This month's CBX offers information, tools, and strategies for professionals to help prevent pregnancy among youth involved with child welfare and to better work with youth who are pregnant and/or parenting.
- Interim Impacts of the POWER Through Choices Program
An August 2015 report from the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services evaluates the interim findings regarding the POWER Through Choices (PTC) program, a comprehensive sexual health education curriculum created specifically for youth living in foster care and other out-of-home care settings. This vulnerable population of youth face a multitude of challenges. In particular, youth in the State's care exhibit higher rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Unlike their peers in the general population, many youth in out-of-home care lack the necessary access to sexual-health education and services, and they generally report having little knowledge about contraception and reproductive health. The PTC program was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and under the first generation (2010–2016) of Personal Responsibility Education Program Innovative Strategies (PREIS) grant program that is administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s (FYSB) Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program with a grant to the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
The study sample consisted of 44 residential group homes across California, Maryland, and Oklahoma. Approximately half of the group homes in each State were randomly assigned to a treatment group that offered the PTC program; the other half of participants were assigned to a control group that did not receive PTC program services. The PTC program included 10 90-minute sessions provided once or twice a week over 5 to 10 weeks to small groups of 8 to 20 male and female teens ranging in age from 13 to 18 years. Trained facilitators conducted the sessions in an interactive classroom setting that encouraged group discussion and other skill-building activities.
Two main themes permeated the PTC program:
- Empower youth to make informed decisions about sexual risk behavior
- Help youth recognize the potential impact of their choices on their future goals
The goals of the PTC program were to build knowledge, develop skills, increase awareness of available health resources, and promote a greater sense of self-empowerment among youth. It is the program's hope that these short-term outcomes lead to longer term benefits, such as delayed onset of sexual activity, fewer sexual partners, increased and correct use of contraception, and, ultimately, reduced incidence of teen pregnancy and STIs among youth in out-of-home care settings.
Interim findings indicate that the PTC program was successful in changing youths' short-term outcomes measured at the conclusion of the program period. Specifically, youth assigned to the treatment group:
- Were more likely to report receiving information on reproductive health, pregnancy and STI prevention, and contraception
- Reported increased knowledge of reproductive health, pregnancy and STI prevention, contraception, and available health resources
- Reported more favorable attitudes for methods of protection
- Reported greater sense of self-awareness to avoid unprotected sex
- Were more likely to avoid unprotected sex by using condoms and/or planned to use alternate forms of contraception such as the pill
While the immediate post-test data are promising, a future report will examine the longer term impacts of the PTC program on youth sexual risk behavior and if the knowledge, self-awareness, attitudes, and intentions gained during the program were maintained after the program ended.
The project and resulting reports were funded by OAH and FYSB. The August 2015 report, Interim Impacts of the POWER Through Choices Program, by Brian Goesling, Reginald D. Covington, Jennifer Manlove, Megan Barry, Roy F. Oman, and Sara Vesely, is available on the OAH website at http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/evaluation/Evaluation%20Reports/ptc_short_term_impact.pdf (1 MB). Additional information about the PTC program can be found at http://www.powerthroughchoices.org.
- New Interactive, Online Community for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Grantees
The Family Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (APP) Program launched an interactive platform—the Exchange—for grantees, partners, and stakeholders to learn, connect, and create materials to increase the visibility and impact of efforts to prevent unplanned pregnancy among vulnerable youth. The Exchange allows grantees to share promising practices, data-driven strategies, and other information.
The interactive online community also includes an event calendar where grantees can find e-learning opportunities, conferences, and in-person trainings; a blog; and resources spanning topics that include healthy relationships and collaboration, preparing teens for successful transition to adulthood, adapting evidence-based programs to be culturally competent, peer mentoring, and more.
FYSB is within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Additional information about the agency's APP Program is available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/fysb/programs/adolescent-pregnancy-prevention.
The Exchange is available at http://teenpregnancy.acf.hhs.gov/.
- Learning Collective for Expectant, Parenting Youth in Foster Care
In March 2015, after several years of working with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to shed light on the varied and unmet needs of expectant and parenting youth in foster care and their young children, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) established the Expectant and Parenting Youth in Foster Care Learning Collective (the Collective). Following CSSP's examination of research, conversation with national and local experts, and working directly with jurisdictions to serve this population of youth, CSSP identified a number of policy and practice proposals (see Twice the Opportunity: Policy Recommendations to Support Expectant and Parenting Youth in Foster Care and Their Children) necessary to improve outcomes for these young families.
The CSSP awarded grants to two agencies to implement and test specific approaches: (1) the Sacramento County Expectant and Parenting Youth Collaborative within the Child Protective Services Division of the Sacramento County (CA) Department of Health and Human Services and (2) the Office of Older Youth Services and Residential Care Monitoring – Teen Specialist Unit within the New York City Administration for Children's Services. To view grantees' key strategies, results, and data, visit the Collective's website at http://www.cssp.org/reform/child-welfare/expectant-parenting-youth-in-foster-care/meet-the-grantees.
The Collective's website, housed on the CSSP webpage, also provides a section on Tools & Resources to assist child welfare systems, including issue briefs and factsheets offering information related to expectant and parenting youth in foster care, such as parental and youth resilience, parenting, child and adolescent development, effective programs and curricula aimed at serving young families in foster care, quality legal representation, and more.
The website also provides several policy resources, such as Improving Outcomes for Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Foster Care: Federal Policy Recommendations, which proposes ways to more effectively address the complex needs of youth who are in or transitioning out of the State's care. The Research & Data page includes the 2015 CSSP report Expectant and Parenting Youth in Foster Care: Addressing Their Developmental Needs to Promote Healthy Parent and Child Outcomes, as well as other reports intended to help inform child welfare policy and practice.
Join the Collective, view webinars, access the Quarterly Connections newsletters, and more by visiting the CSSP website at http://www.cssp.org/reform/child-welfare/expectant-parenting-youth-in-foster-care.
- Preventing Teen Pregnancy Among Youth in Care
Noting that teens in foster care face pregnancy rates twice as high as their peers, a new guide developed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy presents 10 ways that youth-serving professionals can address this challenge for youth in care. The authors gathered input from more than 100 people, including child welfare workers, youth formerly in foster care, researchers, and others dedicated to improving the well-being of children and youth involved with child welfare.
Among the 10 strategies for preventing teen pregnancy, the guide points to the reasonable and prudent parent standard within the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014. This provision aims to support normalcy for children in foster care and allows foster parents and caregivers to make decisions in support of the well-being of children and youth in their care. The authors suggest that adding content to existing training for foster parents that is specific to talking with teens about reproductive and sexual health, contraception, healthy relationships, and other topics could help support normalcy for youth, while also helping pregnancy prevention efforts.
The following are the 10 strategies outlined in the brief:
- Authentically engage youth in solutions
- Integrate teen and unplanned pregnancy prevention into existing child welfare programs for youth and adults
- Integrate data collection and analysis on pregnant and parenting youth in care into current child welfare case management systems
- Use data to inform local and State policy and practice and build a case for supporting pregnancy prevention services
- Convene local and State experts on how best to put unplanned pregnancy prevention policies into practice
- Develop new evidence-based programs focused on youth in foster care that are trauma-informed, incorporate therapeutic models like motivational interviewing, and help youth explore healthy relationships
- Ensure that each youth in foster care has a trusted adult in their life who is able to talk to them about reproductive and sexual health
- Work across systems to integrate and provide teen and unplanned pregnancy prevention services
- Address policy gaps at the Federal, State, and local levels
- Create new programs and services for young adults and parenting youth in foster care that focus on reproductive health—especially in those States that extend foster care to age 21
Call to Action: 10 Ways to Address Teen Pregnancy Prevention Among Youth in Foster Care is available on the website for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy at https://thenationalcampaign.org/sites/default/files/resource-primary-download/call_to_action_0.pdf (213 KB).
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
News From the Children's Bureau
We highlight an NCFY Voices podcast focusing on engaging parents in school programs to prevent teen pregnancy, as well as an article about the importance of healthy marriages and stable fatherhood in the life of a child.
- New Regulations Enhance Access to Domestic Violence Services
In an effort to address the national social public health challenges caused by domestic violence, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funds emergency domestic violence shelters, supportive services, and crisis hotlines in every U.S. State and territory, serving over 1.3 million domestic violence survivors and their families a year.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new Federal regulations that enhance access to the 2,600 HHS-funded FVPSA programs nationwide. These regulations reinforce existing FVPSA policies and guidance to better support all survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, and other forms of intimate partner violence.
The regulations clarify that the nondiscrimination requirements in FVPSA and other Government-wide civil rights protections apply to all FVPSA grantees. These requirements include prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of religion, race/ethnicity, country of origin, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
The new regulations clarify that all FVPSA grantees are required to:
- Ensure supportive services provided by FVPSA grantees are voluntary for survivors and their families, and that no conditions are imposed on the recipient of emergency shelter
- Eliminate any use of unreasonable screening mechanisms and other inappropriate conditions or requirements—like requiring criminal background checks, sobriety requirements, requirements to obtain specific legal remedies, or mental health or substance use disorder screenings—for receipt of services or entry into emergency shelter
- Ensure victim confidentiality as the top priority for keeping survivors safe and ensure the FVPSA definition of personally identifying information conforms to requirements set forth in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
- Coordinate statewide service planning to be more responsive to the needs of the underserved, including survivors from rural areas; historically marginalized communities; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning communities
- Promote collaborations and partnerships across communities with FVPSA-funded grantees to help ensure survivors and their families are well connected to the safety net of services available throughout local, state, and federally funded programs
To read more about the new regulations and the domestic violence challenges they address, see the blog post by Rafael López, Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, and Debbie Powell, Deputy Associate Commissioner of Family and Youth Services Bureau at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2016/11/ensuring-equal-access-for-all.
The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act Final Rule is available on the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/11/02/2016-26063/family-violence-prevention-and-services-programs.
- Using Administrative Data to Inform Program Improvement
State and Federal agencies daily collect administrative data, with much of it consisting of official information regarding participants in agency programs and services. A new issue brief from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—Using Administrative Data in Social Policy Research— examines how data collected primarily for reporting purposes also can be used for program assessment and improvement.
Based on presentations made at a meeting on innovative methods that was organized by OPRE in the fall of 2015, this brief discusses the potential benefits and drawbacks of using administrative data for research purposes. The following are examples of the successful use of administrative data:
- Using administrative records to map the resources available to support young children through public and nonprofit providers in a major metropolitan area as a means to coordinate family services, which resulted in savings of $3 in future health expenditures for every $1 invested
- Using student-level administrative records from public schools to inform a large-scale high school reform effort in New York City that resulted in increased graduation rates, college readiness, and postsecondary enrollment and in reduced costs for school per high school graduate
- Using administrative health data to identify effective approaches to reducing expenditures without degrading the quality of care
Challenges to using administrative data also were discussed, including issues related to data access, respondent privacy, and the strategic investment of resources, as well as the legal, technical, and political barriers to sharing data. An area of particular emphasis was the importance of understanding privacy rules and administrative data systems and variables. Presenters also discussed current Federal efforts to integrate administrative data into program planning and evaluation and how to effectively utilize the large amount of data that government agencies collect for program improvement purposes as well as accountability.
This brief is available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/promises_and_challenges_20160809_508_compliant.pdf (173 KB).
- Services for Transgender Youth
The August 2016 edition of NCFY Reports focuses on how professionals can best serve transgender youth, particularly those in foster care. It includes articles covering the following topics:
- How to support transgender youth's mental health and well-being
- Sexual health issues for transgender youth
- Five things transgender youth need
- A transgender male's experience in foster care
The issue also includes a glossary of terms to assist professionals when working with transgender youth. The full issue is available at http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov/features/ncfy-reports-serving-transgender-youth.
NCFY Reports is produced by the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth (NCFY), which is a service of the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Resources for Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act
In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. ESSA includes foster care provisions, which take effect December 10, 2016, that emphasize the importance of collaboration and shared decision-making between child welfare and educational agencies to ensure educational stability. These provisions mirror and enhance similar provisions in title IV-E of the Social Security Act, as amended by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. Considered together, these laws make clear that the educational stability of children in foster care is a joint responsibility of educational and child welfare agencies.
On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) released joint guidance (PDF - 494 KB) on the foster care provisions of ESSA. In a letter dated July 10, 2016, Administration on Children, Youth and Families' Commissioner Rafael López highlighted key components of the joint guidance and the steps child welfare agencies should take to ensure the effective implementation of ESSA provisions—to include designating education points of contact and notifying the corresponding education agencies of these designations—by December 10, 2016.
The Children's Bureau and ED have various technical assistance resources to help education and child welfare agencies implement ESSA's educational stability provisions by the December 10, 2016, deadline:
ED-HHS Joint Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care
ED and HHS issued joint guidance for education and child welfare agencies to use as they establish new partnerships and implement ESSA's educational stability provisions. These materials include promising practices from the field and an accompanying letter to Chief State School Officers and Child Welfare Directors (PDF - 201 KB).
ED-HHS Webinar Series: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care
ED and HHS cohosted a series of webinars on the educational stability joint guidance between July and September 2016. In these webinars, representatives from ED and HHS discussed ESSA's educational stability requirements and corresponding provisions from the joint guidance, and representatives from child welfare agencies, education agencies, and partner organizations shared lessons learned through their respective early implementation efforts. Recordings of each webinar and copies of each webinar presentation can be accessed via ED's ESSA webpage. These resources are open source and can be shared broadly. Please find below a short description of each webinar:
- "An Overview of the ED–HHS Joint Guidance" (July 27, 2016)
This webinar provided an overview of the provisions of the nonregulatory joint guidance and featured insight from the American Bar Association's Legal Center on Foster Care and Education.
- "Education and Child Welfare Points of Contact" (August 17, 2016)
This webinar focused on the ESSA requirements related to establishing points of contact at State and local educational agencies and child welfare agencies. This webinar also featured representatives from the Colorado Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.
- "Best Interest Determinations and Immediate Enrollment" (August 24, 2016)
This webinar focused on the ESSA requirements related to schools of origin, conducting best interest determinations, and immediate enrollment procedures. This webinar also featured representatives from the Legal Aid Justice Center, Project HOPE–Virginia, and the Vermont Agency of Human Resources.
- "Transportation Procedures" (August 31, 2016)
This webinar focused on the ESSA requirements related to transportation services for children in foster care and featured representatives from the San Diego County Office of Education and the Washington, DC, Child and Family Services Agency.
- "Effective Collaboration" (September 7, 2016)
This webinar focused on the effective collaboration between education and child welfare agencies required to successfully support the educational stability of children in foster care. This webinar also featured representatives from the American Bar Association's Legal Center on Foster Care and Education, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway Educational Stability Webpage
This webpage includes over 40 different State and local examples of how child welfare agencies are supporting youth in the following areas: immediate enrollment, best interest determination, school transportation, joint collaboration, and data sharing. These resources are open source and can be shared broadly.
The Children's Bureau also continues to provide technical assistance expertise through the Capacity Building Center for States. For further information, please contact the liaison assigned to your jurisdiction.
- "An Overview of the ED–HHS Joint Guidance" (July 27, 2016)
- Fiscal Year 2016 Discretionary Grants Awarded
Each year, the Children's Bureau identifies child welfare knowledge gaps and service needs and uses a competitive peer-review process to fund projects designed to meet these needs. A summary of fiscal year 2016 grants is presented here, with links to more information about these initiatives.
Quality Improvement Centers (QICs). QICs typically review the literature on a given topic, identify knowledge gaps, and then support projects that test and evaluate innovative practices, adding to the evidence base on the assigned topic. The Quality Improvement Center on Child Welfare Involved Children and Families Experiencing Domestic Violence focuses on improving the safety, permanency, and well-being for families that are pregnant and/or have young children, are involved in the child welfare system, and are experiencing domestic violence. The National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability and Permanency for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Children and Youth in Foster Care supports the permanency and stability of LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system. The Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development addresses pervasive workforce challenges in child welfare.
Tribal and migrant programs. The Grants to Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Migrant Programs for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs support programs and activities in Tribal and migrant communities to prevent child abuse and to strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. The State and Tribal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Implementation Partnership Grants support the creation of partnerships for effective implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Standing Announcement for Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants supports the development of planning and capacity for implementation of a title IV-E program.
Training initiative. The Foster/Adoptive Parent Preparation, Training and Development Initiative will develop a training program for foster, adoptive, guardianship, and kinship parents to successfully work with older youth who have behavior health challenges, require intensive and coordinated services, and may be at risk for more restrictive placements.
- A copy of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) can be viewed by clicking on the FOA title (above).
- A list of organizations receiving Children's Bureau discretionary grants is available here.
- Grantee project abstracts, products, and final reports are published in the Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants Library as they become available.
- CB Website Updates
The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more.
Recent additions to the site include:
- AdoptUSKids HHS-2017-ACF-ACYF-CO-1237 - A forecasted funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to establish, by awarding a cooperative agreement, a multifaceted national AdoptUSKids project designed to assist States, Tribes, and territories in the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents for children in public foster care: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=289858
- National Quality Improvement Center for Preventive Services and Interventions in Indian Country HHS-2017-ACF-ACYF-CA-1234 - An FOA to award a 5-year cooperative agreement to establish a Quality Improvement Center on the prevention and intervention of child abuse and neglect in American Indian/Alaska Native communities: http://www.grants.gov/view-opportunity.html?dpp=1&oppId=289574
- IM-16-07 - Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) Optional Advance Planning Document (APD) Checklist for Automated Functions: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/im1607
- PI-16-05 - Instructions for State Courts Applying for Court Improvement Program Funds for Fiscal Years 2017–2021: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1605
- Family Search and Engagement (FSE) Program Manual: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-fse-program-manual
- Safety Assessment Family Evaluation—Family Connections (SAFE-FC) Program Manual: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-safe-fc-program-manual
- A TARGETed© Approach to Working With Traumatized Youth and Families - Program Manual for the Illinois PII Project: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-targeted-approach-program-manual
- Kansas Intensive Permanency Project (KIPP) Program Manual: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-kipp-program-manual
- Providing Technical Assistance to Build Implementation Capacity in Child Welfare: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-providing-ta-to-build-implementation-capacity
- 2016 RISE Project Care Coordination Program Manual: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-rise-cct-program-manual
- Commissioner Rafael López on the interconnectedness of ACYF programs [video]: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/news/rafael-lopez-on-the-interconnectedness-of-acyf-programs
- The Child and Family Practice Model Program Manual (CAPP): http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-capp-program-manual
- NYTD Technical Bulletin #4: System User Roles and Responsibilities: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/nytd-tb4
- NYTD Technical Bulletin #5: Cohort Management and Sampling: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/nytd-tb5
- Working With the Correctional System and Incarcerated Parents (Podcast): http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-incarcerated-parents
- Illinois Trauma-Focused Model for Reducing Long-Term Foster Care: Project Overview: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pii-il-trauma-model-overview
- Fiscal Year 2016 Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Awards: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/discretionary-grant-awards-2016
- Child and Family Services Reviews Update, Volume 9, Issue 1, October 2016: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cfsr-update-vol9-issue1-oct2016
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb.
Read an article by the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child that looks at how emerging insights from child development science can be used to improve outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system, as well as reports covering the child health-care rates in the United States and tips on how to help youth in foster care reach college.
- More Research Needed on Interviewing Alleged Abuse Victims
According to child protection educators, more research is needed to determine the benefit of using anatomical dolls and body diagrams in forensic interviews in child abuse cases,.
The Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, in conjunction with the ChildFirst/Finding Words Forensic Interview Training Programs, has a new position paper on the use of anatomical dolls and body diagrams in investigations of child abuse. The group is calling for enhanced and more neutral research on the use of such media aids in child abuse cases. Specifically, the group advocates the following:
- Undertaking more studies on the use of anatomical dolls and body diagrams in forensic interviews
- Designing studies that more accurately reflect scenarios of abuse and that employ media relevant to actual forensic interviewing practices
- Understanding the potential for bias in study designs
- Consulting frontline professionals in the design of future studies
- Encouraging a respectful dialogue on the use of such media
- Recognizing dolls and diagrams are useful in multiple forms of abuse investigations and should not be confined to potential instances of sexual abuse
- Considering the use of dolls and diagrams within a context that goes beyond the forensic interview process to the entire investigation of purported abuse
- Acknowledging that child abuse investigations have multiple checks on false positive charges but comparatively few checks on false negatives
The position paper, Anatomical Dolls and Diagrams, is available at http://www.gundersenhealth.org/ncptc/trainings-education/newsletters/anatomical-dolls-diagrams/.
- Using Racial Impact Assessment Tools for Effective Policymaking
A new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that using tools specifically designed to measure the impact of proposed policy changes on racial and ethnic groups is an effective way of gauging how a specific proposal might benefit or hurt communities of color. The study also concludes that these tools can be a meaningful way of increasing understanding and buy-in among communities of color when potential policy changes are being considered.
The study is the third installment in the Race for Results case study series, which was launched to give policymakers more data-informed and evidence-based choices for eliminating the inequities in opportunity faced by children of color.
The study explores how data and racial equity impact assessment (REIA) tools have been successfully used in both Seattle and Minneapolis to inform the decision-making process and yield policy changes resulting in greater equality of opportunity. According to Race Forward, an organization promoting racial equality and one of the first to introduce the use of REIAs in the United States, a REIA is defined as a "systematic examination of how different racial and ethnic groups will likely be affected by a proposed action or decision."
The study points to the following benefits of using REIAs in decision-making:
- REIA is focused on data and facts versus assumptions.
- REIA provides a systematic way for considering those groups most affected by a decision.
- The REIA process can expose the potentially unintended consequences of a decision before it is set in stone.
- The REIA process can yield a wider range of potential policy options.
Tools for Thought: Using Racial Equity Impact Assessments for Effective Policymaking is available at http://www.aecf.org/resources/tools-for-thought-a-race-for-results-case-study/.
- State Efforts to Help Families Attain Lasting Well-Being
A new report on extensive and ongoing efforts by three States to help families break the cycle of poverty and achieve sustainable well-being offers lessons and opportunities for other States, according to the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA).
The Two-Generation Approach Framework: A Closer Look at State-Level Implementation was released recently by NHSA with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report looks at efforts in Utah, Colorado, and Connecticut to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by providing low-income families with access to early childhood education and job training for achieving financial stability. The Two-Generation (Two-Gen) approach to family well-being, which focuses on both the children and parents together, is designed to build sustainable family foundations by providing high-quality and integrated services in early childhood education, elementary education, economic stability, and family engagement. The goal is to provide families with resources for overcoming the multiple challenges that can threaten stability, by ensuring access to quality daycare, education, job skills training, and financial help.
The report looks at how pioneers in the Two-Gen field—Utah, Colorado, and Connecticut—are implementing the Two-Gen practice and their implications for other States. NHSA chose to focus on these three States because they had established support for their Two-Gen projects and already had work underway. NHSA conducted interviews with State, local, and private sector stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the Two-Gen infrastructure emerging in each of the three States and how ongoing efforts in each might contribute to overall statewide systems change to help families achieve well-being and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
Utah's approach was initiated in 2012 by the State legislature, which enacted the Intergenerational Poverty Mitigation Act to identify target populations and strategies for increasing the coordination of services to families. Colorado launched its initiative in 2013 under its Department of Human Services and State policy changes and, at the same time, made more low-income families eligible for Colorado's child care subsidy program. Connecticut's Commission on Women, Children and Seniors identified the Two-Gen approach as a priority in 2013, and the State's General Assembly funded $3 million in 2015 for testing Two-Gen strategies in six pilot communities.
The following are among the report's recommendations for developing the Two-Gen approach:
- Cultivate political leadership
- Build program sustainability
- Create State-level management and oversight
- Establish State-level planning and implementation
The report, which features extensive details on each State's approach, is available on the NHSA website at http://www.nationalassembly.org/Uploads2/Resources/2GenFramework_Sept2016.pdf (836 KB).
This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other instruments that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.
- Engaging Youth in Meetings and Events
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released a guide to help engage youth in government-sponsored meetings and events. Although the guide was produced by SAMHSA, which focuses on substance use and mental health, and was intended for use by Federal staff and contractors, it focuses on general youth engagement strategies that could also be used by nongovernment staff or those in other fields.
The guide includes goals and strategies for youth engagement and tools, resources, and tips to support it. It also includes sample documents, such as a youth engagement agreement and a youth feedback form, for staff to use in planning, implementing, and evaluating their work. Three specific goals for supportive and meaningful youth engagement are outlined, including strategies for achieving each goal. The goals include:
- Prioritize gaining youth perspectives to inform programs, policies, and practices.
- Develop an agencywide culture that is inclusive and respectful of youth.
- Adopt best practices for youth engagement in activities, meetings, and events.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Youth Engagement Guidance: Strategies, Tools, and Tips for Supportive and Meaningful Youth Engagement in Federal Government-Sponsored Meetings and Events is available at http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA16-4985/SMA16-4985.pdf (7 MB).
- Special Initiative: International Day of Persons With Disabilities
According to the United Nations (UN), over 1 billion people have some form of disability, and more than 100 million disabled persons are children. Since 1992, December 3 has been declared International Day of Persons With Disabilities (IDPD). On this day, people around the world are called upon to improve awareness and take action to increase accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. This year, the theme for IDPD is "Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want," referencing the goals the UN adopted last year to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve well-being across myriad factors over the next 15 years. Children and youth with disabilities are overrepresented in the child welfare system and need specialized support for them and their families to help improve their well-being. IDPD is only once a year, but children and families need support from communities and professionals year round.
Caregivers and child welfare professionals who serve families with disabilities face unique challenges. It can be difficult to find families who are trained, prepared, and willing to become caregivers for children with disabilities. Professionals need to understand the different barriers to permanency these children and youth can face and be knowledgeable about the different practices and resources available to families. The following resources provide insights to working with this vulnerable population from both professionals and youth, as well as examples of practices that help.
- Health-Care Coverage for Youth in Foster Care—and After
- CW 360: The Intersection of Child Welfare and Disability - Focus on Children
http://cascw.umn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Spring2013_360_web-FINAL.pdf (PDF - 2 MB)
- The Connection: News and Information from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association
http://nc.casaforchildren.org/files/public/site/publications/theconnection/Connection_Spring2009.pdf (2 MB)
- Permanency for Children With Disabilities
- Reunification With Parents Who Have a Disability
- Services to Children and Youth With Disabilities
- Services for Parents With Disabilities
- Health-Care Coverage for Youth in Foster Care—and After
This CBX section provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.
- Combatting Human Trafficking Through Interagency Collaboration
Cross-system collaboration is crucial to developing effective efforts to address human trafficking. The Children’s Bureau's podcast Interagency Collaboration to Address Human Trafficking highlights an integrated approach to preventing, identifying, and responding to human trafficking across the service continuum.
Interagency collaboration increases each service provider's ability to provide successful interventions. The Miami CARES project unites 12 agencies into a coordinated child welfare system designed to work with at-risk and trafficked youth in Florida's Miami-Dade County. This podcast shares best practice techniques and lessons learned and enables professionals in the field to identify ways in which agencies can build their collaborative capacity.
The podcast covers the following topics:
- Communicating between agencies
- Providing therapeutic services
- Recruiting and training foster families
- Achieving interagency buy-in
Access Interagency Collaboration to Address Human Trafficking on the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-interagency-collaboration.
- New App to Connect Community Resources
Social Work Helper—a news website dedicated to providing information and resources related to social work—released a new mobile application (app) that connects individuals and professionals to timely and available local services and supports. The app was designed to meet the needs of individuals and professionals seeking quick referrals, especially in times of crisis. It also functions as a social networking tool with a social media (Facebook and Twitter) integration component. Social workers may find it particularly useful when searching for specific programs and services that may be not easily accessible.
This app primarily focuses on the following key areas:
- Food banks
- Senior centers and services
- Domestic violence shelters
- Crisis hotlines
- Support groups
- Affordable daycare
- Low-cost prescriptions
- Mental health treatment providers
The app can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store and can be used on Android and iOS devices.
For more information about the Social Work Helper app, visit https://www.socialworkhelper.com/download-social-work-helper-app/.
- Updated Family Engagement Inventory
Family engagement is recognized as a foundation for success across the human services and education fields. Child Welfare Information Gateway recently updated information and resources on the Family Engagement Inventory (FEI). The FEI is an interactive web-based tool designed to provide professionals in child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, education, and early childhood education with a rich inventory of resources about family engagement and how it is defined and implemented across these fields of practice.
The FEI aims to help practitioners, managers, and system leaders understand the commonalities and differences in family engagement in order to support cross-system collaboration among multiple systems that often work with the same families. Whereas most evidence reviews focus on the effectiveness of a program within a given discipline, the FEI focuses on a strategy across disciplines and puts the latest and most reliable, practical information about engaging families into the hands of those who work directly with families, manage programs, and lead systems.
Information Gateway staff conducted an extensive review of published literature and information about family engagement best practices, consulted with experts from all five disciplines, and incorporated expert feedback into the inventories for the respective disciplines. This feedback process ensured a continuous focus on both the utility and the rigor of the review and distilled the information gathered into four aspects (domains) of family engagement: (1) definitions, (2) themes, (3) benefits, and (4) strategies at the practice, program, and system levels. In addition, the FEI includes a resources section that offers links to information and websites that provide additional information about family engagement processes, methods, and programs.
The FEI is accessible through the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/fei.
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.
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through March 2017 include:
- ZERO TO THREE’s Annual Conference 2016
ZERO TO THREE
December 7–9, New Orleans, LA
- 2017 Children’s Law Institute
Southwest Region National Child Protection Training Center at New Mexico State University
January 11–13, Albuquerque, NM
- SSWR 21st Annual Conference
"Ensure Healthy Development for All Youth"
The Society for Social Work (SSWR)
January 11–15, New Orleans, LA
- 31st Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment
Chadwick Center for Children and Families & Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego
January 29–February 3, San Diego, CA
- 2017 National Conference on Juvenile Justice
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
February 12–15, New York, NY
- 13th Annual Childhood Grief and Traumatic Loss
Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect
February 16, Los Angeles, CA
- 2017 SAHM Annual Meeting
"Cultivating Connections: The Importance of Relationships in Adolescent and Young Adult Health"
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM)
March 8–11, New Orleans, LA
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/.
- ZERO TO THREE’s Annual Conference 2016
- Panel Discussion: Reducing Poverty and Increasing Opportunity
On September 13, 2016, the Urban Institute and the National Association for Welfare Research and Statistics hosted a panel discussion titled "Reducing Poverty and Increasing Opportunity: Envisioning the Next 20 Years." The 90-minute long event included panelists from diverse professional backgrounds with experience at the local, State, and national levels. The experts shared their research, findings, and insights on reducing poverty and promoting opportunity for families and individuals. The discussion primarily focused on strategies that can be implemented over the next two decades.
The following questions were addressed during the discussion:
- What do we need to do to encourage innovation? How do we support and encourage work in the modern economy?
- What's the future role of the Federal Government, States, and cities in developing and implementing strategies?
- What should the framework for the next 20 years on policy and opportunity look like?
To view panelist biographies or watch a recording of the discussion, visit http://www.urban.org/events/reducing-poverty-and-increasing-opportunity-envisioning-next-20-years.