! To Your Potential: As a Person, as a Parent, as a Leader"—Three 6-hour modules for parents and providers on maximizing positive energy to direct their lives, clarifying their vision and setting and achieving their goals, and motivating and inspiring yourself and others to action.
- "Wake Up! To Your Potential Leadership Training for Youth & Young Adults to Build the Youth Thrive Protective and Promotive Factors"—A collection of 12 experiential, 90-minute workshops for youth and young adults that mirror the adult modules and help participants prepare for adulthood, develop listening and public speaking skills, handle stress, deal with negative emotions, sustain healthy relationships, and clarify a vision for the future.
Professionals can use and share these trainings with the parents and youth in their community and help build resilience and improve leadership capacity through this multidisciplinary personal development system.
All of the trainings are available in both English and Spanish on the Be Strong Families website at https://www.bestrongfamilies.org/wake-up.
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.
Upcoming conferences and events on child welfare and adoption include the following:
- 2019 Violence Intervention and Prevention Summit
Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center
February 6-8, Orlando, FL
- 17th Annual Mississippi Child Welfare Institute National Conference
Jackson State University College of Public Service School of Social Work
February 7-8, Jackson, MS
- Palmetto Association for Children & Families (PAFCAF) 2019 Annual Conference
February 25-27, Myrtle Beach, SC
- 32nd Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health
University of South Florida College of Behavioral and Community Sciences
March 3-6, Tampa, FL
- Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Annual Conference
March 9-12, San Antonio, TX
- 2019 Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Annual Conference
Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors
March 13-16, Jacksonville, FL
- 2019 National Conference on Juvenile Justice
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
March 17-20, Las Vegas, NV
- 35th International Symposium on Child Abuse
National Children's Advocacy Center
March 18-21, Huntsville, AL
- 8th Annual Strengthening Families Summit
New Hampshire Children's Trust
April 1, Concord, NH
- 18th ABA National Conference on Children & the Law
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law
April 9-10, Tyson's Corner, VA
- National Conference on Parent Representation
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law
April 11-12, Tyson's Corner, VA
- Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) 2019 National Conference
April 9-13, Washington, DC
- CWLA Post Conference Special Session
April 12-13, Washington, DC
- National Children of Incarcerated Parent Conference
Arizona State University Center for Child Well-Being
April 14-17, Phoenix, AZ
- 2019 Violence Intervention and Prevention Summit
- SOAR Online Course: Child Curriculum
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers the SOAR Online Course: Child Curriculum for free. This self-paced training is intended for case managers to assist children and youth who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder to apply for the Social Security Administration's disability program—Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The course features seven classes and includes articles, videos, and short quizzes; an opportunity to practice completing an SSI application for a fictional applicant using information gathered through video interviews, medical records, and progress notes provided throughout the course; and individualized feedback from experts at the SAMHSA SOAR Technical Assistance Center. This course takes about 20 hours to complete.
To read more or to enroll, visit https://soarworks.prainc.com/course/soar-child-curriculum.