- Honor Foster Families in May
May is National Foster Care Month, and across the country, State and local governments, parent groups, and public and private child welfare agencies are honoring the families that care for the nation's half-million children living in foster care. Governments and child welfare agencies also are stepping up efforts to recruit more foster families to the ranks. Among the activities marking the month are recognition banquets, award ceremonies, picnics, zoo days, and other special events.
The National Foster Care Awareness Project has prepared a packet of Foster Care Month materials to help communities plan local events and activities. Many of the materials highlight the establishment of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, which increases Federal funding of benefits for the nearly 20,000 children who leave the foster care system at age 18. The packet includes the following items:
- Sample letter and proclamation for governors and mayors
- List of States that designated Foster Care Month in 1999
- Suggested promotional activities
- Ideas for foster family recognition events
- Recruitment and retention tips
- Sample newsletter, news release, press advisory, and media guide
- Facts about foster parents and children and youth in foster care
- Background on the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 and the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
- Information on the Child Welfare League of America's National Data Analysis System.
The National Foster Care Awareness Project is a coalition of 19 foundations and community organizations working to raise awareness of foster care issues and to improve the lives of children in foster care, with special concern for teens transitioning from foster care to adulthood. Obtain the Project's Foster Care Month Packet from:
Pam Day, Child Welfare League of America
440 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
For more information about foster care, contact:
National Foster Parent Association
P.O. Box 81
Alpha, OH 45301
Phone: (800) 557-5238
Fax: (937) 431-9377
A bill introduced to Congress in February would establish a National Foster Parents Day. For details on H.Res. 413 visit Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress (http://thomas.loc.gov).
A Presidential Proclamation declaring May as National Foster Care Month is available online through the Connect for Kids website at http://www.connectforkids.org.
- Recruiting Families for Special Needs Children
How can agencies find special families to adopt or foster parent "special needs" children—children who are older, are part of a sibling group, have a physical or mental disability, or belong to a racial or ethnic minority? Zena Oglesby, director of the Institute for Black Parenting in California, and Luis Tamayo, recruitment coordinator for the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), shared some ideas at the 6th National Child Welfare Conference (March 28-31 in Arlington, Virginia).
- Aim recruitment efforts at groups with high rates of retention such as people whose grown children have left home and people involved in community and civic activities, suggested Oglesby. Promising places for advertising and outreach to empty nesters include churches, supermarkets, social clubs, and bowling leagues. To reach community-minded people, target fraternal organizations, unions, youth leagues, school-related groups, and public employees.
- To recruit families willing to adopt biracial children, target communities such as university towns and military bases.
- Participate in joint recruitment fairs with public and private agencies.
- Target holidays, such as Mother's Day and Christmas.
- According to Oglesby, black families are more likely to respond to radio than to TV advertising. Place radio ads on local, urban, and contemporary stations.
- Similarly, Oglesby's organization has had more success advertising in "throw-away" community newspapers than in paid subscription newspapers. For example, an ad placed in The Wave, a free community newspaper, produced many inquiries for the Institute for Black Parenting, while ads in the Los Angeles Times and The Sentinel, a black subscription newspaper, did not produce any calls.
- Hire an inexpensive door-to-door flyer delivery service.
- Highlight men in advertising campaigns, because, in general, men are harder to recruit.
- Highlight adoptive parents in ads, rather than celebrities, who tend to create name recognition only.
- Advertise in beauty shops and barbershops that specialize in serving African-American clients.
- Educate foster parents about adoption, Oglesby urged. Explain that they won't lose benefits under the Federal Adoption Assistance Program when adopting hard-to-place foster children.
- Ask adoptive parents to tell their stories to groups of prospective families.
- Ask churches to participate in outreach.
- Continue to invite prospective parents who have called within the previous year to orientation sessions.
To retain families once they have been recruited, Oglesby suggests the following:
- Quickly enroll families in foster care training.
- Get homes studies started immediately. Hire outside contractors to conduct home studies if necessary.
- Send staff to answer pre-orientation questions and conduct pre-certification walk-throughs.
- Help prospective parents fill out applications.
- Keep prospects informed of their status through regular communications.
- Sponsor meetings for waiting parents featuring introductions of available children by social workers.
- Network with other agencies and workers.
Tamayo shared his agency's ongoing efforts as well as innovative ideas for recruiting families for children with special needs. According to Tamayo, efforts based on grassroots community outreach and technology have been particularly successful.
Ongoing Recruitment Efforts
New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services has tried the following recruitment strategies, according to Tamayo:
- A toll-free number, operated by a private agency, for prospective adoptive parents to call to learn about adopting children within the State's child welfare system
- A statewide billboard campaign to promote adoption that includes the toll-free number.
- Extensive statewide newspaper ad campaign promoting special needs adoptions, especially those which target ethnic minorities.
- Waiting Children profile magazine published three times a year.
- Radio and television public service announcements regarding adoption in English and Spanish.
Tamayo outlined innovations introduced by New Jersey DYFS:
- N.J. Transit publicity campaign featuring ads placed on monitors at train stations, showing waiting children.
- Adoption ads placed at NJ turnpike toll booth entrances.
- Inserts promoting adoption of special needs children sent with information from the Department of Motor Vehicles regarding license and registration renewal.
Tamayo described the following outreach strategies used in New Jersey:
- The Division' of Youth and Family Services maintains five recruitment offices throughout the State. In each satellite office, recruitment officers familiarize themselves with the specific demographics of the communities they are serving.
- The Division establishes partnerships with private adoption agencies to locate homes for special needs children.
- A division-sponsored "recruitment mobile" has proved particularly successful, Tamayo reported. A recreational vehicle stocked with various recruitment materials visits communities. Prospective adoptive and foster families can visit the mobile to view videos of waiting children and pick up applications.
- The State has forged agreements with numerous municipalities to include adoption messages several times each year with public employees' paychecks.
Several of New Jersey's strategies rely on technology, said Tamayo, including the following:
- An interactive website (www.njadopt.org) features videos of waiting children playing and talking about themselves. The site gets about 1,000 hits per week.
- The State sponsors an online system to match prospective adoptive parents with waiting children.
- The State offers video/telephone conferencing so families in one State can talk with a child living in another State.
For more information, contact:
Zena Oglesby, Jr.
Institute for Black Parenting
1299 E. Artesia Blvd.
Carson, CA 90746
Luis E. Tamayo
New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services
50 East State St.
PO Box 717
Trenton, NJ 08625
Tel.: (609) 292-2656
Fax: (609) 984-5449
For more information, also see "Help With Recruiting Adoptive Families" in this issue of Children's Bureau Express.
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
News From the Children's Bureau
- DHHS Seeks Nominations for Adoption 2002 Awards
Nominate a person or organization for an Adoption 2002 Excellence Award. The awards recognize individuals and groups who make exemplary contributions toward meeting national goals in achieving permanency for children in foster care.
Adoption 2002 is a 5-year, legislative and administrative initiative involving the combined efforts of Congress, HHS, States, child welfare organizations and experts, community groups, and adoptive and foster families. The overarching goal of the initiative is to double by 2002 the number of children who move from foster care to adoptive or other permanent homes.
The deadline for nominations is June 15. Eligible nominees include States, advocacy organizations, foundations, courts, tribal courts and governments, individuals and families, and others. Self-nominations are accepted. Nominations will be reviewed and awardees selected by a panel that includes members from Federal agencies involved in the Adoption 2002 initiative and other recognized experts in the adoption field. Final awards will be bestowed in November 2000, National Adoption Month.
For a nomination packet, contact:
National Adoption Information Clearinghouse
330 C St., SW
Washington, DC 20447
Tel.: 888-251-0075 or 703-352-3488
For more information about Adoption 2002, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/initiatives/adopt2002/index.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer active. You can find The President's Initiative on Adoption and Foster Care - Guidelines for Public Policy and State Legislation Governing Permanence for Children at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/adopt02/02final.htm.) For a list of 1999 recipients, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/news/press/1999/99awards.htm.
For more information about the awards, contact:
- Applications Sought for FY 2000 Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants
Heads up if your organization seeks funding opportunities in the areas of adoption, child abuse and neglect, or child welfare. The Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACF) proposes to award approximately 110 new competitive grants in fiscal year 2000. ACF has approximately the following sums available in the following priority areas:
- Adoption Opportunities, $11 million, for such projects as implementing plans to increase interjurisdictional adoptions; increasing adoptive placements of Hispanic/Latino children; and devising innovative approaches to expediting permanence and implementing the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA)
- Child Abuse and Neglect, $3.5 million, for such projects as a consortium for longitudinal studies of child maltreatment projects; National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect; fellowships for doctoral medical and law students; and a pilot test of a child abuse and neglect research data collection instrument
- Child Welfare Training, $5.75 million, for such projects as training child welfare practitioners to work effectively with foster youth emancipating through the Federal Independent Living Program; training child welfare agency supervisors; and training for managers and supervisors in understanding and implementing ASFA
- Abandoned Infants Assistance, $5.7 million, for such projects as providing family support services for grandparents and other relatives caring for children of substance abusing, HIV-positive women; and providing recreational services for children affected by HIV/AIDs.
The size of the actual awards will vary.
The closing time and date for receipt of applications is 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time Zone) on June 12, 2000. The required Federal forms are available online at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofs/grants/form.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.) Or, contact the ACYF Operations Center by phone at 1-800-351-2293 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- HHS Promotes Responsible Fatherhood
An HHS initiative to promote "responsible fatherhood" will address domestic violence and substance abuse among other issues.
The inititiative is aimed at encouraging young, unmarried fathers to support their children both financially and emotionally. To encourage this behavior, HHS has granted waivers to States for child support enforcement activities. The waivers will enable States to use Federal funds for a broader set of activities than those usually funded under the child support enforcement program. New activities will include:
- Promoting voluntary establishment of paternity
- Educational services and career planning
- Fatherhood and parenting workshops
- Promoting the formation or continuation of a supportive relationship between parents
- Financial planning and skill education
- "Team" parenting for both mother and father
- Substance abuse and anger management services
- Awareness of domestic violence issues
- Transportation assistance
- Regular child support enforcement services.
The project will also test ways for child support enforcement and non-governmental organizations to work together. Federal and private funding will total $15 million over a 3-year period. The demonstration sites chosen are:
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Chester County, Pennsylvania
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Los Angeles
- Milwaukee/Racine, Wisconsin
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- New York City
- Help with Recruiting Adoptive Families
The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) was awarded Federal funds in 1998 to support President Clinton's Adoption 2002 initiative through activities related to adoptive family recruitment and retention. NACAC's website [no longer available] features articles with tips and techniques focusing on videoconferencing and targeted recruitment. NACAC also provides technical assistance to recruiters and conducts National Adoption Awareness Month activities. With supplemental funding from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, NACAC prints and distributes posters featuring pictures of waiting children from across the U.S. It also publishes a National Adoption Awareness Month Guide.
To share information about recruitment and retention, contact:
Adoption 2002 Support Project Coordinator
970 Raymond Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55114-1149
Website: http://www.nacac.org/recruitingfamilies.html [no longer available]
- New Monograph Released on Voluntary Relinquishment
The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) has released a new publication providing an in-depth look at voluntary relinquishment.
Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights: Considerations and Practices addresses the role of voluntary relinquishment in adoption practice, mediation and open adoptions; helps prepare child welfare workers to discuss voluntary relinquishment with their clients; describes the voluntary relinquishment process; and responds to common concerns.
To order the publication, send a check or money order for $10.00, payable to U.C. Regents to:
AIA Resource Center
1950 Addison, Suite 104
Berkeley, California 94704-1182
ATTN: Voluntary Relinquishment monograph
AIA provides training, technical assistance, research and resource development and information to professionals to enhance the quality of social and health services offered to families and their children who are abandoned or at risk of abandonment due to perinatal substance abuse or HIV.
For more information about the Center, contact:
National Abandoned Infants Assistance Center
University of California at Berkeley
School of Social Welfare
1950 Addison St.,
Berkeley, CA 94704-1182
Website: http://socrates. berkeley.edu/~aiarc/
- Children's Bureau Adds Prevention Focus to Child Welfare Demonstration Projects
The Department of Health and Human Services has included prevention as one of several topics of interest that States may choose to address in applying for a waiver under the Child Welfare Demonstration Program for fiscal years 2000 and 2001.
The Child Welfare Demonstration Program involves the waiver of certain requirements of Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act in order to provide the States with an opportunity to design and test a wide range of approaches to improve and reform child welfare.
Among the topics of interest, the Children's Bureau identified projects aimed at decreasing the number of children placed in foster care through effective prevention and early intervention services. "Such a project would enhance resources or organizational capacity to identify and provide support to children, youth and families before problems become crises and children enter into foster care," the Children's Bureau wrote in an Information Memorandum on the availability of child welfare demonstration projects. "Under this project, States would use their Title IV-E funds to develop and apply multi-level assessments and services to families to test a coordinated, prevention/early intervention model with the goals of reducing the need for out-of-home care and increasing voluntary access to less intensive, less costly community-based options."
Under a"rolling" application process, States may apply at any point during a fiscal year for a child welfare demonstration project. To ensure that an application is considered during FY 2000, States were asked to submit letters of intent by March 3, 2000 and proposals by April 21, 2000. For fiscal year 2001, letters of intent should be submitted by January 26, 2001 and proposals by March 30, 2001.
For more information, see the ACF website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/im/im0001.htm, or contact:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
330 C St., SW
Washington, DC 20447
- Courts Issue Rulings on State Versions of "Megan's Law"
All 50 States now have implemented "Megan's Law," the Federal law enacted in 1996 that requires States to release any relevant information about registered sex offenders necessary to maintain and protect public safety. Legal challenges to these laws have led to the following recent court rulings:
New Jersey: The State attorney general recently issued rules intended to limit the number of people who obtain identifying information about sex offenders. New Jersey law requires that residents be notified if a registered sex offender lives near their home. According to the new rules, residents who are entitled to notification must sign an agreement not to further disseminate the information about the sex offender. People who refuse to sign will not receive all the details about the offender that they otherwise would receive. The new rules reflect orders issued by a Federal judge, who ruled that sex offenders' privacy rights were being violated under the old notification system.
Pennsylvania: In January, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Pennsylvania law that required some sex offenders to be designated as "sexually violent predators" unless the offender could prove otherwise. The High Court ruling upheld an earlier ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the law violated sex offenders' rights.
Tennessee: Tennessee law imposes registration and monitoring requirements on sex offenders that could potentially last an offender's lifetime. The law took effect in 1995, but the State applied the law retroactively. An offender convicted before 1995 challenged the law, contending that it constituted double jeopardy by punishing the offender twice for the same crime. The challenge also claimed that the law violated the offender's privacy rights. A Federal appeals court rejected these arguments, stating that the intent of the law was not to punish offenders but to protect public safety. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Federal court decision without comment on April 3, 2000.
For a related article, see "Pros and Cons of Sex Offender Registries" in the April issue of the Children's Bureau Express.
To track court rulings and other news related to Megan's Law, search APBnews.com (http://www.apbnews.com). (Editor's note: this link is no longer active.)
- List of Nomination Categories for Adoption 2002 Excellence Awards
Nominees for Adoption 2002 Excellence Awards should have demonstrated clear and measurable success in one of the award categories.
- Increased Adoptions. Recognition of a State or States that have significantly increased the number of children adopted from the public foster care system.
- Increased Permanency for Children with Special Needs. Recognition of organizations that have contributed to an increase in the numbers of adoptions, guardianship arrangements, kinship care arrangements, and other permanency options for children with special needs in foster care.
- Support for Adoptive Families. Recognition of organizations that provide significant support to adoptive families through recruitment, preparation, training, post-placement and post-legal adoption services that help families adopt and support the stability of those adoptions.
- Public Awareness. Recognition of organizations that increase the visibility of children in foster care through public awareness activities that encourage and motivate families and individuals to adopt.
- Individual and/or Family Contributions. Recognition of the personal contribution of an individual(s), professional(s) or family(ies) that promotes the adoption of children in foster care.
- Applied Scholarship and/or Research. Recognition of research or practice findings that have been or can be applied to improve the rate of adoptions of children in foster care.
- Philanthropy. Recognition of gifts, support, scholarships, etc., that promote adoption and permanency for children in foster care.
- Judicial or Child Welfare System Improvement. Recognition of court or public child welfare agency systems change that resulted in fewer children coming into care or expedited the movement of children from foster care.
- Decrease in the Time that Children in Foster Care Wait for Permanency. Recognition of States and local public agencies that have achieved a decrease in the average length of time children stay in foster care.
- Most Recent National Statistics Show a Decrease in Incidents of Child Abuse and Neglect
The Department of Health and Human Services reported in April that the incidence rate of child abuse and neglect declined in 1998 for the fifth consecutive year. States reported 900,000 children abused and neglected in 1998, a number that DHHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala noted remains "unacceptably high."
Based on data reported by States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), HHS estimates that child protective service agencies received about 2,806,000 referrals of possible maltreatment in 1998. Of the 66 percent of those referrals investigated, States found that an estimated 903,000 children were victims of abuse and/or neglect. This number of children abused and neglected represents a drop of 11 percent since a record 1,018,692 in 1993.
The Department also reported the following findings for 1998 (Note: Because this is only the second year that many of these data have been required, not all States were able to provide data on every item):
- Parents were most frequently the perpetrators of child abuse and neglect. More than 80 percent of victims were maltreated by one or both parents.
- More than half of all victims (54 percent) suffered neglect, while almost a quarter (23 percent) suffered physical abuse.
- Nearly 12 percent of the victims were sexually abused.
- An estimated 1,100 children died of abuse and neglect, a rate of approximately 1.6 deaths per 100,000 children in the general populations.
In releasing the report HHS Assistant Secretary Olivia A. Golden cited the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 and community-based prevention programs as key elements in efforts to protect children. According to available data for 1998, an estimated 1,397,000 children nationwide received preventive services, or 20 of every 1,000 children in the population.
HHS will soon be disseminating printed and electronic copies of the full report, Child Maltreatment 1998: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System; check the June issue of CB Express for updates on the report's availability.
For more information about prevention, visit the website of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information at http://www.calib.com/nccanch/prevmnth/index.cfm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer available. Current child abuse prevention information and resources can be found at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/topics/prevention/index.cfm.) To obtain a packet of information about prevention, contact:
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
330 C St., SW
Washington, DC 20447
- Oregon's Adoption Record Access Law Remains on Hold
The Oregon Supreme Court has refused to review a ruling by an appellate court that a law giving adult adoptees in the State access to their original birth certificates is constititutional. But, an injunction delaying implementation of the law remains in place as opponents ask the High Court to reconsider.
The 1998 law was the first in the nation approved by voters giving adoptees access to their birth records. More than 2,000 adults have requested their records. The law has been on hold since its enactment as a legal challenge winds its way through the system. The challenge was filed by six birth mothers who argue that the law infringes on the confidentiality they were assured when they relinquished children for adoption.
- Women's HIV Risk Linked to Abuse
A history of childhood sexual abuse or domestic violence might place women at greater risk for contracting HIV, reports an article in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
A study led by Dr. Mardge Cohen of Cook County Hospital in Chicago, found that early sexual abuse was strongly linked with increased HIV risk behaviors, including "using drugs, having more than 10 male sexual partners, and having male partners at risk for HIV infection, and exchanging sex for drugs, money or shelter." The researchers also found a strong association between sexual abuse in childhood and domestic violence later in life.
In light of their findings, the researchers recommend that when assessing women for HIV risk, professionals should inquire about childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Single issues of the journal cost $15. For information, contact:
American Public Health Assocation
Washington, DC 20061-5037
Tel.: (202) 777-2462
- Seeking Better Ways to Measure Child Well-Being
Over the years, "social indicators" have been developed as a way to track progress in a wide variety of economic, quality of life, and other types of issues affecting children and families. A new research brief from Child Trends outlines why indicators are used and what constitutes an effective measurement. Building a Better System of Child and Family Indicators proposes criteria to improve the social indicators used to assess the well-being of children. According to the document, social indicators should:
- Comprehensively cover outcomes, behavior, and processes
- Include children of all ages
- Be clear and comprehensible to the public
- Measure positive as well as negative outcomes
- Assess depth, breadth, and duration
- Have the same meaning in varied population subgroups
- Provide consistency over time
- Anticipate trends
- Employ rigorous collection methods
- Be geographically detailed
- Be cost-efficient
- Reflect social goals
- Adjust for demographic trends.
Building a Better System of Child and Family Indicators can be obtained online at: http://www.childtrends.org/Files/bettersys.pdf or by contacting the Publications Department at Child Trends, 202-362-5580.
A new inventory of over 90 child, youth, and family indicator-based projects is available online at http://www.childtrends.org/r_invres.asp (Editor's note: this link is no longer available). A limited number of hard copies are available from Erik Michelson at Child Trends, 202-362-5580.
- Model Courts Are Models for Change
The handling of child abuse and neglect cases by the nation's Child Victims Act Model Courts continues to improve. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) recently issued a status report of the 20 courts involved in this project. Covering the time period from October 1998 to October 1999, the profiles of each Model Court include:
- Lead judge contact information
- Court and social demographics
- Child abuse and neglect processing timeline
- Background information and past accomplishments
- Processes and activities by which the court achieved its goals in the reporting period
- How the court overcame stumbling blocks
- Lessons learned
- Advice to other courts
- Goals for 2000.
An analysis of common activities and accomplishments found that the Model Courts focused on improvements in court practice, recognition of the need for improved data management and case tracking ability, alternative dispute resolution methods, foster youth in transition, and continuation and enhancement of collaborative relationships. In implementing the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), the Model Courts were most concerned with resource needs, impacts, and training needs. The courts also identified their need for training that addresses systems change, mediation and family group conferencing, and kinship care, among other topics. Multidisciplinary and skill-building trainings were found to be the most effective formats. The Model Courts learned that effective reform efforts include:
- Designating a lead judge
- Promoting leadership and collaboration
- Including judicial colleagues
- Establishing a team of major stakeholders
- Developing a mission statement
- Holding regular meetings with stakeholders
- Assigning a project coordinator
- Assessing current practices
- Planning for improvement
- Providing NCJFCJ's Permanency Planning for Children Department resources other forms of expertise
- Establishing an evaluation process.
The report concludes with a process for facilitating systems change in the courts. The report emphasizes that the Model Courts are "modeling a process for systems change," which should not be taken as the ideal but which other courts can tailor to fit their own jurisdictions. The Model Courts have followed a similar path to systems change that includes the following elements:
- Cultural readiness for change
- Transformational leadership
- Ideological vision and commitment
- Collaboration and collective action
- Problematizing everyday practice
- Strategic planning
- A systems focus
- Self-reflection and organizational learning.
The Child Victims Act Model Courts Project Status Report 1999 is an NCJFCJ Technical Assistance Bulletin (Volume IV, No. 1, January 2000). Additional information about the Model Court Project and NCJFCJ's Permanency Planning for Children Department can be found in the appendix or by contacting the Department Director Mary Mentaberry at 775-327-5300. For copies of the Status Report, contact Kim Taitano at 775-327-5303 or order online at: http://www.pppncjfcj.org/html/publications.html. The price is $20, including shipping and handling.
Read "National Videoconference Examines Model Court Practices in Abuse and Neglect Cases" in the March issue of the Children's Bureau Express.
- Legislative Updates
Following are short summaries of current congressional bills of interest to professionals working in child abuse and neglect, child welfare, and adoption. To learn more about any of these bills, visit Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress, at http://thomas.loc.gov.
Improving Child Courts. S. 2271. This bill would amend the Social Security Act to improve the quality and availability of training for judges, attorneys, and volunteers working in the nation's child abuse and neglect courts and for other purposes related to the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
Status: Referred to Senate Committee on Finance, 3/22/00
Adoption Assistance Act. S.2227 and H.R.2733
These nearly identical bills are both titled "Federal Employee Adoption Assistance Act." The bills would reimburse Federal employees up to $2,000 in adoption expenses per adopted child. Qualifying expenses would include adoption fees, court costs, and attorney fees.
Status: S. 2227 was referred to the Senate Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services, 4/4/00. H.R. 2733 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Civil Service last August.
Punishing Sex Offenders. H.R.4047.
This bill would amend title 18 of the U.S. Code to provide life imprisonment for repeat offenders who commit sex crimes against children.
Status: Referred to House Subcommittee on Crime, 4/4/00
Crimes Against Children. H.R.4045.
This bill, also known as "Matthew's Law," would amend the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to strengthen penalities for crimes of violence committed against children younger than 13.
Status: Referred to House Subcomittee on Crime, 3/31/00
Status: S. 1485 and H.R. 3667 are now before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims.
- Urban Institute Revisits Welfare Reform
A new brief by the Urban Institute examines the 1996 Welfare Reform Act and how it has affected two-parent families. This brief, third in the Strengthening Families series, contends that welfare reform has not encouraged the stability of two-parent families and responsible fatherhood, but rather has discouraged it.
In the upcoming reauthorization of welfare reform programs, authors Elaine Sorensen, Ronald Mincy, and Ariel Halpern urge policy makers to take into consideration demographic and social changes in the last 20 years including:
- An explosion in nonmarital childbearing and single mothers
- A dramatic decline in marriages among poor families
- High paternal involvement among poor children under age 2
- Low paternal involvement among poor older children and teens.
The authors found that the "fragile family," consisting of poor children born outside of marriage whose two natural parents are working to raise them, and married families are poorly served by public assistance programs, which primarily target single-mother families. The eligibility requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program shut out many poor children from two-parent families. They also lose out on other welfare programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, school lunch programs, and WIC (a nutritional program for women, infants, and children), which require TANF qualification. Rather than encouraging family formation, these policies provide incentives to choose single parenting over co-parenting, the authors contend.
The authors also claim that Child Support Enforcement Laws drive fathers away from their children. Since many nonresident fathers are poor themselves, they would benefit from help in finding and keeping work, rather than saddling them with debt. The Welfare-to-Work program, which ends this year, is currently the only such program.
The brief concludes with illustrative data and three specific recommendations to Congress:
- Consider whether any distinction between single- and two-parent families is warranted within TANF.
- Consider encouraging States to broaden their eligibility criteria within TANF to include all types of poor families, including noncustodial parents.
- Establish a program available at or near a child's birth that helps both poor mothers and fathers overcome the barriers to staying together, regardless of marital status.
A copy of this brief is available online at: http://www.urban.org/family/sf_3.html or by contacting:
Urban Institute Press
2100 M Street NW
Washington, DC 30037
- Journal Looks at Managed Care and Child Welfare
The February 2000 issue of Children and Youth Services Review takes a special look at managed care and child welfare services. The issue includes a report on an annual survey of States conducted by the Child Welfare League of America's (CWLA's) Managed Care Institute's Tracking Project. Authors Charlotte McCullough and Barbara Schmitt of CWLA discuss data collected by the Institute from August 1998 to January 1999. Forty-nine States and the District of Columbia responded to the survey conducted; of these, 29 States reported ongoing or planned managed care or privatization initiatives, although not all of these States used those terms. The article includes a State-by-State summary of 47 current or planned initiatives.
To request reprints of the McCullough and Schmitt article, contact:
Child Welfare League of America
440 First St., NW
Washington, DC 20001-2085
To order subscriptions or back issues, contact:
655 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10010-5107
Tel.: 212-633-3730 or toll-free 888-437-4636
- Website Supports Criminal Justice Professionals Involved With Child Abuse and Neglect Issues
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) released a new home page to help in meeting its goals of (1) reducing and preventing crime, violence, and drug abuse and (2) improving the functioning of the criminal justice system. Two databases are particularly useful to criminal justice professionals involved with child abuse and neglect issues.
BJA's Virtual Information Center allows users to search for criminal justice grants and funding, publications, training and technical assistance, links to related websites, and evaluations. For example, several grants are described for closed-circuited televising of child abuse victim testimony in Georgia, New Mexico, and Ohio. Current funding opportunities also include a specialized foster care court in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and for court-based services to abused or at-risk children and adolescents nationwide.
The Law Enforcement Training Database provides a complete listing of federally funded trainings available for State and local law enforcement agencies nationwide. Some of the trainings categorized as "juvenile issues" are:
- Basic Child Abuse Investigation
- Child Abuse and Exploitation Investigative Techniques
- Child Abuse and Exploitation Team Investigative Process
- Child Sexual Exploitation Investigations
- Collection and Preservation of Forensic Evidence in Child Abuse Cases
A link to a separate Evaluation website provides assistance in developing and enhancing evaluation capabilities at the State and local levels. It contains instructional materials, a glossary, a bibliography of evaluation materials, evaluation reports, and useful links.
Access the BJA home page at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA.
- New Stamp Celebrates Adoption
Raise awareness about adoption each time you mail a letter by using the new commemorative adoption stamp issued this month by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Two hundred million adoption stamps will be printed.
Designed by Greg Berger, a graphic designer who was himself adopted, the colorful Adoption stamp features two smiling stick figures, hand in hand in front of a house. The image is surrounded by four sayings: "Adopting a Child. Shaping a Life. Building a Home. Creating a World."
To view the adoption stamp and to order copies of the stamp online, visit the USPS website at: http://www.stampsonline.com. To order the stamps by phone call 1-800-STAMP-24.
For an Adoption Stamp Tool Kit, contact:
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
P.O. Box 7164
Dublin, OH 43017
Tel.: 614-764-3009 or 800-443-7266
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.
- Bilingual Resource for Child Molestation and Sexual Abuse Interviewers
Improve your child interviewing skills in the Latino community with the Child Molestation and Sexual Abuse Interviewer's Guide (GuÃa bilingÃ¼e para entrevistadores de menores vÃctimas de atentados al pudor y abuso deshonesto). Prepared by Spanish-speaking court interpreters in California with State funding, the guide seeks to:
- Reduce language and cultural barriers children and families face when abuse allegations are made
- Improve skills of child interviewers.
- Promote cultural awareness in child abuse investigations.
- Provide resources for professionals who want to develop special language and child interviewing skills.
The guide outlines skills for spoken language interpreters and non-verbal communication cues to take into consideration, such as body language and the way words are said. It provides a glossary of basic linguistic concepts and reviews the use of Spanish verbs. It also warns against the use of "false cognates" or using direct translations without taking the context into consideration. For example, the guide warns, it is wrong to directly translate the English verb "molest" used in a sexual context into the Spanish verb "molestar," which means to bother, annoy, or disturb someone.
The Guide includes a dictionary that defines the following Spanish words:
- Medical and anatomical terms
- Private body parts
- Sex-related terms
- Ways of touching
- Oral ingestion
- Ways of bothering
The guide includes diagrams labeling the parts of the human body, including the hand and the male and femal genitals, with their Spanish names.
A sample forensic interview in Spanish contains strategies to gain the confidence of the child, how to assess development, and specific questions to ask. In talking to the child, the interviewer should explain the process, note the presence of observers and tape recorders, emphasize the importance of truthfulness, use drawings for the child to name body parts, and ask questions which elicit in-depth details of the alleged abuse.
The guide concludes with articles about cultural competency in child interviewing, tips for working with families, misinterpretation of common behaviors, and sociocultural/personal issues regarding rape. A list of questions to prepare for testimony in court and a bibliography are also included.
To purchase a copy of the Guide, send $10 with an 8.5 x 11" envelope to:
One Kelton Court, Suite 4F
Oakland, CA 94611
A six-hour bilingual workshop is also available to train users in linguistic, cultural, and legal matters.
- Connect Online to Special Needs Adoption Professionals
Adoption professionals can connect to colleagues around the country through a special listserve maintained by the National Adoption Center (http://www.adopt.org). This forum can be used to share information about any aspect of placing foster children into permanent adoptive homes, such as:
- Recruitment issues
- Preparation of children and families
- Interstate and interjurisdictional adoptions
- Post adoption supports
- Technological applications, e.g., email, Internet, video-conferences
Recent postings have included a request for post adoption support for a child with attachment disorder and a job announcement for a child and family therapist for a special needs adoption research program on fetal alcohol syndrome/drug effects. Subscribers have debated the efficacy of splitting up a sibling group of three simply because one of the children is diagnosed as RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and is therefore "not bonding" to the adoptive family. In a discussion about the ethics of publicizing children, one worker shared a success story that resulted from featuring children on local TV.
The list is moderated by Sue Badeau, a veteran child welfare professional and Project Manager of "Adoption Technology for the New Millenium," a 3-year, federally funded project of the National Adoption Center. This project, which includes the Special Needs Adoption Professional (SNAP-Talk) listserve, will demonstrate how new technologies can be effective tools for finding families for waiting children. For more information, contact Badeau at 215-735-9988, extension 308.
To join the listserve, send an email to Badeau at: email@example.com. Please indicate "SNAP-Talk Registration" as the subject and include the following information in the text: