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November 2002Vol. 3, No. 9Spotlight on National Adoption Month

Issue Spotlight

  • Adoption Opportunities Grants Announced

    Adoption Opportunities Grants Announced

    The Children's Bureau announced $8.4 million in Adoption Opportunities Grants for FY 2002, including the record award of $4,439,000 to the Adoption Exchange Association to administer the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids. A total of 15 organizations received Adoption Opportunities Grants.

    A list of grantees, grant amounts, and program areas can be found on the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/discretionary/2002.htm.

    Information on how to apply for Adoption Opportunities Grants can always be found at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofs/grants/form.htm.

  • Help Celebrate National Adoption Month

    Help Celebrate National Adoption Month

    November is National Adoption Month. We celebrate Adoption Month to raise awareness about adoption, adoptive families, and children who need adoptive homes. According to the most recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS) data (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/systems/index.htm#afcars), 556,000 children were in foster care on September 30, 2000, and 20 percent (110,536) of them had the permanency goal of adoption.

    A host of activities will occur to commemorate National Adoption Month. One such activity is the launch of the National Adoption Month website (http://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/nam/), which features resources for professionals and parents, a calendar of activities, and valuable links to other adoption-related websites and resources.

    Another commemoration activity is the announcement of the winners of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Adoption Excellence Awards for 2002. When the names of the awardees are released, they will be posted on the Children's Bureau website.

    Celebrate National Adoption Month by doing your part to help shorten the length of time children in foster care wait for families. Be sure to visit the National Adoption Month website to learn what you can do to help.

  • 2002-2003 Adoption Guide Available

    2002-2003 Adoption Guide Available

    Adoptive Families Magazine has released its annual Adoption Guide for 2002-2003. This 140-page reference provides the latest adoption news and trends for adoptive parents, whether they are adopting for the first time or adding to their families.

    The guide offers overviews of the adoption process, laws, and options. It also contains feature articles on topics of interest, and offers resource lists to help adoptive parents find adoption attorneys, state adoption units and private agencies, national adoption organizations, and useful books and websites on adoption.

    To find more information or to order the guide online (cost $14.95), visit the Adoptive Families Magazine website at http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/adoption_guide2002.php.

    The guide can also be ordered by phone at 1-800-372-3300.

  • Angels in Adoption Awards

    Angels in Adoption Awards

    On Thursday, September 24, 2002, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) held its annual Angels in Adoption Award Celebration. Each year, CCAI invites Members of Congress to nominate individuals in their States who have made a difference in the lives of children and families for a Congressional Angels in Adoption Award.

    For this year's event, 140 Members of Congress participated. More than 199 individuals and organizations (including Jane Morgan, Adoption Specialist at the Children's Bureau) received Angel awards. The Hallmark Channel, Antwone Fisher (author and screenwriter), and Hans van Loon (Secretary General of the Hague conference on Private International Law) received National Angel in Adoption Awards. In addition, Dave Thomas was honored, posthumously, for his work in the adoption field.

    To learn more about CCAI and the Angels in Adoption Awards, visit CCAI's website at http://www.ccainstitute.org.

    A PDF copy of the awards program is available at http://www.ccainstitute.org/CCAI_Banquet_final_920.pdf.

  • HHS Awards Adoption Bonuses

    HHS Awards Adoption Bonuses

    In September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $17.5 million in bonuses to 23 States and Puerto Rico for increasing adoptions of children from the foster care system.

    The bonuses are awarded as required by the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997. States that exceed the number of children adopted compared to the previous year receive a bonus consisting of $4,000 for each child adopted and $6,000 for each child with special needs adopted.

    "Behind the statistics there are real children whose lives are better for having been adopted," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "We encourage States to do everything they can to find permanent, loving homes for all children who are waiting."

    For a complete list of States and their bonuses, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/news/press/2002/release_924pt2.html.

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News From the Children's Bureau

  • National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center Evaluates Shared Family Care Pilot Projects

    National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center Evaluates Shared Family Care Pilot Projects

    The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (NAIARC) is providing technical assistance to pilot projects in California and Colorado to provide innovative and alternative services for children and families at risk. Shared family care is a model to help biological parents develop the necessary skills to achieve permanency for their children by temporarily placing their entire family with a host family trained to support and mentor them. The shared family care approach can be used for prevention, reunification, or helping parents decide whether they want to terminate their parental rights. A report on the effectiveness of shared family care in California and Colorado is available on the Web at http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~aiarc/information_resources/shared_family_care/ program_policy.html.

  • HHS Selects Adoption Exchange Association to Administer AdoptUSKids Initiative

    HHS Selects Adoption Exchange Association to Administer AdoptUSKids Initiative

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services selected the Adoption Exchange Association (AEA) to administer AdoptUSKids, an innovative approach to encourage more families to adopt children from the foster care system. AEA will receive $22 million during the next 5 years to support the project. This sum represents the Children's Bureau's largest-ever Adoption Opportunities grant.

    Principle partners in the effort are AEA, Child Welfare League of America, the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, Northwest Adoption Exchange, The Adoption Exchange, and Holt International Children's Services.

    AEA's project "The Collaboration to AdoptUSKids" will include maintaining and enhancing the AdoptUSKids website (http://www.AdoptUSKids.org), the first Federal online photolisting. Other facets of the Collaboration will include:

    • Training and technical assistance to States and Tribes throughout the country.
    • A national adoption recruitment campaign.
    • The creation of a support network of adoptee, adoptive family, and sibling groups.
    • Research to identify the barriers to the adoption process.
    • Efforts to enhance collaboration between agencies and individuals working to find families for children.

    "Our end goal is to get as many kids as possible placed into families," says Project Director Barbara Holtan, MSW, M.A.

    You can reach the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids at:
    Adoption Exchange Association
    8015 Corporate Drive, Suite C
    Baltimore, MD 21236
    (410) 933-5700
    (888) 200-4005
    http://www.AdoptUSKids.org

Child Welfare Research

  • Report Details Growth in Adoption Population Receiving Adoption Assistance

    Report Details Growth in Adoption Population Receiving Adoption Assistance

    A recent issue paper, Growth in the Adoption Population, explores the possible impact of Federal policy changes on the future size of the foster care adoption population.

    The authors, Fred Wulczyn and Kristin Brunner Hislop of the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, estimate that between 2004 and 2006 the number of children receiving adoption assistance will grow to exceed the number of children in foster care. The adoption population will continue to be larger than the foster care population well into the future (unless there are dramatic changes in the number of foster care admissions). As a consequence, Federal and State adoption assistance payments will approach total outlays for foster care board and maintenance within the next 10 to 15 years, depending on admissions to foster care during that period. If current trends continue, about 78 percent of the adoption population will be eligible for Federally funded adoption assistance payments, which, according to the authors' calculations, could mean outlays of $2.9 billion in 2020 (in constant dollars).

    Conclusion and implications from this study:

    • The demand for services to support adoptive families should grow at a rate commensurate with the changing trends in foster care and adoption.
    • State agencies and the Federal government will have to allocate greater resources to children adopted from foster care in order to support permanency and well-being.
    • Even if foster care admissions decline between 2000 and 2005, Federal and State expenditures for foster care and adoption assistance payments can be expected to grow.

    The full report can be found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/fostercare-issues02/adoption/index.htm.

    For additional reading on this topic, see the literature review Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Service: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues, which is available on the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation website at http://aspe.hhs.gov/search/hsp/PASS/lit-rev-01.htm.

  • Study Reports Employment Outcomes for Youth Aging out of Foster Care, Creates Baseline

    Study Reports Employment Outcomes for Youth Aging out of Foster Care, Creates Baseline

    Youth aging out of foster care are underemployed and progress more slowly in the labor market than other youth, according to a report on employment outcomes of children exiting foster care. The study Employment Outcomes for Youth Aging out of Foster Care focused on youth exiting foster care near their 18th birthdays in California, Illinois, and South Carolina during a 13-quarter time period in the mid-1990s. As the 1999 Foster Care Independence Act ("The Chaffee Act") provides States fiscal incentives to enhance the future prospects of youth aging out of foster care, the study creates a baseline against which the experiences of youth in the future and in other States can be compared. The results are also compared to youth that were reunified with their parents prior to their 18th birthday as well as to low-income youth.

    Findings of the report include:

    • Aging-out youth are underemployed -- no more than 45 percent of the aging-out youth have earnings in any of the three States during any one of the 13 quarters of the study. This is also the case for reunified youth.
    • Patterns of unemployment vary by State -- there were no earnings during the entire 13-quarter period for approximately 30 percent of aging-out youth in Illinois, 23 percent in California, and 14 percent in South Carolina.
    • Youth who work begin work early -- if youth in California and South Carolina did not work prior to exiting foster care, there was only a slightly more than 50 percent chance they would begin work after exit; youth in Illinois who had no earnings prior to their 18th birthday had less than a 50 percent chance of beginning work by the age of 20.
    • Aging-out youth have mean earnings below the poverty level -- these youth average less than $6,000 per year in wages, which is substantially below the 1997 poverty level of $7,890 for a single individual.
    • Aging-out youth progress more slowly in the labor market than other youth -- in Illinois, aging-out youth had a smaller increase in earnings than low-income youth; but low-income and aging-out youth in California had a larger increase in their earnings than reunified youth.

    The full report is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/fostercare-agingout02/.

  • Report Shows Foster Care Experience Differs by Urban Area

    Report Shows Foster Care Experience Differs by Urban Area

    A recent study, Foster Care Dynamics in Urban and Non-Urban Counties reveals that the experiences of children in foster care vary depending on whether they live in primary urban areas (the counties with the largest child welfare system in a given State), secondary urban areas (other urban counties), or non-urban counties. The authors, Fred H. Wulczyn and Kristin Brunner Hislop of the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, demonstrate that these variations persist even when controlling for differences in age, race, and placement type.

    One finding showed that placements in urban areas tend to be longer. Among children entering foster care for the first time between 1990 and 1999, 50 percent of those in non-urban areas had exited the system by 9.9 months. In secondary urban areas it took more than a year (12.6 months) to achieve the same result; in primary urban areas, the figure was nearly 2 years (23.7 months).

    Their findings could aid in the development of more targeted prevention and service programs. For example, the researchers found that infants in primary urban areas are 4 to 5 times more likely than children of other ages to enter foster care. This suggests that prevention initiatives targeting at-risk families with pregnant women could significantly impact the use of foster care in those areas.

    A complete copy of the study is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/fostercare-issues02/dynamics/index.htm.

  • Compounds Found to Prevent Alcohol-Related Developmental Damage

    Compounds Found to Prevent Alcohol-Related Developmental Damage

    A recent study reports two experimental compounds prevent ethanol-induced fetal damage in mice. This data further strengthens scientists' understanding of how alcohol damages fetal development and brings them closer to finding effective interventions against fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

    Cells that are to become the brain and nervous system cluster and begin forming these organs early in fetal development. Ethanol alcohol (the kind of alcohol found in beverages) prevents these cells from clustering. Octanol and other non-beverage alcohol molecules block ethanol's ability to disrupt this clustering, and thereby prevent fetal damage from ethanol in mouse embryos. The study, undertaken by researchers from Harvard Medical School/Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System and the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, was to determine if SAL and NAP -- active peptides from two brain proteins known to protect nerve cells against a variety of toxins -- protect against ethanol in the same way octanol does, by interfering with ethanol's disruption of cell adhesion. It was found that NAP and SAL molecules can prevent ethanol-induced fetal damage in mice. This information provides tools that may assist in the development of drugs to prevent FAS.

    FAS, the most preventable cause of mental retardation, affects about 1 in 1,000 U.S. infants and approximately 6 percent of children born to alcoholic women.

    The study, Peptide Antagonists of Ethanol Inhibition of L1-Mediated Cell-Cell Adhesion, appeared in the October 2002 issue of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. An abstract of the article is available at http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/ 303/1/110?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT =&author1=Wilkemeyer%2C+M&searchid=1034778687147_1227& stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&journalcode=jpet

    Related Item

    Read other articles about FAS from the following issues of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Series Teaches About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome" (February/March 2002)
    • "New CDC Center Brings National Attention to Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities" (September/October 2001)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Casey Family Programs and Boston Department of Social Services Collaborate for Lasting Reform

    Casey Family Programs and Boston Department of Social Services Collaborate for Lasting Reform

    A 3-year partnership between Casey Family Programs and the Boston Department of Social Services (DSS) is focusing on better long-term outcomes for children in the child welfare system. Their effort, The Right Home for the Right Child, has used cohort data to identify five key areas for change:

    • Training staff to offer family group conferences at key points
    • Giving first priority to kinship placement
    • Placing siblings together whenever possible
    • Focusing on recruiting and retaining foster parents
    • Developing a strategy to decrease re-entry to foster care

    Following the implementation of these strategies, the second round of cohort data already shows promise: fewer children entered care for the first time in the year 2000, the length of stay in care had decreased, and there was a slight decline in re-entry. A report from Casey Family Programs, Opening the Door to Change, documents successes and challenges from the project's second year. It also outlines lessons learned that may be of interest to anyone undertaking a similar reform effort.

    A PDF version of the report can be downloaded from the Casey Family Programs website at www.caseyfamilyprograms.org/cnc/recruitment/recruitment_retention_resource_fam.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)

    For more information about the collaboration, contact:
    Fran Gutterman
    Casey Family Programs
    1808 Eye Street, NW, 5th Floor
    Washington, DC 20006
    (888) 295-6727

Resources

  • Kinship Care State Fact Sheets Available

    Kinship Care State Fact Sheets Available

    A new series of fact sheets provides important information and resources for grandparents and other relatives raising children. Available for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the fact sheets include:

    • Census data on the number of children being cared for by relatives
    • Innovative state programs assisting kin caregivers
    • Policies that affect kin caregivers in the foster care system
    • Resources to support kin caregivers
    • Overviews of state laws and regulations affecting kinship care

    The fact sheets are the result of a joint effort by Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support, the Children's Defense Fund, the Child Welfare League of America, AARP, Generations United, the Urban Institute, Brookdale Foundation, and Johnson & Hedgpeth Kinship Care Consultants.

    PDF versions of the fact sheets can be downloaded from the Casey Family Programs website at http://www.casey.org/cnc/state_contacts/kinship_fact_sheets.htm. (This link is no longer available, but information can be found at http://www.childrensdefense.org/childwelfare/kinshipcare/fact_sheets/default.aspx.)

  • HHS Awards $30 Million from the Compassion Capital Fund

    HHS Awards $30 Million from the Compassion Capital Fund

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson announced in early October the grants from the Compassion Capital Fund "to help faith- and community-based organizations get a fair and equal opportunity to compete for HHS funds." The awards include $24.8 million, divided among 21 intermediary organizations, to provide technical assistance to help faith- and community-based organizations effectively access funding sources, operate and manage their programs, develop and train staff, expand the reach of their programs into the community, and replicate promising programs. The ultimate outcome of the funding is to develop and evaluate innovative practices and promising approaches to providing services so that other organizations can benefit from the unique approaches taken by faith-based organizations.

    HHS is also awarding four grants totaling more than $850,000 to support research regarding how faith- and community-based organizations provide social services, the role they play in communities, and how they impact the lives of the people they serve.

    Dare Mighty Things in Vienna, Virginia, received funding to establish a national resource center and clearinghouse for information related to technical assistance and training resources for faith- and community-based organizations. This resource center will ensure that the grantees funded under the Compassion Capital Fund are adequately equipped with the information and training they need to assist grassroots organizations.

    The complete list of grantees and their respective awards can be found on the HHS website of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at http://www.hhs.gov/fbci/.

  • 2002 National Adoption Directory Available

    2002 National Adoption Directory Available

    The National Adoption Directory (NAD) is a user-friendly, interactive online database that generates State-by-State (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) contact lists and descriptions of adoption resources including public officials, public and licensed private adoption agencies, and support groups.

    Updated daily, the NAD provides a valuable resource for adoptive families and people searching for birth relatives.

    The database (and PDF version) is available online from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse at http://www.childwelfare.gov/nfcad/index.cfm. A print version is available from the Clearinghouse for $25.00 by calling (888) 251-0075.

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

    Conferences

    Fourteenth National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect

    The Fourteenth National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, March 31 through April 5, 2003. The conference theme, Gateways to Prevention, focuses on challenging existing assumptions about how to prevent child maltreatment and considering a range of strategies to protect children and support families and communities.

    More information about the conference can be found at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/profess/conferences/cbconference/fourteenth/index.cfm.

    Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through February 2003 include:

    December

    January

    • The Annual Meeting of State and Tribal Child Welfare Officials "Partners in Progress: Lessons Learned from the CFSR" (National Child Welfare Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice; January 27 through 29, Washington, DC).

    February

    • 17th Annual San Diego Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment (Chadwick Center for Children and Families; February 3 through 7, San Diego, CA; http://www.charityadvantage.com/chadwickcenter/2003Conferenceb.asp -- this link is no longer available).
    • National Youth Summit on Preventing Violence (National Crime Prevention Council; February 15 through 18, Anaheim, CA; http://www.ncpc.org/).
    • Best of Both Worlds Conference (The Adoption Excellence Institute; February 25 through 27, Dublin, Ireland; www.bestofbothworlds.org -- this link is no longer available).

    Further details about national and regional child welfare conferences can be found in the "conference" section on the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/profess/conferences/index.cfm.

    Further details about national and regional adoption conferences can be found in the "conference" section on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website at http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/general/conferences/index.cfm.

  • News from the Child Welfare Training Resources Online Network: Leadership Training Supports High Per

    News from the Child Welfare Training Resources Online Network: Leadership Training Supports High Per

    The Excellence in Child Welfare Leadership Program of the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), funded through a grant from Casey Family Programs, has defined the body of leadership work that must be done at all levels to make organizational changes that will lead to high performance. The Leadership Program offers free training and consultation to child welfare agencies nationwide to help develop senior management leadership capacity.

    Targeted at executive and senior-level child welfare managers and key child welfare professionals, the training elements consist of:

    • A modularized curriculum that uses child welfare-based resources and materials.
    • Leadership assessment tools, including an organizational diagnostic tool.
    • Strategic exercises that transform training activities into a customized action plan.
    • On-site consulting services that help leaders diagnose themselves and their organization to see where to focus efforts.

    The training is rooted in a strengths-based process designed to help participants work though their own organizational issues by building on strengths and developing leadership capacity. The training focuses on the systems, strategies, and skills needed to manage large-scale change; that is, determining expected performance, current performance, and what needs to be done to close the gap. Leaders also focus on the constellation of leadership skills critical to creating and maintaining high-performance organizations. Participants learn how personal behaviors can materially enhance or hinder the performance of an organization. They practice critical skills and assess what skill gaps, if any, they have yet to fill.

    For more information, contact:

    Anita Light
    Leadership Development Manager
    Excellence in Child Welfare Leadership Program
    American Public Human Services Association
    810 First Street, NE, Suite 500
    Washington, DC 20002
    (202) 682-0100
    Email: alight@aphsa.org