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November 2012Vol. 13, No. 10Spotlight on National Adoption Month

CBX spotlights this year's National Adoption Month initiative, announces the winners of the Centennial Adoption Excellence Awards, highlights a Diligent Recruitment grant in Texas, and links to a nutrition guide for foster and adoptive parents.

Issue Spotlight

  • LGBT Foster and Adoptive Families

    LGBT Foster and Adoptive Families

    A June 2012 issue brief by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), Family Equality Council, and Center for American Progress provides an overview of the obstacles faced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families wishing to foster or adopt. The brief also offers policy recommendations that would enable these families to provide safe, loving, and permanent  homes for waiting children.

    The brief is organized into the following five sections that use bulleted lists, tables, and charts to easily convey pertinent data, legislation, and related information:

    • The Need for Foster and Adoptive Families provides the most current numbers of waiting children and highlights the overrepresentation of children of color in foster care.
    • LGBT Foster and Adoptive Families uses data and other group characteristics to demonstrate that LGBT families are willing, able, and qualified to serve as foster and adoptive homes.
    • Current Law: LGBT Fostering and Adoption illustrates which States have instituted nondiscrimination policies and, conversely, which States bar LGBT fostering and adoption, in addition to those that are "silent" on the issue.
    • Bans, Bias, and Erosion of Protections outlines the specific efforts some States have taken to restrict LGBT individuals from fostering and adopting.
    • Foster Care and Adoption Policy Recommendations details five recommendations that include the passage of new antidiscrimination laws, the repeal of existing laws that restrict same-sex or unmarried couples from adopting, the education of family court judges and law students on LGBT families and parenting research, and the provision of cultural competency training to child welfare workers.

    Finding Children Forever Homes: LGBT Foster and Adoptive Families is available on the American Civil Liberties Union website: (2 MB)

    The information presented in this article is based on material from the authors' October 2011 report All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families. It is available on the MAP website:

  • Centennial Year Adoption Excellence Awards

    Centennial Year Adoption Excellence Awards

    The Children's Bureau recently presented its annual Adoption Excellence Awards to 14 organizations, families, and individuals that have made extraordinary contributions to promoting adoption and other permanency outcomes for children in foster care. Presented annually since 1997, the 2012 centennial year awards had a slightly different focus than in previous years. This year, the Children's Bureau chose to honor past and present partnerships, States, and families that have contributed to the Bureau's mission and made significant impacts on the children, families, and professionals that the Bureau serves. The October 10 award ceremony took place in Washington, DC, at the Children's Bureau's Leadership Institute.

    One of the most moving moments of this year's ceremony was the posthumous award to Natalie Lyons, who was honored for her lifetime of work on behalf of children. The homage to Ms. Lyons included a video about her, with heartfelt tributes from colleagues. Joe Bock, Acting Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, noted that, "Under Natalie’s leadership, the Children’s Bureau's cooperative agreement with the NRCA [National Resource Center for Adoption] resulted in the development and support of a range of services focused on increasing the number of children adopted from the child welfare system and improved the quality of adoption and postadoption services."

    Longtime Children's Bureau researcher Dr. Penny Maza was also honored with an Adoption Excellence Award. In citing Dr. Maza's many accomplishments as a senior policy research analyst, Mr. Bock noted her outstanding ability to use statistics to tell a meaningful story about the children and families involved in foster care and adoption. In addition, Dr. Maza's body of work "not only influenced the operation of State child welfare and other programs, but has had an impact on and been incorporated into Federal legislation."

    In addition to the recognition of awardees, the Adoption Excellence Awards bring attention to the 400,540 children in foster care, including the 104,236 awaiting adoption, and they underscore the Children's Bureau's commitment to helping States and agencies find permanent, loving families for these children.

    Read about this year's awardees on the Children's Bureau website:

  • November Is National Adoption Month

    November Is National Adoption Month

    Finding permanent, loving families for the more than 104,000 children waiting for adoption is a top priority for the Children's Bureau. November is National Adoption Month, and this year's theme, "National Adoption Month–Virtually: Adoption in the Digital Age," focuses on harnessing the power of social media to recruit and retain adoptive parents. The Internet has changed the adoption landscape and the entire child welfare field, and this year's National Adoption Month initiative is dedicated to promoting new strategies for doing this important work while utilizing social media tools.

    Funded by the Children’s Bureau, the National Adoption Month initiative is a joint effort between AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway to raise awareness about the urgent need to find adoptive families for children and youth in foster care. The National Adoption Month website provides resources for professionals, adoptive parents, youth, States, and more. Learn about the history of National Adoption Month, the focus of this year's initiative, and how the Children's Bureau supports adoption. Read the Presidential and State proclamations of November as National Adoption Month. Other resources on the website include the following:

    • For Professionals. Get information to help you explore ways to use the power of social media in adoption while helping to identify and address potential challenges.
    • For Adoptive Parents. Find information on adopting from foster care, adoptive family stories, and powerful adoptive family videos.
    • For Youth. Learn about how you can get involved in your permanency plan, stay connected with adults and other teens through social media, be safe online, and more.

    This year's website also includes tools for spreading the word about National Adoption Month. Using traditional and social media, the site provides sample media messages for tailoring and promoting adoption from foster care. Also new this year is the National Adoption Month Video Gallery, which brings to life the stories of the thousands of children, youth, and families whose lives have been changed by adoption.

    The 2012 National Adoption Month foster adoption public service ads produced by the Ad Council are available on the AdoptUSKids YouTube channel:

    For these resources and more, visit the National Adoption Month website throughout November and follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

  • Texas Permanency and Family Resource Development

    Texas Permanency and Family Resource Development

    In 2008 and 2010, the Children's Bureau awarded a number of cooperative agreements for the Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System. One of the 2010 grants resulted in the Texas Permanency and Family Resource Development Model, a collaboration with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), the Texas Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Child Trends (the evaluator). The goal of the project is twofold: (1) identify adoptive homes for children who are waiting for adoption and (2) identify permanent homes for children for whom DFPS has permanent managing conservatorship without the termination of parental rights. Priority is given to cases that include sibling groups, children of color, older youth, and children with special needs.

    The project is currently in the third year of the 5-year grant. The first year was a planning year, and planning activities continue on the project with input from Texas CASA, the local CASA programs, regional and State Office child protective services staff, Child Trends, private child placing agencies, foster/adoptive parents, the courts, other local stakeholders, the National Resource Centers, and the Federal Project Officer. Grant services for the targeted counties began in October 2011. The project is targeted in the Arlington and Fort Worth areas, the Longview area, and the Lufkin and Nacogdoches areas. The goal of the grant is to create systemic change in policy, practice, and agency/partner culture. Combined, the three regions encompass urban, suburban, and rural areas. Grant activities will include:

    • Child-specific, general and targeted recruitment
    • Training for resource (kinship, foster, foster/adopt, and adoptive) families and pertinent external stakeholders on trauma-informed care
    • Facilitating training and verification of foster and/or adoptive families for the children DFPS serves
    • Completing kinship home studies for relatives/fictive kin
    • Completion of surveys of resource families (kinship, foster, foster/adopt, and adoptive) to help identify barriers to retaining resource families

    The project is a mixture of new services provided under the grant and integrated services with existing DFPS programs, which is key for sustainability. The expanded role of CASA is new, as under the grant CASA volunteers have an expanded role in permanency-related activities. Permanency Specialists were hired to supervise the volunteers who are providing grant services.

    To date, most of the recruitment activities have been child specific, such as case mining and updating a child's profile on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange, the State's photolisting service. CASA volunteers are focusing on family finding and engagement, and some connections have been made. The team is in the process of developing pamphlets or brochures on adoption, permanent managing conservatorship, and kinship foster parenting to assist with child-specific recruitment. Family Group Conferences also are important aspects of the project's work, as they assist a child's team and family in permanency planning.

    Permanency Care Assistance (PCA)—the State's guardianship program—began in September 2010 through the Federal Fostering Connections Act and enacted State legislation. PCA provides a new opportunity to engage relatives and fictive kin as permanent placement options, whether as guardians or adoptive parents. PCA also offers another option for potential permanent caregivers.

    The 81st Texas Legislature supported additional optional components of the Fostering Connections Act by enabling Texas to expand PCA and Adoption Assistance coverage to the age of 21 for children achieving permanency when 16 years of age or older. As a result, an additional unrecruited population—those willing and able to provide care for older youth—has been created. The project plans to inform the public about this additional resource as it conducts recruitment activities.

    Under the grant, Texas has Recruitment Grant Financial Support (RGFS) to help kinship families pursuing adoption or PCA with expenses related to the verification/approval process. Each eligible family can receive up to a $1,000. CASA manages the funds and may pay for the expenses directly or reimburse the family after the expenses are incurred. Eligibility criteria are as follows:

    • The family is a kinship family selected as the prospective permanent placement for a child who is receiving child-specific recruitment under the grant and whose legal county is one of the five within the project regions. The kinship family must be pursuing adoption or PCA for the subject children.
    • Family and community resources are not available to meet the identified need.
    • The DFPS Kinship Integration Payment has been utilized first by the prospective permanent placement, if the family is eligible.
    • The family demonstrates that the funds would be for specialized needs of the family in the verification process in order to prepare to be a verified home. Examples of these expenses, when necessary to become a verified home, include the purchase of bedding, clothing, food, minor home repair, fire inspection, fingerprints for FBI checks, assistance with locating to a residence to accommodate the children, and transportation costs.

    The Texas team is receiving technical assistance from the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids to assist with developing and implementing general and targeted recruitment and retention strategies. Prior to starting this technical assistance, Texas worked with AdoptUSKids to identify strengths and areas for improvement related to customer service. Project staff will continue to engage private child placing agencies, the courts, and other external stakeholders to help achieve the goals of the grant project.

    Special thanks to Audrey L. Jackson, Adoption Program Specialist, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and Cathy Cockerham, Training Director, Texas CASA, for providing information for this article.

  • Nutrition Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents

    Nutrition Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents

    Malnutrition has a significant, unseen effect on brain development and lifelong cognitive functioning. A large number of adopted and foster children, especially those adopted internationally, have suffered from malnourishment. Research in this area shows that all adopted children should be evaluated early for existing nutritional deficiencies, so steps can be taken promptly to improve overall health. The authors of a new easy-to-read guide sought to address this issue by compiling the necessary information for caregivers and professionals to effectively assess children's postadoption nutritional needs and nurse this population back to optimal health and well-being.

    Concise language, tables and lists, and interactive "Click Here to Learn More" buttons are used to present information in the guide for parents on the following topics:

    • Common nutrient deficiencies, their symptoms, and the specific foods used to boost nutrition
    • Risk factors for malnourishment
    • Recommended nutrition lab tests for internationally adopted children, children adopted domestically, and children in foster care if deficiencies are suspected
    • Tips for caregivers on transitioning a child's diet
    • Understanding and responding to feeding challenges, such as children who will not eat, have difficulty eating, or display overeating or food hoarding behaviors
    • Fortifying and fun food ideas and "power" recipes to increase key nutrient intake

    Adoption Nutrition: A Starter Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents is the product of a collaboration between SPOON Foundation and Joint Council on International Children's Services, nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned and adopted children and children in foster care. The guide is available on the SPOON Foundation website: (1 MB)

    The Adoption Nutrition website, also maintained by SPOON Foundation and Joint Council on International Children's Services, is an extensive nutrition and feeding resource for adoptive and foster families. To learn more, visit:

  • Growing Up in Open Adoption

    Growing Up in Open Adoption

    The perspective of young adults who grew up in open adoptions is the focus of a recent study in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services. The article, written by Deborah H. Siegel, presents findings from the fourth phase of a longitudinal study examining the opportunities and challenges of open adoption.

    For the study's first three phases, adoptive parents were interviewed at 7-year intervals to examine changes in openness over time. The original sample of parents was identified in 1988 after they adopted an infant in an open adoption. During phase one, 21 families participated; during phases two and three, 17 families participated. The study's fourth phase examined the perceptions of 11 of the original sample's adopted children (5 females and 6 males) who are now adults, for a 48 percent response rate.

    Each participant was asked 19 open-ended questions in either a face-to-face or tape-recorded phone interview, depending on the participant's preference. Questions ranged from "What's been open about your adoption?" to "What has open adoption been like for you?" and "What fears, anxieties, or unanswered questions do you have about open adoption?"

    Contact with birth parents ranged widely in frequency, from "sometime during childhood" to many times over the years. Contact was primarily with the birth mother or the maternal grandmother. Only four participants had contact with their birth father, and six had some contact with birth siblings. Most of the respondents (nine) had contact with birth family members via email, Facebook, or text messages. All participants currently in contact with birth relatives were using some form of electronic communication.

    Every respondent spoke favorably about open adoption, regardless of the amount of contact with birth relatives. Even when discussing varied negative or uncomfortable experiences with birth relatives, every participant later recalled the positive outcome that resulted from the incident.

    "Growing Up in Open Adoption: Young Adults' Perspectives," by Deborah H. Siegel, appeared in Families in Society, 2012, 93(2) and is available for subscribers here:

  • Adoption Practices and Islamic Principles

    Adoption Practices and Islamic Principles

    A new effort by the Muslim Women's Shura Council aims to address the complex issue of adoption and Islamic law. The Shura Council is a global initiative composed of Muslim women scholars, activists, and specialists dedicated to connecting Islamic principles to strategies for social change. A new white paper and brochure by the Council explores the concerns of Muslims interested in adoption and identifies what it means to serve "the best interest of the child" according to Islamic principles.

    Adoption in Islam is complex given the religion's guidelines pertaining to naming and inheritance, and the Council suggests that current misconceptions of adoption as forbidden under Islamic law apply to what is commonly referred to as open adoption. After consulting several Islamic texts and social science data, the Council asserts that when all efforts to place a waiting child with family or kin have been exhausted, open adoption is an acceptable alternative to institutional care. The white paper and brochure point to the many mentions in the Quran emphasizing the importance of taking care of orphans and others in need.

    The Council contends that, as long as appropriate ethical guidelines are followed, the six objectives and principles of Shari'ah—the sacredness of life, mind, family, wealth, dignity, and religion—support adoption.

    • The Protection and Promotion of Life: Adoption can create a nourishing environment for children, providing the necessities of food, care, and emotional support for healthy development.
    • The Protection and Promotion of Mind: Adoption can counteract the experience of neglect and abuse, severe emotional and behavioral issues, and setbacks in cognitive and physical development suffered by many children who grow up in group care.
    • The Protection and Promotion of Family: Adoption can provide children with a family model and a sense of family lineage and community.
    • The Protection and Promotion of Dignity: Adoption can promote secure attachment, which helps build self-esteem.
    • The Protection and Promotion of Wealth: Adoption can help develop children into productive members of society, encouraging them to pursue their professional goals and foster their personal financial stability.
    • The Protection and Promotion of Religion: Adoption can encourage spiritual growth.

    Adoption and the Care of Children: Islam and the Best Interests of the Child, the brochure, is available here:  (2 MB)

    Adoption and the Care of Orphan Children: Islam and the Best Interests of the Child, the white paper, is available here: (594 KB)

    Recent Issues

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News From the Children's Bureau

The seventh article in our second Centennial Series explores the growing concern about increased rates of child abuse and neglect in the 1970s and the passage of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. We also point to an updated ACF Interoperability Toolkit.

  • Centennial Series: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

    Centennial Series: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

    This is the seventh article in our second Centennial Series, CB Decade-by-Decade. These articles will examine highlights from each decade of the Children's Bureau's first 100 years. The first Centennial Series addressed some of the social issues, practices, and policies that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.

    In the early 1970s, there was growing concern about the increased rates of child abuse and neglect in the United States. Children entering foster care and in need of adoption services did so largely because of child maltreatment. States were in need of assistance to prevent and treat child abuse, and that important aid came in 1974 under provisions in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

    The road to CAPTA's passage was long, spanning more than a decade. In 1962, the Children's Bureau convened a meeting in Washington, DC, with lawyers, judges, social workers, doctors, and others to discuss increased reports of child abuse. The meeting was focused on strategies for providing leadership to States in addressing the problem. It was suggested that a law mandating reports of child abuse may be helpful. This culminated in the Children's Bureau's suggested legislative language for child abuse reporting laws, requiring doctors and hospitals to report suspected abuse (Children's Bureau, 1962). That same year, pediatrician Henry Kempe and his colleagues published an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association titled "The Battered Child Syndrome." Kempe was credited with drawing the attention of medical professionals to the issue of child abuse and its effects. Additionally, the article sparked national media coverage of child abuse. Magazines such as Newsweek, The Saturday Evening Post, Parents Magazine, Time, Good Housekeeping, and Life featured stories of abuse and cited Kempe's article (Myers, 2008).

    The Children's Bureau began providing research and demonstration grants with an emphasis on child abuse prevention as early as 1966. Despite these efforts, the number of children entering the U.S. foster care system due to abuse or neglect was skyrocketing. Children receiving child welfare services grew by 50 percent between 1961 and 1967 in the average month (Children's Bureau, 1969). By 1974, more than 60,000 cases of child abuse had been reported (Myers, 2008). By 1967, all States had enacted some form of child abuse reporting laws, thanks in large part to leadership from the Children's Bureau.

    In 1973, Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, assigned the Office of Child Development (OCD) as the lead agency to conduct interdepartmental child abuse and neglect prevention efforts. Two grants totaling $99,368 were administered by OCD to collect information about local child protection efforts.

    CAPTA was the first piece of Federal legislation to significantly impact child protection. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on January 31, 1974, CAPTA has been amended several times, most recently in 2010. The law established a definition for child abuse and neglect and provided Federal funding to States for prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities. In order to receive CAPTA funds, States had to meet several requirements, such as laws pertaining to reporting suspected abuse and standards for investigation of abuse. CAPTA's major provisions included the following:

    • Provided assistance to States to develop child abuse and neglect identification and prevention programs
    • Authorized research on child abuse prevention and treatment
    • Created the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
    • Created the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
    • Established Basic State Grants and Demonstration Grants for training personnel and to support innovative programs aimed at preventing and treating child maltreatment

    To support Federal research, evaluation, and technical assistance, the 1996 reauthorization of CAPTA created the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN). OCAN currently sponsors the national conference on child abuse and neglect, supports prevention activities through the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) program, and promotes improvements to child protective service systems through CAPTA discretionary grants.


    Children’s Bureau. (1962). Here and there. Children, 9(5), 200. Retrieved from;cc=hearth;idno=4761305_135_005;node=4761305_135_005%3A6.7;size=l;frm=frameset;seq=34;view=image;page=root

    Children's Bureau. (1969). The Children's Bureau's Job Today. Retrieved from

    Myers, J. (2008). A Short History of Child Protection in America. Retrieved from

  • Children's Bureau Centennial Update

    Children's Bureau Centennial Update

    A number of materials from the Children's Bureau's centennial webinar series have been added to the centennial website. The webinar series, which will run through April 2013, includes four historical and eight topical webinars, each open to the public. New webinar materials include the following: 

    • Presentation slides from the May topical webinar "Racial Disproportionality and Poverty in Child Welfare"
    • Presentation slides from the July topical webinar "Evidence Based Practice and Practice Based Evidence, Is It One or the Other?"
    • Presentation slides from the August historical webinar "The Story of the Children’s Bureau, America in Wartime: 1938–1960"
    • Presentation slides from the September topical webinar "Unannounced Home Visits—Critical Assessment Tool or Barrier to Family Engagement?"
    • A video from the October topical webinar "Formal Education or School of Life? What Are the Best Credentials for the Child Welfare Workforce?"

    These materials and more are available on the Children's Bureau's centennial website:

  • New! From CB

    New! From CB

    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. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.

    Recent additions to the site include:

    Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!

  • New ACF Interoperability Toolkit

    New ACF Interoperability Toolkit

    The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released an updated Interoperability Toolkit to help health care reform and human services agencies improve services for children and families. The toolkit is aimed at helping States prepare for various technological changes and upgrades associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    New toolkit resources include a summary of recent changes giving States more flexibility in supporting interoperability, additional guidance on the cost allocation exception, information on timeframes for implementing the required health insurance exchanges, and more. The updated toolkit also includes an introductory letter from George Sheldon, Acting Assistant Secretary for ACF.

    ACF will soon add information related to confidentiality in the toolkit to provide States with recommendations on confidentiality and privacy.

    The updated toolkit is available on the ACF website:  (2 MB)

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express last covered ACF's Interoperability Toolkit in the article "HHS/ACF Interoperability Toolkit Enhances Service Integration" (September/October 2011).

Training and Technical Assistance Update

The T&TA Network uses many social networking sites to spread the word about their newest resources. Network members also offer a number of new materials, including a guide for educators and an information packet about kinship care provisions in the Fostering Connections Act.

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

A new site visit report highlights the California Linkages project that promotes collaboration between California's county-administered child welfare services and the State's program for administering Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

  • Site Visit: TANF and Child Welfare Collaboration in California

    Site Visit: TANF and Child Welfare Collaboration in California

    The California Linkages project promotes collaboration between California's county-administered child welfare services (CWS) and CalWORKs, the State's program for administering Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Linkages' goal is to decrease child maltreatment and improve outcomes for children and families by providing necessary services and supports through increased collaboration. The project is coordinated by the Child and Family Policy Institute of California, which is under contract with the California Department of Social Services (DSS). Linkages began in 1999 with philanthropic funding from the Stuart Foundation and expanded its work in 2006 upon receiving a Children's Bureau grant. That grant ended in 2011, and Linkages currently is funded through a California DSS grant. More than 30 California counties are currently implementing Linkages strategies.

    In many California counties, there is a significant overlap of children and families involved with CWS, whose primary mission is to keep children safe from maltreatment, and CalWORKs, which is responsible for providing income assistance and employment preparation services to help parents achieve financial self-sufficiency. For example, nearly half the children in Los Angeles County served through the county's Department of Children and Family Services also have received support through CalWORKs at some point. Furthermore, research has shown that parental stress, including stress from economic factors, can result in child welfare involvement (Paxson & Waldfogel, 1999; Shook, 1999; Courtney, Piliavin, & Power, 2001) and that increased poverty rates correspond to a rise in child maltreatment rates (Paxson & Waldfogel, 2001).

    Parents who are faced with economic hardships and the potential or actual removal of their children from their care must then navigate two separate, complex systems. Each of these systems has its own timelines, requirements, and goals. In many counties, they are housed in different locations, which may increase families' transportation challenges. Families separately involved in both systems have at least one worker in each system, and those workers often do not communicate with one another. They may even set incompatible goals for the family, leaving the family in an untenable position.

    Linkages assists counties in developing CalWORKs and CWS collaborations by providing a suite of planning and implementation tools. The Linkages Planning Guide and Linkages Tool Box provide counties with the tools they need to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate Linkages in their communities. The project also has a State Linkages Oversight Committee that monitors county planning and implementation efforts, reviews relevant State policy to help counties remain compliant with any changes, and oversees the statewide evaluation. Another key component is the initiative's biannual convenings, which provide county staff with opportunities to share best practices, receive help and support for challenging issues, and share tools, such as county policies and guidelines.

    For more information about this project, contact Danna Fabella, M.S.W., Child and Family Policy Institute of California, Linkages and Aging Initiative Director, at

    The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    The California Linkages program is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CW1138). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.

Child Welfare Research

CBX points to new research examining the ability of youth in foster care to reduce feelings of anxiety and increase feelings of hopefulness through Cognitively Based Compassion Training.

  • Court-Driven Child Welfare Reforms

    Court-Driven Child Welfare Reforms

    Examples of how State courts can take the lead in reforming child welfare practice and improving outcomes for children and families are highlighted in a new report from First Focus. In the report, author Elizabeth Thornton, a staff attorney with the American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law, discusses several approaches to reform that have resulted in various positive outcomes, such as shorter stays in foster care, higher rates of family reunification, and cost savings for State and local agencies.

    Strategies explored in the brief include family treatment courts, improved legal representation for child welfare cases, and mediation and restorative justice practices. For example, the report highlights the Family Treatment Court (FTC) program in Jackson County, OR. The program, which began in 2001, serves parents with substance abuse disorders whose children have become involved with child welfare. It provides housing coupled with 12-step programs to allow families to stay together during treatment. The FTC team includes child welfare staff, case managers, domestic violence and housing advocates, attorneys, treatment providers, and the judge. The team meets regularly to discuss the family's progress, setbacks, and treatment plans, including recommendations for the judge.

    Common features of all promising approaches discussed in the brief include strong judicial leadership, dedicated professionals, and cross-system collaboration. In addition to evidence-based reforms that yield positive outcomes, the paper also includes practices that, according to initial data and anecdotal evidence, show promise.

    The publication of this paper resulted from a collaboration of First Focus with the ABA Center on Children and the Law and the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC). Court-Based Child Welfare Reforms: Improved Child/Family Outcomes and Potential Cost Savings is available on the First Focus website: (172 KB)

  • State Approaches to TANF Block Grants

    State Approaches to TANF Block Grants

    The Urban Institute recently published a report on the varying ways in which States have used funding from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. The report provides an indepth examination of the TANF programs from a selection of States and documents their similarities and differences. The report also looks at how the programs have responded to changing Federal regulations implemented since TANF's inception in 1997. Finally, the report examines the various ways in which States are spending TANF block grant monies and places particular emphasis on the transfer of TANF funds to child welfare services. 

    Researchers examined the TANF programs in California, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and Washington. The target States were selected for their diversity, size, and the availability of past research on their respective TANF programs. The report methodology combined information from analyses of State-reported data, details on relevant State policy choices, and phone interviews with key State-level employees involved with each TANF program. 

    Regarding State spending of grant monies, the authors note that funding transfers to child welfare services is one of the most commonly implemented examples of a TANF funding shift. However, there is considerable variation across States in the proportion of child welfare spending that is made up of TANF dollars in any given year, as well as changes over time within each State. The report notes that the proportion of TANF dollars allocated to State child welfare services each year can be explained by child welfare needs, Federal child welfare funding, and TANF funding. The report also provides information on context, history, and the advantages and disadvantages of reallocating TANF funds for child welfare services.  

    The full report, State Approaches to the TANF Block Grant: Welfare Is Not What You Think It Is, is available on the Urban Institute website: (486 KB)

  • Cognitively Based Compassion Training

    Cognitively Based Compassion Training

    Children and youth who experience early life adversary (ELA) or traumatic events such as sexual abuse or parental neglect are at a higher risk for medical and psychiatric illness as adults. A new study examines the ability of youth in foster care to reduce feelings of anxiety and increase feelings of hopefulness through Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT). The study explores whether CBCT reduces the C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker that increases health risks, in youth in foster care who experienced ELA.

    Researchers from Emory University collaborated with the Georgia Department of Human Services and the Division of Family and Child Services. Seventy-one adolescents (40 male and 31 female) aged 13–19 participated in the study, all of whom were from the Atlanta, GA, area and were in out-of-home care at the time of the study. Over the course of 6 weeks, in a randomized trial, participants were assigned to either a CBCT group or a wait-list control group. In the CBCT group, participants attended 1-hour classes twice a week for 6 weeks. During these sessions, adolescents participated in, among other things, CBCT meditation therapy. Youth in both groups were assessed for levels of anxiety and hopefulness before and after the CBCT program. The levels of C-reactive protein also were measured in regular saliva samples provided by all study participants.

    While there was no difference in salivary CRP among the two groups, youth in the CBCT meditation group experienced reduced CRP. The authors suggest that continued research is necessary to examine possible long-term effects of CBCT.

    Engagement With Cognitively-Based Compassion Training is Association With Reduced Salivary C-Reactive Protein From Before to After Training in Foster Care Program Adolescents is available for purchase on the ScienceDirect website:

    In July, Rick Nauert, Ph.D., Senior News Editor for PsychCentral, spoke with the article's authors for a blog post on the study and subsequent journal articles. Read the blog post here:

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Helping Youth Avoid Identity Theft

    Helping Youth Avoid Identity Theft

    The Michigan Department of Human Services published an identity theft tip sheet for child welfare workers that describes identify theft and explains how it may affect youth involved with child welfare. Youth ages 18–24 are the most likely victims of identity theft, with those transitioning to adulthood from foster care at the greatest risk. It is important for transitioning youth to know the risks so that they can begin adulthood with a clean line of credit.

    The tip sheet provides links to outside resources to help workers discuss identity theft with youth in foster care. Related topics discussed in the additional resources include information on obtaining credit reports, tips on what to do if your identity is stolen, and how to help defend against identity theft.

    Identity Theft Tip Sheet for Child Welfare Staff is available on the Michigan Department of Human Services website: (29 KB)

  • Measuring Success in Teen Parenting Programs

    Measuring Success in Teen Parenting Programs

    To combat the negative long-term consequences associated with teen pregnancy and parenting, it is important to identify evidence-based programs that promote the well-being of teenage parents and their children. Child Trends recently published a research brief that reviews 20 parenting programs aimed at educating teenage mothers and providing them with the tools to ensure the well-being of their children. Based on Child Trends' database of social intervention studies for children and youth, the study assessed findings in the following six outcome areas:

    • Child Outcomes: Health
    • Child Outcomes: Behaviors and Development
    • Parent Outcomes: Reproductive Health
    • Parent Outcomes: Mental Health and Behaviors
    • Parent Outcomes: Education, Employment, and Income
    • Parenting Outcomes

    Results were grouped into three quality categories according to their ratings for specific outcomes: programs that were found to work, programs that had mixed findings, and programs that were not found to work for specific outcomes. 

    The authors point out that several programs had significant impact on child and parent outcomes. Some interventions were particularly successful in reducing child problem behaviors, modifying parents' expectations for children, and improving the overall home environment. The home visiting model and prenatal component proved to be successful approaches.

    Further research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of parent education programs and especially their impact on preterm births, hospitalization, parent mental health, substance use, education, and employment.

    What Works for Disadvantaged and Adolescent Parent Programs: Lessons From Experimental Evaluations of Social Programs and Interventions for Children, by Alison Chrisler and Kristin Moore, is available on the Child Trends website: (957 KB)

  • Resources for Teen Pregnancy Prevention

    Resources for Teen Pregnancy Prevention

    Strategies for preventing teen pregnancy and childbirth are presented in a new series of webpages produced by the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The pages provide data on trends in teen pregnancy, information about talking with teens about pregnancy, strategies for engaging young men in pregnancy prevention, and tips for parents.

    Other OAH reproductive health webpages include information on dating and sexual relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptive and condom use, and State-specific adolescent reproductive health information.

    View these resources and more on the Office of Adolescent Health website: 

    The National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth (NCYF) recently featured this OAH resource in its NCYF Recommends section of its website. Read the article here:

  • Postsecondary Education Factsheet

    Postsecondary Education Factsheet

    A new factsheet from the Rhode Island Foster Parent Association presents facts and statistics about postsecondary outcomes for youth in foster care. According to the factsheet, approximately 70 percent of youth in care in the United States desire a college experience, roughly 40 percent complete some form of postsecondary education by their mid-20s, and only 9 percent earn a college degree. The factsheet also highlights a number of barriers to secondary education faced by youth in out-of-home care.

    The factsheet was just one resource presented at a recent summit in Rhode Island featuring members of the State's Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and the secondary and postsecondary education communities. The summit featured remarks from Governor Lincoln Chafee, the Director of DCYF, Dr. Janice DeFrances, and members of the General Assembly and Family Court. Work groups at the summit discussed solutions to college readiness and access, financial aid, and postsecondary supports for youth in care.

    Postsecondary Access, Retention, and Graduation Among Former Foster Youth is available on the Rhode island Foster Parent Association website:  (515 KB)

  • Newsletter on Partnering for Prevention

    Newsletter on Partnering for Prevention

    The spring 2012 issue of the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter (VCPN) focuses on child abuse and neglect prevention efforts through building community partnerships. The issue explores how charitable foundations, the media, and other business partners can help prevention efforts financially and by increasing publicity. Articles provide readers with tips on managing effective partnerships, fundraising, planning a campaign, using social networks as a cost-effective tool, and partnering with various businesses. Partnerships that have developed in Virginia to further child abuse prevention efforts are also highlighted, along with a spotlight article on Child Health Investment Partnerships (CHIP) in Roanoke Valley and its founder, Dr. Douglas Pierce, a child activist.

    The Virginia Child Protection Newsletter is published by James Madison University through a contract with the Virginia Department of Social Services and is available on the university's website: (2 MB)


  • College Decision Navigator Tool

    College Decision Navigator Tool

    The U.S. Department of Education's blog, Homeroom, featured a review of the College Navigator from the National Center for Education Statistics. The tool, designed to help students and/or parents decide which college is right for them, allows users to compare multiple schools at one time.

    Some features of the College Navigator include:

    • An estimation of expenses for the student, including tuition, housing, and supplies
    • A financial aid section
    • Graphs to depict the graduation rate of each college
    • An interactive map to view school locations

    Read the full blog post about the College Navigator:

    The College Navigator is available on the National Center for Education Statistics website:

  • Toolkit for Hosting a Community Café

    Toolkit for Hosting a Community Café

    The Alaska Strengthening Families Program released a toolkit to highlight the benefits and provide a how-to for using community cafes as a tool to have meaningful discussions about domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse. A Toolkit for Hosting a Community Café Series: On Choosing Respect and Ending Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Sexual Abuse opens with useful definitions, tips for hosting a community café, creating an ambiance, and example agendas.

    The second half of the toolkit is an appendix, which offers tools to help get a group started. Some of these pieces include:

    • A sample invitation
    • A document on café etiquette
    • Sample poems
    • Additional café questions

    A Toolkit for Hosting a Community Café Series: On Choosing Respect and Ending Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Sexual Abuse can be downloaded here: (2 MB)

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.

  • Home Visiting Tutorial

    Home Visiting Tutorial

    The National Abandoned Infants Assistance (AIA) Resource Center is offering a free, 57-minute online tutorial focused on home visits with families affected by substance abuse and/or HIV. The tutorial provides an overview of home visiting, visiting with families facing these issues, information about developing relationships with families and cultural competency skills, and more. While viewing the tutorial is free, users may also purchase one continuing education (CE) credit. 

    Other tutorials for professionals who work with women and children with HIV/AIDS and substance abuse and pregnancy are also available.
    For more information, visit the AIA website:

  • Common Core Training Evaluation

    Common Core Training Evaluation

    In 2002, California Social Work Education Center (CALSWEC) and the California Regional Training Academies (CRTA) /Inter-University Consortium (UIC) developed a statewide evaluation of common core training. The evaluation is one component of a multilevel evaluation of child welfare training in the State in order to assess training effectiveness and develop improved training methods. The strategic plan for evaluating and improving training is in direct response to the California Department of Social Services Program Improvement Plan, a requirement of the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews. The strategic plan identified a specific need to evaluate the skill area of child maltreatment identification.

    The  Statewide Report for Trainers and County Administrators explores the results for pre- and postknowledge testing in the areas of Case Planning, Placement and Permanency, and Child and Youth Development modules, and the skill assessment in Child Maltreatment Identification. The report provides demographic, educational, and experience profiles on 344 trainees between July–December 2011. Evaluation results show that more than 90 percent of trainees meet decision-making criteria for child maltreatment identification and approximately 97 percent of trainees meet these criteria for identification of child sexual abuse.

    The complete Statewide Report for Trainers and County Administrators: Semi-Annual Report, May 2012 is available on the CALSWEC website: (408 KB)

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through February 2013 include:

    December 2012

    January 2013

    • Kent Regional 4C 39th Annual Early Childhood Conference
      Building Blocks for a Bright Future
      Kent Regional 4C
      January 13, Grand Rapids, MI 
    • The Society for Social Work and Research 2013 Annual Conference
      January 16-20, San Diego, CA
    • 27th Annual San Diego International Conference On Child and Family Maltreatment
      Chadwick Center for Children and Families, Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego
      January 26–31, San Diego, CA

    February 2013

    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: