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December/January 2015Vol. 15, No. 11Spotlight on the Year in Review

This month, we look back at the many important and emerging issues featured in the 2014 Spotlight sections. We highlight a bulletin that explores the characteristics of certain groups of children and youth particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking, an assessment toolkit for measuring State court compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, a research brief on the barriers young people from foster care experience in postsecondary education, and more.

Issue Spotlight

  • Postsecondary Educational Outcomes of Students in Foster Care

    Postsecondary Educational Outcomes of Students in Foster Care

    In October 2013, over 100 local, State, and national child welfare, higher education, and related professionals and stakeholders convened in Los Angeles, CA, for a 1-day discussion about policy and program initiatives that promote postsecondary academic success for youth in foster care. This conference—the 2013 National Convening on Foster Youth and Higher Education (Convening)—was the basis for the summer 2014 report Outline to Improve the Postsecondary Educational Outcomes of Students From Foster Care. Authored by Foster Care to Success (FC2S), the report examines the barriers young people in foster care face in postsecondary education and why this vulnerable population fares so poorly compared to their non-foster-care peers. It provides a number of recommendations to improve this group's educational outcomes in higher education programs (and, subsequently, strengthen future career and economic outcomes).

    The report is organized into three sections. The first, What Do We Know?, provides an overview of the issue and highlights some of the statewide collaborative efforts California, Washington State, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, and Arizona have underway to address the educational disparities of older youth transitioning to adulthood. Section two, Why Do Young People in Foster Care Fare Poorly in Postsecondary Education?, expounds on the following issues and proposed solutions:

    • IssueThe vast majority of youth in foster care are not college ready.
      Solution: Make high school count for students in foster care.
    • Issue: Youth in foster care may not connect postsecondary education and training programs with successful entry into the workforce and self-sufficient adulthood.
      Solution: Connect youth with opportunities to identify strengths, talents, and interests while they are in high school.
    • Issue: There is Federal, State, and local funding available to help youth. However, understanding eligibility for, gaining access to, and using existing resources to meet educational, housing, and personals needs is often challenging for youth, caregivers, and professionals.
      Solution: Work with young people to help them fully understand and manage their resources.

    Finally, the last section presents recommendations to the fields of child welfare and higher education on what can and should be done to improve the postsecondary educational trajectories of young adults in foster care as well as advance a national movement to prioritize this issue.

    FC2S is the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit dedicated to helping college-bound youth from foster care and youth aging out of the child welfare system. The report, Outline to Improve the Postsecondary Educational Outcomes of Students From Foster Care, funded by the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and California College Pathways, may be accessed on the FC2S website at (3MB).

    Related Items

    Recognizing that the road to postsecondary educational success and beyond to a thriving adulthood can often be a challenging one for young adults aging out of foster care, FC2S designed the 9-Domain Student Support Services Model. During their time in college or other postsecondary training program, FC2S program participants are coached, mentored, and guided in nine areas: transportation, housing, education, relationships, self-actualization, financial literacy, physical health, parenting, and program engagement. To learn more about the model, visit the FC2S website at

    Children's Bureau Express featured a Spotlight on Back to School in the September 2014 issue, available at

  • Los Angeles Survey of LGBTQ Youth in Care

    Los Angeles Survey of LGBTQ Youth in Care

    Accurate data about the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in foster care can help practitioners and policymakers better serve this population. A recent report based on the Los Angeles Foster Youth Survey (LAFYS) sheds light on the number, demographics, and outcomes of LGBTQ youth in Los Angeles County, CA. The Williams Institute and Holarchy Consulting conducted the LAFYS as part of the L.A. LGBT Center's RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower) Project, which was awarded funding by the Children's Bureau through the Permanency Innovations Initiative.

    The survey included 786 randomly selected youth ages 12–21 who were in foster care in Los Angeles County. Results indicate that approximately 19 percent (1,400) of the 7,400 youth in foster care in Los Angeles County identify as LGBTQ, which is between 1.5 to 2 times higher than youth not residing in foster care. Compared to non-LGBTQ youth in foster care, LGBTQ youth in foster care experience a higher number of placements and were more likely to live in a group home, be hospitalized for emotional reasons, and be homeless at some point in their life.
    The report outlines implications for policymakers, caregivers, and researchers, including addressing oppressions within the child welfare system and how to improve data collection.

    The report, Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Foster Care: Assessing Disproportionality and Disparities in Los Angeles, is available at

    The February 2014 issue of Children's Bureau Express spotlighted LGBTQ youth and included articles about an initiative addressing the challenges affecting LGBTQ youth in child welfare settings, a guide to help child welfare professionals better care for LGBTQ youth in foster care, and more. The Spotlight section is available at

  • Sex Trafficking and Child Welfare

    Sex Trafficking and Child Welfare

    Child welfare professionals are increasingly coming in contact with children and youth who may have been victims of sex trafficking, making it important that these professionals receive training to identify the signs and symptoms of trafficking. On December 31, 2013, President Obama declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Recognizing the growing confluence of child welfare and human trafficking, the State Policy and Advocacy Reform Center (SPARC) and FirstFocus produced a research brief that explores the characteristics that make certain groups of children and youth vulnerable to becoming victims of sexual exploitation.

    The brief outlines existing trafficking laws and current efforts from Congress and States to address the issue and provide services for sexually exploited children and youth. The authors note that a top characteristic of trafficking victims is a history of child abuse or sexual abuse. This history of trauma may explain the prevalence of trafficking victims with current or previous involvement with child welfare. Other child and youth populations that tend to be trafficked include children and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ), runaway youth, and American Indian and Alaska Native children and youth—populations also disproportionately represented in child welfare.

    In addition to providing information on effective screening practices and appropriate services for victims, the brief outlines the following recommendations for policies and best practices for serving victims:

    • Decriminalizing prostitution by minors
    • Increasing penalties against traffickers and customers
    • Increasing coordination among victim-serving agencies
    • Increasing funding resources to victim services
    • Providing incentives for training and reporting

    Child Sex Trafficking and the Child Welfare System, by Elliott Gluck and Rricha Mathur, is available on the SPARC website at (301 KB).

    Related Items

    This year, Children's Bureau Express featured several resources related to the issue of human trafficking and child welfare. For more information, see the following articles:

    • "Guide to Safe Harbor for Trafficking Victims" (April 2014),
    • "Data on the Commercial Sex Economy" (June 2014)
    • "Addressing the Sexual Exploitation of Minors" (September 2014)
    • "Identifying Human Trafficking Victims" (October 2014)
  • ICWA Compliance Assessment Toolkit

    ICWA Compliance Assessment Toolkit

    The October issue of Children's Bureau Express (CBX) explored Tribal child welfare. Of particular concern was the continued disproportionality of American Indian children in foster care more than 30 years after the enactment of the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Research suggests that courts in many States still do not fully understand the ICWA requirements for notification to a child's Tribe, active efforts to prevent placement, and preference for placement with the child's Tribe. To help State courts assess their level of compliance with ICWA requirements, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) published Measuring Compliance With the Indian Child Welfare Act: An Assessment Toolkit.

    The toolkit describes four data collection approaches, including case file reviews, court observation, surveys, and focus groups. It discusses the pros and cons of the different approaches in terms of level of effort and ability to collect reliable quantitative and qualitative data. Sample tools or questions for the respective approaches are provided, and how to use the data to inform practice improvement is discussed.

    NCJFCJ Program Director Alicia Summers and researcher Steve Wood authored the toolkit. Measuring Compliance With the Indian Child Welfare Act: An Assessment Toolkit is available on the NCJFCJ website at   

    The October CBX Spotlight on Tribal child welfare is available at

  • Youth Permanence Curricula

    Youth Permanence Curricula

    The March 2014 issue of Children's Bureau Express (CBX) spotlighted permanence for youth. A new curricula developed by the National Center for Child Welfare Excellence (NCCWE) is centered on improving outcomes for older youth in out-of-home care. 

    The curricula focuses on the belief that all children, regardless of age, deserve and can achieve permanence. The 1-day course includes six modules that outline legislation pertaining to permanence; define youth permanency and help professionals understand the importance of lifelong, permanent connections for youth in care; and highlight four permanency pathways. More information on Making It Possible: Permanency Pathways for Older Youth in Care, in addition to links to the facilitator's guide and participation handouts, is available on the NCCWE website at

    The CBX Spotlight on permanence for youth is available at

    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

The Child Welfare Outcomes 2009–2012: Report to Congress was recently released and presents State-performance data in seven outcome categories related to child safety, permanency, and well-being. We also highlight the new Family Engagement Inventory launched by Child Welfare Information Gateway in December.

  • New Family Engagement Inventory

    New Family Engagement Inventory

    In December 2014, Child Welfare Information Gateway launched the Family Engagement Inventory (FEI), an innovative, web-based tool for child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, and education professionals. The FEI will help practitioners, managers, and system leaders understand how family engagement is defined and implemented across their various fields of practice and support collaboration among the multiple systems that often work with the same families.

    Readers can access a synthesis with information on how the FEI was researched, collected, and synthesized, or explore the common benefits, themes, and strategies of family engagement across disciplines. The FEI is a microsite accessible through the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at

  • Associate Commissioner's Page

    Associate Commissioner's Page

    The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current CBX Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

    The 10 Spotlight sections in this year's Children's Bureau Express (CBX) covered several important topics and emerging issues in child welfare, such as family engagement, permanency for youth, Tribal child welfare, and the educational outcomes of children in care. As I wrap up my first year as Associate Commissioner, I'm pleased to look back at the good work being done in States and Tribes to protect children and strengthen families. I am also looking forward to some of the changes we made and will continue to make to build on the good work done in the field. 

    One of the biggest shifts taking place at the Children's Bureau is the way we provide training and technical assistance (T&TA) to help child welfare agencies, organizations, and professionals meet Federal requirements, reach desired outcomes, and use monitoring systems to promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children and families. After phasing out nine National Resource Centers and five Implementation Centers, we funded three capacity building centers.

    1. The National Capacity Building Center for Public Child Welfare Agencies
    2. The National Center for Legal and Judicial Excellence in Child Welfare
    3. The National Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Tribes

    These three centers will subscribe to a single service model and deliver widespread services to child welfare systems receiving Federal title IV-E and IV-B funds, strategically develop and disseminate products, and deliver innovative peer networking and learning experiences. Our new approach to capacity building also will provide assessment- and outcome-driven technical assistance while supporting concurrent, jurisdiction-specific, intensive capacity-building projects. More information about the three centers will be available in the coming weeks, and this new approach to capacity building will be useful as we prepare for and launch the third round of Federal Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs).

    As highlighted in the June 2014 Spotlight  (, Round 3 CFSRs will begin in 2015 in Delaware, North Carolina, Vermont, New Mexico, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Arizona. Reviews will be carried out in the remaining States through 2018. More detailed information is available in the March 14, 2014, CFSR Technical Bulletin #7 at The CBX CFSR Spotlight also featured an article with helpful tools for States and is available at

    Looking forward to emerging issues affecting our work, the Children's Bureau recently released two Information Memoranda (IMs) on the issues of human sex trafficking and youth who run away from foster care. Child welfare professionals are increasingly coming in contact with children and youth who have been trafficked, and States reported in 2013 that approximately 4,500 youth in foster care had run away from their placements. Children's Bureau Express featured a Spotlight on human trafficking in 2013 that included an article on Federal efforts to combat child and youth exploitation ( Our IM on this issue is intended to inform States and Tribes of the enactment of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act and its connection to child welfare. The Children's Bureau also recently awarded several discretionary grants to address trafficking within the child welfare population.

    Awards were made to the following organizations:

    • King County Superior Court, Seattle, WA
    • Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., Miami, FL
    • Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
    • California Department of Social Services, Sacramento, CA
    • Healing Place Serve, Baton Rouge, LA
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
    • State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families, Hartford, CT
    • Justice Resource Institute, Needham, MA

    A full list of fiscal year 2014 discretionary grant awards is available on the Children's Bureau website at Polaris, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization working to fight human trafficking, operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center that offers the BeFree Hotlines. For more information, or to report suspected trafficking, call 1888.373.7888 or text HELP to BeFree (233733).

    Our IM on runaway youth provides guidance on services for youth under age 18 who run away from foster care and come in contact with runaway and homeless youth programs. More information on both the human trafficking and the runaway youth IMs is available on the Children's Bureau website at[3486]=3486.

    I am honored to have joined the Children's Bureau last year and continue our mission of improving the lives of children and families through programs that reduce child abuse and neglect, increase the number of adoptions, and strengthen foster care. We hope that our work this past year, and in the years to come, enriches your work in promoting the safety, permanence, and well-being of children, youth, and families.

  • Child Welfare Outcomes 2009-2012 Report Released

    Child Welfare Outcomes 2009-2012 Report Released

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the newest in a series of reports designed to inform Congress, the States, and the public about State performance on delivering child welfare services. Child Welfare Outcomes 2009–2012: Report to Congress provides information about State performance on seven national child welfare outcomes related to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children involved in the child welfare system.

    Data come from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), and the report includes some data analyses across States.

    Highlights of the recent report show:

    • In 2012, there were approximately 679,000 instances of confirmed child maltreatment. While the national child victim rate continued its decrease from 2009 to 2011, there was no change between 2011 and 2012.
    • Nationally, there were approximately 397,000 children in foster care on the last day of 2012. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of children in care on the last day of the fiscal year decreased by 24.2 percent, from 524,000 to 397,000.
    • Nationally, 235,000 children exited foster care in 2012. Of these children, 207,000 (87 percent) were discharged to a permanent home (i.e., reunification, adoption, or legal guardianship).
    • A higher percentage of States demonstrated an improvement in performance with regard to recurrence of child maltreatment (43 percent) than showed a decline in performance (35 percent).
    • Between 2009 and 2012, State performance on the two safety-related outcome measures substantially improved.

    Child Welfare Outcomes 2009–2012: Report to Congress, including State-by-State data tables, is available on the Children's Bureau website at

  • Adoption Excellence Awards 2014

    Adoption Excellence Awards 2014

    As part of its celebration of National Adoption Month in November, the Children's Bureau announced 13 winners of the annual Adoption Excellence Awards. This year's awards also coincided with the 10 year anniversary of the National Adoption Recruitment Campaign, a partnership among the Children's Bureau, the Ad Council, and AdoptUSKids that encourages the adoption of children from foster care. The winners of this year's awards represent a variety of backgrounds and accomplishments; however, each has made a significant contribution to helping promote adoptions from foster care.

    The Children's Bureau established the Adoption Excellence Awards in 1997 to honor States, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families for their work in increasing adoptions from foster care. Awards may be made in five categories of excellence, and winners are chosen by a committee representing nonprofit adoption agencies, child welfare and adoption advocates, adoptive parents, foundations, businesses, and State and Federal offices.

    The 2014 Adoption Excellence Awards were presented to the following:

    In the category of Family Contributions:

    • Karen and Adam Owens, Boyertown, PA.
    • John and Karen Scheele, Springwater, NY

    In the category of Individuals/Professionals:

    • Judge Anne Simon, New Orleans, LA
    • Jennifer Roberts, Fairfax, VA
    • Yolanda Demont, Orlando, FL
    • Dawn Scott, Little Rock, AR

    In the category of Business Contributions/Initiatives:

    • Wilkes-Barre Racing, Richard Pais, Wilkes-Barre, PA
    • The Washington DC and Federal City Alumnae Chapters (WDCAC & FCAC) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Washington DC

    In the category of Media/Social Media/Public Awareness:

    • Children's Action Network, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Triage Entertainment for A Home for the Holidays, Los Angeles, CA & Columbus, OH
    • Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), Harrisburg, PA
    • Fostering Families Today, Windsor, CO

    In the category of Child Welfare/Judicial Systemic Change:

    • Mission West Virginia, FrameWorks, Hurricane, WV
    • Merced County Human Services Agency Social Services Branch, Merced, CA

    To read more about the Adoption Excellence Awards and award winners, visit the Children's Bureau website at

  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    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.

    Recent additions to the site include:

    • ACYF-CB-IM-14-03 – This purpose of this Information Memorandum (IM) is to inform States and Tribes of the enactment of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act and provide basic information on the new law, including title IV-E plan changes, new case plan requirements and definitions, additions to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), modifications to the Family Connection grants, Chafee program, and reauthorization of the Adoption and Guardianship Incentive Program:
    • ACYF-CB/FYSB-IM-14-01 – The purpose of this IM is to provide guidance on services for youth under age 18 who run away from foster care and come in contact with runaway and homeless youth programs:
    • FY 2014 Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Awards – This document provides a list of Children's Bureau discretionary grants awarded in fiscal year 2014:
    • Adoption Incentive Awards History – This table provides the cumulative earning history from the Adoption Incentive program by State for fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2013:
    • Criteria for Using State Case Review Process for Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) Purposes – This document supplements the information provided in CFSR Technical Bulletin #7 and details how States and the Children's Bureau will work to verify each State's ability to meet the case review criteria:
    • CFSR Reviewer Brief – Understanding the Federal Expectations for Rating Cases – This brief provides CFSR reviewers with an overview of the practices that may lead to a Strength rating in a case as well as other issues to consider during the assessment:
    • Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews 2015 Schedule – This document provides the schedule of the title IV-E foster care eligibility reviews for fiscal year 2015:

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

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

We present five site visit reports from three Children's Bureau discretionary grant clusters: (1) Child Welfare – Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children With Child Welfare Involvement, (2) Child Welfare – Education System Collaborations to Increase Educational Stability, and (3) Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System.

  • Site Visit: Colorado's PIECES

    Site Visit: Colorado's PIECES

    Many young children involved with child welfare do not always receive the early care, intervention, and education services necessary to support their healthy development and well-being. The Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS) believes strengthening family-focused models of intervention across all child-serving systems will benefit families and children and increase the likelihood that maltreated children receive quality care and intervention. Using a 17-month infrastructure building grant from the Children's Bureau, DHS's Division of Child Welfare is working to increase partnerships between child welfare and early childhood education and to better identify children served by both agencies.

    The project, Colorado Partnership in Early Childhood Education Services (PIECES), is a collaboration between State-level agencies and local agencies within three counties: El Paso, Fremont, and Jefferson. In addition to increasing collaboration among agencies, PIECES set out to increase child welfare and early child care professionals' knowledge of and skills in implementing protective factor strategies, as well as increase the number of children in care who also receive developmental screening and appropriate referrals. The project also aims to change local and State policies and procedures to better serve the needs of young children who are in foster care. 

    To achieve these goals at the county level, the three county sites implemented the Strengthening Families protective factors framework. Representatives from each partner agency attended Strengthening Families training, either in person or online, and have trained, or are in the process of training, staff from their respective agencies. In addition, the partner agencies are incorporating the protective factors into their daily operations.

    At the State level, an Office of Early Childhood (OEC) was created within DHS that brought together seven programs that previously existed in four divisions. The PIECES grant moved with the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program to the OEC as part of the development of the office. The consolidation of these programs within the OEC allows the State to better administer early childhood programs, strengthen collaboration and coordination between the State and local-level programs, and ensure programs across the State provide the same level of quality care.
    In addition to implementing the Strengthening Families framework in each community, the following tasks were implemented and will continue after the grant ends:

    El Paso County

    • Integrated the Strengthening Families framework into parenting education classes
    • Established a new referral and screening process for sharing screening results among the partner agencies
    • Provided training to child welfare staff on the benefits of early childhood education and on how to read developmental screenings
    • Educated the community about the child welfare system
    • Educated parents on how to select quality child care

    Fremont County

    • Developed a video brochure that provides information on the early childhood services available and that will play continually in early childhood family center waiting rooms
    • Created and implemented a cross-agency referral and screening process for families and children involved in both child welfare and early childhood services
    • Purchased tablets for child welfare staff to use in the field with families
    • Developed a tracking system within each agency to capture the accurate number of children served
    • Provided training to early childhood and child welfare workers on the Brazelton Touchpoints program1

    Jefferson County

    • Provided training to child welfare staff on:
      • Quality early learning/child care provider selection
      • Child abuse and prevention treatment act requirements
      • Early childhood education benefits
      • Child development
      • Ages and Stages Questionnaire
    • Educated the public on the benefits of early childhood education
    • Conducted an Early Childhood Conference for community stakeholders
    • Provided coaching and support to child care providers to improve the quality of their programs
    • Provided Strengthening Families training to child care providers
    • Developed screening tools to be used by child welfare and early childhood providers

    The 17-month infrastructure building grant was meant to build procedures and processes; therefore, not all of the expected outcomes were achieved by the end of the grant period (February 28, 2013). However, the project received a no-cost extension through November 30, 2013. According to project staff at both the State and county levels, the new collaborations have built the infrastructure, created processes, and formed relationships that will sustain the work.

    For more information about this project, contact Jill Jordan at The full site visit report is available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at

    The Colorado PIECES project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CO1060). 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.

    1 The Brazelton Touchpoints program is an evidence-based theory of child development that provides ongoing opportunities for parents and providers to help each other understand children's behaviors, strengths, and growing capacities.

  • Site Visit: Waterbury (CT) Educational Stability Initiative

    Site Visit: Waterbury (CT) Educational Stability Initiative

    In fiscal year 2011, the Children's Bureau awarded 10 grants to promote collaboration between child welfare and education systems in order to increase educational stability for children ages 10 to 17 involved with child welfare. The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) received one of these grants to implement the Waterbury Educational Stability Initiative, which provided training on trauma-informed child welfare practice and child traumatic stress to education and child welfare stakeholders, including child welfare professionals, school counselors, parent liaisons, and foster parents. The project also tried to bridge the gap between the schools and law enforcement by training the school resource officers, who are municipal police officers assigned to the schools. The following were the goals of the training:

    • Educate child welfare professionals, parent liaisons, and foster parents about the effect of trauma on children's development and behavior
    • Educate child welfare professionals, parent liaisons, and foster parents about when and how to intervene directly in a trauma-sensitive manner and through strategic referrals
    • Ensure that all children in the child welfare system have access to timely, high quality, and effective trauma-focused interventions and a case-planning process that support resilience in long-term healing and recovery
    • Help stakeholders understand trauma and how it may present itself in the children at school

    The DCF Training Academy provided the training using the Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit, which was developed by the National Child Trauma Stress Network. The training materials provided information about case management and intervention perspectives related to trauma-informed best practices. The training covered topics such as how children respond to trauma, safety and resiliency factors, and how to assist trauma-affected children.

    For more information on this project, contact Ann-Marie DeGraffenreidt, Director of Program Development, State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families, at The full site visit report will soon be available on the website for Child Welfare Information Gateway at

    The Waterbury Educational Stability Initiative is funded by the Children's Bureau (90CO1071). 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.

  • Site Visit: Improving Educational Well-Being Outcomes for Children

    Site Visit: Improving Educational Well-Being Outcomes for Children

    Using a 17-month Children's Bureau (CB) grant, the Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Department of Human Services (DHS), the Pittsburgh Public School (PPS) District, and the Allegheny County Family Court continued their work to improve educational stability and permanency outcomes for children being served by all three systems. The project, built on an existing data-sharing partnership between DHS and PPS, began in 2009 and has helped improve collaboration between the school, social services, and the courts.

    The two core initiatives of the project were EdMap, which established or improved the technological infrastructure of the project, and the Shared Accountability for Education program that fostered joint accountability among court, DHS, and school staff for the educational and overall well-being of the children served by all three entities. The grant funded technological enhancements to DHS's case management system, building a decision support tool to identify best-fit placements for children in out-of-home care and improved access to education records for social service workers and the court system. In addition, the grant helped fund educational trainings and professional development for all three systems regarding educational issues and barriers for children involved in the child welfare system. 

    In 2009, DHS and the PPS District signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that allowed for data sharing to conduct research and analysis related to students' educational status and possible strategies for improving educational outcomes. In addition, if consent is obtained, the up-to-date education information can be shared with direct service workers at DHS to more closely follow the academic performance of children on their caseloads and to address issues more expeditiously. DHS is responsible for integrating and housing the data in the DHS data warehouse and conducting the analyses. The PPS District is responsible for providing educational and directory information to DHS for all enrolled students. Shared data include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Personal identifiers of students
    • School directory information
    • Demographics
    • Federal free and reduced lunch eligibility
    • Student performance
    • Attendance
    • Disciplinary actions
    • Special education and gifted education

    In October 2012, a new MOU expanded the project's scope to allow DHS to share with PPS personal identifiers of children who are adjudicated dependent by the court, as well as the contact information for their child welfare caseworkers. In addition, DHS can now share information for all children who are identified as homeless in order to help them receive school supports, as required by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. While the legal framework to share this information exists, at the writing of this article, DHS and the district are still working through the implementation.

    All data received from PPS can be used in aggregate, de-identified analysis. DHS uses the data to prepare reports that identify characteristics and indicators related to academic successes and challenges for students involved with human services. DHS and the school districts then develop effective strategies for addressing the needs of students and their families. The individual student records can be accessed under two scenarios only: (1) if the child is adjudicated dependent, which is known through information from the Common Pleas Court Management System, and (2) if the caseworker uploads a signed parental consent into KIDS.1

    The project has yielded the following results:

    • Automation of the State education screen. The Pennsylvania State Education Screen was built into the KIDS case management system and must be completed for all school-age children involved with child welfare. DHS reduced the workload of caseworkers by populating some of the fields from the integrated data acquired through the data-sharing agreement.
    • Cross-agency consent to share educational records. DHS identified a need to create a consent form to be used across all DHS program areas and that would allow for more collaboration among agencies serving school-age children.
    • Electronic access to education records. DHS built the technical infrastructure to display child-level education data received from PPS in the KIDS case management system.  
    • Best Interest Placement Tool (BIPT). DHS implemented a decision support tool to ensure that when a child needs to be placed in out-of-home care, DHS identifies placements that are in the best interest of that child and family. A home that is in their best interest will be the most family like setting, located in the child's community and school catchment area (if preferred), and willing to care for the child's identified behavioral challenges, mental health, and/or medical needs, etc. 
    • Training for child welfare staff. The Education Law Center has partnered with DHS to provide training for child welfare staff on education issues, including training on the State Education Screen.

    To review additional information about the project and to review reports developed by the project, please visit the Allegheny, PA, Department of Human Services at The full site visit for this report will soon be posted on the website for Child Welfare Information Gateway at

    This project is funded by the Children's Bureau (90CO1076). 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.

    1 KIDS is the Pennsylvania Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System.

  • Site Visit: State of Connecticut Early Childhood-Child Welfare Collaboration Project

    Site Visit: State of Connecticut Early Childhood-Child Welfare Collaboration Project

    In 2011, the Children's Bureau awarded the Connecticut (CT) Department of Children and Families (DCF) a grant to implement the Early Childhood Child Welfare Collaboration Project (ECCWCP). The project was a collaborative effort between the CT DCF, Head Start (HS), and partner programs/organizations. The purpose of the project was to provide staff training to enhance services and case management for families and to build collaborations to help ensure that children in foster care, ages birth to 5, were referred for quality early childhood services. DCF wanted to ensure that children were meeting developmental milestones and that other education-related performance markers were consistently met. DCF recognized that it did not have the resources on its own to meet all these needs, so it collaborated with other agencies to help families and to promote systemic change.

    The collaboration included approximately 130 DCF and HS supervisors, managers, caseworkers (from local, regional, and central offices) who participated in quarterly meetings to develop and implement plans for the project. The project tasks included enhancing the collaboration, a train-the-trainer and training initiative for the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), infant mental health training, and reflective supervision.
    The project focused its attention on the following:

    • Establishing deeper collaborations between child welfare stakeholders
    • Conducting train-the-trainer sessions for the Strengthening Families Program followed by community training events
    • Training DHS and HS staff about infant mental health
    • Providing reflective supervision

    The project was designed to increase system connections, create mutually beneficial working relationships and partnerships, improve services to families, build community resources, align policies and procedures, and create cross-training opportunities.
    For more information on this project, please contact Nancy DiMauro, Program Manager, State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families, Central Office at The full site visit report will soon be available on the website for Child Welfare Information Gateway at

    The Connecticut Early Childhood Child Welfare Collaboration Project is funded by the Children's Bureau (90CO1061). 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.

  • Site Visit: Ohio's Partners for Forever Families

    Site Visit: Ohio's Partners for Forever Families

    In 2008, Ohio's Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services (CCDCFS) received discretionary grant funds from the Children's Bureau's Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System grant cluster. The funds were used to implement Partners for Forever Families, a partnership between CCDCFS and other agencies and organizations throughout the county that have committed resources to help identify and facilitate connections between prospective resource families and children in foster care.

    Although there had been an overall reduction in the number of children in foster care in Cuyahoga County in 2008, the children who remained in foster care had complex needs that made finding appropriate families for them difficult. To help improve permanency outcomes for children and youth in care, Partners for Forever Families (PFF) aims to:

    • Increase the percentage of children who exit foster care through adoption in less than 24 months
    • Reduce the median length of stay for children in foster care
    • Increase the number of permanent families for children who are teens and have been in foster care for 24 months or longer

    To achieve these outcomes, the project established protocols that enable sibling groups to stay together and for reconnecting kin with youth who are 17 and older and have not yet found a permanent family. Some of the tools CCDCFS is using to increase recruitment include the following:
    An original stage play, Sometimes Hope Is Enough. The play is about the journey of three siblings who grew up in different foster families. Following the play, a panel of experts discuss some of the themes depicted in the play, as well as the realities of the children and youth who are currently in foster care.

    Digital Me. Digital Me is a video recording in which the children in care share their likes and interests, what they are proud of, and the unique aspects of their personalities. These videos are shown at recruitment events to prospective foster/adoptive parents.
    Community Collaborative Partnerships. Connecting with established community organizations has increased CCDCFS's recruitment pool and has enabled the diligent recruitment activities to be more visible throughout communities where CCDCFS has not traditionally had positive relationships.

    Outcomes to date as a result of the Partners for Forever Families include the following:

    • Adoption workers are currently serving 26 families and have served a total of 56 families during the first 4 years of the grant.
    • There was an increase in community knowledge about the need for adoption, kinship care, foster care, and permanency.
    • Neighborhood Collaboratives identified 10 families who have now completed foster/adoptive parent licensures and are willing to adopt.
    • Of the applications for fostering or adopting in 2012, 40 percent were child specific (relatives), compared to 21 percent in the previous year.

    Partners for Forever Families staff are concentrating on aligning policy and practices so that efforts toward establishing permanency for children and youth in foster care will continue to be a primary goal, even after the grant period. New worker training now focuses on achieving permanency for children of any age. Worker training on family finding has also been made available through the agency's Intranet.

    For more information on this project, contact Kate Lodge, M.S.W., Partners for Forever Families, Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, at The full site visit report will soon be available on the website for Child Welfare Information Gateway at

    The Partners for Forever Families project is funded by the Children's Bureau (90-CO-1034). 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.

Child Welfare Research

CBX points to research showing that nearly all States with title IV-E demonstrations have started or expanded the use of evidence-based practices, but there is a lack of cost-benefit analyses of those interventions. We also highlight a national survey of States' child welfare expenditures, a summary of the Programs That Work section of the Promising Practice Network website, and more.

  • Federal and State Laws That Support Grandfamilies

    Federal and State Laws That Support Grandfamilies

    Federal and State laws and policies that support the many grandparents and other family members who serve as caregivers for children whose parents are unable to care for them are examined in an article in the new journal GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy. The article focuses on the growing recognition by State and Federal policymakers of the significant contribution of extended family in providing care to millions of children who otherwise would be at risk of entering or remaining in foster care.

    The author notes that Federal legislation is focused on providing support and services to families who are involved with foster care. Most notable among recent legislation is the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. Some of the provisions of this law that specifically impact relative caregivers include:

    • Requiring States to identify and notify relatives when children enter foster care
    • Giving States the option to use title IV-E funds to finance guardianship assistance programs that enable children in the care of relatives (who are licensed foster parents) to exit foster care
    • Requiring child welfare agencies to make reasonable efforts to place siblings together
    • Authorizing family connection grants to establish kinship navigator programs that link relative caregivers to available services and supports
    • Giving States the option to waive nonsafety-related foster care licensing standards for relatives

    The article also notes that far more children live with grandparents and other family caregivers outside the child welfare system. In fact, for every child living in foster care with a relative, about 26 children reside with relatives and are not in the child welfare system. For the relative caregivers raising these 2.7 million children in this country, the lack of legal custody or guardianship and a lack of financial resources can be a challenge. States have responded to these needs through legislative and policy changes. For example, many States have enacted health-care and educational consent laws that allow caregiver relatives to enroll children in school and provide consent to medical treatment. Other States provide financial support through their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs.

    "Policy Update: Federal and State Legislation to Support Grandfamilies," by Ana Beltran, GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy, 1(1), 2014, is available at

  • Promising Practices Network's Programs That Work

    Promising Practices Network's Programs That Work

    The RAND Corporation recently published a report summarizing the Programs That Work section (as of June 2014) of the Promising Practices Network (PPN) on Children, Families, and Communities website. The website pages list programs that met preestablished criteria for exhibiting "proven" or "promising" ratings with regard to evidence of effectiveness. Programs meeting the standards were summarized on the site.

    The RAND report reproduces these summaries in order to create a permanent archive for policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders. The report also sorts programs by various indicator categories, such as delivery setting, age of the child during the intervention, and outcomes improved. Programs That Work, From the Promising Practices Network on Children, Families and Communities is available at (3 MB).

  • Report Examines 2012 State Child Welfare Expenditures

    Report Examines 2012 State Child Welfare Expenditures

    Child Trends published a report documenting State child welfare expenditures in State fiscal year (SFY) 2012. Findings were derived from a survey that tracks and monitors State child welfare agency financing data. The report shows that agencies rely on several funding sources to finance a wide range of child welfare services and activities conducted on behalf of vulnerable children and families. Survey results indicate that trends change from year to year. The following notable patterns emerged in the most recent study:

    • There was an overall decline in child welfare expenditures by States, indicating the first drop in spending since the survey began in SFY 1996.
    • Federal funding for child welfare activities significantly decreased between SFYs 2010 and 2012, bringing these expenditures to their lowest levels since the SFY 1998 survey.
    • The title IV-E program continues to represent the largest Federal funding source nationally.
    • There is a continued decrease in the percentage of children eligible for Federal title IV-E foster care reimbursement.

    The report also highlights the considerable differences across States in how they use Federal, State, and local funds. Results from across time are presented in figures and analyses throughout the report, and detailed data are included in the appendices.

    Federal, State, and Local Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglect in SFY 2012 is available on the Child Trends website at (2 MB).

Strategies and Tools for Practice

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

  • Webinar on Parental Substance Use Family Assessments

    Webinar on Parental Substance Use Family Assessments

    Parental substance use can have many long-lasting repercussions on a family. Families involved with child welfare that are dealing with substance use issues need an array of supports and services to overcome challenges. Child and Family Futures hosted a webinar to help professionals better assess the readiness for reunification of families in which children are in foster care while a parent receives substance use treatment.

    The webinar addresses the impact that a parent's drug use can have on his or her family and on the parent-child relationship. In order to provide the most comprehensive services and ensure a proper assessment of a family's readiness for reunification, the webinar suggests that professionals from the child welfare, treatment, and court systems communicate and coordinate on case and treatment plans. The webinar also covered the importance of this collaborative team of service providers and strategies to help professionals manage a family's case, such as the following:

    • Ensuring quality family visits
    • Using evidence-based services and practices
    • Implementing communication protocols across systems

    To listen to the recording and access the presentation for "So How Do You Know They Are Really Ready? Key Considerations for Assessing Families in Recovery for Reunification," visit the Child and Family Futures website at

  • Mentoring for Pregnant and Parenting Youth

    Mentoring for Pregnant and Parenting Youth

    A guidebook written by Social Policy Research Associates for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration's Young Parents Demonstration Project (YPD) aims to help professionals develop and implement mentoring programs or incorporate mentoring into youth services programs. The mentoring components focus specifically on pregnant and parenting teens in order to help them access necessary services, such as employment and educational services. Child welfare agencies and professionals working with pregnant and parenting youth in care can find resources and strategies to help this population become self-sufficient.

    The book leads professionals through five crucial steps of implementing a successful mentoring program: laying the groundwork for the program, designing an effective program, designing the components of recruitment and mentoring, running the program, and ensuring continuous improvement and impact. A list of resources related to each of the five steps is included. The book also profiles four YPD grantees and shares some of their experiences in developing and running mentoring programs. 

    Access Mentoring Youth and Young Parents: A Guidebook for Programs Helping Youth and Young Parents Navigate a Pathway to Self-Sufficiency at (916 KB).

  • Connecting Preventing Teen Dating Violence, Teen Pregnancy

    Connecting Preventing Teen Dating Violence, Teen Pregnancy

    Noting decades of research linking teen pregnancy and teen dating violence, a new toolkit aims to help organizations expand their adolescent pregnancy prevention programs to include relationship violence prevention. The toolkit consists of four sections: Organizational Readiness and Planning, Selection and Adaptation of Materials, Preparation for Implementation, and Monitoring and Evaluation. Appendices include information on adolescent relationship abuse (ARA), its prevalence among diverse populations, the correlation between ARA and pregnancy, and more.

    The Toolkit to Incorporate Adolescent Relationship Abuse Prevention Into Existing Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Programming was produced by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program's Training and Technical Assistance and Meeting Logistical Support project for the Family and Youth Services Bureau. It is available on the Family and Youth Services Bureau, National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, website at


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

  • Investigating Child Injuries: Abuse or Illness?

    Investigating Child Injuries: Abuse or Illness?

    The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released a portable guide for first responders on how to investigate child abuse. Recognizing When a Child's Injury or Illness Is Caused by Abuse is designed for professionals to aid in differentiating whether injuries inflicted on a child are intended or unintended.

    Child abuse cases require cautious investigation by multiple professionals to determine the cause of the injuries. In order to conclude if the injuries were intended or not, a thorough yet complex assessment is required. To assist professionals in completing a comprehensive assessment, the guide provides information on the various types of injuries, signs and symptoms, and potential causes. Additionally, because many medical conditions can resemble an inflicted injury, the guide provides insight on how to differentiate between injuries and an illness.

    Law enforcement and related professionals may use the guide to help indicate child abuse, explore the causes, understand the difference between injury and illness, and access educational and valuable resources. Recognizing When a Child's Injury or Illness Is Caused by Abuse is available on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention website at (1,320 KB).

  • Factsheet for Caregivers on Complex Trauma

    Factsheet for Caregivers on Complex Trauma

    Complex trauma occurs when a child is exposed to and impacted by one or multiple traumatic events. Caregivers of children who have experienced complex trauma may struggle to facilitate the healing process. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network published a factsheet for parents and caregivers that defines complex trauma and its signs and symptoms, explains its effects, and provides recommendations for how parents can help their children build resilience and recover. 

    The factsheet offers information about traumatic reminders—everyday incidents (sounds, smells, feelings) that cause a child to relive a traumatic event from his or her past. These triggers can cause overreactive behavior, intense anxiety, distraction and lack of focus, and other negative outcomes. Complex trauma can create irrational thinking and inaccurate perceptions related to the child's relationship with a caregiver. Because caregivers can also experience feelings of frustration and helplessness, the factsheet outlines coping strategies and provides information on self-care.

    Complex Trauma: Facts for Caregivers is available at (169 KB).

    To learn more about the National Child Trauma Stress Network, visit its website at

  • Championship Fathering Profile

    Championship Fathering Profile

    The National Center for Fathering offers a self-assessment tool to aid fathers in evaluating their fathering methods. The Championship Fathering Profile (CFP) provides fathers with feedback and guidance on how to build on their strengths and improve weaknesses. By creating a profile and answering a series of questions in 13 domains, fathers can build on their childhood experiences to gain insight into how they developed their parenting style, grow a better understanding of how past experiences impact their current parenting decisions, and get new perspectives on improving relationships with children and spouses.  

    Child welfare professionals and programs that specifically focus on engaging fathers may find this and other fathering resources helpful in their work. The website also offers a train-the-trainer and small-group curricula, in addition to free e-books and other resources for fathers.

    The Championship Fathering Profile is available on the National Center for Fathering website at

  • Community Preparedness Assessment Toolkit

    Community Preparedness Assessment Toolkit

    Save the Children and the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University developed a survey tool, the Community Preparedness Index (CPI), which is designed to guide community leaders and officials in assessing their local jurisdiction's readiness to assist children in a disaster. The CPI is built upon proven strategies and best practices grounded in research and covers the following settings where children may be located when a disaster occurs:

    • Child care/day care centers
    • Home-based family child care
    • Public schools
    • Private schools
    • Foster care
    • Emergency shelters
    • Community organizations
    • Hospitals

    For each category, the toolkit addresses various elements of community preparedness, including policies and regulations, as well as unofficial preparedness actions. It takes between 30 and 40 minutes to complete each sector of the index.

    The authors recommend that communities develop a workgroup of knowledgeable experts from each sector, which may include both local and State-level representatives, with expertise on emergency preparedness requirements in their field. Assessment scores can help communities identify areas where more work or attention may be needed to strengthen their preparedness. The toolkit also offers a snapshot of how well the jurisdiction is doing in developing policies and protocols to protect children.

    Community Preparedness Index (CPI): Being Ready to Protect Children is available at (234 KB).

    The accompanying Community Preparedness Index Guide highlights recommended characteristics of the work group, strategies for engaging in a community assessment process, and how to benefit from lessons learned. The guide's appendices include an explanation of the scoring and technical questions and answers.

    You may access the Community Preparedness Index Guide on Save the Children’s website at (1,000 KB).

Training and Conferences

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

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through March 2015 include:

    January 2015

    • 2015 Children's Law Institute
      Southwest Region National Child Protection Training Center at New Mexico State University, the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department Protective Services and Juvenile Justice Divisions, the New Mexico CASA Network, the University of New Mexico School of Law's Corinne Wolfe Children's Law Center, the Casey Family Foundation, and the Rozier E. Sanchez Judicial Education Center
      January 7–9, Albuquerque, NM
    • Society for Social Work and Research Annual Conference
      The Social and Behavioral Importance of Increased Longevity
      January 14–18, New Orleans, LA
    • ISPCAN Global Institute 2015
      Positive Parenting to Improve Outcomes for Children
      The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN)
      January 25, San Diego, CA
    • 29th Annual International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment
      Chadwick Center for Children & Families
      January 26–29, San Diego, CA

    February 2015

    March 2015

    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 at

  • Immigration Law and Enforcement Training

    Immigration Law and Enforcement Training

    The National Association of Social Workers California Chapter offers an online introductory course on immigration titled Immigration Law and Enforcement: An Overview for Social Workers. This course is designed to aid social work students, faculty, and social work professionals in understanding current U.S. immigration laws; how the enforcement of these laws impacts communities, families, and children; and how immigration issues interact with social work practice. This course features web-based resources including PDF documents, videos, and additional resources. This online course offers approved Continuing Education (CE) credit and is provided at no cost to interested individuals.

    For more information, or to access the course outline, and to register for Immigration Law and Enforcement: An Overview for Social Workers, visit the National Association of Social Workers California Chapter website at