This issue of CBX highlights reunification and the importance of supporting families as they work toward their reunification goals. Read a message from Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg celebrating the joy and worth of each successful family reunification story. This issue also includes valuable resources for professionals and the families they serve.
- Reunification is Worthy of Immeasurable Time, A Message From Aysha E. Schomburg
Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg
In a perfect world every family would have what it needs, whether that is concrete supports such as housing and cash, or even access to culturally appropriate mental health services. In that same perfect world, all families would stay together safely and be supported by their extended families and communities. That is a world in which foster care is obsolete. We don’t live in a perfect world, though, and while the first goal is always to keep families together, we don’t always reach that goal. The circumstances of family separation can be very unique, and they can also be eerily similar. In some of the eerily similar situations, too often we observe different outcomes for a family based on their demographic.
A couple of months ago, there was a story in the news about a 4-year-old boy who wandered off into the woods with the family dog. It was unclear how far the child had gone but according to the news, he had been missing for an hour sometime after 7pm. They showed the state police body cameras at the moment they heard the dog barking, and the state police found the crying boy unharmed. They scooped him up and delivered him to his mother’s arms. I don’t know if the family is known to the child welfare system, but I didn’t get that impression. The story was not about any suspected neglectfulness on the part of his parents—it was about the rescue, the dog, and the reunification. Repeatedly that week, the news covered this story and showed the video of the young boy being reunited with his mother.
It's not lost on me why they covered it repeatedly—it’s a feel-good story of reunification. Everyone can participate in the happiness of seeing this unharmed child safely reunited with his parents after an uncertain journey into the woods that could have ended much differently. Children being reunited with their parents safely, after being separated for any period of time, is indeed worthy of immeasurable time on the airwaves.
Whenever children are reunited with their families—their parents, siblings, tribes, communities—something in our world shifts and becomes a little less imperfect. We get it right, when we are zealous in our pursuit to reunite unharmed children with their parents, after what is undoubtedly, their own uncertain journey into the woods. We can scoop them up and deliver them to their parent’s arms, and we do. Although we may not always get the same news coverage, each and every successful family reunification story is worthy of immeasurable time on the airwaves. Let’s celebrate our progress and share stories of family triumph during this National Reunification Month.
- A New Training Focusing on Family-Centered Reunification
A new online training from the National Quality Improvement Center on Family-Centered Reunification, led by the Innovations Institute at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, focuses on family-centered approaches for working with families toward reunification. "Family-Centered Reunification Training" aims to help child welfare agencies infuse family-centered practices and strategies in their reunification work to achieve more timely reunifications that better address families’ needs and improve their capacity to safely care for their children.
The principles of family-centered reunification, like those of family-centered practice, highlight the importance of engaging families and ensuring their active involvement throughout the process, encouraging their strengths, focusing on their mental health and well-being, and recognizing and honoring their cultures and backgrounds. Strategies can include connecting families to evidence-based community services, focusing first on placement with relatives to preserve cultural and family connections, offering parent education opportunities, and ensuring regular visits between family members and with agency workers.
The training will help participants gain an understanding of the following:
- Principles of family-centered reunification
- Best practices for engaging with parents and families
- Best practices for engaging fathers
- Best practices for promoting family-centered reunification
- How to engage holistically with families from various cultural backgrounds
The Innovations Institute offers participants continuing education credits for the 60-minute "Family-Centered Reunification Training" through the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. Participants can also access the training without earning continuing education credits.
- Family Is Best: Reflections on Kinship Care and Preserving Family Connections
In her article “Kinship Matters: Reflections From the Bench on Preserving Children’s Right to Family” for the fall 2022 issue of Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly, Judge Edwina Richardson Mendelson reflects on the importance of kinship care and family connections for children’s well-being. She discusses how kinship care within the child welfare system has evolved over time and briefly reviews the past and present kinship care legal landscape in her jurisdiction of New York State and nationally.
Judge Richardson Mendelson highlights recent efforts in New York to support kinship care as the first placement choice for children who have been removed from the care of their parent or other primary caregiver. These include an emphasis on extensive kin- and family-finding activities and an expansion of the state’s Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program, which aims to ensure timely permanency for children who do not have feasible adoption or reunification options. Both efforts were part of the state’s preparation for Family First Prevention Services Act implementation. She also shares resources that offer support and guidance for kin caregivers, such as the New York State Kinship Navigator Program and Grandfamilies.org.
Judge Richardson Mendelson also considers what judges in every state can do to encourage the option of kinship care and support kin caregivers:
- Lead from the top by making kinship care a priority topic in communications with child welfare agency leadership.
- Lead from the bench by treating everyone with respect, engaging with families about their needs and concerns, asking questions, and ensuring agency accountability.
- Advocate for resources, such as accessible legal representation for families and kin.
- Lead with humility and humanity by setting a courtroom tone that is open minded and respectful.
This issue of Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly focuses on the theme “Family Is Best Interest.” Throughout the issue, articles call the reader to consider what “best interests of the child” means in child welfare, how subjectivity around the understanding of “best interests” can lead to decisions tinged by implicit or explicit bias, that children tend to do better when their connections to family and kin are preserved, and how legal and child welfare systems can work to preserve family and kin connections for children’s well-being. Other featured articles include the following:
- “Securing and Restoring the Family Is in the Child’s Best Interests,” by Jey Rajaraman, with Alexandra Travis and Iesha Hammons. Jey Rajaraman, a family defender who worked with Legal Services of New Jersey, shares what she’s learned through her experiences in working to keep families together. Alexandra Travis and Iesha Hammons share their lived experiences as mothers with child welfare involvement.
- “Best Interest Determinations: Lessons Learned From Tribal Child Welfare Agency, Court Professionals, and Youths," by Angelique Day, Claudette Grinnell-Davis, and Dakota Roundtree-Swain, explores how and why tribal courts operate differently and, in some cases, more successfully than state and county courts when applying best interest determinations, and it provides recommendations for future judicial practice for all court systems.
Access the fall 2022 issue of Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly and learn more on the Family Integrity & Justice Works website.
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
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.
- Guidance for Child Welfare Agencies on Conducting Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews
The Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Review Guide provides guidance for federal and title IV-E agency staff to use in complying with the title IV-E requirements established in § 472(a) of the Social Security Act and 45 CFR § 1356.71. The guide outlines the purpose of the IV-E reviews, explaining that these periodic reviews help the Children’s Bureau do the following:
- Determine whether federal funds are spent on behalf of eligible children and are in accordance with federal statute, regulation, and policy
- Identify improper payments, including overpayments and underpayments
- Provide a link to the joint planning, technical assistance, and program improvement processes that occur between the [Children’s Bureau] and title IV-E agencies
- Provide timely and specific feedback to title IV-E agencies that can directly influence the proper and efficient administration and implementation of their title IV-E foster care maintenance payment programs
To help agencies with the process, the guide offers a framework for the IV-E reviews and guidance on planning, conducting, and completing a title IV-E foster care eligibility review. This includes information on aspects such as the following:
- Selecting the date for an onsite review
- Selecting the sample of cases to review
- Choosing members of the review team, their functions, and team leadership
- Conducting the review
- Preparing the final report
The guide’s appendices include a variety of vital and supplemental material, such as the title IV-E foster care eligibility onsite review instrument, instructions for completing the instrument, information on materials to read in preparation, recommended topics of discussion for the review team, timeframes, information on eligibility criteria, and more.
- An Evaluation of the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative's Tailored Services
A January 2023 research brief, Capacity Building Projects: The Role of Tailored Services in Fostering Reforms in Child Welfare Systems, evaluates the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative (the Collaborative), which was created in 2014 by the Children's Bureau to restructure technical assistance efforts to help state and tribal child welfare agencies build systems capacity. The brief provides an overview of the workings and operations of the Collaborative's three Capacity Building Centers (the Centers) and their focus areas and topics. It also describes how the Centers work with agencies and support jurisdictions to make desired changes in their systems.
The Collaborative consists of the following three Centers:
- The Capacity Building Center for States serves state and territorial title IV-B and IV-E public child welfare agencies and has the largest scope of work and funding.
- The Capacity Building Center for Tribes serves title IV-B and IV-E tribal child welfare agencies and organizations.
- The Capacity Building Center for Courts serves state and tribal court improvement programs.
As technical assistance providers, the Centers partner with jurisdictions, assess their strengths and needs, and develop a work plan for jurisdictions that decide to engage in services. Capacity-building service strategies support efforts to improve existing child welfare practices and implement new programs, practices, and processes. Four of the major strategies the Centers use to support jurisdictions are coaching, consultation, facilitation, and tool development.
The Centers also provide tailored services to increase knowledge and skills of child welfare or court professionals and foster improvements in organizational capacity and performance. Tailored services offer customized support to meet the unique capacity-building needs of individual states, tribes, or court improvement programs. The brief features six projects that received tailored services from the Centers and describes how the Centers' services helped support the jurisdictions in their capacity-building work across five dimensions: resources, infrastructure, knowledge and skills, culture and climate, and partnership and engagement.
To learn more, read Capacity Building Projects: The Role of Tailored Services in Fostering Reforms in Child Welfare Systems, prepared for the Children's Bureau by E. Morehouse, K. Kopiec, J. DeWolfe, A. Barbee, and J. DeSantis of James Bell Associates. For more information about about the Centers, visit the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative website.
- 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 or updates to the site include the following:
- Call for Nominations: 2023 Adoption Excellence Awards
- Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) Round 4
- CFSR Round 4 Program Improvement Plan Development Guidance
- CFSR Round 4 Program Improvement Plan Template
- HHS-2023-ACF-ACYF-CA-0077: Providing Support Through a National Hotline for Child Safety and Family Well-Being Concerns
- HHS-2023-ACF-ACYF-CA-0078: Trauma-Interventions for Children and Youth in Foster Care With Complex Mental, Behavioral, and Physical Health Needs
- HHS-2023-ACF-ACYF-CT-0012: The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute
- HHS-2023-ACF-OPRE-FA-0041: Prevention Services Evaluation Partnerships: Building Evidence for Mental Health, Substance Use, In-Home Parent Skill-Based, and Kinship Navigator Programs and Services
- IM-23-04: Changes to Medicaid Eligibility for Youth/Young Adults Age 18 Who Transition Out of Foster Care and Move to a New State
- State-Specific Foster Care Data 2021
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new.
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.
- New Publication Explores State Laws and Policies Aimed at Reducing the Negative Experiences of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care
New Publication Explores State Laws and Policies Aimed at Reducing the Negative Experiences of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care
Protecting the Rights and Providing Appropriate Services to LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care, a new equity-focused publication from Child Welfare Information Gateway, is now available.
Based on a review of child welfare laws from every state and U.S. territory, this synthesis provides a high-level summary of what is being done across the country to address and protect the rights of youth who are LGBTQIA2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual, Two-Spirit, or other gender or sexual identity) to be safe and free from discrimination, have access to needed care and services, and be placed in nurturing settings with supportive caregivers. Information is organized into the following sections:
- Rights of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care
- Supports for LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care
- Placement Considerations
- Caregiver Qualifications
- Language and Terminology
To learn more, read Protecting the Rights and Providing Appropriate Services to LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care. For state-specific information, visit Information Gateway’s State Statutes Search webpage, select specific states (or all states), select this publication's title in the Child Welfare section, and then click "Go" at the bottom.
- Measuring Court, Judicial, and Attorney Performance in Child Welfare Court Cases
Measuring and tracking the performance of various practices in the child welfare system is crucial to improving outcomes for children and families. To explore measurements in child welfare court settings, the Capacity Building Center for Courts conducted a resource review of the various performance review strategies used to assess courts, judges, and attorneys in child welfare cases. The resulting report, published in May of 2022, was designed to contribute to the development of performance measures for the Judicial, Court, and Attorney Measures of Performance project. It also contains useful information for child welfare court practitioners, researchers, and other child welfare professionals.
The report summarizes the types and range of measures currently used to study performance and the impact of performance on child welfare case outcomes, highlighting what is known and what research gaps exist. The materials reviewed include toolkits and documents, performance standards from national groups, federal laws and government guidance, and empirical evidence from peer-reviewed research. The literature review team identified six categories of court performance measurement:
- Legal and judicial context
- Short-term outcomes that happen during hearings
- Intermediate outcomes that happen during the case
- Long-term outcomes that happen after case closure
- Cross-cutting themes
The report provides detailed summaries and key findings from each measurement category. It also provides information about subcategories of performance measurement. Writers note that there are still many unknowns regarding what specific structures and practices affect child and family outcomes.
More information is available in the report, Measuring Child Welfare Court Performance: Review of Resources.
- Updates From the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Partners
The Children's Bureau funds several technical assistance centers to provide professionals with tools to better serve children, youth, and families. The following are some of the latest resources from these partners.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Building Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Systems [Webpage update]
- Child Maltreatment and Brain Development: A Primer for Caregivers
- Child Maltreatment and Brain Development: A Primer for Child Welfare Professionals
- Collaboration With Juvenile Justice Agencies [Webpage update]
- Considering Siblings in Permanency Planning [Webpage update]
- Court Improvement Programs: Collaboration Between Child Welfare Agencies and Legal and Judicial Communities
- Participación familiar: colaborar con las familias para mejorar los resultados de bienestar de menores (Family Engagement: Partnering With Families to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes)
- Protecting the Rights and Providing Appropriate Services to LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care
- Transition Support and Services [Webpage update]
Visit the Information Gateway website for more.
Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative
- Center for Courts
- Center for States
- “Chalyce’s Story” [Video]
- Change and Implementation at a Glance: Considerations for Advancing Racial Equity Through Problem Exploration
- Change and Implementation at a Glance: Implementation Planning and Capacity Building
- Change and Implementation at a Glance: Intervention Selection and Design/Adaptation Resources
- Change and Implementation at a Glance: Intervention Testing, Piloting, and Staging
- Change and Implementation at a Glance: Monitoring, Evaluating, and Applying Findings
- Change and Implementation at a Glance: Readiness
- Change and Implementation at a Glance: Teaming
- Change and Implementation at a Glance: Theory of Change
- Change and Implementation in Practice: Problem Exploration
- Citizen Connections: Winter/Spring 2023[E-newsletter]
- “Cole’s Story” [Video]
- Spotlight On Partnering to Develop Community-Based Prevention Services
- Center for Tribes Tribal Information Exchange
Visit the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative website for more.
Children's Bureau Learning and Coordination Center (CBLCC)
- "Birth Parent & Foster Caregiver Partnerships: A Family Systems Perspective" [Digital dialogue]
- "Missing From Care: Preventing and Responding to Sex Trafficking of Youth" [Digital dialogue]
Visit the CBLCC website for more.
National Center on Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) FRIENDS
Visit the FRIENDS website for more.
National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW)
- Engaging Parents and Youths With Lived Experience: Strengthening Collaborative Policy and Practice Initiatives for Families With Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
Visit the NCSACW website for more.
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI)
- NCWWI Leadership Academy: Cross-Site Final Evaluation Report
- The Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies: Systems Change Through a Relational Anishinaabe Worldview
Visit the NCWWI website for more.
National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN)
- AFCARS Foster Care File, 6-month periods (FY2016A - 2022B) [Dataset]
- NDACAN Brochure
- Spring 2023 issue of The NDACAN Updata
Visit the NDACAN website for more.
Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth in Finding Permanency (QIC-EY)
- QIC-EY Lessons Learned #2: Leaders Set the Tone for Building Relationships That Drive Authentic Engagement of Children and Youth
Visit the QIC-EY website for more.
Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability, and Permanency for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Two-Spirit Children and Youth in Foster Care (QIC-LGBTQ2S) at the National Center for Youth with Diverse Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression (SOGIE Center)
- Youth, Family & Caregiver Programming [Webpage update]
Visit the QIC-LGBTQ2S on the SOGIE Center website for more.
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD)
- May 2023 issue of Building Knowledge to Strengthen the Child Welfare Workforce
- Measuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Measuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Tips for Child Welfare Professionals
- Umbrella Summary: Career Interests
Visit the QIC-WD website for more.
- “5 Tips for Honoring National Foster Care Month This Year” [Article]
- “Adoptive Parents: Find the Post-Adoption Support Your Family Needs Now” [Blog post]
- “AdoptUSKids Highlights for Professionals This Month” [Article]
- “Celebrate National Foster Care Month by Lifting Up Youth Mental Health: 6 Ideas to Get You Started” [Blog post]
- “How Do We Start Preventing Adoption and Guardianship Disruption?” [Article]
Visit the AdoptUSKids website for more.
James Bell Associates
- Exploring Employment and Education Outcomes for Caregivers Participating in Parents as Teachers
- Family Spirit Program Profile
- Latin American Youth Center’s Promotor Pathway Profile
- Mapping Evidence-Based Home Visiting Provided by Tribal-Led Organizations
- Peer Health Exchange Profile
Visit the James Bell Associates website for more.
In this section, we highlight recent studies, literature reviews, and other research on child welfare topics.
- A Review of 1 Year of Congregate Care Reform Under Family First
The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 (Family First) contains several significant child welfare policy reforms, including efforts to reduce the number of children entering out-of-home care, promote family-based foster care placements when possible, and improve the standards for congregate care settings, such as group homes and residential facilities.
As part of the congregate care facility reform, Family First created categories of allowable nonfamily placement settings, including Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs); settings specializing in prenatal, postpartum, or parenting supports; supervised independent living settings for those age 18 and older; and settings offering support to those who are, or are at risk of becoming, sex trafficking survivors. The QRTP models are designed to be appropriate, time-limited, and meet a child’s needs.
In response to Family First, many states made reforms, including converting congregate care settings to QRTPs. The deadline for states to implement these reforms was October 2021. In March 2023, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Chapin Hall released a progress report detailing where states stand approximately 1 year after the implementation deadline. The report examines the early status, successes, and barriers that states have experienced as they implement congregate care reforms. It draws on research findings from a survey of child welfare agency leaders as well as focus groups with child welfare professionals, congregate care centers that have converted to QRTPs, and young people with lived experience.
The following are key findings outlined in the report:
- Ongoing congregate care reforms align with Family First.
- States have reduced the use of congregate care and simultaneously increased the use of kinship foster care.
- QRTPs are now a primary component of congregate care placement arrays in many states.
- States undertake various strategies to establish and implement QRTPs to meet federal requirements.
- Top implementation barriers concern resource needs in workforce and staff, therapeutic foster care models, funding, and foster families.
- QRTP treatment, quality staff, and aftercare tailored to youth’s needs is lacking.
- There is a perceived lack of change in QRTPs from preexisting congregate care culture and practice.
- Child welfare systems need evidence that QRTPs are accountable for improving young people’s lives and outcomes.
The report acknowledges that many state reforms are in the early stages and will require more research as time passes. For more information, including policy recommendations, read the report Family First Implementation: A One-Year Review of State Progress in Reforming Congregate Care.
- NSCAW Adoption Study Examines Postadoption Instability
Many children and youth who enter the child welfare system and cannot safely reunite with their families end up pursuing permanency through adoption. However, some experience postadoption instability and do not remain with those adoptive families, which can hinder a young person’s well-being.
Much of the research available about postadoption instability is based on formal reports, such as reentry into foster care or termination of parental rights, but there are multiple types of informal instability as well, including running away, leaving home before age 18, or informally living with another adult. There is a need for more research on postadoption instability so that child welfare leaders, agencies, professionals, and policymakers can understand the types, rates, and causes of postadoption instability.
In response to this need, the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) conducted an adoption follow-up study of 383 young people who exited foster care to adoption. Surveys were conducted from June 2021 to March 2022 with participants, all of whom also took part in prior NSCAW data collection studies.
The study was built around research questions exploring the following topics:
- The rate of formal and informal instability
- Risk factors and protective factors for postadoption instability
- The quality of adoptive parent-child relationships
- The availability of and barriers to accessing support services
Using online and phone surveys, researchers collected data about young people who experienced adoption and their adoptive families. The participants who experienced adoption ranged from 15 to 36 years old.
The following are key findings from the study:
- Almost 10 percent of participants experienced formal postadoption instability.
- About 30 percent of participants experienced informal postadoption instability, with 18 percent running away, 17 percent leaving home prior to age 18, 9 percent living with a nonrelative adult, and 8 percent experiencing homelessness.
- Less nurturing adoptive family relationships was a risk factor for both formal and informal instability.
- Risk factors associated with informal instability include being older at the age of adoption, being assigned female at birth, and having less child-parent closeness.
- Most participating adopted persons and adoptive parents described close relationships and sense of belonging, including many who experienced postadoption instability.
- Participants more commonly reported services needed than services received.
The study’s findings report also features several implications for the child welfare system, including opportunities for agencies and professionals to provide additional support. The study highlighted a need for improved knowledge of and access to postadoption services and supports, support for nurturing family relationships, and increased preadoption and postadoption support for families adopting older children.
Read the full report, National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) Adoption Follow-Up Study: Findings Report, for more information.
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.
- Bright Spots Online Hub Provides Parent-Reviewed Child Welfare Practices
Bright Spots, a new online resource library, features child welfare practices reviewed and recommended by parents who have experienced the child welfare system. The hub features a variety of resources, including practice tips, toolkits, and interviews on various topics.
Bright Spots was developed by Alia, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to child welfare systems change. The organization partners with Rise magazine and Be Strong Families to develop its parent-recommended resource library.
To become a “Bright Spot,” proposed practices must be submitted to or solicited by Alia. They are then reviewed by a panel of parents who have experienced the child welfare system. When reviewing, parents determine whether they would recommend a proposed practice and evaluate submissions based on the following criteria:
- Potential for keeping families together
- Potential for impact on the child welfare system
- Potential negative consequences
- Conditions to make the practice more equitable or effective
Examples of resources in the Bright Spots library include All Children, All Families, a practice guide for implementing LGBTQ+ inclusive approaches; Blind Removals, a removal decision-making process designed to eliminate implicit bias; and the Peer and Community Care model, a family-strengthening model based on community connections.
More practices are available on the Bright Spots website.
- A New Publication Explores the Intersection of Poverty and Neglect in Child Welfare
A new publication from Child Welfare Information Gateway, Separating Poverty From Neglect in Child Welfare, explores the intersection of poverty and neglect in families who become involved with the child welfare system. Families who are experiencing poverty are more likely to be reported to child protective services than those who are not. Therefore, it is crucial that child welfare systems account for the role of poverty in system involvement.
Released in February 2023, the issue brief explores research on the overlap among families experiencing poverty and those reported to the child welfare system for neglect, the societal context within which both poverty and neglect exist, and strategies that have proven effective for preventing and addressing poverty and neglect.
Confusing poverty with neglect has potential to lead to unnecessary family separation, so it is important that child welfare professionals are conscious of the increased likelihood of families who are poor to be reported to child protective services. It is also important to understand and address the racial element of the issue, since Black, Brown, and American Indian/Alaska Native families disproportionately experience both intergenerational poverty and child welfare system involvement.
The publication includes an indepth review of proven strategies to address poverty and neglect in its “What Works” section. At the policy level, an important step is ensuring that states explicitly exclude poverty-related conditions from their definitions of child abuse and neglect so that children are not separated from their families solely because of poverty and poverty-related issues, such as inadequate housing. Other policy-level strategies include expanded Medicaid coverage, increased minimum wage, subsidized child care, and housing assistance.
In addition to these preventative strategies, the publication includes sections with information about addressing neglect in the context of poverty and addressing poverty-related concerns experienced by families involved with child welfare. The latter section includes the following strategies:
- Assess and address concrete needs first
- Take a two-generation approach to working with families
- Ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act
- Offer or refer to benefit navigator services
- Identify and/or offer flexible funds for families
- Codesign supports with people with lived experience
- Engage community partners
- Focus on strengths
- Connect families with preventative legal advocacy
For more information, read the publication Separating Poverty From Neglect in Child Welfare on the Information Gateway website.
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.
- Tip Sheet Emphasizes Importance of Self-Care for Grandfamilies
A new tip sheet from Generations United highlights the importance of self-care, especially for grandparents and other relatives caring for children, both inside and outside the child welfare system. Often, when grandfamilies come together—whether on short, unexpected notice or with time and planning—the needs of the child become a priority, and caregivers give less attention to their own needs. The adverse mental and physical effects of neglecting self-care, which can present in a variety of health concerns, exhaustion, stress, and loneliness, also decrease a caregiver’s capacity to give care.
The 4-page tip sheet defines self-care and provides a brief list of challenges common to grandfamilies. It also offers actionable self-care tips related to managing stress, working toward and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the need for rest and “me time,” and peer connection and support. Finally, the tip sheet includes examples of self-care and a selection of self-care and mental health resources.
- Supporting Reunification as a Foster Parent
It is important that foster parents are supportive of reunification, especially since most children and youth who experience foster care eventually reunify with their families. A new AdoptUSKids blog post addresses this topic to help foster parents understand and support reunification efforts for the well-being of the children or youth in their care.
Many of the strategies presented in the post involve partnering with the child’s birth family, which has multiple benefits, including increasing the likelihood of reunification, improving the child’s comfort with their foster family, and reducing trauma when the child returns home to their birth family.
The post suggests that foster parents assess their ideas about birth families, which could contribute to implicit bias and serve as a roadblock to reunification. In addition to self-evaluating for preconceived notions, foster families should consciously make efforts to support visits with family. Court-ordered visits are important, and if a foster family does not treat the visits as such—or expresses a lack of support or hurtful sentiments toward the family—they could cause additional trauma for the child.
Other supportive strategies that foster families can use may provide continuity and comfort for the children in their care. For example, involving birth parents in decision-making can help ensure that children are exposed to familiar experiences, clothing, foods, and so forth, which can make reunification less jarring. Another practice that can provide continuity is creating a “life book” where children can track positive memories throughout their life with both their birth family and foster family.
More strategies and information are available in the blog post "How Foster Parents Can Support Reunification."
- Guide Outlines Kin Caregiving Options
A recent tip sheet developed for kin caregivers by the Grandfamilies & Kinship Support Network provides a brief overview of the different caregiving options, the questions and concerns associated with each option, and where families can go for help. The needs and considerations present when a related or kin child is placed with family vary depending on whether the caregiving arrangement is formal (through the child welfare system or family court) or informal (without agency or court oversight), such as when a parent leaves a child with a grandparent or other relative.
The 2-page guide discusses important legal aspects, including retaining legal representation, establishing power of attorney or similar decision-making authority, and collecting other needed documentation like birth certificates, health and school records, and more. The tip sheet also links to a variety of helpful resources, such as GrandFacts: State Fact Sheets for Grandfamilies, and offers a short section on technical assistance tips for professionals working with kin caregivers and grandfamilies.
Legal Options for Grandfamily & Kin Caregivers is available on the Network’s website.
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.
- Building Systems of Care Online Training
A free, interactive course on building systems of care (SOC) is now available on the Innovations Institute website. The self-paced curriculum looks at SOC in the context of health systems change, with a focus on child welfare reform. It contains the following 17 modules that deliver comprehensive training on SOC principles, policies, practices, and system design approaches; emphasize the importance of equitable practices; and include current state and local examples:
- Module 1: An Introduction to Systems of Care
- Module 2: Family Partnership
- Module 3: Youth Engagement Partnering With Youth to Improve Services and System
- Module 4: Achieving Health Equity Through Cultural and Linguistic Competence
- Module 5: A Population Focus
- Module 6: Service Delivery Systems and Related Reforms
- Module 7: Planning, Management, and Governance
- Module 8: Array of Services and Supports Within a System of Care
- Module 9: The Importance of Mobile Response and Stabilization Services
- Module 10: Residential Interventions Within a System of Care
- Module 11: Structuring a Care Coordination Continuum and Wraparound
- Module 12: Screening, Assessment, and Evaluation Approaches in Systems of Care
- Module 13: Financing Systems of Care – A Strategic Approach
- Module 14: Financing Systems of Care – Financing Strategies
- Module 15: Purchasing Tied to Quality Goals and Provider Network Development
- Module 16: Data-Driven Systems of Care
- Module 17: Increasing Impact by Engaging Your Audience
Between .5 and 1 continuing education credits are available from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work upon the successful completion of each module.
The course, "Building Systems of Care", and many others are available through the Institute’s learning management system. To access training and other learning opportunities, sign up for a free account on the Institute’s website.
Upcoming conferences and events on child welfare and adoption include the following:
CSH Supportive Housing Summit 2023
Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)
Philadelphia, PA, May 31–June 2
Advancing Data Equity Across Human Services Systems [Webinar]
American Public Human Services Association
The Spectrum in Adoption: LGBTQ Families and Youth
Richmond, VA, June 2
LGBTQ2IA+ Families Then and Now [Webinar]
Brazelton Touchpoints Center
June 5, 12, and 26
"Attracting and Hiring Workers: Evidence-Informed Strategies" [Webinar]
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development
reTHINK Permanency Conference
Children's Home Society of North Carolina and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Raleigh, NC, June 15
52nd NFPA Annual Education Conference
National Foster Parent Association (NFPA)
Reston, VA, June 23–25
National Conference to Protect America’s Children
The Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children
National Harbor, MD, June 27–29
"Introduction to NDACAN and the Administrative Data Series" [Webinar]
NDACAN 2023 Summer Training Webinar Series
National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN)
22nd Annual National Tribal Child Support Association Training Conference
Capacity Building Center for Tribes
Fairfax, VA, July 9–13
FFTA 37th Annual Conference
Family Focused Treatment Association (FFTA)
Columbus, OH, July 10–13
"New Data Acquisition: Child and Caregiver Outcomes Using Linked Data (CCOULD) Data" [Webinar]
NDACAN 2023 Summer Training Webinar Series
"Casual Inference Using Administrative Data" [Webinar]
NDACAN 2023 Summer Training Webinar Series
Safe Kids Worldwide Childhood Injury Prevention Convention
Safe Kids Worldwide
National Harbor, MD, July 23–26
"Evaluating and Dealing With Missing Data in R" [Webinar]
NDACAN 2023 Summer Training Webinar Series
Generations United 22nd Global Intergenerational Conference
Washington, DC, July 26–28
"Time Series Analysis in Stata" [Webinar]
NDACAN 2023 Summer Training Webinar Series
"Using the Family First Prevention Services Act to Create a Diverse Array of Prevention Strategies" [Webinar]
Prevent Child Abuse America and American Public Human Services Association
"Data Visualization in R" [Webinar]
NDACAN 2023 Summer Training Webinar Series
46th National Child Welfare Law Conference
National Association of Counsel for Children
Minneapolis, MN, August 10–12
2023 Prevent Child Abuse America National Conference
Prevent Child Abuse America
Baltimore, MD, August 22–24
2023 National Drug Endangered Children Conference
National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children
Kansas City, MO, August 29–31