We feature a message from Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau; an evaluation of 30 Days to Family, an intervention that focuses on finding kinship caregivers for children in need of out-of-home placement; a look at the unique relationship between kinship and foster families and birth families; and more articles featuring youth in foster care.
- 30 Days to Family Theory of Change Evaluation Report
In March 2011, the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition launched 30 Days to Family, an intense, short-term intervention that centers on two main elements: family finding and family support. Family finding involves immediate and intensive searches for and engagement with family members, and family support entails assessment of the child and family's needs and identification of community resources, as well as removing barriers to kinship placement.
The technical report 30 Days to Family Theory of Change Testing Comprehensive Report describes an evaluation of the intervention, which consisted of the following four substudies:
- An implementation study that examined the program's implementation fidelity and context
- An analysis of child welfare administrative data for all children placed in foster care who participated in 30 Days to Family compared with those who did not
- A substudy based on interviews with relative (including kin) caregivers and nonrelative caregivers who cared for children who were served and who were not served by the program
- A cost analysis that compared the costs associated with the 30 Days to Family program with the "as usual" models of service, as well as the cost savings related to fewer days in foster care, greater placement stability, reduced placement in treatment facilities, and reduced likelihood of reentry
The evaluation's key findings include the following:
- The implementation study found that the program model, its components, and intended outcomes were well-defined and that the implementation procedures were relayed in a clear and detailed manner.
- Case managers and supervisors who were interviewed or participated in focus groups spoke favorably about the program in general, its operation, and the benefits derived by the children and families involved in the intervention.
- Children in the program, particularly those aged 9 or older, were more likely to leave foster care to be reunified with their birth families than those not in the program.
- Based on caregiver interviews, children participating in 30 Days to Family were more likely than children not in the program to be involved in social activities, such as school-related extracurricular activities, sports, or faith-based activities, and to maintain contact with their birth mothers and fathers.
- Children who participated in 30 Days to Family spent about 91.4 fewer days in foster care than children not in the program, which yielded a cost savings of $10,271.61 per child per year.
The 30 Days to Family program has shown promising outcomes for children entering foster care, and this report underscores the benefits they receive from being in the care of relatives, spending less time in foster care, and achieving timely permanent placements.
30 Days to Family Theory of Change Testing Comprehensive Report is available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anne_Atkinson2/publication/318990679_30_Days_to_FamilyR_Theory_of_Change_Testing_Comprehensive_Report/links/598a37df0f7e9b9d44c9c6cc/30-Days-to-FamilyR-Theory-of-Change-Testing-Comprehensive-Report.pdf (3,820 KB).
- Foster Care Can Be a Service to Families
Written by Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner at the Children's Bureau.
I invite all child welfare professionals, the media, and the general public to take some time to think about foster care differently. For most people in the United States, foster care has become synonymous with replacement parents and replacement families. Foster care has come to be known as a fix, possibly the fix—for bad parenting, a substitute for parents who do not adequately love or care for their children. I submit it can and should be something much different, and more. In fact, we know that, by far, most parents genuinely love and want to see their children grow up healthy, safe, and nurtured. We also know that many parents, for whatever reason, may not be positioned to fulfill that desire.
Federal law tells us that foster care is intended to be temporary and that we must make reasonable efforts to prevent removal from the home, that removal is only warranted where it is contrary to the welfare of a child, and that reunification is the most preferred permanency goal. Data tell us that most children enter care as a result of neglect and that substance use, metal health, and domestic violence are key contributors to family vulnerability.
The presence of these vulnerabilities does not mean that a parent loves their child any less. Such challenges may, however, lead to periods of time where it is unsafe for a child to remain in the same home with the parent absent a safety plan, or that respite care or even foster care is necessary for a spell. Where time apart is necessary, why not use that time as a meaningful opportunity to address the underlying causes of the vulnerabilities and wrap services around the entire family? Why not use foster care as a service to the parent, rather than a substitute? Wouldn't this be far more consistent with the letter and spirit of the law? Wouldn't this be far more aligned with what we know about trauma and the effects of family separation?
Let's talk about what it would look like to offer foster care as a service to families. To begin, it would look like recruiting foster parents who clearly understand that their role is to support and mentor birth parents; this would need to be a bedrock principle and expectation. It would look like making every effort to locate and support foster/resource families in the very communities where vulnerable children and families live so that parents may remain in close contact with their children and that children and youth are not removed from their school, friends, and all that is familiar.
It would look like resource/foster parents building relationships of trust with birth parents over time and helping to teach, model, and reinforce positive parenting. It would look like foster/resource parents helping enhance protective factors and making every effort to keep birth parents involved in their children's daily lives—from helping with school work to visiting the resource home for meals, holidays, and daily routines. It would look like healthy relationships and connections that help mitigate trauma and promote parent, child, and family well-being.
Most children and youth who enter foster care ultimately return home, albeit often after far too much time. Where removal is necessary, let's return children and youth home healthier, more safely, and sooner to parents who have been well served and treated with respect and care. Let's work together to make foster care a service for families.
- Perspectives of Youth in Foster Care: My Life Model
A recent article in Child and Youth Services Reviews evaluates the My Life self-determination enhancement model, which offers youth-directed, experienced-based coaching to youth on how to apply self-determination skills to achieve transition goals. The model also includes peer-mentoring workshops that provide opportunities for learning and networking as well as enjoyment.
The article highlights a qualitative study in which 10 youth, aged 16-18, completed the My Life intervention and then participated in a two-part interview. The first part of the interview involved just the interviewer and the youth and focused on gathering information from the youth about his or her experiences participating in the My Life intervention. During the second part of the interview, the youth was joined by his or her My Life coach to discuss the youth's experiences with the peer-mentoring portion of the program.
The study yielded the following findings:
- The theme of self-direction was prevalent during most of the interviews. Self-direction was identified as central to guiding the youth's actions as well as the youth's underlying notions of success and continuing growth. Several youth stated that their participation in the program led to an increased desire for self-direction and independence.
- Critical coaching elements and processes, such as youth-directed relationship support, compatible personality, shared experiences, and transparent and honest communication, were in line with the intervention's focus on providing a youth-directed coaching experience. One participant said the My Life coach "wasn't trying to control my life. She was giving suggestions, not demanding. She was supportive of how I felt toward things."
- Although it was a less intensive element of the program, peer-mentoring elements and processes were well-received by most participants. Youth relayed that they valued the relationships they developed with other young people they met during the workshops.
- Many youth also reflected on the enduring impact of the intervention activities, experiences, and accomplishments. Many participants experienced increased confidence and life satisfaction and learned new skills that they continue to apply.
- Youth clearly acknowledged that support for their transition to adulthood must be based on their own visions for themselves and their futures.
"Perspectives of Youth in Foster Care on Essential Ingredients for Promoting Self-Determination and Successful Transition to Adult Life: My Life Model," by Laurie E. Powers, et al. (Children and Youth Services Review, 86), is available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740917309441.
- Individual Strengths and Kinship Involvement Moderate Behavioral Risks
Youth involved in child welfare are more prone to risk behaviors (e.g., delinquency, thoughts of suicide, anger) than their noninvolved peers as a result of trauma experiences and the disruption brought on by having to leave their families. Although research has shown that individual strengths, such as optimism and being able to cope in difficult situations, protect against risk behaviors, there has been little focus on kinship involvement (i.e., extended family support) as a social strength that can reduce the effects and consequences of childhood trauma. The article, "Foster Care Children's Kinship Involvement and Behavioral Risks: A Longitudinal Study," discusses a study that looked into individual strengths and kinship involvement as moderators between trauma experiences and risk behaviors.
The study participants included 336 youth, aged 3-13, who entered the Illinois child welfare system between 2011 and 2014. Data for the study were collected as part of the Recruitment and Kin Connections Project, which worked in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to expand upon traditional child welfare practices by identifying and engaging relatives, fictive kin, and community supports for youth entering care. The study period for each child began with the temporary custody hearing and continued through the first 40 days of the child's entry into care.
Findings include the following:
- In children with fewer individual strengths, increasing trauma experiences led to increases in risk behaviors among children in care.
- More kin and fictive kin involvement (i.e., telephone calls, visits) was associated with lower chances of risk behaviors.
- Individual strengths acted as "buffering" variables to risk behavior, whereas kinship involvement was protective overall.
The study suggests that child welfare professionals should focus on both individual strengths and kinship supports to protect against trauma and the disruptions associated with being involved in child welfare.
"Foster Care Children's Kinship Involvement and Behavioral Risks: A Longitudinal Study," by Gayle L. Blakely, Scott C. Leon, Anne K. Fuller, and Grace Jhe Bai (Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26), is available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10826-017-0746-0.
- The Relationship Between Foster Families and Birth Families
A good relationship between foster and birth families is important to the overall well-being and sense of emotional security of children in foster care. A recent article in Child & Family Social Work highlights a study that looks at these relationships in terms of how the two families "got along" in the child welfare placement context and the factors affecting the nature and quality of these relationships.
Data presented in this article came from semistructured interviews conducted with 30 foster families and 15 kinship foster families. An analysis of the interview responses revealed that the following were all important in determining how the families got along in this joint family space :
- Presence and quality of contact between children and their birth families
- Tensions encountered between foster and birth families
- Presence or absence of respect and trust
- Value foster families placed on maintaining contact with birth families
The article presents the following findings:
- About half of the foster families reported they had a positive relationship with the birth parents.
- More than two-thirds (11) of the kinship foster families reported they had a conflicted, difficult, or mediocre relationship with the birth parents as a result of the more informal nature of this placement and the inherent relationship difficulties within extended families.
- Foster families mostly supported the children's relationship with their birth families and the importance of maintaining contact.
- Foster parents were aware that their attitude affected the quality of the relationship between children and their birth families.
- Socioeconomic and cultural differences between foster and birth families may lead to disagreements and confrontations about values, lifestyle, and educational methods.
- Issues such as substance use, mental health problems, and incarceration had an impact on the foster-birth family relationship.
The article also includes implications for practice that suggest providing more information about available services to kinship foster families that is more in line with the context of these familial relationships; conducting well-supervised visits that include both foster and birth families and that can be used to facilitate useful exchanges and discussions about the children; and promoting a relationship between families that revolves around tolerance, empathy, and mutual respect.
"The Relationship Between Foster Care Families and Birth Families in a Child Welfare Context: The Determining Factors," by D. Chateauneuf, D. Turcotte, and S. Drapeau (Child & Family Social Work, 23), is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cfs.12385/full.
Spotlight on Child Welfare Data and Technology
Spotlight on Tribal Child Welfare
News From the Children's Bureau
We highlight an initiative that responds to the increasing number of infants with prenatal exposure to opioids, a brief about using research to optimize supports and services for low-income parents and children, and a listing of the latest updates to the Children's Bureau website.
- Progress Report on the Substance-Exposed Infant Initiative
Opioid addiction has increased significantly over the past several years among individuals of all ages and backgrounds. As this rate has increased, rates of use also increased among pregnant women, which has led to states reporting significant increases in neonatal abstinence syndrome and infants experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Children's Bureau released a report that details the efforts of a special initiative begun by the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW)—the Substance-Exposed Infant (SEI) Initiative. This initiative built on NCSACW's technical assistance experience and worked to help six states respond to the increasing numbers of infants with prenatal exposure to opioids and the support these affected infants, families, and caregivers need during the critical period during infancy. They did this by focusing on increasing collaboration among child welfare professionals, mental health and substance use disorder treatment providers, public health and medical communities, home visiting and early intervention systems, and other stakeholders.
This report highlights five states that were included in the initiative: Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Virginia. These states received an additional 6 months of technical assistance to continue their work after the initial SEI period. The report focuses on the lessons learned, challenges and barriers, and state strategies. It also highlights progress made toward improving the safety, health, permanency, and well-being of infants affected by prenatal substance exposure and the recovery of pregnant and parenting women and their families. Findings include the following:
- Pregnant women with substance use disorders (SUDs) may avoid prenatal care or SUD treatment for fear of prosecution or custody loss.
- Hospital protocols can be inconsistent within and across states, which limits access to services for treating infants.
- Challenges related to collecting, sharing, and reporting data were new to many groups.
- Strategies created by states to improve outcomes included developing statewide hospital protocols to promote consistent identification of infants in need of services and using consistent and nonstigmatizing language when referring to pregnant and parenting women with SUDs and their children.
This report, Substance Exposed Infants: A Report on Progress in Practice and Policy Development in States Participating in A Program of In-Depth Technical Assistance, is available at https://ncsacw.samhsa.gov/files/IDTA_Executive_Summary.pdf (426 KB).
- CB Website Updates
The Children's Bureau website hosts information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, federal reporting, and much more.
Recent additions to the site include the following:
- National Youth in Transition Database Services and Outcomes Reports: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/nytd-services-and-outcomes-reports
- Child Welfare Information Technology Training Resources [webpage update]: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/research-data-technology/state-tribal-info-systems/training
- Introduction to the National Youth in Transition Database Video Series: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/news/introduction-to-the-national-youth-in-transition-database-video-series
- Fiscal Year 2018 Schedule of Child and Family Services Reviews: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cfsr-2018-review-schedule
- Workforce Part 3 - Child Welfare Scholars: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-workforce-part3
- IM-18-01: Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/im1801
- PI-18-01: Summary of the Actions Required in Completion and Submission of (1) the Fourth APSR Update to the 2015-2019 CFSP, (2) the CAPTA Update, and (3) the CFS-101, Parts I, II, and III: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1801
- PI-18-02: Summary of the Actions Required to Complete and Submit the APSR and the CFS-101, Parts I, II, and III: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1802
- PI-18-03: Availability of Fiscal Year 2018 Children's Justice Act Grants to States Under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1803
- PI-18-04: Availability of Federal Fiscal Year 2018 Funds Under the Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Program: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/pi1804
- Sustainability Planning for Children's Bureau Discretionary Grantees: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cbdg-toolkit-sustainability-planning
- Sustainability Planning Worksheet for Children's Bureau Discretionary Grantees: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cbdg-toolkit-sustainability-planning-worksheet
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new.
- Using Research to Support Programs Promoting Parental Economic Security and Child Well-Being
The Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation, which is within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released a brief that describes an approach to research and evaluation that can help promote programs for parental economic security and child well-being. The brief is designed to inform program leaders and staff about using research to optimize and assess supports and services for low-income parents and children. These two-generation programs seek to promote better child outcomes by helping parents achieve economic security through employment and education assistance.
Included in the brief are a description of research and evaluation approaches to help create more successful and coordinated services for children and families. It also explores how to build a foundation for data-informed program improvement and how research and program partners can spur program development. The brief recommends creating a logic model to determine program services and project potential outcomes. Further, the brief advises that once a logic model is defined, program leaders and staff need to develop a way to measure services and outcomes by analyzing administrative data, participant information and feedback, service quality, and external data. Program leaders can then use the data to adjust their services accordingly.
The brief also includes examples of how stakeholders can compare data with the logic model and adjust program operations, adjust the logic model itself, and/or use program data to assess service approaches for better outcomes. It also touches on the research and evaluation capacity of three programs that coordinate services for families and children: Next Generation Kids, College Access and Success, and CareerAdvance.
The brief explains how partnering with organizations that support peer networking has been particularly helpful. It points, for example, to the U.S. Department of Labor's Strengthening Working Families initiative. The Department of Labor initiative supports peer sharing through moderated discussions where experts respond to questions posed by grantees or peer participation in facilitated conference calls on issues such as participant recruitment or child care resources.
Using Research and Evaluation to Support Programs That Promote Economic Security and Children's Well-Being is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/evaluability_assessment_brief_2018_04_b508.pdf (541 KB).
Read about integrated student supports and how they can improve academic outcomes and well-being for children in low-income families as well as strategies for families, caregivers, providers, and communities that help overcome adverse childhood experiences.
- Study Assesses Adverse Childhood Experiences and Strategies to Overcome Them
A recent Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative study looks at the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among children in the United States and strategies for families, caregivers, providers, and communities to help overcome them. The findings are based on data from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health.
ACEs are negative childhood experiences that can cause social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and physical health problems across a lifespan and include the following:
- Recurring or constant financial hardship
- Divorce or separation of parent or guardian
- Death of a parent or guardian
- Incarceration of parent or guardian
- Being a witness to violence in the home
- Being a victim of violence or witnessing neighborhood violence
- Living with anyone mentally ill, depressed, or suicidal
- Living with anyone with a drug or alcohol problem
- Being treated or judged unfairly as a result of race/ethnicity
In 2016, nearly half of all U.S. children had experienced at least one of nine ACEs assessed in the study, and over 20 percent had experienced two or more. Key findings of the study include the following:
- The rate of children with one or more of the nine ACEs assessed varied from 38.1 to 55.9 percent.
- Most children with one ACE had at least one other, with rates ranging from 54.4 to 95.4 percent.
- ACEs are prevalent for both publicly and privately insured children.
- ACEs are common across all income groups, although 58 percent of U.S. children with ACEs live in homes with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Black children are disproportionately affected by ACEs.
The study emphasizes that ACEs go beyond harming children and families to affecting entire communities and points to three factors that support the need for a population-wide, multisystem approach to ACEs in the United States:
- High rates of ACEs for children and the adults who care for them
- Similar risks to children's health and their engagement with school once ACEs occur
- Intergenerational and downstream effects of ACEs (i.e., learning difficulties, mental health crises, declining school attendance, crime, incarceration, suicides) for children and the communities they live in
Despite the harmful impacts of ACEs, the study notes that resilience and supportive family relationships are protective and healing factors that can help children thrive in the face of adversity. On a broad scale, the study calls for stronger communities and neighborhoods and points to the important role of service providers, policy makers, and community leaders. It also looks to health-care providers, early childhood professionals, teachers, and home visitors to help teach the skills and tools that are essential for a healthy family environment.
A National and Across-State Profile on Adverse Childhood Experiences Among U.S. Children and Possibilities to Heal and Thrive is available at http://www.cahmi.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/aces_brief_final.pdf (1,480 KB).
- Review of School Wraparound Services Suggests Effectiveness in Improving Student Outcomes
According to a recent Child Trends report, integrated student support (ISS) initiatives show promise in improving academic outcomes for children by providing them with basic supports, such as food assistance, tutoring, medical care, or housing. ISSs are school-based initiatives in districts serving a large population of low-income families. These initiatives are also known as community schools and wraparound supports for vulnerable students and their families. ISSs rely on five essential elements to support service delivery: community partnerships, coordinated student support, integration in the school setting, needs assessments, and data tracking.
This report is based on a synthesis of findings from evaluations, child development research, implementation reports, school principal interviews, and cost-benefit analyses.
The report has several findings, including the following:
- ISS evaluation studies found a mix of positive and neutral results but no negative effects.
- Several evaluations showed strong support for particular ISS models, including City Connects, Communities in Schools in Chicago, the Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy, and Diplomas Now.
- Evidence from a new microsimulation model shows that student participation in ISS interventions will have long-term benefits, including higher math scores and graduation rates and lower rates of male incarceration and teen pregnancy.
- The ISS models continue to reflect best practices in child development research.
- High-quality implementation is important and requires sufficient resources.
- Nonacademic outcomes are rarely measured even though they are central to the conceptual model, which limits understanding of the mechanisms behind ISS success.
- Identifying the essential elements that contribute to the success of the five individual service delivery components is an evolving practice that demands further research.
Making the Grade: A Progress Report and Next Steps for Integrated Student Supports is available at https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/ISS-FULL-Report_FINAL-FINAL-12_5_v3.pdf (2,020 KB).
This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other resources that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.
- Strategies to Promote Research Use in Child Welfare
Research is integral in ensuring that the services children and families receive from child welfare agencies are effective in achieving positive outcomes. It can be difficult for agencies to sift through all the research material they may receive, whether it is generated internally or externally, and, therefore, agency leaders may be unable to meaningfully utilize that information in policy development or program design.
Casey Family Programs created a report that lists potential research utilization strategies across several domains to help researchers and organizations develop approaches to improve and inform their policy, program, and practice decisions. For each strategy, the report provides a detailed definition, an example of use within the child welfare field, the impact of the strategy, and key factors to consider.
Strategies include the following:
- Develop trusting relationships—This includes connecting with intermediaries (i.e., organizations and/or individuals that can help with identifying, adopting, and implementing evidence-based best practices) and developing mutually beneficial relationships.
- Engage in open and productive communication—This includes exchanging ideas, creating opportunities for collaborative problem solving, and ensuring more effective decision-making.
- Engage stakeholders and advocates—This includes making use of change agents (i.e., an individual who influences innovation within an organization), building awareness through community mobilization, and identifying and using social networks.
- Make research accessible—This includes reporting findings in plain language, presenting research in interesting and understandable ways, and translating research into specific directions for practice.
- Increase stakeholder investment—This includes finding approaches to ensure the study design allows for findings that can be readily applied to policy, planning, management, or practice and using participatory methods of dissemination.
- Help to ensure sustained use of research—This includes building leadership and staff capacity to apply new research evidence to designing and implementing programs and collecting and using data to monitor program fidelity.
Strategies to Promote Research Use in Child Welfare, is available at https://www.casey.org/media/strategies-promote-research.pdf (673 KB).
- Evidence-Based Practices, Strategies for Preventing Child Abuse-Related Fatalities and Injuries
A recent report from Upbring summarizes evidence-based interventions for preventing child fatalities and severe injuries from child abuse. The report points to areas that yield potential for reducing child abuse-related injury and death, including the following:
- Lessons from the injury-control field—Related advancements in injury control offer an opportunity to inform prevention practice by learning from public health and medical experts.
- Surveillance and assessment—Adjusting policy and practice to allow communities to access, merge, and use cross-sector data (i.e., child birth certificates, emergency calls to law enforcement, hospital emergency room visits, public health data) helps identify children at the greatest risk for maltreatment.
- Evidence-based and promising practices—The report includes a table of interventions (e.g., Triple P, Nurse Family Partnership, The Period of Purple Crying) that lists their level of evidence, focus, and links to more information.
- Promising strategies that lack evidence of effectiveness in preventing severe injury or death from child maltreatment—The report includes a table of interventions that need more information to be deemed as evidence based as well as details regarding intensity, duration, and combination of services.
- Community and system design strategies—It is important to consider the larger context of child abuse-related injuries and death and associated risk factors to evaluate prevention strategies (e.g., the use of geographic analysis to identify neighborhoods with at-risk families, the promotion of protective community norms, income and housing supports, parent coaching, workload management, and case consultation mandates).
The report also recommends that federal agencies, state agencies, and foundations collaborate with other stakeholders to look at prevention measures for families at high risk of maltreatment. The report explains that this may entail collaborating with other sectors where primary prevention is a major priority, such as the public health field.
The report, Evidence-Based and Promising Interventions for Preventing Child Fatalities and Severe Child Injuries Related to Child Maltreatment, is available at https://www.upbring.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Evidence_based_and_Promising_042617.pdf (1,600 KB).
- Deeper Problem Exploration: Understanding Agency Needs to Get to Solutions
Written by the Children's Bureau's Capacity Building Center for States.
Child welfare agencies continually undertake efforts to implement new programs and practices to produce better outcomes for children, youth, and families. Effectively implementing new approaches and achieving sustainable change can be challenging. Applying a structured approach to implementation increases the likelihood that the overall change process, and any specific interventions, will succeed.
Solutions are most effective when they address the true cause(s) of a "problem." A problem can be anything that needs to change to meet agency priorities. Deeper problem exploration occurs when an agency, in partnership with its stakeholders, systematically reviews key data and information to gain a clear understanding of an identified problem and why it is happening. Meaningful stakeholder engagement helps build a more comprehensive understanding of the identified problem and creates commitment to the full process of implementing and sustaining change. If the agency does not fully understand the underlying causes of the problem it is seeking to address, it may risk implementing the wrong solution, and the problem could remain or become worse.
Once an agency has identified a problem it needs to address, one of its first steps is to develop a data plan to exploe the problem more deeply. The data plan guides how the team leading the change process gathers and examines existing and new data and information in a comprehensive and efficient way. A single source rarely tells the whole story, so when possible, the team should rely on multiple sources for quantitative and qualitative information. Analyzing and interpreting data involves looking at patterns, trends, and relationships. This helps verify the problem, describe under what circumstances the problem occurs, and identify who is affected.
Before moving into solutions, the team often needs additional information and analysis to identify contributing factors and determine underlying root causes of the problem. Factors are considered root causes when they appear to be the true sources of the problem. Root cause analysis (RCA) is a data-driven approach to determine why a problem occurs and identify opportunities to prevent or reduce it. Social service agencies are increasingly using RCA techniques that are common in other fields. Once the team has validated the root causes and explored the agency's capacity to address them, the agency is in a strong position to select and focus on one (or a few) cause(s) as part of its change initiative.
Deeper problem exploration serves as a powerful tool for understanding complex problems within child welfare systems and identifying solutions that can contribute to better outcomes.
The following resources provide more information on deeper problem exploration using RCA:
This section of CBX provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.
- Tips for Parents: Managing Big Stressors With Little Ones in the House
Parenting a young child is an emotional time, filled with myriad joys and challenges. The way that parents react to their child's behavior has a strong impact on how that child develops skills for coping with their emotions. The article Managing Your Own Emotions: The Key to Positive, Effective Parenting explains why having appropriate skills at managing emotions and reactions to young children's actions is vital.
The article provides a sample scenario where it walks parents through a stressful situation in which their child is acting out. The scenario highlights the following steps on how to tune into their and their child's feelings and turn it into a learning experience where the child can practice working on his or her coping skills:
- Tune into your feelings—Rather than react angrily to a child who is pushing limits, parents should stop, take a deep breath, and think about how to respond to bad behavior in a way that will help the child learn to accept and understand the purpose of those limits.
- Tune into and validate your child—Have appropriate expectations of the child's emotions while teaching him or her how to handle disappointments and frustrations.
- If your child throws out some bait, don't take it—Stand behind set limits and ignore strategies employed by the child to go beyond those limits.
- Set the limit and provide choices—Give the child a choice to either remain upset or move on to something productive and calming.
Parents can benefit from this straightforward article. It can help them work toward managing their feelings while helping their child better understand his or her own feelings, and it can assist children in developing the coping skills they will need as they grow up, go to school, and develop relationships.
This resource is available at https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/338-managing-your-own-emotions-the-key-to-positive-effective-parenting.
- Keeping Kids Safe in Cyber Space
With the proliferation of technology available today, it can be challenging for parents to decide which forms of technology are appropriate for their kids and teens. It can also be difficult to find a balance between being protective (e.g., monitoring their child's internet use) and letting them use online tools to stay connected and socialize with their friends. SafeHome and the Safety, Health, and Consumer Council created a webpage—Keeping Kids Safe in Cyberspace—that highlights several tips for parents to keep their child or teen safe in the digital age.
Some of the tips include the following:
- Be proactive
- Set clear boundaries
- Educate them early about privacy
- Stay involved
- Know and enforce age-appropriate online experiences
- Be a good role model
- Inform your child about the importance of privacy
Each tip section highlights what a parent should know and gives actionable steps they can take to make sure their child stays safe while they enjoy online activities. This resource also lists additional cyber safety resources for people of all ages.
This resource is available at https://www.safehome.org/resources/kid-safety-digital-age/.
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.
Upcoming conferences and events on child welfare and adoption include the following:
- 2018 Adoptive Family & Youth Training Seminar
State of Georgia and Family Matters Consulting, Inc.
May 18-20, Peachtree City, GA
- Effective Strategies for Working With Involuntary Clients: International Perspectives
The Prato Centre of Monash University, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, and the University of Minnesota School of Social Work
May 23-25, Tuscany, Italy
- AFCC 55th Annual Conference
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
June 6-9, Washington, DC
- APSAC's 25th Annual Colloquium
The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
June 12-16, New Orleans, LA
- 2018 JuST Faith Summit
Shared Hope International
June 20-22, St. Paul, MN
- 2018 NASW National Conference: Shaping Tomorrow Together
National Association of Social Workers
June 20-23, Washington, DC
- FFTA 32nd Annual Conference
Family Focused Treatment Association
July 8-11, Atlanta, GA
- NCJFCJ 81st Annual Conference
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
July 22-25, Denver, CO
- 2018 Adoptive Family & Youth Training Seminar
- Developmentally Informed Training for Working With At-Risk Children
The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) is a developmentally informed, biologically respectful approach to working with at-risk children. Training on this model is now available through the Child Trauma Academy.
NMT is not a specific technique or intervention; it is an evidence-based practice approach to clinical problem solving that looks at a child's history and current functioning. It integrates principles of neurodevelopment and traumatology to work with children and families. This approach has three components: training/capacity building, assessment, and recommendations for selecting and sequencing of activities that match the needs and strengths of the child.
Three types of training are available:
- NMT Case-Based Series: Online sessions where attendees can participate live or watch a recording
- NMT Training Certification: A year-long, self-paced training program
- Face-to-Face NMT Boot Camps
More information and links to the different types are training is available at http://childtrauma.org/nmt-model/?utm_source=August+2017+Newsletter&utm_campaign=August+2017&utm_medium=email.