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April 2003Vol. 4, No. 3Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention

Issue Spotlight

  • Home Visiting Programs Help Reduce Child Maltreatment

    Home Visiting Programs Help Reduce Child Maltreatment

    The effectiveness of home visiting can be difficult to measure, because programs vary greatly in both design and desired outcomes. A number of recent studies, however, show home visiting can be an effective way to prevent child maltreatment in high-risk populations.

    In February 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Task Force on Community Preventive Services concluded "there is strong evidence to recommend home visitation to reduce child maltreatment." The group based this recommendation on a review of 25 studies that found an overall 39 percent reduction of child maltreatment in high-risk families.

    A fact sheet released by Prevent Child Abuse America provides evidence from more than 20 evaluations that the Healthy Families America model, in particular, is effective in reducing child maltreatment and achieving other positive outcomes for children. The Healthy Families America approach to home visiting involves a wide-ranging umbrella of services, statewide infrastructures, and a framework of 12 research-based "critical elements." Findings include:

    • In fiscal year 2000-2001, the child maltreatment rate among participants in a Pinellas County, Florida, program was 1.6 percent, compared to 4.9 percent for the county as a whole.
    • In an evaluation of a Hawaii program, the rate of substantiated cases of child maltreatment for families receiving program services was found to be less than half that of a control group (3.3 percent vs. 6.8 percent).
    • Healthy Families Maryland had only two indicated reports of child maltreatment (both for neglect) among 254 families served in 4 years of program operation (a rate of .8 percent).

    The document, Healthy Families America Reduces Child Maltreatment, is one of a series of fact sheets about the program. The series can be found on the Prevent Child Abuse America website at

    Other sources of information about home visiting models:

    • An article in the December 2002 issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, "Effect of Volunteer Home Visitation for Adolescent Mothers on Parenting and Mental Health Outcomes," presents the findings of a study that used volunteers to teach a parenting curriculum to adolescent parents. Participating parents showed significantly increased parenting behavior scores compared to a control group. Read an abstract on the American Medical Association website at 12/1216.
    • The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices bulletin, The Benefits and Financing of Home Visiting Programs, focuses on how States fund home visiting programs using Medicaid, Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant funds, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This document is available online in text format at,1434,3927,00.html (note: this link is no longer available) or as a PDF file at
    • The Promising Practices Network ( gives the Nurse Family Partnership (formerly the Prenatal and Infancy Nurse Home Visitation Program) a rating of "proven." Find their overview of the program at 16&benchmarkid=8.

    Related Item

    Read more in "Home Visitation Measured as a Way to Prevent Child Abuse" in the November 2000 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

  • Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

    Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

    The Children's Bureau will release a new report this month, Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, identifying effective, innovative, and noteworthy aspects of child maltreatment prevention programs. Part of the Children's Bureau's Prevention Initiative, the report's purpose is to inform the professional community about effective practices, detect gaps in knowledge about the effectiveness of existing programs, identify priorities for research, and use research to improve practice and develop new effective programs.

    Programs nominated for the project were reviewed by an advisory group of experts in child abuse prevention and evaluation. "Effective" programs were defined as those that demonstrated effectiveness through rigorous evaluation, with a second tier for programs that reported effectiveness but used less rigorous evaluation methods. "Innovative" programs used innovative methods to overcome a particular challenge or showcased a new approach to prevention. Programs with "noteworthy aspects" did not meet the specific requirements for the effective or innovative categories but had unique qualities that the advisory group felt were worthy of highlighting.

    Of the 28 programs reviewed, 22 were ultimately selected:

    • 3 were determined to be effective (only 1 was considered to have demonstrated effectiveness).
    • 7 were considered innovative.
    • 12 were deemed to have noteworthy aspects.

    The available research suggests that the intensity and duration of a program's involvement with families is crucial to reducing child maltreatment and improving how families function. However, the results of the nomination process point to the need to improve the capacity of child maltreatment prevention programs to demonstrate their effectiveness.

    This report is available on the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website at

    Related Item

    Read about the prevention program recognized as having "demonstrated effectiveness" in "Baltimore's Family Connections Program Proven to Prevent Child Maltreatment" in this issue of Children's Bureau Express.

  • Child Abuse Prevention Initiative and Website Launched

    Child Abuse Prevention Initiative and Website Launched

    April 2003 marks the 20th anniversary of the first Presidential Proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has announced that one of the major initiatives for the Department is a Prevention Initiative. At the Secretary's level, the focus is on preventing diabetes, obesity, and heart disease in women. At the Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) level, the Initiative is an opportunity to work together with communities across the country to keep children safe, provide the support that families need to stay together, and raise our children and youth to be happy, secure, and stable adults.

    Assistant Secretary Wade F. Horn formally launched the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Initiative at a press conference just before opening night at the 14th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect. The conference was held in St. Louis, MO, the week of March 31. The conference was a keystone event of the Initiative, as was the debut at the conference of the 2003-2004 Child Abuse Prevention Initiative website ( (Note: current Prevention Month information and resources are available at The site, based on the 2003 Child Abuse Prevention Community Resource Packet and poster, provides additional information and resources to help promote child abuse prevention activities in communities during Child Abuse Prevention Month and throughout the year. New information will be added to the website frequently. Be sure to bookmark the What's New page for updates (note: this link is no longer available).

    Other components of the ACYF initiative include two new publications, some discretionary funding to be reserved for prevention projects, and the Child Welfare Option legislation proposal that allows States more flexibility in upfront spending for IV-E dollars.

    Developed in partnership with leading national organizations and the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, the website offers funding information, prevention-related publications, a press kit to promote the Prevention Initiative in the media, calendars of prevention activities for organizations and individuals, and other resources. A PDF version of the packet and poster also are available on the website at (Note: current resources can be ordered at

    To order a free print copy of the 2003 Child Abuse Prevention Community Resource Packet or poster, contact:
    National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
    Phone: (800) 394-3366

    Related Item

    Read more in "2003 Child Abuse Prevention Community Resource Packet" in the March 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express.

  • Baltimore's Family Connections Program Proven to Prevent Child Maltreatment

    Baltimore's Family Connections Program Proven to Prevent Child Maltreatment

    In a recent publication, Family Connections in Baltimore, Maryland, was designated by the Children's Bureau as the only nominated child maltreatment prevention program proven effective by a rigorous evaluation. Family Connections promotes the safety and well-being of children and families by identifying and developing formal and informal supports to address each family's individual needs and build upon their strengths.

    Evaluation results showed that children in 90 percent of the at-risk families served in 2000/2001 were safe from the suspicion of abuse or neglect. Other outcomes included:

    • A decrease in risk factors, and increase in protective factors, for neglect
    • An increase in appropriate parenting attitudes among caregivers
    • An increase in caregiver satisfaction with parenting
    • An increase in social support for caregivers
    • A decrease in depressive symptoms among caregivers
    • A decrease in caregiver drug use
    • A decrease in caregiver stress
    • A decrease in child behavior problems

    Family Connections targets families with children between the ages of 5 and 11 who are considered to be at risk for child abuse and neglect but have no current CPS involvement. Staff members work with families on problem-solving, positive discipline methods, coping strategies, developing social supports and community connections, and opportunities for positive family interactions through community activities.

    For more information about this program, contact:
    University of Maryland School of Social Work
    525 West Redwood Street
    Baltimore, MD 21201
    Phone: (410) 706-3609
    Fax: (410) 706-6046
    Email: (Diane DePanfilis, Ph.D., MSW)

    Related Item

    Read more about proven and innovative practices in child maltreatment prevention, in "Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect" in this issue of Children's Bureau Express.

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News From the Children's Bureau

  • Child Maltreatment 2001 Available

    Child Maltreatment 2001 Available

    Child Maltreatment 2001, the 12th annual publication and analysis of data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), is currently available. NCANDS is the primary source of national information on abused and neglected children known to State child protective services agencies.

    As in previous years, the report presents detailed analyses, historical comparisons, tables, graphs, and charts on referrals and reports of child maltreatment, characteristics of child maltreatment victims, perpetrators of maltreatment, fatalities that occurred as a result of maltreatment, and services to prevent maltreatment and to assist the victims.

    Key findings from the report include:

    • Three million referrals were made to child protective services agencies in 2001.
    • From those referrals, an estimated 903,000 children were determined to have been abused or neglected.
    • In 2001, 59.2 percent of child victims suffered neglect, 18.6 percent were physically abused, 9.6 percent were sexually abused, and 6.8 percent were emotionally or psychologically maltreated.
    • Nationally, 1,300 children died of abuse or neglect in 2001—a rate of 1.81 children per 100,000 children in the population.

    HTML and PDF versions of Child Maltreatment 2001 are available on the Children's Bureau website. Print copies are available from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information at (800) FYI-3366,, or

  • Resources for Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Applicants

    Resources for Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Applicants

    Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant announcements are expected in late April. A number of resources are available to help potential applicants better understand and prepare for the grants process.

    Applicants should consider how they will evaluate their programs. The Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) has developed The Program Manager's Guide to Evaluation to help funded programs assess performance, measure impacts on families and communities, and document successes. The guide answers common questions, such as:

    • Why evaluate your program?
    • What is program evaluation?
    • Who should conduct your evaluation?
    • How do you hire and manage an outside evaluator?
    • How do you prepare for an evaluation?
    • What should you include in an evaluation?
    • How do you get the information you need?
    • How do you make sense of evaluation information?
    • How can you report what you have learned?

    An HTML version of the guide is available on the Administration for Children and Families website at

    Grant Management Resources, a joint product of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, is another useful publication for current and potential grantees. This bulletin lists resources to support organizations in managing federally funded grants, including:

    • Organizations and associations offering information, training, and networking opportunities in grants management.
    • Government resources on how to apply for Federal grants, manage Federal dollars, and find key contacts in Federal grants management.
    • Books about winning and managing grants.
    • Articles about grants management issues.
    • Journals and newsletters with up-to-date information about program management.
    • Conferences and trainings to help sharpen your program management skills.

    Grant Management Resources is available by contacting either Clearinghouse:

    National Adoption Information Clearinghouse
    Phone: (888) 251-0075

    National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
    Phone: (800) FYI-3366

  • FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Family Resource and Support Programs

    FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Family Resource and Support Programs

    Family Resource Information, Education, and Network Development Services (FRIENDS) works under a cooperative agreement with the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect to help States implement Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS) programs, with the ultimate goal of strengthening families and reducing the incidence of child abuse and neglect.

    A member of the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network, the FRIENDS National Resource Center (NRC) provides onsite technical assistance on a variety of topics, including:

    • Network building.
    • Long range planning.
    • Funding.
    • Collaborative building.
    • Evaluation (including outcome accountability for family support programs, program self-assessment, peer review, and community report cards).
    • Family support principles and practices.
    • Family support program operations.
    • Family engagement and parent leadership.
    • Respite and crisis care.
    • Cultural competence.

    FRIENDS also is available to help State child welfare agencies meet the training needs identified in the Program Improvement Plans that result from the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews. The NRC offers a website, publications and resource materials, and a lending library. FRIENDS staff provide one-on-one assistance and mentoring to new CBFRS agency leads, help CBFRS leads around the country connect with each other, and work with the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect to host an annual meeting of States.

    FRIENDS is a collaboration of 10 organizations. Family Support America leads the NRC, working in full-time partnership with the Chapel Hill Training Outreach Project and the University of Kentucky Training Resource Center to provide core services.

    Seven other national organizations with recognized expertise in their fields also provide resources to the CBFRS lead agencies through FRIENDS: the National Indian Child Welfare Association, Prevent Child Abuse America, the University of New Mexico's Family Development Program, the National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families, the Faith-Based Network of the Skillman Center at Wayne State University, the Midwest Learning Center for Family Support, and Maximus Consulting Services.

    Contact the FRIENDS National Resource Center at:
    Family Support America
    20 North Wacker Drive, Suite 1100
    Chicago, IL 60606
    Phone: (312) 338 0900
    Fax: (312) 338 1522
    Director: Sonia Velazquez

Child Welfare Research

  • Literature Review Explores Non-Custodial Fathers' Involvement in Child Welfare

    Literature Review Explores Non-Custodial Fathers' Involvement in Child Welfare

    Recent shifts in marriage and child-bearing patterns, and increasing incarceration rates, have translated into more children living apart from their biological fathers. Many of these children eventually become involved in the child welfare system and foster care. A recent literature review by the Urban Institute, however, reveals a critical lack of existing research about non-custodial fathers (biological fathers who do not live with their children) and their relationships with their children involved in the child welfare system.

    Despite a general lack of available research, the review did highlight a few promising efforts to identify, locate, and involve non-custodial fathers in child welfare cases, including:

    • State child welfare agencies working in conjunction with child support enforcement programs to find fathers using the Federal Parent Locator Service, as authorized by the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act.
    • Recipients of Model Court project grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention focusing on establishing paternity and locating absent parents as ways to expedite permanency for children.
    • Programs for incarcerated parents that empower non-custodial fathers to take responsibility for their children.

    No rigorous evaluations have yet been conducted to assess whether these efforts lead to positive outcomes for children.

    This literature review sets the stage for a 3-year study being conducted by the Urban Institute, to determine the extent to which child welfare agencies identify, locate, and involve non-custodial fathers in case decision-making and permanency planning.

    The literature review is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, at

    Related Items

    For more about the role of fathers, see the following articles in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

    • "National Fatherhood Group Examines Statistical Trends in U.S. Families" (June 2002)
    • "LONGSCAN Examines Fatherhood" (April 2002)
  • International Study Seeks Participants

    International Study Seeks Participants

    A group of American, Canadian, and British child welfare professionals and academics is conducting a study to test and evaluate the benefits of a standardized parenting capacity assessment for child protective services (CPS) agencies. The group hopes the use of this assessment methodology will:

    • Decrease work-related stress for CPS workers
    • Increase job satisfaction for CPS workers
    • Decrease the time required to determine a child's at-risk status
    • Produce valid results about a child's at-risk status

    Child welfare teams are invited to participate. A team might consist of front line child welfare professionals, a team supervisor, legal counsel, and an external parenting capacity assessor. Participation will likely involve a 1-year commitment. Experimental groups will receive training and ongoing support. Control groups will continue to function as usual and will agree not to undertake any new initiatives during the study.

    Anyone interested in learning more or participating in the project can contact Alex Polgar, Ph.D., at

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Website Maps Ways to Improve Outcomes for Children

    Website Maps Ways to Improve Outcomes for Children

    Community groups seeking to improve the lives of children without "reinventing the wheel" often struggle to find information about what works. Even when a promising program is found, it is sometimes difficult to identify the critical elements that will lead to its success in another community. The Pathways Mapping Initiative (PMI) at Harvard University has established a new website, Pathways to Outcomes, to address these needs.

    The site's purpose is to strengthen the capacity of community groups, funders, policy makers, and service providers to achieve important outcomes for children, families, and neighborhoods. The initiative's first outcome, All Children are Ready for School, incorporates three related goals: good health, socially and cognitively supportive environments (including strong bonds with primary caretakers and supportive homes), and safe and strong neighborhoods. Visitors to the site will find information to help them:

    • Assess how well their community is doing in preparing young children for school.
    • Develop a community-wide plan.
    • Find examples of programs that have achieved specific results.
    • Determine whether existing services, supports, and community efforts incorporate identified attributes of effectiveness.
    • Understand why a current approach is not working.
    • Prepare agency, grant, or legislative proposals.
    • Identify policies that are important to school readiness.

    PMI believes there is "no silver bullet" to improving outcomes for families. The actions discussed are comprehensive and cross disciplinary, political, and systems boundaries.

    PMI was established in January 2000 through a collaboration between the Project on Effective Interventions at Harvard University and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The PMI team is currently researching and developing a second pathway to the outcome, Families are Economically Successful.

    Visit the Pathways to Outcomes website at

    For more information, contact:
    The Pathways Mapping Initiative
    Project on Effective Interventions at Harvard University
    3113 Woodley Road NW
    Washington, DC 20008

    More promising programs for families and children can be found on the Promising Practices Network website, at

  • Forensic Interviews and Family-Centered Practice

    Forensic Interviews and Family-Centered Practice

    Forensic interviewing often plays a key role in investigations of abuse or neglect, yet its focus on gathering information for the court makes some professionals question how it fits into family-centered practice. North Carolina's child welfare reform effort incorporates forensic interviewing in an effort to build stronger relationships with children and protect them from further exploitation and harm.

    In a forensic interview, a caseworker or trained professional interviews a child to find out whether he or she has been maltreated. The approach is used to produce evidence that will stand up in court if the investigation leads to criminal prosecution. Forensic interviewing is designed to reduce child trauma by minimizing the number of times a child is asked to relate an abusive event.

    It is not yet clear whether forensic interviewing results in more convictions of child abuse perpetrators, but North Carolina child welfare professionals are finding that the technique lends itself to a multidisciplinary approach to child welfare in which professionals from child protective services, law enforcement, and the mental health and medical fields coordinate efforts to support child victims and their families.

    Children's Service Practice Notes, Vol. 8, Number 1, from the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program, offers tips on how to be family-centered while investigating tough cases, a primer on forensic interviewing, and resources for conducting family-centered interviews. The newsletter is available online at

    Finding Words is a national program that has been recognized for training in forensic interviewing. For more information, contact Grant Bauer of the American Prosecutors Research Institute at (703) 518-4385.

    The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children also offers training on forensic interviews. Visit their website at


  • Assistance for Prospective Grant Reviewers and Recipients

    Assistance for Prospective Grant Reviewers and Recipients

    The Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) Grant website now offers information for individuals seeking to become grant reviewers in addition to information about the grants themselves. ACYF funds State, local, and Tribal organizations to provide child care, Head Start, child welfare, and other programs relating to children and families.

    The Call for Grant Reviewers site provides job descriptions and program information that will help match qualified reviewers with ACYF Bureau needs. On the site, prospective grant reviewers can find information about qualifications, work expectations, and compensation of reviewers; read the Want Ads; get help preparing resumes and writing samples; and submit applications online.

    The Funding Opportunities area of the site offers announcements of open and closed funding opportunities, a directory of funded programs, information about listservs and newsletters, and answers to frequently asked questions.

    ACYF Grant Web can be found at

  • Website Offers Funding Alternatives for Youth Development

    Website Offers Funding Alternatives for Youth Development

    The National Youth Development Information Center (NYDIC) offers a number of resources for organizations seeking funding for youth development or other child welfare-related programs.

    The fund development section ( of the NYDIC website features a searchable database listing more than 100 national foundations, community and family foundations, awards and scholarships, corporate giving programs, federally funded programs, and sources for staffing assistance. (Editor's note: this link is no longer available, but information can be found under the "funding" section of their website at For each listing, grant-seekers will find details such as:

    • Geographical restrictions
    • Areas of focus
    • Project interests
    • Average grant size
    • Deadlines
    • How to apply

    Also on the site are basic tips about funding youth development programs, how to use demographic data to demonstrate the need for a program, and links to other sources of funding information.

    NYDIC, a project of the National Assembly through its affinity group the National Collaboration for Youth, provides practice-related information about youth development to national and local youth-serving organizations. Visit their website at

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.

  • Training Strengthens Collaboration Between Child Welfare Staff and Community-Based Organizations

    Training Strengthens Collaboration Between Child Welfare Staff and Community-Based Organizations

    Cornell University has developed an interactive, competency-based training curriculum and training plan to strengthen the capacity of county child protection and child welfare workers to collaborate with community-based organizations.

    The training involves six components:

    • Addressing some of the systemic barriers to collaboration.
    • Highlighting the family strength approach.
    • Providing participants with an opportunity to express and correct common misconceptions and learn up-to-date information about each other's services.
    • Helping participants understand the different terminology used by each system.
    • Providing opportunities to practice the knowledge and strategies by role-playing development of a service plan jointly with a family.
    • Helping participants transfer these skills to the workplace by giving them assignments to complete after the training, having them attend a follow-up meeting, and including supervisory and administrative staff in the process.

    Evaluation results have been positive. Between 78 percent and 94 percent of participants in each county felt the training positively impacted their understanding of collaboration. After 1 year, 90 percent of participants were found to be using the knowledge gained from the training. More than 90 percent collaborated more because of the training, and nearly 80 percent felt families were being better served because of enhanced collaboration.

    For more information on this training program, contact:
    Frank Barry
    Cornell University
    Family Life Development Center
    Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
    Ithaca, NY 14853
    Phone: (607) 255-7456

  • Conferences


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


    • Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) Annual Meeting (American Public Human Services Association; May 1 through 7, Baltimore, MD; (Editor's note: this link is no longer available)).
    • Finding Better Ways 2003 (Child Welfare League of America; May 5 through 7, Los Angeles, CA;
    • National Foster Parent Association 33rd Annual Education Conference "Invest in Children….Our Future" (May 12 through 17, Des Moines, IA; (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)
    • National Data Archive on Child Abuse & Neglect (NDACAN) Summer Research Institute (May 27 through 31, Ithaca, NY; (link no longer available).
    • 13th National Abandoned Infants Assistance (AIA) Grantees' Conference "Connecting with Families: Pathways to Well-being" (May 28 through 29, Washington, DC).



    • 2003 Conference on Treatment Foster Care (Foster Family-Based Treatment Association; July 20 through 23, Universal City, CA; - Editor's note: this link is no longer available).
    • American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) 11th Annual National Colloquium (July 23 through 26, Orlando, FL;
    • 4th National Kinship Care Conference "Kinship Care: Preserving and Strengthening a Family Resource" (Child Welfare League of America; July 30 through August 1, Philadelphia, PA;

    Further details about national and regional child welfare conferences can be found in the "conferences" section on the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website at

    Further details about national and regional adoption conferences can be found in the "conferences" section on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website at