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March 2011Vol. 12, No. 2Spotlight on Leadership in Child Welfare

This month, CBX spotlights leadership in child welfare, including leadership in child welfare agencies, training for leadership, implementing effective leadership, and building leaders among youth in foster care.

Issue Spotlight

  • The Role of Leadership in Systems of Care

    The Role of Leadership in Systems of Care

    Effective leadership is essential to the successful implementation of any systemwide change. A recent report from the Children's Bureau describes the role of leadership for nine grantee projects funded to implement systems of care in order to improve child welfare outcomes. The cross-site evaluation report, Leadership in the Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care Initiative, draws on qualitative data collected during interviews with key stakeholders and highlights the experiences of different grant sites.

    The report discusses systems of care leadership in terms of five leadership strategies:

    • Developing a shared vision
    • Maintaining communication
    • Generating and sustaining buy-in
    • Establishing partnerships
    • Developing support

    The publication also documents some of the challenges (e.g., resistance, turnover, competing priorities), as well as the lessons learned in the grantee communities. Recommendations for leaders intending to implement systems change include:

    • Assess organizational readiness for change
    • Model the behavior you want staff members to adopt, and recognize those staff who contribute to change
    • Track and use data to demonstrate an initiative's impact
    • Dedicate time to developing your vision for the initiative
    • Ensure strong and consistent leadership at all levels of the community and organization

    Leadership in the Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care Initiative was developed by the Children's Bureau's National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care and is available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: (573 KB)


  • Leadership Initiatives for Youth in Foster Care

    Leadership Initiatives for Youth in Foster Care

    Many jurisdictions and local and national organizations have developed leadership initiatives, programs, and training for youth currently or formerly in foster care. These programs recruit and then train and mentor youth so that the youth can participate and offer their expertise in a variety of areas, for example, as:

    • Members of advisory boards
    • Public speakers on foster care
    • Trainers to child welfare workers and other professionals
    • Liaisons to other youth in foster care or in transition to independent living

    Leadership initiatives offer a way to incorporate youth input into policies that affect children and youth in foster care. Youth, working as partners within organizations, advocacy groups, and agencies, can have a real impact on outcomes for themselves and for other youth in foster care and those transitioning to adulthood.

    The following is a list of just a few of the State youth leadership initiatives (with websites):

    In addition, Casey Family Services recently published a report of its work with youth in foster care in Connecticut, describing the creation of the Youth Advocacy Leadership Academy, the experiences of youth who were able to testify before the State legislature, and tips for jurisdictions that want to create similar programs. Read Amplifying Youth Voices to Advance Child Welfare System Reform: (1,450 KB)

    The following two national organizations offer lists of State youth leadership programs:

    • The National Resource Center for Youth Development website can generate a list of organizations by State at (in the right navigation bar, check "Youth leadership activities" and "Submit").
    • FosterClub maintains an extensive list of Youth Advisory Boards and Youth Councils at (scroll down the page to see links to groups across the country).

    Several national groups offer summer internships for youth to provide them with leadership opportunities and training. These include:

  • Guidance for Effective Child Welfare Leadership

    Guidance for Effective Child Welfare Leadership

    Effective leadership places child welfare agencies in a better position to achieve positive outcomes for the children, youth, and families they serve. An online publication, Leadership Guidance, lays the groundwork for the development of effective leadership by discussing necessary strategies, key processes, and operations. Developed as part of American Public Human Services Association's Positioning Public Child Welfare Guidance (PPCWG), the publication helps organizations develop a leadership style that sets the direction for the agency; defines clearly and explicitly how the organization operates day-to-day; and aligns key processes, systems, and capacities in support of a clearly defined vision and positive team culture.

    Leadership Guidance is addressed specifically to public child welfare directors and their immediate executive teams. It offers guidance on where leaders and their teams should spend their time and energy, how to assess and align critical key processes to support the strategy of the agency, and how leadership is embedded and experienced throughout an agency. Topics addressed by the publication include:

    • The importance of leadership and how it affects outcomes for children, youth, and families
    • The environment or context that leaders must understand and respond to in order to be effective
    • The major, overarching functions of leadership and the work involved
    • The critical leadership considerations in addressing the issue of disparities in treatment and outcomes of children of color
    • The key processes needed to support and reinforce the agency's vision and culture
    • The demonstration of leadership throughout the organization

    Leadership Guidance is available for download on the PPCWG website: (239 KB)

    Leadership Guidance is one publication among an array of resources available from the PPCWG website, as part of the Positioning Public Child Welfare Initiative. The initiative was begun in January 2007 by the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators with the collaboration and support of Casey Family Programs. The initiative was established to develop guidance for the child welfare field in the areas of strategy, leadership, practice models, communications, administrative practices, workforce, disparity and disproportionality, strategic partnerships, information management, change management, research, technology, public policy, and budget and finance.

    For more leadership resources from PPCCWG, visit the website:

  • Successful Parent Leadership in Child Welfare

    Successful Parent Leadership in Child Welfare

    When parents are given the opportunity to serve as leaders within the child welfare system, parents and agency staff can form partnerships to share responsibility for the design, implementation, and evaluation of services for families. Involving parents as leaders, not just advisors, requires ongoing staff commitment and the establishment of policies and practices that encourage parent leadership.

    The FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention recently published Meaningful Parent Leadership: A Guide for Success to help State and local child abuse prevention, family support, and child welfare agencies develop models for engaging parents as stakeholders and leaders. The guide defines parent and practitioner roles, reviews the principles of collaborative leadership, and discusses the elements of successful parent leadership. According to the guide, creating a culture of true parent leadership in child welfare requires the following steps:

    • Assess and improve agency/staff readiness
    • Identify, recruit, and retain parent leaders
    • Provide appropriate roles for parent leaders and recognize their contributions
    • Address culture, diversity, and special needs

    Appendices to the guide offer successful State models of parent leadership and numerous tools to assess personal and organizational readiness. Download the guide on the FRIENDS website: (2137 KB)

    Related Items

    FRIENDS provides a training guide, self-assessments, and additional tools and publications in the Parent Leadership and Involvement section of the FRIENDS website:

    The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections offers links to websites, webinars, bibliographies, examples from the States, and more resources in the Family Leadership and Perspectives section of its website:

  • NCWWI's Leadership Academy Offers Training

    NCWWI's Leadership Academy Offers Training

    Important positive changes are taking place in child welfare systems across the country, many prompted by the work of the Children’s Bureau and supported by the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). Child welfare leaders are needed to drive these positive system changes, successfully implement evidence-based and evidence-informed practice, and create a culture of accountability. 

    Following an extensive resource scan and literature review, the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) developed the Leadership Competency Model and Framework (, which includes four leadership domains (Leading Change, Leading in Context, Leading People, Leading for Results) and five leadership pillars (Adaptive, Collaborative, Distributive, Inclusive and Outcome Focused). The Framework defines competencies for each domain and its related proficiency indicators to create a leadership ladder—from caseworker to supervisor, middle manager, and executive leadership—that can be used to support various personnel-related activities, including performance assessment, career planning, and professional development and training programs.

    The Framework also guides the innovative curriculum of the NCWWI Leadership Academy, designed to develop leadership skills for implementation of change through two different training delivery systems:

    • The Leadership Academy for Supervisors (LAS) provides online leadership training to experienced child welfare supervisors who provide direct supervision to frontline workers. Courses are designed so that learners can work at their own pace, coming in and out of the training as their schedule allows, or electing to enroll in only one or two of the modules instead of committing to the entire program. Each module includes case examples and scenarios specific to the role of unit supervisor. The instructional strategy asks supervisors to create a personal leadership development plan and to identify and work on a specific change initiative. Each module is followed by a facilitated peer learning session in which participants can network and discuss what they have learned with other supervisors. The core curriculum is designed to provide a total of 30 contact hours of training and is eligible for certificates of participation and/or Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Currently, four modules are available:
      • Introductory Module
      • Foundations of Leadership
      • Leading in Context
      • Leading People
    • The Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM) is a holistic training program offered a total of 15 times through 2013, 3 times in each of five paired Federal regions (Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, and New York). Each training serves two to three middle managers from each State in the Region, and Tribal nominees from each region are actively recruited. The program includes:
      • Pretraining activities (phone calls, readings, completion of the web-based introductory module, participation in a webinar, and completion of a leadership assessment)
      • Identification of a change initiative as the centerpiece of the residential training and for implementation afterward
      • A 5-day residential program
      • Peer networking and web-based activities for additional leadership subject matter and support to participants as they implement their change initiatives

    These learning experiences are opportunities for middle managers and supervisors to develop their leadership competencies and to contribute to sustainable systems change in child welfare.

    For more information about the NCWWI Leadership Academy, please visit the website:

    You may also contact Nancy S. Dickinson, M.S.S.W., Ph.D., NCWWI Project Director, at

    Contributed by Sara Munson, M.S.W., NCWWI National Dissemination Coordinator

    Recent Issues

  • April 2024

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

  • March 2024

    Spotlight on Diversity and Racial Equity in Child Welfare

    Spotlight on Diversity and Racial Equity in Child Welfare

News From the Children's Bureau

CBX brings you Children's Bureau and Federal Government news about new tools, information, and opportunities to help you in your child welfare work.

  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    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. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.

    Recent additions to the website include:

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

  • Child Welfare Outcomes Data Site Launches

    Child Welfare Outcomes Data Site Launches

    The Children's Bureau has launched a new website featuring data from the Child Welfare Outcomes (CWO) Reports. The site makes the latest CWO data available for users to view in a variety of ways according to their specific needs. CWO data for 2006 through 2009 are currently available.  

    The site features a report builder that allows users to select the specific State(s), data, and data years that they would like to view. It also allows users to select the format in which they would like their data displayed: graph, table, or map outputs. Users also have the capability to compare data across States.

    The annual CWO report provides data on each State's performance in seven areas:

    • Reduce recurrence of child abuse and/or neglect
    • Reduce the incidence of child abuse and/or neglect in foster care
    • Increase permanency for children in foster care
    • Reduce time in foster care to reunification without increasing reentry
    • Reduce time in foster care to adoption
    • Increase placement stability
    • Reduce placements of young children in group homes or institutions

    Users can access the new site using the following link:

    A report on earlier years, Child Welfare Outcomes 2004-2007: Report to Congress, was recently released and is available on the Children's Bureau website: (5.30 MB)

  • School Lunches for Children in Foster Care

    School Lunches for Children in Foster Care

    Signed into law by the President on December 13, 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. It also is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative:
    The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 provides categorical eligibility to foster children for free meals served under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act.  A recent memo from the USDA's Director of Child Nutrition Division provides guidance to Regional Special Nutrition and State Child Nutrition Program Directors for implementing the new eligibility standards. It also encourages these program directors to reach out to State and local child welfare agencies to ensure timely and efficient implementation. Read the memo here: (28 KB)
    If you would like to reach out directly to your State Child Nutrition Programs to collaborate on the implementation of the new law or to find out more information about implementation in your State, contact information can be found here:

    More information about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 can be found on the USDA website:

  • Evaluation Summit Call for Abstracts

    Evaluation Summit Call for Abstracts

    Save the date! The Children's Bureau will sponsor the 2nd National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit August 29–31 in Washington, DC.

    The Children's Bureau invites experts in the child welfare and evaluation communities to present at the Summit. The Bureau is seeking a balance of presentations that demonstrate direct involvement with public and/or Tribal child welfare agencies; partnerships with national advocacy organizations, think tanks, or technical assistance providers; collaboration with community agencies; and independent research. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that will contribute to the evidence base of child welfare practice and policy and benefit the diverse array of children and families served by the child welfare system.

    Abstracts will be accepted for panel presentations, workshops, round tables, and posters that support the Summit's themes of Building Evidence, Strengthening Practice, and Informing Policy.

    For more information about the Evaluation Summit and the Call for Abstracts, please visit the conference website:

    Abstracts will be accepted electronically via the website in early March. The deadline to submit abstracts is April 15, 2011.

    For more information, contact

  • AdoptUSKids' Reports 15,000+ Children Adopted

    AdoptUSKids' Reports 15,000+ Children Adopted

    AdoptUSKids, which hosts, on behalf of the Children’s Bureau, a national photolisting of children awaiting adoption, recently reported stunning results for 2010: The number of children who appeared in the photolisting and were subsequently adopted from foster care surpassed the 15,000 mark at the end of 2010. In addition, AdoptUSKids was able to report to the Children's Bureau that this adoption number for Federal fiscal year 2010 was 2,869 children, up 58 percent from 2009, and almost double the 2008 number.  These results reflect the growing success of AdoptUSKids' photolisting, the popularity of this medium for families across the country, and the hard work of many caseworkers and agencies in placing children with loving families.

    What's next for AdoptUSKids? Watch the website, Facebook, and other media as AdoptUSKids implements a new look for the new year.

Training and Technical Assistance Update

The T&TA Network section shares news about new publications from the T&TA Network members, as well as news of upcoming events.

  • Permanency Planning Today Focuses on Family Partnerships

    Permanency Planning Today Focuses on Family Partnerships

    The Winter 2011 issue of Permanency Planning Today, from the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC), focuses on integrating meaningful family partnerships in child welfare practice. Articles look at ways to engage different populations of parents:

    • "If I Knew Then What I Know Now" is the story shared by a child welfare worker who also has been a parent in the child welfare system. 
    • "Engaging Non-Custodial Fathers" explores some of the feelings experienced by fathers and social workers.
    • "Engaging Parents as Partners" describes the creation of a parent partnership program in California.
    • "Insights on the Parent Advocate Initiative" follows a New York City program that supports and promotes parent advocates.
    • "Extreme Recruitment," one approach to family finding and achieving permanency, is examined in an interview with the director of an adoption coalition in St. Louis.

    This issue of Permanency Planning Today also includes an article on resources on the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act.

    Read and download the issue on the NRCPFC website: (5,464 KB)

  • Promising Practices for Addressing Racial Disproportionality

    Promising Practices for Addressing Racial Disproportionality

    For a number of years, researchers have reported—and many jurisdictions have struggled with—the overrepresentation of children from certain ethnic and racial groups in the child welfare system. Often, the causes of racial disproportionality have been discussed in terms of cultural competence and the cultural gap that frequently exists between child welfare workers and the families they serve.

    A new issue brief from Child Welfare Information Gateway focuses on some promising practices from around the country that agencies and jurisdictions have implemented to respond to disproportionality. Addressing Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare looks at the various decision points in the child welfare process where overrepresentation (or underrepresentation) of different racial or ethnic groups may occur and notes promising programs that address disproportionality at those decision points. The issue brief explores disproportionality in terms of:

    • Prevalence
    • Community development and prevention
    • Reporting and screening
    • Investigation and assessment
    • Service provision
    • Permanency for children in out-of-home care
    • Across the stages of child welfare
    • States' efforts
    • Strategies and research

    In spotlighting some promising practices for addressing disproportionality for specific groups, the issue brief notes that many of these strategies are the same ones that agencies can use to improve child welfare outcomes for all children.

    Read or download the issue brief from the Information Gateway website:

  • More Updates From the T&TA Network

    More Updates From the T&TA Network

    The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:

  • Introducing the TTACC (Training and Technical Assistance Coordination Center) Team

    Introducing the TTACC (Training and Technical Assistance Coordination Center) Team

    The Children's Bureau T&TA Network has worked to provide a seamless array of services to States, Tribes, Territories, Tribal organizations, Tribal consortia, and grantees to promote continuous improvement in the delivery of child welfare services.

    The mission of the Training and Technical Assistance Coordination Center (TTACC), operating under the guidance and direction of the Children's Bureau, is to coordinate the delivery of intensive, individualized, onsite T&TA services provided to States, Tribes, territories, and courts through the T&TA Network. This will allow for improved assessment and coordination of T&TA after Federal reviews and recommendations. One of the primary roles is to assist Children's Bureau staff as they monitor the delivery of onsite T&TA.

    The Coordination Center engages both the customers (States, Tribes, territories, and courts) and members (Regional Offices, Children Bureau Central Office, National Resource Centers, and Implementation Centers) of the T&TA Network. It is housed at JBS International in North Bethesda, MD.

    TTACC carries out its coordination work principally through its four T&TA Coordination Specialists: Sonja Heard, Deb Martinez, Ann Carver, and Tamisha Peanort. Under the guidance of Project Director Melody Roe and Federal Project Officer Roshanda Shoulders, the Coordination Specialists have forged relationships with key players throughout the Network to carry out the coordination that's at the heart of the Children's Bureau's goals. For a map of TTACC coordination coverage, visit the TTACC Information Portal:

    According to Ms. Roe, "I joined TTACC in August of 2010 because I believe that a coordinated, integrated approach to the delivery of TA services will result in better long-term outcomes for the States, Tribes, territories, and courts we serve. It's exciting and challenging to be a part of shaping the T&TA Network's future direction, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue working with the Regional Offices, our T&TA Network partners, and our Federal partners to improve the delivery of TA services."

    Even as TTACC moves from establishing itself as a new player within the Network to becoming essential in carrying out the Children's Bureau's vision of a nationwide TA Network that works collaboratively to provide a seamless array of services that promote continuous improvement in child welfare, early success stories of coordination efforts have come in, including several States with particularly complex T&TA coordination challenges.

    Please feel free to direct any questions you may have about the project to

     Contributed by John Cashman of TTACC

  • NRCCPS Debuts Citizen Review Panel Webpage

    NRCCPS Debuts Citizen Review Panel Webpage

    The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) recently launched a Citizen Review Panel (CRP) webpage to bring together resources and information on CRPs. Each State's CRP is responsible for examining the effectiveness of State and local child protection systems, evaluating the coordination of CPS with foster care and adoption, and reviewing child fatalities and near fatalities.

    The CRP webpage offers materials for developing and maintaining a CRP, including guidelines and protocols, tips for using CRPs to improve CPS, and a PowerPoint on evaluating CRP impact. Links are included to other websites that offer CRP resources. Finally, Citizen Connections, the national CRP newsletter is also posted. Each issue includes updates from different State CRPs.

    Visit the CRP webpage on the NRCCPS website:

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

Grantee News links you to information about upcoming funding opportunities and a site visit to a grantee working with noncustodial fathers.

  • Site Visit: Engaging Nonresident Fathers in Texas

    Site Visit: Engaging Nonresident Fathers in Texas

    The National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF) awarded subgrants in 2008 to projects in four States for fatherhood classes for nonresident fathers whose children have been removed from their homes. One of the four subgrants was awarded to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Child Protection Services (CPS) Division to conduct a project in Tarrant County in partnership with several local organizations. Tarrant County includes the cities of Fort Worth and Arlington and is adjacent to Dallas County. The project has three main components:

    • Identifying and locating potentially eligible fathers whose children are in foster care
    • Providing curriculum-driven fatherhood classes
    • Raising awareness among child welfare workers about the importance of father engagement

    The fatherhood classes meet for 20 weeks and use a curriculum developed by the QIC NRF to support nonresident fathers in engaging their children. The curriculum covers topics such as navigating the child welfare system, supporting their children, the juvenile court system, and workforce issues.  Between August 2008 and March 2010, the Tarrant County subgrant held fatherhood classes for seven cohorts of fathers.

    Project staff and participating fathers offered various observations about the project, including:

    • Those who participated in the classes gained valuable support, although the small size of the classes negatively affected the implementation of the curriculum.
    • The fathers noted that persistent phone calls were the best way to encourage their participation in a class.
    • The males-only dynamic in the classes was very beneficial for the fathers.
    • Common barriers to the fathers being able to attend the classes included transportation issues and conflicting work schedules, and common barriers to initially engaging the fathers included distrust of the child welfare system, personal issues (e.g., substance abuse, mental health problems), fear of the unknown, their fragile state (i.e., being overwhelmed by the situation), and paternity questions.

    Project staff felt that the project made its biggest impact on the understanding and practice of CPS staff regarding engaging fathers. The subgrant conducted several trainings on this topic, including one for 350 workers from 19 counties. The majority of workers surveyed after the training indicated that they had increased their knowledge about the importance of father involvement and the barriers fathers face with the child welfare system. Other trainings focused on topics such as pulling historical paternal information from case files and locating fathers.

    The subgrant ends on March 31, 2011, and the Tarrant County subgrant continues to work on ways to disseminate the information they collected and sustain various components of the project, such as family finding, support for fathers, the Fathers Advisory Council, and changes to the data collection system to make it focus more on paternal information.

    For more information about the project, contact Karen Bird, Project Director:

    Access the full report on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    The National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Residential Fathers and the Child Welfare System is funded by the Children's Bureau. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.

  • Apply to Be a Grant Reviewer

    Apply to Be a Grant Reviewer

    Each spring, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recruits reviewers and panel chairpersons for its grant programs, including those administered by the Children's Bureau. Grant reviewers convene to receive training and then review grant applications, spending 1 week reading, evaluating, discussing, and making recommendations on grant proposals. If you are interested in applying to be a grant reviewer or chairperson, find out more about the program here:

    To apply, visit:

    Grant reviewers and chairpersons, including students, receive compensation for their time, as well as valuable experience in the Federal grant review process.

  • Discretionary Grant Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Forecasts

    Discretionary Grant Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Forecasts

    The Children's Bureau is currently forecasting seven FY 2011 discretionary grant funding opportunities.

    Readers are advised to check the forecast site regularly, as these forecasts are subject to change.

    As of early February, these seven FOAs were in the forecast:

    • Child Welfare-Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children with Child Welfare Involvement HHS-2011-ACF-ACYF-CO-0185
    • Family Connection Grants: Using Family Group Decision-making to Build Protective Factors for Children and Families HHS-2011-ACF-ACYF-CF-0181
    • Grants to Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Migrant Programs for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs HHS-2011-ACF-ACYF-CA-0147
    • Infant Adoption Awareness Training Grants HHS-2011-ACF-ACYF-CG-0170
    • Integrating Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Focused Practice in Child Protective Service (CPS) Delivery HHS-2011-ACF-ACYF-CA-0169
    • Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants HHS-2011-ACF-ACYF-CS-0174
    • Improving Service Delivery to Youth in the Child Welfare System HHS-2011-ACF-ACYF-CW-0186

    Information about planned FY 2011 FOAs is now available on the Department of Health and Human Services Grants Forecast website:

    To find the Children's Bureau's planned announcements, enter the title or Funding Opportunity Number (FON) in the search box. To see all of ACF's forecasted FOAs, select "Advanced Search," then select "Administration on Children and Families (ACF)."

Child Welfare Research

Child welfare news reports on new publications dealing with educational stability, postadoption support, and the impact of different kinds of child maltreatment on later delinquency.

  • Summit Report on Fostering Connections

    Summit Report on Fostering Connections

    In April 2010, the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Youth at Risk held a summit to discuss ways to leverage the Fostering Connections Act to improve outcomes for youth transitioning out of foster care to independence.  More than 100 child welfare professionals, judges, attorneys, advocates, and youth met to hear experts and to assemble in working groups to review the challenges and make concrete recommendations. The keynote speaker was Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, a leading sponsor of the original Fostering Connections Act legislation.

    A report on the summit was recently released that describes the resulting recommendations. The report, Charting a Better Future for Transitioning Foster Youth, presents the 56 recommendations in terms of the eight working-group topics:

    • Permanency for Older Youth
    • Courts and the Legal Process 
    • Housing and Placement
    • Education and Employment
    • Health and Mental Health
    • Crossover Youth (youth involved with child welfare and delinquency)
    • Youth Engagement and Youth Focused Systems
    • State Implementation of the Fostering Connections Act

    The report notes that the majority of recommendations followed three themes:

    • Youth need to be involved in decisions that concern them.
    • States implementing the Fostering Connections Act should make major changes in the ways that older youth in foster care are served.
    • Data should be collected and used to document continuous improvement of child welfare and court services for older youth.

    In addition to the recommendations, the report includes five extensive appendices that address the summit events, participants, speaker remarks, Fostering Connections resources, and relevant ABA policies.

    Download the full report from the ABA website:
    (3.88 MB)

  • Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care

    Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care

    A recent issue of Casey Family Services' Voice magazine focuses on the importance of providing school stability for children and youth in foster care. Changing schools can set children back academically, cut them off from their friends and social group, and add more stress to children who are already experiencing stressful circumstances. Research shows that high school graduation rates for young people aging out of the foster care system are significantly lower than for youth in the general population, with school changes and other disruptions playing a major role.

    The articles in Voice explore the hurdles to educational stability and ways to address them. "School Stability Is Critical to Success of Youth in Care" looks at the potential impact of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 on school stability. Efforts in Pennsylvania, California, and Connecticut to implement measures that would ensure school stability are also reviewed. Short, real-life stories illustrate the impact of frequent school changes on the lives of youth in foster care. Other Voice articles include:

    • "Goals and Recommendations of the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education"
    • "Social Work Practices to Support School Stability"

    Voice, Vol. 11(2), is available on the Casey Family Services website: (877 KB)

    Related Items

    The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law maintains the Legal Center for Foster Care & Education, which serves as a national technical assistance resource and information clearinghouse on legal and policy matters affecting the education of children in the foster care system. Visit the webpage to find information about the Fostering Connections Act's impact on education for children in foster care and more:

    The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement is offering two webinars, in March and April, on strategies to support school stability and continuity. Visit the website for more information:

  • The Relationship Between Child Maltreatment and Delinquency

    The Relationship Between Child Maltreatment and Delinquency

    A recently published article looks at the relationship between child maltreatment and violent delinquency. In "Disentangling the Relationship Between Child Maltreatment and Violent Delinquency: Using a Nationally Representative Sample," researchers Ilhong Yun, Jeremy D. Ball, and Hyeyoung Lim used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescents to examine the relationship between child maltreatment and violent delinquency. The cases of 3,472 adolescents were analyzed for any relationship among child maltreatment and violent delinquency and for potential moderating effects of gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and religiosity.

    Citing the limitations of prior research findings that relied largely on localized data samples, the authors contend that using a national data set provides a more reliable analysis of the relationship between different types of abuse and neglect and the incidence of violent delinquency. The authors conclude that physical abuse was not associated with future violent delinquency, whereas sexual abuse and neglect predicted violent delinquency significantly. Gender, SES, and religiosity had no moderating effects on these relationships.

    The article was published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. An abstract and ordering information for the article can be found on the publisher's website:

  • Promoting Stable Families Through Postadoption Support

    Promoting Stable Families Through Postadoption Support

    Postadoption support services are vitally important to sustain and strengthen adoptive families. Adoptees with histories of abuse, neglect, or lengthy institutionalization may confront significant challenges throughout their childhood. Without ongoing assistance and support for the children and their parents, many of these adoptions are at risk of disruption or dissolution. A new report issued by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute reviews existing postadoption programs and identifies directions for the development of effective models of postadoption practices.

    The report, Keeping the Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed, explores the range of challenges faced by adoptive families, assesses the extent to which current policy and practice meet their needs, and illustrates the risk and protective factors shaping positive, as well as more negative, adjustments. Several chapters also address evidence-based and promising practices in postadoption, as well as the different types of postadoption services models currently in use.

    According to author Susan Livingston Smith, while adopted children are at a greater risk of experiencing emotional or behavioral problems, the majority of adopted youth are functioning within the normal range, and well over 90 percent of parents are satisfied with their adoptions. Nevertheless, many families are not able to access essential services while raising children with past histories of abuse, neglect, or institutionalization. With that in mind, the report offers some recommendations for improving postadoption support:

    • Build a national task force to implement strategies and legislative initiatives geared towards the development of postadoption services
    • Establish private and Federal funding to secure a reliable financial base for postadoption services
    • Provide educational opportunities and adoption-competent counseling programs
    • Develop a comprehensive continuum of adoption services at local, county, and State levels

    Keeping the Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed is available on the Adoption Institute website: (1,003 KB)

    Related Item

    A new toolkit from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), Advocating for Post-Adoption Support: Tools to Promote Parent-Led and Child-Driven Services, highlights the benefits and cost-effectiveness of comprehensive postpermanency support programs. The toolkit is designed to help adoptive and guardianship parents, adoption professionals, community providers, legislators and others work toward establishing effective postpermanency support programs. Find the report on the NACAC's website: (1.34 MB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • How States Can Help Older Youth

    How States Can Help Older Youth

    The National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices has released a new report, The Transition to Adulthood: How States Can Support Older Youth in Foster Care, which provides effective strategies States can use to support older foster youth as they transition to adulthood.

    Highlighted in the report are approaches that have shown success in five areas:

    • Education: States can minimize a youth's school changes, work with administrators to track academic records, and connect students with mentors and other on-campus support for postsecondary education.
    • Employment: Youth can be connected with career training by States forming partnerships with employers that may offer opportunities. It is also beneficial if States provide youth with lessons in money management.
    • Housing: Partnerships between State and local housing authorities and community organizations can create affordable housing programs for youth in addition to providing support they need to live independently.
    • Health Care: To help improve the health outcomes of transitioning youth, States can extend the eligibility of Medicaid beyond age 18 and develop a system to help youth track their medical histories.
    • Relationships: Helping youth create stable relationships with caring adults, establishing legal guardianships, and connecting youth to family members when possible are ways States can help youth explore permanency options.

    To access the full report, visit the NGA website: (2.47 MB)

  • A Toolkit to Help Communities Engage Parents

    A Toolkit to Help Communities Engage Parents

    Growing and Sustaining Parent Engagement: A Toolkit for Parents and Community Partners is an easy to follow guide providing steps on creating and strengthening parent engagement. The toolkit focuses on developing and implementing three powerful strategies:

    • A roadmap that can guide the community toward better parent engagement and that includes the values and decision-making principles of the organization
    • A checklist that the organization can use to determine how well the organization is following its roadmap and the effectiveness of its parent engagement strategies
    • A parent support network to allow groups to learn from and support each other

    By using examples, activities, and questions provided in the toolkit, parents and community partners can work together to adapt these strategies for their unique environment.

    The toolkit, prepared by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) and commissioned by First 5 LA (a Los Angeles child advocacy organization), is broken into five sections for quick navigation:

    • Overview
    • Background 
    • Building and Sustaining Parent Engagement
    • Achieving Success: Guide for Creating Your Own Strategies
    • Toolkit Resources

    Growing and Sustaining Parent Engagement: A Toolkit for Parents and Community Partners is available for download on the CSSP website: (495 KB)

  • Supporting Higher Education for Students From Foster Care

    Supporting Higher Education for Students From Foster Care

    Casey Family Programs recently updated their Supporting Success framework, a tool to help higher education organizations develop and enhance services to improve outcomes for students from foster care. In addition to the stressors faced by most new students transitioning to a college environment, youth from foster care often have unique needs related to housing, food, transportation, health care, and financial aid. The framework helps colleges improve their existing student support services and develop new programs to address these needs so students can focus on their academic success. The authors of the framework provide guidance on the six elements necessary for program development:

    • Designated leadership
    • Internal and external champions
    • Collaborations with community agencies
    • Data-driven decision-making
    • Staff peer support and professional development
    • Sustainability planning

    In addition, the authors describe six elements for providing direct student support:

    • Year-round housing and other basic needs
    • Financial aid
    • Academic advising and career counseling
    • Personal guidance, counseling, and supplemental support
    • Opportunities for student community engagement and leadership
    • Planned transitions to college, between colleges, and from college to employment

    The framework discusses each element in detail and presents concrete action steps to address each element. Throughout the framework, the authors utilize case examples of promising programs from community colleges and universities in California, Connecticut, Michigan, and Texas.

    John Emerson and Lee Bassett were the principal authors of Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Students From Foster Care: A Framework for Program Enhancement (version 2.0). Download the full publication, a selected bibliography, and a program planning and improvement guide on the Casey Family Programs website:


  • Strengthening Representation of Parents in Child Welfare

    Strengthening Representation of Parents in Child Welfare

    The National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System aims to strengthen representation of parents and provide them a voice in the child welfare process. The project website details the project's work in the area of training and technical assistance, assessments, and relevant articles, including standards of practice. To help attorneys who represent parents in child welfare cases, the project maintains a listserv, offers specialized training, and holds an annual conference. 

    The project is a collaboration between the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Steering Committee for the National Parents' Counsel Organization.

    Visit the webpage to learn more:

  • Family Group Decision Making Webinars

    Family Group Decision Making Webinars

    American Humane is offering a series of webinars on Family Group Decision Making (FGDM), a process in which a trained coordinator brings together the family group and the agency personnel to create and implement a plan to safeguard children.

    The nine webinars, which began in February, are offered on a monthly basis through November.  Each is led by FGDM experts who talk about "how-tos" and promising practices. Continuing Education Units are available.

    The schedule for the remainder of the series includes a variety of FGDM topics:

    • Why Engage a Family in an FGDM Process? — March 23
    • Private Family Time: The Gift and the Challenge — April 27
    • Focus on Follow-Up — May 26
    • Staffing Your FGDM Program for Success: Recruitment, Retention, and Staff Development — July 27
    • FGDM: A Family-Led "Settlement Conference" for Dependency Courts — August 30
    • How Does FGDM Fit With First Nation and Native American Communities? — September 29
    • The Power of Voice: Family Group Conferencing and Family Violence — October 26
    • Engaging Youth in the FGDM Process: What to Consider — November 29

    For more information or to register, visit the American Humane website:


  • Redesigned NCCIC Website

    Redesigned NCCIC Website

    The National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center (NCCIC) recently unveiled its redesigned website, which features improved navigation and an enhanced guided search function. Users may navigate the website in a number of ways. The menu bar at the top of the page provides a comprehensive list of topics and subtopics when scrolled over. Users also may use the detailed sitemap at the bottom of the page and the Quick Search and Advanced Search located at the top of each page to navigate the website. When conducting a keyword search, advanced search, or a library search, users may narrow down search results using specific criteria such as State, Topic, Year, Author, Keyword, Language, and Publication or Content Type.

    In addition, a number of popular resources, including Office of Child Care and NCCIC news, National and State Quick Facts, the Early Childhood Professional Development Systems Toolkit, resources related to emergency preparedness, and those available in Spanish are highlighted on the home page. Users also may wish to share the NCCIC website and resources via the social networking websites Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

    NCCIC is a service of the Office of Child Care. To view the redesigned website, visit:

  • Restoring Parental Rights After Termination

    Restoring Parental Rights After Termination

    Every State has statutes providing for the termination of parental rights by a court. Once parental rights have been terminated, the child is legally free to be placed for adoption.

    A new factsheet from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides an overview of laws in nine States that allow for the reinstatement of parental rights following termination of parental rights. If a permanent placement has not been achieved within a specific timeframe, a petition may be filed with the court requesting reinstatement of the parent’s rights. If the court determines that the parent is now able to provide a safe home for the child, the request may be granted.

    The factsheet, Reinstatement of Parental Rights, includes States' information on when a petition for reinstatement may be filed, who may file a petition, and the specific findings required for a court to grant reinstatement of parental rights.

    The factsheet is available on the on the NCSL website:


    Related Item

    Child Welfare Information Gateway offers Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights, which includes State statutes on termination as well as reinstatement of parental rights:

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.

  • Videos Demonstrate Caseworker Visits

    Videos Demonstrate Caseworker Visits

    Nine short videos on the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) website demonstrate best practices for caseworker visits with children and youth in foster care. The videos focus on the changing needs of children at different ages and in different settings. They include:

    • Caseworker Visits: Overview
    • Visits With Infants and Toddlers
    • Visiting Elementary-Age Children
    • Visits With Children Ages 10-12
    • Visiting Youth Placed in Group Homes or Residential Facilities
    • Preparing Foster Children for Visits With Birth Parents
    • Caseworker Visits: Quality Visits
    • Caseworker Visits: Building Stable Placements
    • Caseworker Visits: Supporting Older Youth Transitioning to Independence

    To access the videos online, visit the Minnesota DHS website (scroll down to "Training Videos"):

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through June 2011 include:

    April 2011

    • 29th Annual "Protecting Our Children" National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
      Honoring Our Traditions: Sustaining Our Families
      National Indian Child Welfare Association
      April 17–20, Anchorage, AK
    • NABSW 43rd Annual National Conference
      Beyond the Rhetoric: A Call for Social Action
      National Association of Black Social Workers
      April 19–22, New Orleans, LA

    May 2011

    • Pathways to Adulthood 2011
      National Independent Living/Transitional Living Conference
      The University of Oklahoma OUTREACH National Resource Center for Youth Services
      May 4–6, Denver, CO
    • Black Administrators in Child Welfare, Inc., National Conference
      The Power of Change: Reducing Disproportionality
      May 15–17, Philadelphia, PA
    • Tenth Annual National Citizen Review Panel Conference
      A Force for Change
      May 18–20, Charleston, SC

    June 2011

    • One Child, Many Hands: A Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare
      The Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research
      June 8–10, Philadelphia, PA
    • 2011 Conference on Family Group Decision Making and Other Family Engagement Approaches
      American Humane Association
      June 8–11, Henderson, NV

    Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: