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May 2008Vol. 9, No. 4Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

Issue Spotlight

  • Visit Coaching for Parents

    Visit Coaching for Parents

    Visits between parents and their children in foster care offer an opportunity to strengthen families and address many of the issues that may have led to the out-of-home placement. Providing parents with coaching for these visits may improve the likelihood of positive outcomes.

    An article on the Children and Family Futures (CFF) website describes visit coaching, a model developed by Marty Beyer to "help families take charge of visits, involve foster families and kin in visits, build attachment between infants and their families, involve teenagers in visits, and improve visits as parents return from prison or treatment."

    Visit coaching may be provided by caseworkers, foster parents, therapists, or others. Parents are prepared ahead of time to focus on addressing the needs of their children, and they are given guidance during the visit to build on their family strengths. The coach also helps parents evaluate the visit afterwards, so improvements can be ongoing.

    There are four principles to visit coaching:

    • Empowerment—to build on family strengths
    • Empathy—to support families in meeting the unique needs of their children
    • Responsiveness—to help families manage the conflict between adult and child needs
    • Active parenting—to help families learn how their children's behavior is shaped by their own actions and words

    The article Visit Coaching is available on the CFF website: ( 72 - KB)

  • May Is National Foster Care Month

    May Is National Foster Care Month

    Everyone has the power to "Change a Lifetime" for a young person in foster care. National Foster Care Month celebrates this theme, providing a special time for recognizing the people who make a difference by serving as foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers, and volunteers. The campaigns and activities being organized in communities across the country during National Foster Care Month in May help raise awareness on behalf of young people in foster care and remind citizens that everyone can do something positive to help foster children build a brighter future.

    The National Foster Care Month website offers a wealth of resources to learn more about foster care and some of the practical ways to become involved. The National Foster Care Month Toolkit includes ideas, tips, and easy-to-use templates to start a campaign and raise community awareness. The website also offers a newsroom for the media and an events calendar featuring activities and promotions happening across the country. Visit the website today at:

    For the first time, the "Walk Me Home" foster care awareness and fundraising event is being organized in 20 States across the country. Walk Me Home is a 5K (3.1 mile) walk sponsored by the National Foster Parent Association to raise awareness of foster care, recruit and retain foster families, and raise funds to support foster care associations nationwide. These events will take place between May and October, and everyone is encouraged to participate. The Walk Me Home website lists local events, virtual walks, and opportunities to financially support walkers or teams. For more information, visit:

  • California Permanency for Youth Project

    California Permanency for Youth Project

    The California Permanency for Youth Project (CPYP), developed by the Public Health Institute, recently received a grant extension from the Stuart Foundation through 2009 totaling $500,000. CPYP is dedicated to providing support for youth without a permanent family who are about to age out of the California child welfare system. The project aims to raise awareness among child welfare professionals, policymakers, and court personnel about child permanency for older children and youth. Through funding activities and public awareness campaigns, the CPYP Permanency for Youth Task Force works to achieve lifelong connections for these youth. In addition, the task force brings together private and public stakeholders to promote public relations, education activities, and advocacy efforts statewide.

    The CPYP website features statewide news and events, success stories, and resources to help child welfare professionals ensure lifelong connections. Some of the success stories focus on individual youth who have benefited from CPYP programs. Several stories describe the positive experiences of teens in the Group Home StepUp project, which helped teens in group care make permanent connections, many of which were with biological family members.

  • Sibling Placement in Foster Care

    Sibling Placement in Foster Care

    Placing siblings together when they enter out-of-home care is widely accepted as a best practice in child welfare in most cases. A new review of published research examined 11 studies on sibling placement conducted between 1998 and 2005 to gather further information on sibling placement, the benefits and challenges of conjoint placement, and theories guiding research on sibling placement. Overall, the results highlight the strong support that exists in favor of placing siblings together when they are removed from the care of their parents. The benefits associated with conjoint placement include:

    • More harmonious relationships between siblings
    • Fewer emotional and behavioral problems in preschool years
    • Better mental health and socialization for female children

    However, placing brothers and sisters together often can be a challenging task for child welfare workers. Current research indicates that larger sibling groups are more likely than smaller groups to be placed separately, because fewer foster homes are willing to accept multiple children and larger sibling groups are less likely to enter foster care simultaneously. Also, studies suggest that kinship homes are more conducive to maintaining conjoint placement.

    The full study, "Research Review: Sibling Placement in Foster Care: A Review of the Evidence" by Karla Washington, was published in Child and Family Social Work, Volume 12(4), and is available from the publisher:

  • Intergenerational Community Supports Foster and Adoptive Families

    Intergenerational Community Supports Foster and Adoptive Families

    It has been over a decade since the experimental planned neighborhood of Hope Meadows was established in Rantoul, IL, just north of the University at Urbana-Champaign. While the five-block, 22-acre area that comprises this neighborhood has no visible boundaries, it contains a unique community that is home to families raising children adopted from foster care and to senior citizens who serve as supportive "grandparent" figures.

    Hope Meadows came about in the early 1990s when academic researchers Brenda Krause Eheart and Martha Bauman Power raised funding to start Generations of Hope, a nonprofit corporation and child welfare agency. Once they acquired sufficient housing on a converted Air Force base, Hope Meadows was born. It was the beginning of a neighborhood where foster children would find permanent homes, parents would find community support, and seniors would find a renewed sense of purpose.

    Parents and seniors apply to live in Hope Meadows. There is room for 12 families with children and approximately 60 seniors. The neighborhood also includes administrative offices and a community center. Child welfare and other social service staff from Generations of Hope are able to work from within the community to provide child welfare services and support the residents. The intergenerational community center serves as the hub of neighborhood activities, hosting everything from community potlucks to tutoring sessions.

    In its 14-year history, there have been more than 50 adoptions of children from foster care at Hope Meadows, and this success has brought many accolades. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau recognized the community with an Adoption Excellence Award.

    The community model has generated interest for replication in other communities and with other populations. In 2006, a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation was used to create the Generations of Hope Development Corporation (GHDC) to establish similar communities around the country. In addition to supporting families who adopt children from foster care, neighborhoods are being planned to support such groups as youth aging out of foster care and homeless or near-homeless families.

    A recent white paper published by GHDC outlines the philosophical principles that underlie this intergenerational community in which the community is the intervention. The first key principle is that all residents are ordinary people; the second is that everyone has a capacity to care. These tenets provide the basis for a community in which social support is fully integrated, and social services, including child welfare services, complement and support community efforts.

    For more information, visit the Generations of Hope website at The most recent white paper, Generations of Hope Communities, by Brenda Krause Eheart, David Hopping, Martha Bauman Power, Elissa Thomann Mitchell, and David Racine, also is on the website: (PDF - 284 KB)

  • Foster Home Assessment Tool

    Foster Home Assessment Tool

    A tool that assists agencies and caseworkers in assessing the ability of foster families to provide a safe and stable environment for children placed in care has been developed by ACTION for Child Protection. Identifying and Verifying the Safe Foster Home: A Study and Assessment Method presents 14 indicators that measure foster parent functioning in such areas as personal history, parenting practices and discipline, family functioning and support networks, the parent's viewpoints on the birth parents and child maltreatment, the level of preparation for foster parenting and motivation to support and meet the foster child's needs, and willingness to collaborate with the agency. The tool includes child indicators associated with the functioning of the foster parents' own children, the children in placement, and any other children present in the home. The tool also features a worksheet for formulating a support plan to address any specific concerns. (PDF - 153 KB)

  • Transitioning From Foster Care to Adulthood: Three Studies

    Transitioning From Foster Care to Adulthood: Three Studies

    Three new reports from the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall Center for Children focus on the changes that occur for youth who "age out" of foster care without a permanent home or family.

    In Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at Age 21, researchers compared a group of former foster youth with a nationally representative sample of non-foster youth at age 21 to provide a sense of how the foster youth were faring during the transition to adulthood relative to their peers. Comparisons were made across a number of measures, including education, employment, income, level of hardship, receipt of government benefits, access to health care, sexual behavior and pregnancy, and criminal behavior. Compared with their peers, foster youth were less likely to have a high school diploma or to be pursuing higher education, less likely to be earning a living wage, and more likely to have had a child out of wedlock or to have become involved in the criminal justice system. (PDF - 998 KB)

    When Should the State Cease Parenting: Evidence From the Midwest Study examined whether foster youth would benefit if an extension of the Federal title IV-E program provided all youth with the option of remaining in foster care until age 21. The paper compared outcomes for foster youth in Iowa and Wisconsin, where almost all foster youth are discharged from foster care at age 18, with youth in Illinois, where youth are permitted to remain in care until age 21. The results suggest that youth who had the option of remaining in care until age 21 were more likely to pursue higher education, which appeared to be associated with higher earnings and delayed pregnancy.

    The Midwest Study is a prospective study that was designed, in part, to provide a comprehensive picture of how foster youth are faring in their transition to adulthood. These two reports, by Mark Courtney et al. and by Mark Courtney, Amy Dworsky, and Harold Pollack, respectively, are available online, along with a number of other reports from the Midwest Study.

    A Reason, A Season, or a Lifetime: Relational Permanence Among Young Adults With Foster Care Backgrounds explores the social support networks of foster youth and examines how foster care affects the ability of youth to form and sustain supportive relationships into adulthood. The author notes that while the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program financially supports efforts to help youth successfully transition to adulthood in education, employment, and housing, the child welfare field struggles to meet the social and emotional needs of foster youth. In interviews with 29 participants in Opportunity Passport, a program sponsored by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, the youth most frequently expressed the need for emotional support and permanency of relationships.

    The study, by Gina Miranda Samuels, is available online: (PDF - 439 KB)

  • Benefits of Involving Nonresident Fathers

    Benefits of Involving Nonresident Fathers

    A recent study examined how father involvement affects permanency outcomes for children in foster care. The study is a follow-up of a 2006 study of child welfare agencies' efforts to locate and involve nonresident fathers in their children's cases. Based on interviews with more than 1,000 workers who spoke about 1,958 specific cases, the original study found that many fathers are easily located and are interested in being part of their children's lives.

    At the time of the 2006 study, fathers in 55 percent of the cases had been in contact with someone at the child welfare agency after their children entered foster care. In the recent study, these fathers were classified according to three levels of involvement with their children, and involvement levels were compared to child outcomes. Results attest to the potential benefits of nonresident father involvement:

    • Nonresident fathers' greater involvement with their children was associated with a higher likelihood of a reunification outcome and a lower likelihood of an adoption outcome.
    • Children with highly involved fathers left foster care more quickly than children whose fathers were less involved.
    • Among children with reunification outcomes, those with highly involved fathers had a substantially lower likelihood of maltreatment recurrence compared to reunified children with uninvolved fathers.

    More About the Dads: Exploring Associations Between Nonresident Father Involvement and Child Welfare Case Outcomes, by Karin Malm, Erica Zielewski, and Henry Chen, was prepared by the Urban Institute and released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), with funding from the Children's Bureau. It is available on the ASPE website:

    Related Items

    • The 2006 study on nonresident father involvement was covered by Children's Bureau Express in "Nonresident Fathers and the Child Welfare System" (July/August 2006).
    • For more information about nonresident fathers, visit the website of the Children's Bureau's National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System at

    Recent Issues

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News From the Children's Bureau

  • State Guidelines for Prospective Adoptive and Foster Parents

    State Guidelines for Prospective Adoptive and Foster Parents

    A new information service is now available from AdoptUsKids that offers information to child welfare professionals and prospective adoptive and foster parents who want to learn more about State guidelines, local agencies, parent support groups, and resources that can help with the child placement process. Interested parties are contacted by a Recruitment Response Team that works exclusively with families looking to adopt or foster a child. The service includes an online contact form and a State-by-State interactive map.

    Related Item

    More information on State and local foster care and adoption can be found in Child Welfare Information Gateway's National Foster Care and Adoption Directory, a searchable database:

  • RURAL Child Welfare Training in California

    RURAL Child Welfare Training in California

    With a focus on improving the practice of child welfare workers in rural California, the California Institute on Human Services (CIHS) of Sonoma State University has developed the RURAL (Resources to Address the Unique Needs of Rural Communities for Availability/Accessibility of Local Services) training project. This project aims to provide a competency-based training curriculum to increase the capacity of the child welfare workforce in providing effective services to children and families in rural communities.

    To determine training needs prior to curriculum development, a survey was administered to thousands of rural social workers across the State. Survey results indicated that substance abuse was a priority training area. Responding to this need, CIHS developed two training modules. The introductory module, "Working With Drug Abusing Families," includes the following topics:

    • Introduction to rural social work
    • Impacts of drug abuse on families
    • Intervention and treatment
    • Accessing community resources

    After participating in the introductory training module, participants return to their agencies to begin implementing their new knowledge. The follow-up training session, "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy With Substance-Abusing Families," is focused on providing technical assistance. This training module includes the following subjects:

    • Introduction to the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study
    • Additional information on addiction, intervention, and treatment
    • Assessment tools
    • Training in cognitive behavioral therapy
    • Additional treatment tools and resources

    The evaluation of the RURAL training project utilizes a pre- and posttest methodology to measure knowledge gain, a satisfaction survey, and a 3-month posttraining follow-up. Initial analysis of knowledge gain for 463 participants in the first training and 199 in the second training found an average improvement of 30 percent. Participants also indicated high satisfaction with the training sessions. Final evaluations will be conducted at the project's end.

    Note: The RURAL training project was transitioned from Sonoma State University to San Jose State University Research Foundation, effective October 1, 2007.

    For more information, contact the project director:
    Diane Nissen, Ph.D.
    RURAL Training Project
    San Jose State University
    Research Foundation
    210 N. Fourth Street, 4th Floor
    San Jose, CA 95112

    The RURAL Project is funded under the Children's Bureau, Grant 90CT00109, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Training for Effective Child Welfare Practice in Rural Communities. 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.

  • National Women's Health Week

    National Women's Health Week

    An alliance of national organizations will join the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in celebrating National Women's Health Week, May 11-17, to raise awareness about manageable steps that women can take to improve their health. Research shows that when women take care of themselves, the health of their family improves. Good physical and mental health are especially important for mothers and mothers-to-be. Healthy mothers who have access to services are in a better position to cope with the challenges of parenting.

    During National Women's Health Week, families, communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups will work together to educate women about steps they can take to improve their physical and mental health and prevent disease. Events, workshops, screenings, and other activities will be offered across the country to promote the theme of this year's National Women's Health Week, "It's Your Time: Get Inspired. Get Healthy." Two of the most important activities are:

    • National Women's Check-Up Day on May 12, when women are encouraged to schedule health screenings
    • The Fifth Annual WOMAN Challenge, an 8-week commitment by participants to set and achieve physical activity goals

    For more information on National Women's Health Week, including information on becoming a partner and sponsoring activities, visit the website:

  • Legal Resources on Information Gateway

    Legal Resources on Information Gateway

    As a service of the Children's Bureau, Child Welfare Information Gateway connects child welfare professionals to a variety of important information, including information on Federal and State laws and policies. Recent updates include:

    Major Federal Legislation Concerned With Child Protection, Child Welfare, and Adoption has been updated and is available on Information Gateway's website. This publication provides a framework for understanding the Federal legislation that has shaped the delivery of child welfare services and presents a timeline of Federal legislation since 1974 that has had a significant impact on the field. An overview of each act and its major provisions are included.

    A new feature allows users to search Major Federal Legislation for specific child welfare laws. For the search feature, visit:

    In addition, Information Gateway has an updated Laws & Policies section on its website that includes new information on mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect, and, specifically, clergy members as mandatory reporters. Links to individual State statutes information and printable PDF versions also are available via these webpages:

  • Child Welfare Outcomes Report Released

    Child Welfare Outcomes Report Released

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Welfare Outcomes 2002-2005: Report to Congress, the seventh in a series of annual reports designed to inform Congress, the States, and the public about State performance on delivering child welfare services. The Child Welfare Outcomes Reports provide information about State performance on seven national child welfare outcomes related to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children involved in the child welfare system. The outcomes reflect widely accepted performance objectives for child welfare practice.

    The first six Child Welfare Outcomes Reports presented data for each State regarding 12 measures used in the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) that assessed State performance relevant to the seven national child welfare outcomes. The current report includes data on the 12 original outcome measures as well as 15 additional measures recently developed for the second round of the CFSRs that began in March 2007.

    Highlights of the recent report include:

    • Of the States submitting data for all 4 years, 64 percent demonstrated an improvement in performance on the measure of maltreatment recurrence.
    • The majority of children in all States who were legally free for adoption at the time of exit from foster care in both 2004 and 2005 were discharged to a permanent home.
    • In 2005, many States that had a relatively high percentage of children reunified within 1 year also had a relatively high percentage of children reentering foster care within 1 year.
    • In 2005, many States that had a high percentage of reunifications occurring within 1 year also had a high percentage of adoptions occurring within 2 years.
    • States were generally effective in achieving placement stability for children who were in foster care for less than 1 year, but placement stability declined dramatically for children who were in foster care for longer amounts of time.

    The report can be found online on the Children's Bureau website:

  • Comparing Family Preservation Programs

    Comparing Family Preservation Programs

    The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning has published a factsheet comparing and contrasting different family preservation programs. A table format is used to compare programs in terms of key elements and evidence of success. Information on program intensity, duration, caseload, theoretical orientation, target population, identified problem areas, and primary location of service is included. The factsheet is designed to help agencies develop an understanding of these programs. (PDF - 141 KB)

  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    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:

    • PI-08-02: Issued on March 10, 2008, Children's Justice Act
    • AFCARS Report #14

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

  • CFSRs Prompt New Family Engagement Strategies

    CFSRs Prompt New Family Engagement Strategies

    A review of reports from the first round of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) found that most States fell short on ratings of family engagement. Only seven States received a rating of strength on one or both of the CFSR items designed to assess family engagement. However, most States used their subsequent Program Improvement Plans (PIPs) as an opportunity to address this challenge by identifying specific approaches to involve children and families in case planning.

    These findings are reported in American Humane's Families Gaining Their Seat at the Table: Family Engagement Strategies in the First Round of CFSRs and PIPs. The report focuses on the 45 States that identified a specific model or strategy for engaging families. The most common terms used by these States to describe their approaches were family group decision-making, family group conferencing, and family team meetings.

    The report also notes that States frequently identify formal family engagement strategies in their PIPs. These include models that emphasize family engagement and individualized service delivery: Family to Family; Family Solutions; Engaging Families; One Family, One Worker; and One Family, One Plan.

    States' PIPs also include a variety of other strategies to increase family engagement, for example:

    • Expansion of current programs to reach families more often
    • Better outreach to families and staff regarding agency efforts and policies
    • Increased training for staff
    • Improved data collection and quality assurance activities
    • Redesign and revision of the case planning process and documents to increase opportunities for family engagement

    Families Gaining Their Seat at the Table was written by Sara Munson and Madelyn Freundlich. The full report includes two appendices with CFSR and PIP information for each State. (1,402 KB)

  • New AFCARS Report on Adoption and Foster Care Numbers

    New AFCARS Report on Adoption and Foster Care Numbers

    The Children's Bureau has released the latest national statistics on adoption and foster care for FY 2006 in the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #14. The figures show some changes in numbers from 1 year earlier. For instance:

    • The number of children in foster care dropped from 513,000 on September 30, 2005, to 510,000 on the same day in 2006.
    • The number of children entering foster care dropped from 311,000 in 2005 to 303,000 in 2006.
    • The number of children exiting foster care increased from 287,000 in 2005 to 289,000 in 2006.
    • The number of children waiting to be adopted (with a goal of adoption and parents whose rights had been terminated) increased from 114,000 on September 30, 2005, to 129,000 on the same day in 2006. There was a significant increase in children in foster care with parental rights terminated for all living parents—this increased from 66,000 in 2005 to 79,000 in 2006.

    One figure stayed the same: the number of children adopted with public agency involvement remained static at 51,000.

    Read the full report on the Children's Bureau website:

  • Expediting Permanency for Abandoned Infants

    Expediting Permanency for Abandoned Infants

    Expediting Permanency for Abandoned Infants: Guidelines for State Policies and Procedures, an updated monograph by the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center, reviews State policies and practices concerning abandonment, recommends timeframes and procedures for terminating parental rights, and identifies promising practices for expediting permanency for infants and youth who are abandoned. The monograph also includes a list of practice recommendations for achieving and maintaining permanency in a timely manner. (PDF - 197 KB)

    Related Item

    Child Welfare Information Gateway's Infant Safe Haven Laws provides State-by-State information on infant abandonment.

  • Nominations Open for the 2008 Adoption Excellence Awards

    Nominations Open for the 2008 Adoption Excellence Awards

    Each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) presents Adoption Excellence Awards to recognize individuals, families, and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to providing safe, permanent, and loving homes for children in foster care. Winners are those who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, and dedication in helping children from foster care rebuild their lives and achieve permanency.

    Nominations are now open for the 2008 Adoption Excellence Awards, and completed nomination packets are due by July 11, 2008. Nominees may be individuals and organizations, including States, public agencies, universities, Tribes, courts, families, faith-based organizations, businesses, and more. Awards will be made in 10 categories:

    • Decrease in the length of time that children in foster care wait for adoption
    • Increased adoptions of older children
    • Interjurisdictional adoptions
    • Faith-based initiatives
    • Support for adoptive families
    • Individual and/or family contributions
    • Philanthropy and/or business contributions
    • Judicial or child welfare system improvement
    • Adoption of minority children from foster care
    • Media/public awareness of adoption from foster care

    Nomination packets will be reviewed by a national panel of recognized adoption experts, including members of State and Federal agencies. The review panel will make recommendations for awards to the ACF Assistant Secretary. Winners will be selected on the basis of 10 criteria, including collaboration, innovation, and community involvement.

    Everyone interested in making nominations, including self-nominations, is invited to visit the Children's Bureau website for more information:

Child Welfare Research

  • Examining Disproportionality at the National, State, and County Levels

    Examining Disproportionality at the National, State, and County Levels

    A new study from the Casey-CSSP Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare expands the field of knowledge about racial and ethnic disproportionality and disparities in the child welfare system by studying the phenomenon at the national, State, and county levels. The percentages and experiences of children within five racial and ethnic groups (American Indians/Native Americans/Alaska Natives; Asian Americans/Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders; Blacks; Hispanics; and Whites) were compared at three decision-making stages of the child protective process: investigation, substantiated investigation, and placement into foster care.

    Findings at the national level confirm that Black children and Native American children are overrepresented disproportionately within the foster care system. Also, children of all racial and ethnic groups, except White children, are represented at increasingly higher percentages in later stages of the child protection system, in contrast to White children, whose percentages decrease further into the child protective process.

    In addition to presenting results at the national level, the report examines disproportionality and disparity in four States (Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington) and five counties. Several statistical tables are presented for each State and county along with a written analysis examining the patterns of disproportionality and disparity in that location.

    The full study, An Analysis Of Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality and Disparity at the National, State, and County Levels, by Robert B. Hill, can be found on the Annie E. Casey Foundation website: (PDF - 1,034 KB)

  • Privatization Initiatives: Design Elements and Evolving Roles

    Privatization Initiatives: Design Elements and Evolving Roles

    The privatization of public services is a growing trend, and many State child welfare systems are turning to private agencies in an effort to improve services for children and families and control costs. In order to help States and other jurisdictions make sound decisions about privatization, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is publishing a series of six papers on privatization, each focusing on a different aspect of child welfare privatization considerations.

    Papers 2 and 3 were recently made available on the ASPE website.

    Paper #2, Program and Fiscal Design Elements of Child Welfare Privatization Initiatives, stresses the interrelationship of decisions about program goals, the scope of services, and expected outcomes and benefits. Main sections of the paper explore:

    • Program design considerations, including goals, services, target populations, size and scope, case management elements, accountability, and different types of contracts
    • Fiscal designs, including global budget transfers, case rates, performance-based payment models, and bonuses and penalties
    • Challenges in implementing new fiscal models, such as estimating costs, anticipating risk, achieving funding flexibility, and managing cash flow
    • Lessons learned

    Examples from States that have instituted privatization measures are included.

    Paper #3, Evolving Roles of Public and Private Agencies in Privatized Child Welfare Systems, explores the transition of case management functions from public to private agencies and the sharing and division of roles and responsibilities after privatization. The paper covers:

    • A brief history of privatization
    • The transition to privatized case management, including the preparation and training of public and private child welfare workers
    • Specific examples of how jurisdictions in seven States have divided case management responsibilities related to children in out-of-home care
    • States' experiences using State Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS) in jurisdictions where foster care has been privatized

    While the experiences and challenges of transitioning to privatization have varied among jurisdictions, all report the importance of preparation, communication, flexibility, and clearly defined roles and processes.

    Related Items

    • Children's Bureau Express wrote about the first paper in this series in "Assessing Readiness for a Privatized Child Welfare System" (December 2007/January 2008).
    • Extensive information on privatization is available through the Children's Bureau's National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services at
  • Determining Children's Access to Benefits and Services

    Determining Children's Access to Benefits and Services

    Two new research briefs use longitudinal data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) to explore the provision of services for children in out-of-home care.

    Estimates of Supplemental Security Income Eligibility for Children in Out-of-Home Placements examined Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility among children in out-of-home placements such as foster care. A child may be eligible for SSI if he or she has a physical or mental condition that results in severe and long-term disability. Data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) show that an average of 5.3 percent of children living in foster care in 2005 received SSI.

    An analysis of NSCAW data indicated that a large percentage of children in the foster care system are potentially eligible to receive SSI, and this percentage is significantly higher than current rates reported in AFCARS data. The report concludes that routine screenings of children in foster care for health and psychological conditions could result in many more children being identified as eligible for SSI and might also improve links to other services that could benefit the children in the long term. (PDF - 517 KB)

    Does Substantiation of Child Maltreatment Relate to Child Well-Being and Service Receipt? examined measures of well-being for children in substantiated and unsubstantiated maltreatment cases. Children in both types of cases had similar scores on well-being measures, yet caseworkers usually believed that children in substantiated cases needed more services for health problems, emotional or behavior problems, and special education than children in unsubstantiated cases.

    The study concludes that children involved in CPS investigations have substantial unmet mental health and special education needs that likely need further attention, regardless of the maltreatment investigation outcome. (PDF - 381 KB)

    Both research briefs were developed by the Administration for Children and Families Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE). Additional briefs focus on the characteristics of children in foster care, provisions of services to children and their families, prevalence of special health care needs, and use of early intervention services. The full list is available on the OPRE website:

  • Update on Child Welfare Law Certification

    Update on Child Welfare Law Certification

    Eight jurisdictions now offer training and certification for attorneys to become credentialed as Child Welfare Law Specialists. Since the first 85 attorneys were certified in 2006 by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), the certification program has continued to expand. Applicants for certification participate in NACC's comprehensive child welfare law competency process that assesses experience, continuing education, peer reviews, writing samples, and performance on a national child welfare law exam. Certification demonstrates that an attorney is well qualified to represent children, parents, and agencies in child maltreatment and dependency cases.

    "Specialization legitimizes child welfare law as a true, tested legal specialty and validates our work while improving legal services to children, families, and State agencies, and we are very optimistic about the future of this profession," said Marvin Ventrell, NACC President/CEO.

    The American Bar Association recognized child welfare law as a specialty in 2001, and in 2002 the Children's Bureau awarded a 3-year $600,000 grant to NACC to establish a program to certify lawyers who work in abuse and neglect cases as Child Welfare Law Specialists. The objective of the program was to help achieve safety, permanency, and well-being for children through improved legal representation. The grant supported NACC's pilot program for certification in California, Michigan, and New Mexico. Since then, training and certification have been introduced in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

    For more information on NACC's certification program for Child Welfare Law Specialists, visit the NACC website:

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Taking a Comprehensive Approach to Child Abuse Prevention

    Taking a Comprehensive Approach to Child Abuse Prevention

    Pathway to the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect is an online resource that provides a comprehensive approach to the prevention of child abuse through examples of effective actions that have been used to change policies, implement programs, build infrastructure, establish connections, and allocate resources.

    Authors Lisbeth Schorr and Vicky Marchand place a strong emphasis on acting strategically across disciplines, systems, and jurisdictions to reduce the cost of abuse and neglect and to promote thriving children, families, and communities. The chapters are organized by six broad goals:

    • Children and youth are nurtured, safe, and engaged.
    • Families are strong and connected.
    • Identified families can access services and supports.
    • Identified families are free from substance abuse and mental illness.
    • Communities are caring and responsive.
    • Vulnerable communities have capacity to respond.

    For each goal, there are specific actions to address the issue, with examples of programs and policy initiatives, indicators for measuring progress, ingredients for effective implementation, rationale for believing that identified actions are likely to contribute to desired outcomes, and evidence from research documenting that identified actions did contribute to achieving targeted outcomes.

    This publication was funded by the California Department of Social Services, Children and Families Division Office of Child Abuse Prevention. It is intended for use by policymakers, individual practitioners, representatives from government programs, and community-based organizations. (PDF - 3,646 KB)

  • Key Findings From Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives

    Key Findings From Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives

    Increased sources of funding for responsible fatherhood initiatives, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds, have allowed States to set up programs to help low-income nonresident fathers find better-paying jobs and pay child support consistently. A new issue brief from the Urban Institute examines the lessons learned from five federally funded fatherhood initiatives that were implemented during the 1990s and early 2000s.

    The brief provides a description of these initiatives and identifies key findings by program. These initiatives include the Young Unwed Fathers Project, Parents' Fair Share, Welfare-to-Work Grants Program, Responsible Fatherhood Programs, and Partners for Fragile Families.

    Although some of the lessons learned differ from program to program, there was a degree of overlap that suggests the need for a comprehensive range of services to help low-income nonresident fathers. These findings include:

    • Low-income fathers and mothers face similar and significant barriers.
    • Recruitment and enrollment are key challenges.
    • Being a good father is important to nonresident fathers.
    • Programs had difficulty establishing specific employment services.
    • Child support-related services are a critical program component.
    • Co-parenting issues need to be addressed.
    • Lack of long-term sustainability inhibits the development of program capacity and innovation.

    Ten Key Findings From Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives, by Karin Martinson and Demetra Nightingale, is available on the Urban Institute website: (PDF - 90 KB)

    Related Item

    More fatherhood resources are available on the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse website:


  • Norris Consulting Group Funding Listings

    Norris Consulting Group Funding Listings

    A general-purpose listing of funding sources is available at no cost on the Norris Consulting website. The list includes hundreds of grant announcements with information about eligibility, amount, and deadlines. In addition, anyone can subscribe to receive monthly email alerts about new resources.

  • National CASA Magazine

    National CASA Magazine

    The Connection, a quarterly magazine developed by National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), is designed to keep CASA programs, volunteers, and the public aware of current news and developments affecting CASA advocacy for abused and neglected children.

    The Winter 2008 issue includes a cover story titled, "Count the Ways to Encourage Child Resilience," which discusses the roles nature and other factors, such as positive and consistent adult contact, play in the level of resilience in children. An essay submitted by the 2007 National CASA’s Advocate of the Year, a youth editorial on resilience written by a foster care alumnus, and a message from the National CASA president can be found in the Voices & Viewpoints web section. Readers also may explore Regular Features for information on association and program updates, current news and research in the child welfare field, and tips for volunteers.

  • Support for Young Scholars Studying Youth

    Support for Young Scholars Studying Youth

    The William T. Grant Foundation is holding its 28th annual competition for its Scholars Program, which is designed to support promising researchers in the early stages of their youth-oriented research careers. The foundation is interested in funding research on the settings of youth (aged 8–25), including schools, youth-serving organizations, neighborhoods, families, and peer groups. Eligible candidates should be early-career researchers at nonprofit organizations.

    Four to six scholars will each receive $350,000 over 5 years. Awards will be made to the applicants' organizations. The deadline for applications is July 9, 2008. For more information, visit the foundation's website:

  • Improving Relative Search and Engagement

    Improving Relative Search and Engagement

    A new guide from ChildFocus helps child welfare agencies perform more effective searches for relatives of children involved with the child welfare system and better engage extended family members throughout the child welfare process. The guide is organized around the following five topics:

    • Guiding principles and values of relative search
    • Building a strong policy framework to support relative search
    • Making relative search manageable for staff, technology, and cost
    • Valuing family connections
    • Effectively using Internet searches

    Descriptions of State and local relative search and engagement efforts are provided throughout the guide along with links to documents, checklists, and other tools being used in jurisdictions across the country.

    Find the full publication, Making "Relative Search" Happen: A Guide to Finding and Involving Relatives at Every Stage of the Child Welfare Process, on the ChildFocus website: (PDF - 471 KB)

  • Grandfamilies Resource Center

    Grandfamilies Resource Center

    A new website for grandparents and other relatives raising children ("grandfamilies") offers information on State laws and policies that may impact their circumstances. Visitors to the website can access a searchable database of State laws and pending legislation. The easily accessed database also may serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, attorneys, advocates, and others interested in child welfare policy and law.

    The database will continue to be enhanced with regulations, policy manuals, practice information, and other Internet resources. The website is a joint project of Casey Family Programs, the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law, and Generations United.

    Related Item

    Kinship caregivers, grandfamilies, and child welfare personnel who work with these families may be interested in reading the online newsletter Kinship Reporter from the Child Welfare League of America. Two issues of the newsletter have been published, and they include a variety of articles that address the issue of kinship care from national as well as personal perspectives.

  • Trauma Training Toolkit

    Trauma Training Toolkit

    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) recently released the Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit, a resource that gives child welfare workers the basic knowledge, skills, and values they need when working with children in the child welfare system who have experienced traumatic stress. It also helps workers use this knowledge to support children's safety, permanency, and well-being through case analysis and corresponding interventions tailored for them and their biological and resource families. Topics addressed in the training include:

    • Types of traumatic stress
    • Prevalence of traumatic stress among children in the child welfare system
    • Impact of trauma on children
    • Nine essential elements of trauma-informed child welfare practice
    • Collaboration with trauma-informed providers

    The website offers a variety of resources to be used in conjunction with the toolkit, including a complete trainer's guide, PowerPoint presentation slides, numerous supplemental handouts, and an audio file of a child's 911 emergency call to be used in a training activity.

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.

  • Using E-Learning for Staff Training

    Using E-Learning for Staff Training

    E-learning, or the delivery of education using the Internet and other distance technologies, is the focus of the February 2008 issue of the newsletter Training Matters. E-learning is an increasingly popular approach for delivering needed training to child welfare staff because it offers the potential for reducing classroom time, travel time, and travel costs. Newsletter articles address some of the specific e-learning opportunities available to North Carolina's child welfare workforce, as well as more general information about distance learning.

    Training Matters is produced by the North Carolina Division of Social Services Family Support and Child Welfare Services Statewide Training Partnership, an organization dedicated to developing and delivering competency-based, job-relevant, accessible child welfare training. The current issue is available online:

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through August 2008 include:



    • FFTA 22nd Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care
      Foster Family-Based Treatment Association
      July 13–16, The Woodlands, TX
    • The 11th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference
      Making IT Work: Achieving Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being for Youth

      National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology
      July 21–23, Washington, DC
    • International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference
      Family Research Laboratory and the Crimes Against Children Research Center
      July 27–29, Portsmouth, NH
    • 34th Annual NACAC Conference
      North American Council on Adoptable Children
      July 31–August 2, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


    • 31st National Juvenile and Family Law Conference
      National Association of Counsel for Children
      August 3–6, Savannah, GA
    • Scaling the Summit Institute
      Western Regional Recruitment and Retention Project of the Butler Institute for Families at the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, and the Children's Bureau
      August 5–6, Denver, CO

    Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: