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November 2022Vol. 23, No. 9Spotlight on National Adoption Month

This issue of CBX features National Adoption Month and brings to the forefront the need to find loving, stable, and permanent homes for children and youth of any age waiting to be adopted. Our message from Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg continues to feature how the Lakota tribe implements the principle of being acutely mindful of the language they use around their children. This issue also includes valuable resources for professionals and the families they serve.

Youth smiling

Issue Spotlight

  • November Is National Adoption Month

    November Is National Adoption Month

    Each November during National Adoption Month, the Children's Bureau, in partnership with Child Welfare Information Gateway and AdoptUSKids, brings to the forefront the need to find loving, stable, and permanent homes for children and youth waiting to be adopted. According to data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System for 2020, there were over 117,000 children and youth in the United States waiting to be adopted. The theme of this year's National Adoption Month initiative is "Small Steps Open Doors" to emphasize how even taking small steps to overcome the unique challenges youth waiting to be adopted face can help support their goals of permanency. By taking every opportunity to engage youth in meaningful ways, child welfare professionals can be instrumental in opening doors to permanency that once seemed impossible to open.

    The newly redesigned National Adoption Month 2022 website features resources, tips, and tools from Children's Bureau adoption grant recipients to help child welfare professionals cultivate relationships and start conversations with youth about permanency. This year's website also contains the following:

    • A Permanency Planning With Youth page that provides an outline for how to honor and incorporate youth voice into efforts to achieve adoption for teens in foster care  
    • A Relationship-Building Tools page that provides Children’s Bureau adoption grant recipients with resources related to building relationships with teens; understanding the impact of trauma, separation, and loss; and preparing teens and adoptive families for permanency
    • A Youth Voices page that highlights the importance of listening to youth voices and the impact building a relationship based on mutual trust can have on a young person’s life

    In addition, the website features the following tips from two teens who were adopted from foster care about how to build authentic, supportive relationships with teens: 

    • Think of all the experiences the youth has been through and what they had to do to survive. It’s not fair to the youth to only be seen for what happened to them. They need one person to believe in them.  
    • Guide, comfort, and support the youth. Kids need to know that they have a rest stop and that someone is there for them.  
    • Help youth see what is possible. Tell them, “What has happened to you in your past doesn’t define you anymore.” 
    • Believe in them. Kids look up to their caseworker. They look to them as the one person who will believe in them. Most youth don’t believe in themselves, so how will they be able to if their caseworker doesn’t believe? 

    The website also includes resources for youth to help them better understand what has happened and prepare them to make decisions for their future. 

    Visit the National Adoption Month website today to learn more.

    Please take our survey! Your input will help strengthen the National Adoption Month website to better meet your needs. Your participation in this survey is voluntary, and your responses will be privately shared with Child Welfare Information Gateway staff and the Children’s Bureau to improve service delivery. You may exit the survey at any time and are free to decline to answer any question. There are no foreseeable risks and no direct benefits from participating in this survey. Proceeding with the survey is an indication of your consent. If you have any questions or require accessibility assistance with this survey, please contact Child Welfare Information Gateway staff by email at or by telephone at 800.394.3366. Thank you for helping us help you.


  • Choose to Practice Positivity

    Choose to Practice Positivity

    Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg

    This month we will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, which is a time to honor Native American culture and contributions to American society. Indigenous means “originating in a particular place.” There are 574 federally recognized Indigenous tribes throughout our nation. Indigenous people were here first. There is a disproportionate number of Native children in foster care and Native families entangled in the child welfare system. We must do better. At the Children’s Bureau, we have been steadfast in lifting up the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). We know that foster care should only be a last resort. However, if foster care becomes necessary, we know that Native children deserve to stay in their community and maintain their strong connections to cultural identity.

    Last month, I had the opportunity to spend time in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Before I arrived, I began listening to a podcast about the history of the Lakota people. The podcast describes Lakota values regarding how children are treated. Children are seen as gifts from the creator and are nurtured and cared for by the entire community. One of the narrators said, “The father’s brothers were all fathers to the child...and the mother’s sisters were all mothers to the child.” In the Lakota community, everyone had responsibility for the healthy development of a child. This reminded me of the phrase we often hear: “It takes a village to raise a child.” It truly does. The Lakota values are intentional, purposeful, and carefully communicated through oral history. They are not only intellectually observed but they are practiced in daily life. ICWA acknowledges that Native children have a right to remain in their community and stay connected to their culture. When we remove a child from their community, we take them away from the important intangibles—that which we cannot necessarily see—and we separate them from their guiding cultural principles.

    My brief immersion into Lakota life led me to reflect on how we support children and families in our field. I learned that one of the Lakota principles—one of their practices—was that children were never degraded. They took special care to say only positive things about a child in that child’s presence. I thought about what a difference that could make in child’s life. I imagined what that could do for a child’s self-esteem, their belief in themselves, and how it might impact the kind of adult they would become. I wondered whether it was possible to create a generation of children who were never degraded. We would have to believe it was possible. This Indigenous People Day, we can learn from the Lakota people. We can make the conscious decision today to adopt that one Lakota principle and live life in a way that is acutely mindful of the language we use around our children. We can choose positivity. What would it cost?

  • 2022 U.S. Adoption Attitudes Survey

    2022 U.S. Adoption Attitudes Survey

    The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DFTA) released the most recent results from an adoption poll they commission every 5 years. The U.S. Adoption Attitudes Survey seeks to measure Americans' awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and behavior toward adoption and foster care. The report presents findings in the following categories:

    • Experience with adoption
    • Adoption considerations and preferences
    • Specific foster care considerations
    • Familiarity and knowledge of adoption
    • Opinions of adoption
    • Evaluation of healthy living arrangements for children
    • Adoption information sources
    • Perceptions of problems in adopted children
    • Perceived obstacles to adoption

    The survey also looks at the perceived impact of adoption as a social issue and discusses what DFTA should be spending its money on. The full results of the survey are available on the DFTA website.

  • National Adoption Month 2022 Resources for Working With Teens

    National Adoption Month 2022 Resources for Working With Teens

    The National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative within the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) presents five training modules to help both caregivers and youth better communicate with one another about meeting the youth's needs within the context of loss and trauma. These modules are designed to help with understanding the impact of trauma and loss on a youth's relationships; building rapport, trust, and openness; and facilitating discussions with youth about grief and loss. They include activities, worksheets, movie recommendations, conversation starters, and recommended ways to provide support.

    Explore the five modules on the C.A.S.E. website.

  • Adoption: By the Numbers

    Adoption: By the Numbers

    The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) published a research report, Adoption by the Numbers, that presents data on the number of adoptions in the United States in 2019 and 2020. This report differs from other adoption number reports by providing an estimate of the number of private domestic adoptions in the United States, which is not otherwise reported by government or nongovernment organizations. NCFA compiled data about private domestic adoptions, intercountry adoptions, and adoptions from foster care to provide an estimate of the total number of adoptions in the United States.

    In addition to the estimate, this report also discusses policies that impact private domestic adoptions and reflects on the effect of COVID-19 on adoption. They found that intercountry, private domestic (excluding stepparent), and foster care adoptions all declined sharply between 2019 and 2020.

    The report presents the following policy recommendations:

    • Federal reporting of private domestic adoptions
    • Discretionary funding to support adoption-informed education
    • Support for adoption service providers impacted by COVID-19

    Researchers can use these data to better understand domestic adoption trends in the United States. Additionally, policymakers can use these data as a reference when considering and developing legislation.

    Read the full report, including state-level data, on the NCFA website.

    Recent Issues

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    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

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    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

News From the Children's Bureau

In this section, find the latest news, resources, and publications from the Administration for Children and Families, the Children's Bureau, and other offices within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as a listing of the latest additions to the Children's Bureau website.

  • Screening Tools for Human Trafficking in Child Welfare Settings

    Screening Tools for Human Trafficking in Child Welfare Settings

    The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Children's Bureau, published a study, Screening for Human Trafficking in Child Welfare Settings: Tools in Use, that explores the knowledge gap in how child welfare agencies identify youth who have experienced human trafficking or are at increased risk of experiencing human trafficking. The study, which is part of the Domestic Human Trafficking and the Child Welfare Population project, pulls from interviews with state child welfare leaders from 25 states about how their agencies identify and serve children and youth who are at increased risk of or who have experienced trafficking.

    There is limited information on promising practices for trafficking screening in child welfare. Therefore, child welfare agencies often look to other state agencies. This study examines and describes screening tools agencies are using as well as themes regarding considerations for selecting tools and creating protocols.

    All study participants reported their agencies had some protocols or guidance in place for identifying potential victims of trafficking, and all reported that their agency has at least one screening tool that is required or that is provided for optional use. Of the 37 tools provided by the participants, 54 percent screened for sex trafficking only, and 40 percent screened for both sex and labor trafficking. Almost half of the agencies used tools with outcomes that include risk levels, such as increased risk of sex trafficking.

    The following are examples of areas of improvement for screening tools and protocols noted by the participants:

    • Screening for both labor and sex trafficking
    • Being more inclusive of gender to account for the trafficking experience of males and other genders rather than just focusing on females
    • Clear, concrete guidance on next steps after scoring the screening

    Read the report, Screening for Human Trafficking in Child Welfare Settings: Tools in Use, for more details on findings and considerations.

  • 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.

Training & Technical Assistance Updates

This section features resources and updates from the Children's Bureau's technical assistance partners to support practices and systems that improve the lives of children and families.

Child Welfare Research

In this section, we highlight recent studies, literature reviews, and other research on child welfare topics.

  • Use of Artificial Intelligence-Based Decision Tools in Child Welfare

    Use of Artificial Intelligence-Based Decision Tools in Child Welfare

    A recent research paper, Improving Human-AI Partnerships in Child Welfare: Understanding Worker Practices, Challenges, and Desires for Algorithmic Decision Support, explores child welfare workers’ experiences with using artificial intelligence-based decision support (ADS) tools at a public child welfare agency. These tools are increasingly being used in public sector agencies to augment human decision-making in high-stakes social contexts.


    The paper presents findings from a series of interviews and inquiries at the Office of Children, Youth and Families in Allegheny County, PA, regarding their use of ADS tools. Specifically, investigators looked into how the workers’ reliance upon ADS tools was guided by their knowledge of contextual information beyond what the artificial intelligence model captures, their beliefs about the tool's capabilities, organizational pressures, and awareness of misalignments in decision-making objectives.  


    The ADS tool used at this specific agency augmented the human decision as to whether to investigate a call alleging abuse or neglect. However, most of the workers interviewed expressed that the ADS tool plays a relatively minor role in their overall decision-making processes. In addition, most workers knew very little about how the tool works, what data it relies on, or how to work with the tool effectively.


    Based on the findings, researchers provided the following design implications for agencies using or implementing ADS tools:


    • Support workers in using their expertise to improve an ADS tool's performance.
    • Design training tools that support workers in understand the boundaries of an ADS tool's capabilities.
    • Support open, critical discussion around the tools.
    • Provide workers with balanced and contextualized feedback on their decisions.
    • Codesign measures of decision quality with the workers.
    • Communicate how decision-making power should be distributed among workers and the ADS tool.
    • Support diverse stakeholder involvement in shaping ADS tool design.


    The findings also highlight opportunities for further research into how ADS tools are used in child welfare and other decision-making contexts.


    More information is available in the research paper, Improving Human-AI Partnerships in Child Welfare: Understanding Worker Practices, Challenges, and Desires for Algorithmic Decision Support. 

  • Analysis Explores Programs Serving Young People Not Connected to School or Work

    Analysis Explores Programs Serving Young People Not Connected to School or Work

    The Reconnecting Youth project, which is sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aims to determine what programs and practices are available to support young people who experience disconnection from school and work during the transition to adulthood. It developed a compendium of programs that provides an overview of 78 programs that address this issue. The project also issued a report that analyzed program characteristics and practices.


    The following are some of the key findings:

    • Program characteristics: The programs are mostly provided through nonprofits operated by community-based organizations, and most receive public funding.
    • Outcomes targeted: For education outcomes, programs mostly focus on basic skills gains, high school completion, and postsecondary education enrollment. For employment outcomes, programs mostly focus on short-term outcomes, such as job placement and readiness.
    • Services provided: Most programs provide both secondary and postsecondary education services as well as both work-readiness services and job-placement supports.
    • Program implementation practices: Common practices across the programs include support services for overcoming barriers, youth development practices, community partnerships or collaborations, and racial equity practices.
    • Data collection and evaluation: Almost all programs reported that they collected data, but only a minority were part of a formal study or evaluation.


    More information on the analysis, including recommendations for further research, is available in the full report, Responding to Young People: An Analysis of Programs Serving Young People Not Connected to School or Work.  


    A full list of programs included in the compendium is available on

Strategies and Tools for Practice

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

  • CBX Survey Launches!

    CBX Survey Launches!

    Throughout Children’s Bureau Express’ 22-year history, we have strived to provide subscribers with the most valuable resources and tools geared toward improving the lives of children and families involved with the child welfare system.

    And now we are asking for reader feedback.

    We want to know what you think about our content, topical coverage, format, style, number and timing of issues, display, and more.

    Please click on the survey link to complete this brief questionnaire. We value your opinion!

  • Permanency for Youth on Their Own Terms

    Permanency for Youth on Their Own Terms

    Written by the Capacity Building Center for States

    This National Adoption Month, we have an opportunity to center permanency efforts on the recognition that all children and youth deserve an intentional and individualized approach to a lifetime of love and support, regardless of their age or circumstances.

    Gather a team of agency staff, youth, and family members to think about the challenges and possibilities you face in moving toward flexible, youth-centered permanency planning. Start by asking yourselves “What would it take to ensure that every permanency plan from conceptualization to implementation is driven by and reflective of youth priorities?” Then, review the questions and ideas below as you create a plan for action.

    Youth-Centered Concurrent Planning

    Every youth should have the opportunity to define permanency for themselves and to have a plan that reflects their unique permanency goals.

    Discuss the following questions with your team as you identify the steps your agency will take to ensure youth-centered concurrent permanency planning:

    • What policies and practices currently limit our opportunities to engage in concurrent, multitrack permanency planning for all youth?
    • How will we ensure all permanency plans are driven by youth priorities for legal and relational permanency?
      • How will we ensure youth are driving permanency planning from the very beginning? Is permanency planning approached as a series of ongoing conversations rather than a “one and done” process?
      • Are we remaining flexible as youth priorities change over time? Youth may define their priorities for permanency differently at age 13 than they would at age 20.
      • What needs to happen for permanency plans to reflect youth priorities instead of agency priorities? For example, is adoption on the table for all who want it? Is relational permanency a part of every plan? Are relationships with families of origin and kin (including fictive kin) facilitated for all youth who want them?
      • How can we ensure permanency plans for youth in special populations—such as youth with disabilities and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or other diverse identity—are structured to achieve permanency in the way they prioritize?

    Ideas for Action and Tips for Success

    Bring a team of youth together to review the agency’s permanency planning policies and practices to ensure they reflect youth priorities, including the following:

    • Engaging youth reviewers in a meaningful and psychologically safe way so they can share their perspectives honestly
    • Ensuring a feedback loop is in place so youth can see how their input informed changes in policy and practice

    Check out Strategies for Authentic Integration of Family and Youth Voice in Child Welfare to find tips for engaging youth in system-level and agency-level efforts.

    Support for Relational Permanency

    While youth may have different priorities and perspectives about legal permanency, everyone should have lifetime access to a strong, supportive network of people who love them.

    Discuss the following questions with your team as you consider the steps your agency will take to strengthen relational permanency for all youth:

    • How will we ensure all youth are connected to a large network of supportive adults (e.g., fictive kin), regardless of legal permanency?
    • How will we facilitate a relationship between youth and their family of origin if youth desire it?
    • How will we ensure youth are driving the permanency process at all stages?

    Ideas for Action and Tips for Success

    Invite supportive adults identified by youth into the permanency planning process and use the following strategies:

    • Engage youth and supportive adults as partners in the process. Being invited to the table is not enough. They need the freedom to set (and define) the table.
    • Engage a neutral third-party facilitator with skills and expertise in youth-driven permanency planning. 

    Check out The Role of Leaders in Engaging Youth and Families to Achieve Timely Permanency for Children and Youth Waiting to Be Adopted and Supervisor Toolkit: Engaging Youth and Families to Achieve Timely Permanency for Children and Youth Waiting to Be Adopted for approaches to engaging youth in individual permanency planning.

    Authentic Relationships

    Centering youth voice in permanency planning requires strong relationships based on trust.

    Discuss the following questions with your team as you consider the steps your agency will take to facilitate authentic relationships and shared decision-making in permanency planning:

    • What needs to happen for casework to be centered around building authentic relationships?
      • How can caseworkers’ time be freed up to focus on building relationships?
      • How can caseloads be adjusted to ensure time for caseworkers to adequately engage in thoughtful permanency planning?
      • How does the agency’s culture facilitate meaningful relationships with youth and families?
    • What steps will your agency take to center and prioritize lived expertise?
      • How are lived expertise and diversity infused throughout the case, peer, and agency levels?
      • What kinds of pathways to employment exist in your agency for people with lived expertise?
    • What steps will your agency take to ensure the workforce is reflective of the youth you serve?
      • How do your agency's hiring practices strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion?
      • What other diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging policies and practices are in place?
      • Are agency staff well versed in cultural awareness and culturally inclusive practices?

    Ideas for Action and Tips for Success

    Pair youth with peer mentors who have their own experiences with permanency and ensure the process includes the following:

    • Supporting and compensating peer mentors for their work
    • Ensuring youth have opportunities to explore different types of permanency and their own permanency priorities and goals with their peer mentor
    • Integrating peer mentorship into the permanency planning process

    Check out the Menu for Youth Engagement series to learn more about developing peer mentoring programs.

  • Applying ICWA Principles to All Child Welfare Practice

    Applying ICWA Principles to All Child Welfare Practice

    A recent brief from Casey Family Programs, How Can Child Welfare Systems Apply the Principles of the Indian Child Welfare Act as the "Gold Standard" for All Children?, discusses the many ways that the principles of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) can be applied to child welfare practice with nonnative children, youth, and families.


    ICWA was passed by Congress in 1978 to protect American Indian and Alaska Native children and families in response to mass family separation across the country. Technically, the law only applies to child welfare cases involving members of federally recognized tribes. However, the core values and principles of the act reflect current child welfare best practice by requiring efforts to keep children connected to their families, communities, and cultures.


    The brief explores four key principles inherent in ICWA and provides considerations to help agencies apply the principles to support the permanency and well-being of all children, youth, and families.


    • Principle 1: Children’s right to their families and communities. ICWA specifically promotes children’s rights to be connected to their extended family, elders, community, and culture and has a higher standard to prevent removal than other child welfare statutes.
    • Principle 2: Active efforts to preserve and reunify families. ICWA’s requirement of active efforts to maintain or reunify children with their families is a higher standard of engagement than title IV-E’s requirement of reasonable efforts.
    • Principle 3: Valuing inclusive and diverse cultural practices. These practices require child welfare professionals to critically analyze assumptions about which family structures or communities best support child well-being.
    • Principle 4: Authentic engagement with tribes. Meeting families where they are, beyond the walls of child welfare agency offices, can help build cross-cultural understanding.


    For each principle, the brief includes questions for child welfare agencies to encourage discussion about how to apply the principle outside of just ICWA contexts. Read the full brief, How Can Child Welfare Systems Apply the Principles of the Indian Child Welfare Act as the "Gold Standard" for All Children?, for more information.


This section of CBX presents interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials, that can be used in the field or with families.

  • Guide for Parents and Caregivers While at the Hospital Emergency Department

    Guide for Parents and Caregivers While at the Hospital Emergency Department

    Many families that come to the attention of the child welfare system have experienced trauma necessitating a visit to the hospital emergency room. The Oregon Health Authority, in consultation with families who have experienced crisis situations with their own children, developed a guide to equip parents and caregivers with the information and skills needed to advocate for their loved ones in a health-care setting.

    Using the insights and lessons learned by families with lived experience, the publication also aims to empower parents and caregivers to voice their concerns, be proactive in finding and accessing information and services, understand patient and family rights, and more.

    Information is organized into 12 easy-to-read sections that address topics such as the following:

    • What to expect at the emergency department
    • What to know before you leave the hospital
    • What to do when you are not satisfied with services
    • Release to other levels of care
    • Safety planning at the hospital
    • Confidentiality
    • What youth want parents and caregivers to know
    • Dealing with grief and trauma

    The guide concludes with a list of and links to additional resources and a glossary of terms.

    Advocating for Your Loved One During a Crisis: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers While at the Hospital Emergency Department is available on the Oregon Health Authority website.


  • Resource Helps Supplemental Nutrition Programs Maximize Participation of Grandfamilies

    Resource Helps Supplemental Nutrition Programs Maximize Participation of Grandfamilies

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of grandparents raising grandchildren has grown to nearly 3 million. For older Americans who live on fixed incomes and lack sufficient disposable income, caring for their grandchildren can be financially challenging. One form of support that may be available to families caring for young children (age 5 and younger) is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a federally funded program administered by states that provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, makes referrals to health care, and more.

    A factsheet from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) developed for WIC providers highlights the important role grandparents raising grandchildren can play in utilizing WIC in their communities, and it provides two recommendations aimed at helping those in need overcome barriers and maximize participation in the program:

    • WIC partners should integrate WIC resources and referrals into agencies and programs serving grandparents raising grandchildren.
    • WIC agency programming and practices should facilitate the inclusion of grandparents raising grandchildren.

    FRAC is a national nonprofit organization working to improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of people affected by poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, research, training and technical assistance, public education, and more.  

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.