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April 2018Vol. 19, No. 3Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

To break the cycle of child maltreatment and prevent the removal of children from their homes, it's important to address the root causes of the problem and strengthen the resiliency of families. This month's CBX spotlight is focused on primary prevention. We feature a message about the importance of primary prevention from Jerry Milner, D.S.W., Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. We also include an article on a recent study that looked at the technology-assisted implementation of the SafeCare program; the first study to apply risk terrain modeling to the context of child maltreatment primary prevention efforts; an evidence-based child abuse prevention program, called The Period of PURPLE Crying; a suite of wide-ranging, evidence-based, and trauma-informed programs designed to replace abusive and neglectful parenting practices through primary prevention and the development of a positive and nurturing caregiving approach; and more.

Issue Spotlight

  • Let's Make Every Month Prevention Month

    Let's Make Every Month Prevention Month

    Written by Jerry Milner, D.S.W., Associate Commissioner at the Children's Bureau.

    Celebration months give us an opportunity to shine the national spotlight on important issues, draw attention to need, and identify best practices. I will do that to an extent, but my main intent is to call into question and challenge our commitment, both as a system and as individuals, to primary prevention of child maltreatment and to strengthening families as our core calling.

    Of all celebration month topics, prevention, and especially primary prevention, may be the hardest for child welfare professionals to truly understand. We see examples that make sense to us in other fields (in medicine, for example, with vaccinations and universal precautions), but when it comes to our work, we seem to have greater difficulty applying the concept.

    With over 4 million reports of child maltreatment annually, a foster care population that is steadily rising, and outcomes for children and families that fall short of our expectations, we cannot be happy with the current system. There are families who have been separated who would still be together with the right kinds of support, and while child protective services and foster care will always be needed, our funding and policies promote foster care as our main way of protecting children rather than supporting families and avoiding child maltreatment in the first place. 

    We can change that, although the pathway to change is marked with impediments. Changing the federal funding structure from one that focuses disproportionately on foster care to one that balances spending on foster care and primary prevention will help and is a must. The Families First Act provides an initial step by allowing agencies to use some funding for specific prevention services for children once they are known to the child welfare system, but it stops short of providing states and counties with the ability to focus on the well-being of children and families before maltreatment leads them to child welfare's doors.

    Around the country, I've been able to see primary prevention efforts in place that are helping strengthen families by making a wide array of support services universally available. Where it's happening, decision-makers; public, private, and faith-based partners; and community members have come together with a joint commitment to do better by children and families. Their shared visions and principles have been creatively put into action in their communities and are reducing foster care populations and incidents of maltreatment as well as realizing improvements in other child, family, and community health and well-being indicators.

    Some of these efforts have been assisted by the flexibility of title IV-E waivers that allow states and counties to try new and different approaches and provide preventative services not otherwise available. That type of funding flexibility is key and should be institutionalized in our funding structure. But having funding flexibility alone will not bring the vision to life. That requires a recognition that primary prevention is our only reasonable, logical, and ethical way to strengthen families to care for their children in safe and healthy ways and a commitment to organize our work and partnerships accordingly.

    During this year's prevention month, I challenge and invite all child welfare system participants, including government and private agencies, social workers, attorneys, judges, service providers, mental health professionals, substance abuse professionals, schools, the faith-based community, and community members themselves, to recognize primary prevention of child maltreatment as our common charge and collective responsibility. I challenge and invite all of us to stop narrowly defining our roles as reactors after harm has occurred and embrace the opportunity to truly prevent child maltreatment. I challenge you to make every month prevention month.

  • Risk Terrain Modeling Predicts Child Maltreatment

    Risk Terrain Modeling Predicts Child Maltreatment

    Effective primary prevention methods are imperative to averting the lifelong consequences of child maltreatment, which can include shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, obesity, alcohol and drug use, intimate partner and sexual violence, depression and anxiety, and more. A recent article in Child Abuse & Neglect discusses the first study to apply risk terrain modeling (RTM) to child maltreatment primary prevention efforts.

    RTM is a relatively new statistical and geospatial analysis technique that was originally developed by the Rutgers University Center on Public Security for traditional criminal justice applications. RTM can analyze the relative influence of a variety of environmental factors, such as poverty or substance use, on a dependent variable (e.g., child maltreatment), which helps develop more valid predictions and identify risk clusters, which are locations where risk factors for maltreatment accumulate. It has been successful in accurately predicting shootings, robberies, and other crimes and offers a significant advantage over other types of predictive analysis for child maltreatment, such as traditional hotspot maps, that rely on retrospective analysis of past occurrences.

    The study team reviewed address-level data for 10 risk factors: commission of aggravated assaults, robberies, murders, domestic violence, narcotics crimes, the presence of gangs and prostitution, runaways, poverty, and the presence of bars and nightclubs with a license to serve alcohol past midnight. Then they used specialized software to examine the geographical distributions of all risk factors in order to determine where the risk of maltreatment is most likely to occur. To test the model's accuracy, the RTM model based on 2013 data was then overlaid with the actual locations of substantiated child maltreatment during 2014 to reveal the following results:

    • With the RTM model, 52 percent of all substantiated instances during 2014 occurred in the one-tenth of the city's area that was shown to have the highest risk, which was better than the 43 percent for the hotspot prediction model.
    • Nearly all (98 percent) substantiated future cases of maltreatment occurred in areas that were flagged as having an elevated risk by RTM.
    • Only 2 percent of incidences of maltreatment occurred in areas that were not identified as having an elevated risk.

    RTM offers researchers and prevention providers a predictive tool that can more accurately predict where child maltreatment may occur than other models, which will allow for more targeted interventions, improved allocation of prevention resources and services to the locations with the highest need, and additional information about the risk factors that contribute to the elevated risk.

    "Risk Terrain Modeling Predicts Child Maltreatment," by Dyann Daleya, Michael Bachmann, Brittany A. Bachmann, Christian Pedigo, Minh-Thuy Bui, and Jamye Coffman (Child Abuse & Neglect, 62), is available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213416301922.

     

  • Review of Child Sexual Abuse Primary Prevention Strategies

    Review of Child Sexual Abuse Primary Prevention Strategies

    A recent report from Prevent Child Abuse Iowa reviews child sexual abuse (CSA) primary prevention strategies based on three target audiences: children, parents and caregivers, and communities.

    Child-focused prevention programs are the most prevalent and are primarily administered in schools. These programs focus on educating children about CSA, teaching them how to stop it, and reporting abuse when it occurs, as well as teaching children that CSA is never their fault. Child-focused prevention efforts are usually centered on the following six outcome measures on which programs evaluate themselves:

    • Knowledge of CSA prevention concepts
    • Protective behaviors
    • Retention of protective behaviors over time
    • Retention of knowledge over time
    • Children's experience of anxiety or fear as a result of the program
    • Disclosure of CSA to an adult as a result of the program

    Parent-focused prevention programs usually fall into two categories: CSA-specific education programs and parenting programs. These programs work in conjunction with school-based programs and allow parents to discuss CSA with their children at an early age, create opportunities for children to receive repeated exposure to prevention information at home, enable parents to notice the warning signs of CSA, and help them respond appropriately to disclosures of abuse. Parent-focused strategies are evaluated based on three categories:

    • The degree to which adults impact their children's prevention knowledge and skills
    • Parents' own knowledge of CSA
    • The degree to which these programs improve parents' communication

    Community-level interventions are collaborative, work across all sectors of the community, are able to locate programs community wide, change community conditions to increase safety and decrease stress on families, and work toward reducing community rates of maltreatment.

    Two community-level interventions have been evaluated:

    • Enough Abuse of Massachusetts: This intervention implemented a state-level framework for CSA prevention, assessed public opinion and perceptions of CSA, developed local frameworks that provided training for community leaders and professionals in youth-servicing organizations, and made changes to local systems involved in CSA services. An evaluation of the program shows that those who believed adults had a responsibility to prevent CSA increased from 69 percent to 93 percent.
    • Stop It Now! of Georgia: This intervention provided statewide training in CSA prevention, disseminated CSA prevention messages and materials, and operated a statewide helpline that gave the public a place to ask questions and report warning signs and incidents of abuse. An evaluation of the intervention found that after the first 3 years of implementation, the incidence of maltreatment dropped from 102 substantiated cases per 100,000 children in 2004 to 57 cases per 100,000 in 2007.

    The use of evidence-based practices, continuous quality improvement strategies, and program evaluation can help to build on the strengths of these strategies to educate children, parents, and communities about preventing CSA.

    Child Sexual Abuse Primary Prevention Strategies: A Literature Review is available at https://www.pcaiowa.org/downloads/library/iowa-sex-abuse-lit-review.pdf (1,460 KB).
     

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis of Two Primary Prevention Programs

    Cost-Benefit Analysis of Two Primary Prevention Programs

    A recent study in Prevention Science assessed the state-level budget and societal costs, as well as the long-term benefits, of nationally implementing two child abuse and neglect primary prevention programs: Child-Parent Centers (CPC), an early education intervention used in Chicago public schools that provides services for low-income families with children aged 3-9, and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), a home visitation program provided by registered nurses to first-time mothers until their child's second birthday.

    The study focused on two main outcome measures: (1) the net value (i.e., benefits minus costs) for states when implementing these programs and (2) the net value of these programs in terms of societal perspective (i.e., economic impact) outside of the state government budget. Economic impact could include the costs associated with parents' time to participate in program sessions, lifetime work productivity gains from reduced abuse and neglect among participating children, and other factors.

    The researchers developed a set of estimates for a hypothetical implementation of each program in all states. According to the study, the following were the estimated lifetime costs associated with abuse and neglect:

    • The average amount spent per incident of abuse and neglect by state governments was $62,781 (ranging from $47,120 in Louisiana to $76,352 in New York).
    • The average amount spent on per incident of abuse and neglect based on economic impact was $222,800 (ranging from $179,179 in Louisiana to $261,536 in North Dakota).

    The average cost per child to participate in the CPC program was $8,512 for children who participated during their preschool years only and $12,719 for children who participated during preschool and while school age. The average cost per child to participate in the NFP program was $8,046, ranging from $6,750 in Mississippi to $9,498 in California.

    The study results indicated that the CPC and NFP programs have the potential to avert abuse and neglect for participating children and thereby save state governments and society on associated costs. The following are the estimated results of these programs if they were to be implemented on a national level:

    • CPC during the preschool years only: 110,457 children avoiding maltreatment annually for a combined lifetime savings of  $10.4 billion from the societal cost perspective
    • CPC during the preschool and school-age years: 171,208 children avoiding maltreatment annually for a combined lifetime savings of $16.9 billion from the societal cost perspective
    • NFP: 85,149 children avoiding maltreatment annually for a combined lifetime savings of $16.0 billion from the societal cost perspective

    These results suggest that the benefits of the CPC and NFP programs outweigh the costs from a societal perspective. Likewise, states may see the cost of implementing these programs offset by reductions in direct spending on health care, child welfare, criminal justice, and special education associated with child maltreatment.

    "Cost-Benefit Analysis of Two Child Abuse and Neglect Primary Prevention Programs for U.S. States," by Cora Peterson, Curtis Florence, Robert Thomas, and Joanne Klevens (Prevention Science, 2017), is available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11121-017-0819-8.

  • Nurturing Parenting Programs Offer Resources, Trainings for Positive Parenting Practices

    Nurturing Parenting Programs Offer Resources, Trainings for Positive Parenting Practices

    Nurturing Parenting Programs (NPPs) are a suite of wide-ranging, evidence-based, and trauma-informed programs designed to replace abusive and neglectful parenting practices through primary prevention and the development of a positive and nurturing caregiving approach. The NPP website offers helpful links and resources as well as training materials for purchase on parenting education; interventions for at-risk youth, teen parents, and families experiencing dysfunction; and specific treatments to correct abusive and neglectful parenting practices and dysfunctional relationships through a process referred to as "re-parenting." The materials are available in both English and Spanish.

    The NPP website includes resources and programs for the following categories:

    • Prenatal care
    • Parents and their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
    • Parents and their school-aged children
    • Parents and adolescents
    • Young parents and their families
    • Military families
    • Health challenges
    • Families in substance use treatment and recovery
    • It's all about being a teen
    • Teen pregnancies and parenting
    • Community-based education

    NPPs are recognized by several organizations, including the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Child Welfare League of America.

    For more information, visit http://nurturingparenting.com/NPLevelsPrevent.html.
     

  • Technology Shows Promise in SafeCare Implementation

    Technology Shows Promise in SafeCare Implementation

    A technology-based program has shown promise in delivering child maltreatment prevention practices to a wider audience by making the work of newly trained child welfare and community prevention providers easier. A recent study looked at the technology-assisted implementation of the SafeCare program. SafeCare, an 18-week evidence-based training model for parents that is widely used in child welfare and high-risk prevention settings to inform safe parenting behaviors, has resulted in a substantial reduction in child abuse and neglect cases and in repeat maltreatment incidents for families who complete the training.

    Thirty-one child welfare and community prevention providers were randomly assigned to SafeCare implementation as usual (SC-IU) or with technology assistance (SC-TA). Providers participated in the project for an average of 7.74 months and were expected to provide three assessments of their designated implementation approach (at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months after starting SafeCare work with families).

    Providers assigned to the SC-TA group followed adapted SafeCare implementation procedures that included the use of the web-based, tablet-delivered program called SafeCare Takes Care, which was designed to assist them in their training sessions with parents. SafeCare Takes Care includes a combination of video, audio narration, and engaging questions and presents them via a "talk show" format. For example, in the parent-child interaction module, a video begins with the "talk show host" explaining the skills being covered in the session and is followed by a video of a parent modeling these skills. The host then takes questions from studio audience members or from fans on the "street cam."

    Implementation outcome data collected from the providers show that the technology-assisted providers spent far less time than SC-IU providers on activities related to training preparation, delivery, and follow-up. The researchers suggested that technology can improve SafeCare training by easing the time and burden associated with provider implementation.

    Participating providers reported that most families seemed very accepting of the technology. The authors point out that technology-assisted implementation of evidence-based practices such as SafeCare should not be limited to providers only and suggest the feasibility of delivering interventions directly to the consumer.

    "A Technology-Mediated Approach to the Implementation of an Evidence-Based Child Maltreatment Prevention Program," by Shannon R. Self-Brown, Melissa C. Osborne, Whitney Rostad, and Ed Feil (Child Maltreatment, 22), is available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1077559516678482
     

  • Period of PURPLE Crying Program

    Period of PURPLE Crying Program

    The Period of PURPLE Crying is an evidence-based child abuse prevention program to help educate new parents and caregivers on early and escalating infant crying (a normal stage in a baby's development) and the dangers associated with it. "The PURPLE Period" refers to the developmental stage in early infancy during which a baby can cry for hours, often inconsolably. It is during this time that parents are most at risk of harming their infants or shaking them in frustration. This can result in abusive head trauma or shaken baby syndrome, a serious form of infant abuse that can result in brain damage or even death.

    The PURPLE period can start at about 2 weeks of age and continue until 3-4 months of age, often reaching peak intensity in the second month of a baby's life. The P in PURPLE stands for "peak of crying" (a baby's crying often intensifies each week until it peaks toward the end of the second month); U is for "unexpected" as it is often unclear what triggers the crying, which frequently appears to start spontaneously; R is for "resists soothing" because a baby may continue crying regardless of how a caregiver responds; P is for "pain-like face" because a baby will often appear to be in pain even when not; L is for "long-lasting" because the crying can last for 5 hours a day or more; and E is for "evening" because the period of late afternoon into evening is when the crying most often occurs. PURPLE crying often happens when a parent arrives home tired from a day at work and is at greater risk of reacting in frustration.

    The program seeks to normalize this time in a baby's life as a healthy stage of infant development and emphasizes that this is in no way a reflection of child well-being or parental or caregiver rejection. Program developers point out that the PURPLE period is often mislabeled as colic, a misunderstanding that can give caregivers the impression there is something wrong with their baby when in fact it is simply part of normal human development. Some babies may cry more, others less, but they all go through a PURPLE period.

    The Period of PURPLE Crying program consists of a specific protocol that has been approved by child development experts, parents, pediatricians, and public health advocates. It is a program of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome website and is based on scientific research on infant crying and SBS. The Period of PURPLE Crying webpage includes useful information for caregivers about the PURPLE period, tips for coping with incessant crying and keeping children safe, information for fathers, child care, parent focus groups, and helpful resources.

    Information about the program can be accessed at http://www.purplecrying.info/sub-pages/what-is-the-period-of-purple-crying/components-of-the-program.php.  
     

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News From the Children's Bureau

Read about the latest Child Welfare Information Gateway podcast series targeting the child welfare workforce and a list of the latest updates to the Children's Bureau website.

  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

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

    Recent additions to the site include the following:

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

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway Releases the <em>Workforce</em> Podcast Series

    Child Welfare Information Gateway Releases the <em>Workforce</em> Podcast Series

    Child Welfare Information Gateway has released the first three episodes of the Workforce podcast series. The Workforce podcasts aim to help child welfare agencies in implementing an integrated strategy across multiple domains to achieve workforce development goals, including reducing turnover, building staff capacity, enhancing leadership skills, improving outcomes, and reducing costs.

    The following Workforce podcasts are now available:

    • "Workforce Part 1 - The Workforce Development Framework" focuses on the essential elements and implementation of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute's Workforce Development Framework. The framework provides an integrated approach to continuously assess, plan, and implement strategies to address workforce gaps and evaluate results. This podcast features Charmaine Brittain, M.S.W., Ph.D., director, Organization Development, Butler Institute for Families; and Sharon Kollar, L.M.S.W., senior research support specialist, University at Albany School of Social Welfare.
    • "Workforce Part 2 - A State's Approach to Change" provides an example of how the Connecticut Department of Children and Families used outcome data to identify specific staff attributes as well as technical barriers that needed to be addressed, engaged and received buy-in from partner agencies and organizations, and applied implementation science and assistance from NCWWI to improve manager and supervisor leadership. The podcast features Jodi Hill-Lilly, director, Academy for Workforce Development, Connecticut Department of Children and Families; and Fernando Muniz, deputy commissioner, Connecticut Department of Children and Families.
    • "Workforce Part 3 - Child Welfare Scholars" highlights a collaboration between the University of North Dakota School of Social Work and state child welfare agencies to support current professio working toward their masters in social work degrees. The program also creates an information-sharing network of students, agencies, and leaders, which helps the University of North Dakota to revise and update its curricula. The podcast features Carenlee Barkdull, chair, University of South Dakota School of Social Work, and Vincent Roehr, M.S.W. student, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations.

    The final installment, "Workforce Part 4 - Creating Change at the Local Level," will be released mid-April 2018 and will be available at the Children's Bureau website.
    "Workforce, Parts 1-3" are available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-workforce-part1.
     

Child Welfare Research

We highlight the latest State of America's Children report and an article about how young people exiting the foster care system need and benefit from help with educational and employment opportunities as they transition into adulthood.

  • Youth Leaving Foster Care Need Help Accessing Education, Employment Opportunities

    Youth Leaving Foster Care Need Help Accessing Education, Employment Opportunities

    Young people exiting the foster care system need and benefit from help with educational and employment opportunities as they transition into adulthood, according to a new brief from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The brief emphasizes that there are specific subsets of this population, such as youth who have grown up in group foster care facilities and those who are beginning their adulthood as teenage parents, who are at a greater disadvantage when it comes to making their way in the world. The authors emphasize that these vulnerable groups need policies, programs, and support that can help them gain the work experience necessary for independence.

    The brief, The Economic Well-Being of Youth Transitioning From Foster Care: Opportunity Passport Participant Survey Results Show Employment Helps Many Thrive, looks at employment data from Opportunity Passport participants and provides recommendations for policymakers and youth service providers. Employment characteristics measured include full-time status, rates, average hours worked, hourly wages, and training opportunities. The Opportunity Passport program, a project of the Casey Foundation's Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, is a matched-savings program that seeks to help youth transitioning from foster care into adulthood achieve financial stability.

    Looking at age, gender, and parenthood status for Opportunity Passport participants, survey analysts measured improvement in the statistics and compared them with similar data from the general population and from other studies concerning youth transitioning from foster care. Key survey findings include the following:

    • Opportunity Passport participants are doing better than their counterparts in the general population and National Youth in Transition Database respondents.
    • White participants between the ages and 16 and 18 were more likely to experience employment progression than their Black peers. While that gap narrowed between ages 19 and 21, Black participants still lagged behind their White peers.
    • Young parents did not experience the same economic progression as their nonparent peers, and parenthood was associated with limited opportunity across all age groups.
    • Youth who had experienced more foster care placements did not experience the same amount of economic progression between ages 19 and 21 as those who had fewer placements.

    The brief is available from the Casey Foundation at http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-economic-well-being-of-youth-transitioning-from-foster-care/.

  • State of America's Children Report

    State of America's Children Report

    Nearly one in five American children live in poverty, and the majority are children of color, according to a Children's Defense Fund report that assesses the social welfare of children in the United States. The report looks at how American children fare in 11 different areas: population, poverty, income and wealth inequality, housing and homelessness, hunger and nutrition, health, early childhood, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and gun violence.

    The report includes the following statistics:

    • A baby is born to an unwed mother every 20 seconds.
    • A baby is born into poverty every 49 seconds.
    • A baby is born into extreme poverty every 2 minutes.
    • Nearly 70 percent of poor children are children of color.
    • A child dies before his or her first birthday every 23 minutes.
    • A child is confirmed to have been abused or neglected every 47 seconds.
    • A child is arrested every 31 seconds.
    • Median incomes were $80,800 for White families; $35,900 for Black families; and $41,000 for Hispanic families.
    • Head Start served only 5 percent of eligible babies and toddlers in 2016 and only 54 percent of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds.
    • The majority of public school students in the 4th and 8th grades could not read at their grade level.
    • Between 2013 and 2015, 7,768 children and teens were killed by guns, and gun violence was the leading cause of death for Black children.

    The State of America's Children 2017 is available at http://www.childrensdefense.org/library/state-of-americas-children/2017-soac.pdf (1,430 KB).
     

Strategies and Tools for Practice

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.

  • Using a 'Road Test' to Improve Human Services Programs

    Using a 'Road Test' to Improve Human Services Programs

    The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, which is within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, created a brief to explain how to use a "road test" for improving human services programs. While pilot testing is a common practice, a road test uses rapid prototyping by implementing a new strategy in multiple, short learning cycles in contained practice settings and using feedback to improve the strategy's design for the next implementation cycle. This allows programs to make necessary adjustments to fit their particular needs. The brief also provides practical guidance and concrete examples of road tests.

    A successful road test is partially dependent on a three-phase process known as LI2, or Learn, Innovate, Improve. While the road test occurs during the Improve phase, it is important to note that LI2 can be nonlinear, depending on the goals of the program. Guidance for a successful road test include the following:

    • Commit to active leadership and efficient coordination
    • Anchor the road test in a detailed plan (i.e., a "road map")
    • Create clear learning questions to focus each cycle of a road test
    • Articulate a timeline to foster staff buy-in and ensure everyone is on the same page
    • Design a process to collect feedback in a way that aligns with the learning questions and can feasibly be implemented
    • Analyze the feedback for common threads and themes after each learning cycle
    • Share and discuss the insights from each road test learning cycle

    It is important to keep in mind that a road test focuses more on the quality of strategy implementation as well as the strategy's usability and feasibility and less on the impact. Additionally, it is not a replacement for an indepth research study. Programs that do not have a strong internal design and analysis capability could partner with external researchers, which could help build the programs' capacity to use LI2.

    Using a "Road Test" to Improve Human Services Programs is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/road_test_brief_final_b508.pdf (179 KB).
     

  • FRIENDS Evaluation Toolkit

    FRIENDS Evaluation Toolkit

    FRIENDS has created a toolkit for developing individualized outcome evaluation plans. This toolkit can be used to help programs start to understand what they need to build evaluation capacity. It includes the following components:

    • Building Your Evaluation Plan: This component outlines some of the questions an evaluation plan should address as well as links to more information to get started in planning.
    • Logic Model Builder: This component helps programs identify outcomes, indicators of success, and evaluation instruments that may be appropriate to measure success.
    • Menu of Outcomes and Indicators: This component provides a list of potential domains and protective factors for programs to use when they are creating their logic model.
    • Annotated Measurement Tools: This component comprises a list, available in both alphabetical order and by protective factor, of measurement tools. Programs can use this annotated list to evaluate tools before committing to using them.

    The FRIENDS Evaluation Toolkit is available at https://friendsnrc.org/evaluation-toolkit.
     

  • Is There a Missing Piece in Your Agency's CQI System?

    Is There a Missing Piece in Your Agency's CQI System?

    Written by the Children's Bureau's Capacity Building Center for States.

    The goal of continuous quality improvement (CQI) is to establish processes that enable teams to use data and other information to identify, understand, implement, and evaluate solutions to problems. Individuals with experience receiving child welfare services have a unique understanding of the problems and may identify creative solutions. Parents and young adults may feel empowered by being involved in solving problems that can help agencies effectively meet the needs of families. As a result, family partners can provide a compelling voice for change with the potential to increase community support and garner the attention of decision-makers. Additionally, through involvement in this process parents and young adults may gain valuable professional skills they can transfer to other settings in their lives.

    Thoughtful, intentional preparation is needed to reap the benefits of engaging parents and youth in CQI. Agency leaders must actively endorse and communicate the role of family partners and facilitate their involvement by committing resources, including staff time and other supports. This may include transportation, child care, stipends, recognition of family partners at key project milestones, and ongoing agency-wide communication about their critical role. Agency leaders should prepare CQI team members by clearly articulating roles and expectations, addressing concerns about family involvement in CQI, and focusing on the benefits of participation.

    CQI meetings often involve reviewing data, which can be intimidating for agency staff and family partners alike. While the perspectives of family partners can be particularly helpful in adding meaning to the data, agency CQI staff must ensure that all team members are equipped with the necessary skills to analyze relevant data. Parents and young adults may be empowered to share their ideas if they are prepared prior to meetings so they have a clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting, their role, and the information to be discussed. Purposeful strategies and leadership support will increase the success of meaningfully engaging families in CQI processes that improve services, and ultimately, families' lives.

    The following resources support implementation of research-supported best practices for engaging families in CQI:

    1. "Focused CQI Services Indepth Module 8: Engaging Youth and Families in the CQI Process": This training builds staff and stakeholders' capacity to engage parents and young adults in CQI. Materials are available on CapLEARN, the Center's virtual learning site. Contact capacityinfo@icfi.com for support.
    2. "Family Empowerment Leadership Academy Training": This training builds capacity to empower families and form partnerships to achieve sustainable change in child welfare. The curricula focus on knowledge and skills for partnering with families and encourages change through family empowerment, shared leadership, and peer-to-peer support. Materials are available on CapLEARN.
    3. "Engaging Youth in NYTD": This training provides strategies to engage youth as partners in state efforts to use National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) data.
    4. National Youth in Transition Database Reviews: Factsheet for States: This document provides tips and examples for engaging youth in state NYTD reviews.
       

     

Resources

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.

  • Handbook Explores Legal Options for Homeless Texas Youth

    Handbook Explores Legal Options for Homeless Texas Youth

    A new handbook informs homeless youth in Texas of their legal rights to safety and security and how to access housing and related social services. It also seeks to answer questions for those working with homeless youth, either in a professional or informal capacity.

    The Homeless Youth Handbook: Legal Issues and Options|Texas notes that Texas Education Agency data show that 113,294 Texas youth experienced homelessness at some point during the 2014-2015 school year. The authors point out that this is likely a significant underrepresentation of the true number of homeless youth in Texas, as many children enrolled in school may not disclose their homelessness, and those not enrolled in school remain an "invisible" statistic. In addition, homeless youth in the 18-24 age range are learning to function as young adults with little or no financial or family support. The authors note that homeless youth tend to be resourceful and prefer to remain anonymous for fear of exploitation or perceived lack of authority.

    The handbook explores a variety of issues that youth may have questions about beyond access to housing, including foster care, education, employment, public benefits, pregnancy and parenting, domestic violence, mental health and substance use, health care and medical rights, undocumented status, consumer credit, identity theft, and lawsuits.

    The handbook is a joint project of the law firm Baker McKenzie, multinational corporation Weatherford International, and public interest group Texas Appleseed and is available at http://homelessyouthtexas.bakermckenzie.com/.
     

  • Resource Family Tip Sheet for Supporting Reunification

    Resource Family Tip Sheet for Supporting Reunification

    Reunification, when appropriate to the best interests of the child, is the preferred outcome for youth in out-of-home care. Foster parents can play a vital role in helping that outcome come to fruition. The American Bar Association Center for Children and the Law interviewed several foster families who were recommended by state and tribal child welfare agencies. With the information and insights gleaned from these interviews, the Center for Children and the Law released a short reunification support tip sheet for resource families that centers on the following themes:

    • Respect birth parents and be compassionate
    • Encourage visitation and regular contact
    • Communicate with the family regularly
    • Remember that safe reunification is best for the children

    The tip sheet has many straightforward, actionable tips that resource families can implement to help them support their foster child and the child's birth parents in reunification, from helping facilitate visits and phone calls to staying in contact with the birth family and keeping them up to date on their child. This tip sheet can give resource families a relatable place to start in their journey of supporting reunification.

    Resource Family Tip Sheet for Supporting Reunification is available at https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/child_law/ParentRep/Reunification_Tip_Sheet.authcheckdam.pdf?utm_source=Professionals&utm_campaign=6cd0d7df44-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_E-Notes_September_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9bab4b66b7-6cd0d7df44-292527401 (243 KB).
     

Training and Conferences

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