September/October 2011Vol. 12, No. 7Spotlight on Program Improvement Plans
CBX spotlights States' Program Improvement Plans (PIPs), with articles on three States at various junctures in the PIP process.
- New Hampshire Uses Practice Model to Build PIP
New Hampshire Uses Practice Model to Build PIP
The New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJS) are enthusiastic about implementing their approved Program Improvement Plan (PIP) and bringing about positive change for New Hampshire’s children and families. The PIP outlines child welfare improvements the DCYF and DJJS will implement over the next several years to address issues identified in the State’s recent Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). Staff confidence about the PIP stems from the collaborative development process and the strong connection between the PIP and the DCYF/DJJS Practice Model.
DCYF and DJJS began their PIP planning long before the CFSR. More importantly, PIP planning occurred simultaneously with the development of the Practice Model, a project supported by the Northeast and Caribbean Child Welfare Implementation Center. A variety of stakeholders—including workers, youth, parents, law enforcement, the courts, and residential providers—contributed to the Practice Model design (and later to the development of the PIP). The resulting Practice Model provides both a solid framework and specific strategies for addressing areas needing improvement highlighted in the CFSR while enhancing existing strengths. Both the Practice Model and PIP are centered on enhancing family engagement through their motto of "Family Voice, Family Choice." The following themes resound in both the PIP and New Hampshire’s Practice model:
- Enhanced family engagement strategies to incorporate both structural and clinical improvements.
- In an effort to move the Division's assessment process to an evidence-informed Solution-Based Casework (SBC) approach, the Family Assessment and Inclusive Reunification (FAIR) program was created for out-of-home cases. A FAIR meeting is held 10 days after removing a child from the home, and the goal is to engage the family and other team members in an intensive, collaborative discussion regarding the safety, permanency, and well-being of the child or children. Subsequent FAIR meetings are held at scheduled intervals.
- For in-home cases, Family Team Conferencing has become New Hampshire’s restorative practice approach to achieving permanency through expanded family engagement in case planning.
- The Youth Action Pool organizes statewide youth advisory meetings for strategy sharing among youth to positively influence DCYF and DJJS adolescent practices. This effort with youth has evolved naturally to join with the Better Together with Birth Parents and the Framework for Collaboration initiative, recently developed to create equal, mutually respectful partnerships between staff, allies, and parents, with the goal of positively changing the child welfare system.
- Expanded safety and risk assessment mechanisms to include a "Signs of Safety" approach that incorporates strengths-based case planning rooted in family understanding about specific changes required to improve safety. DCYF also will enhance its use of Structured Decision Making to promote consistency across cases and reduce ambiguity for workers faced with difficult decisions.
- Promoted nurturing of the organizational culture and climate, especially around supervisor standards, leadership, and coaching. Because achieving outcomes in SBC requires significant commitment from supervisors, new training efforts have been employed, and SBC has been incorporated into the revised Supervisory Standards. Once supervisors are trained, they coach field staff to support implementation of the Practice Model and SBC and, ultimately, strengthen the workforce.
An exciting aspect of the Practice Model is that staff from all levels of the organization developed the core beliefs and principles, which apply not only to DCYF, but also its partner DJJS. Under the umbrella of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, both DCYF and DJJS serve children and families. While the two divisions are autonomous, they collaborate in important ways, including sharing a case management information system.
"The structure of our partnership is considered unique, but it's no secret that the kids in the juvenile court system overlap with the kids in the child welfare system," commented Christine Tappan, DCYF Administrator. Her sentiments were echoed by Nancy Pickett, Child Welfare Program Specialist with the Federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF): "From a Regional Office perspective, ACF and other States have an opportunity to learn from the work New Hampshire is doing with DJJS."
Both groups know the importance of data systems and data tracking for demonstrating outcomes. DCYF's quarterly case review process actually mimics, on a smaller scale, the Federal CFSR process by collecting and analyzing data at sites across the State. At each review, 20 to 30 random cases are pulled and reviewed by a team of staff from different areas of the State. The weeklong process involves interviews with stakeholders and families and standard questions for stakeholder focus groups. There are two levels of quality assurance:
- The Bureau of Organizational Learning and Quality Improvement (BOLQI) staff evaluate rating tools to ensure that case ratings are justified.
- Field administrators from both DCYF and DJJS focus on practice issues and trends in specific offices or regions that would improve outcomes.
Preliminary performance outcome data are reported to the District Office supervisors and Field Administrators on the last day of the onsite review. Finally, DCYF- and DJJS-led debriefs provide regions with a look at their strengths and challenges, as well as data comparisons to their previous review and to the State’s CFSR ratings. At that point, BOLQI staff use an Appreciative Inquiry process to work with the staff and stakeholders in the region to create a picture of changes they would like to see.
Processes like the quarterly case reviews will be vital as New Hampshire prepares to implement its PIP. Armed with its Practice Model, DCYF and DJJS feel confident and equipped to complete the PIP process. Noted Tappan, "This PIP will truly be a tool to drive change. It won't be left on the shelf. Everyone knows the PIP content because it mirrors our Practice Model. That's why we're so confident this time around."
To learn more about New Hampshire's child welfare programs, visit the Department of Health and Human Services website:
Many thanks to the following individuals for providing the information for this article: Christine Tappan, DCYF BOLQI Administrator; Kimberly Crowe, CFSR Coordinator; Sherri Levesque, Quality Improvement Supervisor; and Nancy Pickett, Child Welfare Program Specialist, ACF, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Enhanced family engagement strategies to incorporate both structural and clinical improvements.
- From Placement to Permanency, Indiana's PIP Story
From Placement to Permanency, Indiana's PIP Story
With renewed emphasis on keeping children safely with their families, Indiana's Department of Child Services (DCS) has completed implementation of its Program Improvement Plan (PIP). The PIP is a Federal requirement to improve child welfare services in areas identified by the State's Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). After achieving 133 PIP benchmarks, DCS celebrated with a ceremony to tear down the "wall," a poster listing PIP compliance steps on the office door of Deputy Director of Field Operations David Judkins. The ceremony was the most recent event in a process that began with the Statewide Assessment process in 2006, followed by the onsite portion of the CFSR in 2007, and the PIP approval in 2009.
One of the hallmarks of the Indiana PIP is the thorough collection and analysis of child welfare data. A SharePoint (or online repository) of helpful reports was developed and made available to all field staff that measures the six national standards as well as case manager visits, practice model compliance, entries and exits, and more. Among the myriad data collection efforts are:
- Monthly Qualitative Service Reviews (QSRs). A QSR team of evaluators visits one of the State's 18 regions each month to interview stakeholders and review 24+ cases, which are scored against 22 indicators. At the QSR conclusion, a 2-day Ground Round meeting is convened to present results to staff and stakeholders, who use the data to develop strategies and goals for improvement.
- Quarterly Reflective Practice Surveys (RPSs) and Quality Assurance Reviews (QARs). For the RPSs, supervisors assess each worker's case management skills by interviewing families, attending Child and Family Team Meetings, and observing each worker on one case every quarter. Supervisors use the results to communicate with workers about their abilities, strengths, and challenges. A QAR is conducted in conjunction with the RPS and is designed to evaluate systemic factors in each local office by reviewing for compliance with Federal and State laws, regulations, policies, and social work best practice.
- Indiana Child Welfare Information System (ICWIS) Service Tracking. This program tracks the date when service referrals are made against the date when services are actually administered.
- Monitoring Regional Services. A regional service council met quarterly to review data and discuss the services needed, available, and administered. The success of this particular data collection system led to the creation of a team of regional coordinators who now evaluate service providers on a quarterly basis.
These and other robust data systems were instrumental in helping DCS identify and launch a new initiative by pointing out the great number of children in out-of-home care. Deputy Director Judkins indicates that the success thus far has been because of innovative leadership, "Director James Payne always challenges us to improve, and we measure that by achieving better outcomes for children."
In 2011, DCS implemented its Safely Home Families First initiative. "Indiana is nationally recognized for its foster care programs. We were doing a great job of something we shouldn't have been doing," Judkins said. "It was an 'aha' moment for DCS. We figured we could achieve better outcomes by keeping kids with their families." That's when DCS began the move toward increasing in-home services and relative care.
As explained by Regina Smith, CFSR Program Manager, "The implementation of the PIP along with the Safely Home Families First Initiative is helping to move DCS from being a placement system to a permanency system." Some of the features of the data-driven initiative include:
- Strong reliance on early Child and Family Team Meetings to ensure that families are involved in case planning
- Emphasis on finding and engaging fathers and paternal relatives
- Documentation of caseworker visits
- Training on strengths-based protective factors, the practice model, concurrent planning, Independent Living services, and more
- Outreach to partners such as courts to let them know about the new initiative and its goals
Since the initiative's kickoff, relative placement has increased and removals have decreased. Also, the number of children in congregate care has reached a new low.
In addition to its emphasis on data, Indiana's PIP incorporates many elements from DCS's Defined Practice Model, which was developed over 4 years and centers around staff training on five core skills: teaming, engaging, assessing, planning, and intervening (TEAPI). Angela Green, Policy Director, noted, "Our practice model is our goal for what type of practice we want in the field. The PIP works in parallel with the practice model and reflects where we were going anyway. That makes it easy to continue."
To learn more about Indiana's child welfare programs, visit the Indiana DCS website:
To view a presentation on Safely Home Families First, visit:
http://www.in.gov/dcs/files/DaveJudkinsPresentationtoProviders542011.pdf (357 KB)
Many thanks to David Judkins, Deputy Director of Field Operations, Regina Smith, CFSR Program Manager, and Angela Green, Policy Director, for providing the information for this article.
- Idaho Soars to Success With PIP Completion
Idaho Soars to Success With PIP Completion
Using a teamwork approach that relied on the direct involvement and commitment of the State's regional offices and individual workers, Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) successfully closed out its second-round Program Improvement Plan (PIP) in May 2011. The PIP is a Federal requirement to improve child welfare services in areas identified by the State's Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). The completion of the process was celebrated in Boise with a profusion of kites that reflected the PIP theme of "Soaring to Success." Across the State, regions held similar celebrations, using "parties in a box" prepared by Central Office DHW.
Shirley Alexander, the State's Child Welfare Program Manager, cited the collaborative nature as the key to the Idaho PIP process: "We all knew where we were going, and we knew that the individual social workers would have to do the work to get there. It takes a person committed to changing their own practices in order to change the system. We asked them not to do more—just to do it differently—and we gave them a picture of what that 'different' would look like. It truly was a strengths-based process."
Idaho began its PIP process in tandem with the Statewide Assessment process, inviting many of the same 85 stakeholders and community partners, including social workers, foster and birth parents, law enforcement, university partners, contractors, youth, and more. At the kickoff meeting, small groups of stakeholders discussed the areas needing improvement from the recent Child and Family Services Review and were able to group the issues for PIP planning. Five themes emerged and were used as a framework for communicating common goals to regions and workers.
The five themes and some of the related PIP strategies included the following:
- Maintain children safely in their homes. To decrease the number of children removed from home by law enforcement, the DHW trained officers on safety and risk factors and developed a decision tree to help officers determine when children could remain in the home.
- Engage families. Focus was placed on increasing the quality and quantity of contact with families. Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) was promoted; after realizing positive results with FGDM, use of this practice jumped from 40 percent to 90 percent.
- Promote placement stability. Working with the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections on concurrent engagement and family finding, DHW expedited its foster care licensure process for relative or kinship parents, which resulted in a spike in relative placement from 17 percent to 30 percent.
- Enhance child permanency. DHW worked with courts and the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues to develop a 90-day concurrent planning form as well as a legal representation team and court training for counties where a lack of consistent legal representation led to poorer outcomes.
- Provide organizational structure to support and implement practice changes. DHW used process mapping of the adoption and foster care licensing process to identify 22 items that needed to change, including evaluation of home studies, the need for a dual-licensure process, and the lack of a web-based application for foster parent applications, to improve timeliness to permanency.
For the PIP kickoff, Alexander and the Division Administrator met with the State's seven regional offices to discuss the five themes. Laminated cards listing the themes were issued to social workers to keep on their desks; as the goals were met, new cards were mailed out with four, three, two, and then one goal remaining. Every social worker always knew where Idaho stood in its PIP process. The DHW Central Office made more regional visits at the PIP midpoint, and regions that struggled with the goals received additional visits and training specific to their problem areas.
Throughout the process, data were available to all workers through a shared drive. Regional outcomes were displayed in green, yellow, or red as soon as a user accessed the Division's InfoNet. The high visibility promoted compliance and, more importantly, said Alexander, it "allowed regional offices to see that compliance was possible." When a regional office struggled to meet benchmarks, it was asked to develop a Regional Improvement Plan, a parallel process to the State PIP.
The quantity of data and the increased access to data reflected the self-evaluative nature of this PIP process. Compared to Idaho's first PIP, this second-round PIP concentrated more on local change and on involving regions and workers in tracking data.
This focus on collaboration with individual workers and regions and on tracking data to show outcomes paid off for Idaho. Many of the new strategies will be maintained because workers and regions have been able to document their positive improvements. Playing on the kite theme, Alexander commented that, "While workers know how hard it is to keep their kites in the air, they’ve also shown that willingness to adopt new methods and work hard pay off for Idaho's children and families."
To learn more about Idaho's child welfare programs, visit the Idaho DHW website:
Many thanks to Shirley Alexander, Idaho Child Welfare Program Manager, and Kathy Morris, Idaho Child Welfare Program Specialist, for providing the information for this article.
- CFSRs Reveal Promising Approaches
CFSRs Reveal Promising Approaches
Now that the second round of the Child and Families Services Reviews (CFSRs) has wrapped up, strategies for improving child welfare systems emerging from the CFSRs are being posted on the Children's Bureau website. The list includes promising approaches both by State and by topic, ranging from an innovative foster parent recruitment program in Virginia to Ohio's School Success program. Check the website for updates:
Spotlight on Incorporating Youth Engagement and Lived Experience Into Child Welfare Practice
Spotlight on the Title IV-E Prevention Program and the Family First Prevention Services Act
News From the Children's Bureau
This month, we continue our Centennial Series with a brief look at the impact of immigration on children's issues in the early 20th century. We're also pleased to unveil the new CB logo and to bring you Commissioner Samuels' recent testimony to Congress. Read on for more new reports and items on the Children's Bureau website.
- Waiving Nonsafety Licensing Requirements for Relative Caregivers
Waiving Nonsafety Licensing Requirements for Relative Caregivers
The Children's Bureau recently issued a new report to Congress that provides information from all 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia on their use of the licensing waiver option provided by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. This act allows States, on a case-by-case basis, to waive some of the non-safety-related licensing requirements for kinship caregivers who choose to become licensed foster care parents and receive foster care payments.
The States provided data for fiscal year (FY) 2009:
- Fifteen States reported that they did not permit any waiving of licensing requirements for relative foster parents that year; another 11 States did not have systems in place to be able to report on the waivers.
- Overall, States reported placing 115,594 children in either licensed or unlicensed relative homes in FY 2009.
- Thirty-two States provided enough information to show that 16 percent of all foster care placements were with licensed kin; another 14 percent were with unlicensed kin.
- More than 800 waivers were issued to kinship caregivers to waive non-safety-related requirements.
- The requirements that were waived most often for relative foster parents related to sleeping arrangements or space requirements of the home, although States also waived some requirements related to training, income, age of applicant, definition of relative, and more.
States also reported on the benefits of the waiver option, which allowed more children to be placed more quickly with relatives. Reported advantages included placement stability, improved child well-being and reduced trauma, the ability to keep siblings together, and improved permanency. States also reported strategies for increasing licensing among kinship caregivers.
The Report to Congress on States' Use of Waivers of Non-Safety Licensing Standards for Relative Foster Family Homes is available on the Children's Bureau website:
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/statesuse/statesuse.pdf (277 KB)
- AFCARS Shows Continued Drop in Foster Care Numbers
AFCARS Shows Continued Drop in Foster Care Numbers
In July, the Children's Bureau posted new statistics on the numbers of children involved with the child welfare system. Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #18 provides preliminary estimates for fiscal year (FY) 2010 and indicates that, as of September 30, 2010:
- There were 408,425 children in foster care.
- The average age of children in foster care was 9.4 years.
- The largest percentage of children (48 percent) in foster care were in foster family homes, followed by 26 percent in relative family placements.
- The largest percentage of children (51 percent) had reunification with parents or primary caregivers as their placement goal.
- There were 107,011 children waiting to be adopted.
- Of the children in foster care, 41 percent were White, 29 percent were Black, and 21 percent were Hispanic.
- Of the children adopted from foster care that year, 53 percent were adopted by a foster parent and 32 percent were adopted by another relative.
The updated Trends report, which compiles data from FY 2002 through FY 2010, shows that the number of children in foster care dropped during that period from 523,000 in 2002 to 408,000 in 2010 (numbers are rounded). The number of children served by child welfare also has dropped, from 800,000 in 2002 to 662,000 in 2010.
Find the latest AFCARS reports on the Children's Bureau website:
- Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #18:
- Trends in Foster Care and Adoption FY 2002–FY 2010:
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/trends_june2011.pdf (233 KB)
- Commissioner Samuels Testifies Before Congressional Committee
Commissioner Samuels Testifies Before Congressional Committee
Improving outcomes for abused and neglected children was the focus of testimony presented on June 16, 2011, before the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Human Resources by Bryan Samuels, Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr. Samuels' remarks to the subcommittee provided background information on federally supported State child welfare services as the subcommittee considers the reauthorization of the Federal title IV-B program, including the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF). Mr. Samuels also provided his recommendations for amendments to the program that would enhance the delivery of more effective services and lead to better outcomes for children served by the child welfare system.
Specific recommendations included:
- Reauthorization of the title IV-B Child Welfare Services Program
- Reauthorization of State Court Improvement Program (CIP) grants, with a focus on these key areas:
- Raising the visibility of concurrent planning
- Reducing the time to adoption after parental rights have been terminated
- Broadening policies that provide for more opportunities for youth to participate in child welfare hearings
- Improving understanding of the impacts of trauma
- Creation of a Tribal CIP
- Repurposing title IV-E funds mandated for regional planning grants focused on substance abuse to caseworker improvements to address the mental health needs of children in foster care
The full text of Commissioner Samuels' remarks is available on the website of the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Legislative Affairs and Budget:
- 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:
- The 2011 T&TA Directory: This lists all 31 members of the Children's Bureau's T&TA Network and provides brief descriptions.
- Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance: This is a description of the title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP), which is a formula grant that helps States and Tribes that opt to provide guardianship assistance payments for the care of children by relatives.
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/state_tribal/guardianship_assist.pdf (44 KB)
- ACYF-CB-PI-11-07: This Program Instruction (PI) provides information to States and Tribes regarding changes to the regulations at 45 CFR Part 95 related to the Advance Planning Document (APD) process used to obtain approval of Federal financial participation for acquiring automated data processing equipment and services.
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/pi/2011/pi1107.pdf (249 KB)
- ACYF-CB-PI-11-08: This PI defines what the Children's Bureau expects a title IV-E agency to provide in its APD when requesting a waiver to use a commercial-off-the-shelf software product designed for the title IV-E or title IV-B programs.
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/pi/2011/pi1108.pdf (68 KB)
- ACYF-CB-IM-11-04: This Information Memorandum (IM) describes contract terms and conditions and their potential impact on a State's or Tribe's (agency) procurement activities and identifies Federal contract provisions required in all procurement documents funded through one or more of the programs identified in the APD regulations at 45 CFR Part 95 Subpart F.
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/im/2011/im1104.pdf (99 KB)
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- The 2011 T&TA Directory: This lists all 31 members of the Children's Bureau's T&TA Network and provides brief descriptions.
- New Reports Synthesize Waiver Demonstrations
New Reports Synthesize Waiver Demonstrations
Two new publications from the Children's Bureau evaluate the results of child welfare waiver demonstration projects, in which certain requirements for using title IV-B and IV-E funds were waived to give States more flexibility in spending. States that carried out the waiver demonstration projects used some of their Federal money to explore better ways of helping children and families involved with child welfare. The reports look at two sets of projects:
- Subsidized guardianship projects that used IV-E funds to subsidize caregivers (usually kin) who took legal and physical custody of children
- Flexible funding waiver demonstrations that included a variety of innovative approaches, including prevention services, family preservation, concrete services, workforce support, and more
Synthesis of Findings: Subsidized Guardianship Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations evaluates projects in the 11 States that have used waivers to subsidize guardians. The report addresses:
- Eligibility criteria for the demonstrations
- Programmatic features
- Guardianship planning and casework process
- Evaluation methodologies
- Factors affecting the offer, acceptance, and exits to guardianship
- Cost analysis
The report also provides State-by-State outcomes and discusses lessons learned from the waiver demonstrations.
Synthesis of Findings: Title IV-E Flexible Funding Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations looks at ongoing waiver programs in six States that have used their flexibility to fund a variety of programs, including family finding, parent education, case-specific concrete services (such as housing assistance), respite care, visitation services, and family team meetings. The report covers:
- Key characteristics of the demonstrations
- Summaries of process and outcome evaluation findings
- Cost analysis
The report also discusses lessons learned from the demonstrations and provides perspectives on strengthening the evaluation design of these projects.
Find the reports on the Children's Bureau website:
- Synthesis of Findings: Subsidized Guardianship Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations is available at
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/2011/subsidized.pdf (273 KB)
- Synthesis of Findings: Title IV-E Flexible Funding Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations is available at
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/2011/flexible.pdf (341 KB)
- HHS/ACF Interoperability Toolkit Enhances Service Integration
HHS/ACF Interoperability Toolkit Enhances Service Integration
As States prepare for various technological changes and upgrades associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) have released a toolkit titled Your Essential Interoperability Toolkit: An ACF/HHS Resource Guide.
The toolkit aims to facilitate greater communication and service integration between State agencies and their health partners. States will soon deploy new health insurance exchanges and eligibility systems that will increase coverage to more than 30 million Americans beginning in 2014. Collaboration is more important now than ever before, because many people eligible for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, or insurance through these new insurance exchanges also may be eligible for various human services programs.
The toolkit provides up-to-date information and resources to support the efforts of workers and agencies in order to better serve clients and achieve better outcomes.
View the toolkit on the ACF website:
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/interop/toolkit.pdf (3.12 MB)
Read an introductory letter on the Interoperability Toolkit by Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families David Hansell:
- Children's Bureau Debuts New Logo
Children's Bureau Debuts New Logo
As the Children's Bureau prepares to celebrate 100 years of service next year, a new logo is being introduced on the website, at conferences and key events, and on many other messages and documents. The new logo shows a profile of children's faces against a background of the red and white stripes of the American flag. The logo represents the Children's Bureau's history, legacy, and contributions to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families since April 9, 1912.
- Centennial Series: Immigrant Children
Centennial Series: Immigrant Children
This is the fourth article in our Centennial Series, as we count down to the Children's Bureau's 100th anniversary next year. These articles address some of the social issues, practices, and policies at the turn of the last century that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.
The United States experienced an influx of immigrant families around the turn of the 20th century, when large numbers of families from Southern and Eastern Europe arrived seeking the economic opportunities provided by the Industrial Revolution. In fact, from 1892 to 1900, more than 3 million immigrants moved to the United States. The majority of these families landed in urban areas with low-rent housing and close proximity to factories. In New York and Chicago alone, nearly four-fifths of school-aged children had foreign-born parents, according to the 1890 U.S. Census (Reef, 2002).
Adjusting to life in their new country was often difficult, and poverty was prevalent among immigrant families. Many children were expected to contribute to the economic welfare of their family by taking on work rather than attending school. Immigrant children often accompanied their parents to factories where they worked long hours for low wages (Reef, 2002). Other children sold newspapers or other goods on the streets, risking exposure to crime and disease. The parental expectation for children to work was not necessarily tied to the family's life in a new country; many children in Europe labored on farms, and their education was often not a family priority (Lassonde, 2000).
The practice of sending immigrant children to work was at odds with the education reforms occurring in the United States in the early 1900s. During this time, most States passed compulsory-education laws, and the country saw a dramatic increase in the number of public schools, especially in metropolitan areas. Classrooms in cities that saw the greatest number of immigrants eventually had unmanageable classroom sizes as many children assimilated and left work to enter school.
For immigrant families in which the children attended school, a divide sometimes occurred between the generations. Some adults who had not attended schools in their home country considered schooling unnecessary for their own children. Immigrant schoolchildren, however, were assimilating in ways that their parents could not, and the public schools were key to their acculturation.
Chicago's Hull House, founded in the late 1800s by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, was one of the city's main immigrant receiving areas during this time. In less than two decades, the original Hull House mansion grew to 13 buildings that attracted thousands of people by providing social and educational programs (Johnson, 2005). The organization was active in providing aid to child immigrants. In fact, among the first services was a kindergarten, which offered schooling to children while their mothers worked (Polikoff, 1999). The scope of the organization expanded over time and began to sponsor classes, hold public concerts, offer free lectures, and operate social clubs for both children and adults.
In 1908, a group of Hull House women led by Jane Addams formed the Immigrants' Protective League. The group was formed to tackle immigration issues at the legislative level, where members lobbied for improved health care for immigrants, as well as fewer Federal immigration restrictions. The Hull House women also were instrumental in the campaign to persuade Congress to pass legislation to protect children. Their causes included issues that greatly affected child immigrants, such as child labor laws and education requirements (Johnson, 2005). Among these advocates from Hull House were Julia Lathrop, the first chief of the Children's Bureau, and Grace Abbott, Lathrop's successor.
Johnson, M. A. (2005). Hull House. In J. L. Reiff, A. D. Keating, & J. R. Grossman (Eds.), The electronic encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved from http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/615.html
Lassonde, S. A. (2000). Compulsory schooling and parent-adolescent relations. In P. S. Fass & M. A. Mason (Eds.), Childhood in America (pp. 142-145). New York, NY: New York University Press.
Polikoff, B. G. (1999). With one bold act: The story of Jane Addams. New York, NY: Boswell Books.
Reef, C. (2002). Childhood in America: An eyewitness history. New York, NY: Facts On File, Inc.
- CBX Survey Continues Through October
CBX Survey Continues Through October
We appreciate all the feedback we've received so far on our second-ever survey. We'll continue to collect data through October 28. Please tell us what you think about Children's Bureau Express by taking the short survey.
Click on the survey link in the right navigation bar to complete this brief questionnaire. We value your opinion!
Training and Technical Assistance Update
The Children's Bureau T&TA Network offers a number of new resources, addressing such topics as placement stability, systems of care, and making a transition plan.
- Mental Health Support for Parents in Systems of Care
Mental Health Support for Parents in Systems of Care
An issue brief from the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) addresses the complex needs of families in which both parents and children have mental or emotional illnesses. Drawing on the responses of 15 communities implementing systems of care (SOC) grants through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program, this issue brief explores how SOC principles and practices can be used to assess parental mental health needs, engage and support caregivers, and increase access to services.
Among the many barriers identified by the SOC communities was the unwillingness of parents to disclose their needs, mostly due to fear of judgment and the prevailing stigma of mental illness. Additionally, services were described as difficult to obtain due to lack of funding or a lack of appropriate services. Moreover, many SOC communities noted that intake processes often preclude a mental health inquiry, leaving the responsibility for identifying a need for such care in the hands of caregivers.
Several successful approaches to assessing potential mental health needs were highlighted and include:
- A framework for practice to guide staff and inform families on the importance of mental health assessment and services
- Family partners to support parents who may be more willing to open up to peers than to professionals
- Collaborative partnerships at all levels—between providers and family members and across agencies and systems—to promote a whole-family approach
The issue brief, Supporting Parents With Mental Health Needs in Systems of Care, by Barbara Friesen, Judith Katz-Leavy, and Joanne Nicholson, is available on the TA Partnership's website:
http://www.tapartnership.org/docs/Supporting%20Parents%20With%20Mental%20Health%20Needs%20Issue%20Brief.pdf (1.16 MB)
- Get Daily Child Welfare News!
Get Daily Child Welfare News!
Child Welfare Information Gateway now offers free subscriptions to "Child Welfare in the News"—short news items collected from news feeds around the world that pertain to child welfare. Subscribers receive a brief email listing every weekday morning, with stories categorized by State and country. Each listing includes one to two sentences of description and the link to the original source with the full story.
Subscribe through the Information Gateway website:
- Video and Action Guide From SOC Communities
Video and Action Guide From SOC Communities
The National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care (SOC) has just developed two resources that will soon be posted on the Information Gateway website: (1) a video series highlighting two communities that received SOC Federal grants and (2) a policy action guide.
The Family Engagement in Child Welfare Video Series showcases the experiences of two SOC communities that worked with birth parents and kin caregivers in paraprofessional roles. The videos offer unique insight into the key elements needed to make peer-to-peer family engagement programs successful. From the perspectives of family members, caseworkers, supervisors, and administrators, the videos provide an inside look at program achievements and benefits, as well as fears and challenges related to family involvement. The videos will be posted on September 2 on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
The Systems of Care Policy Action Guide is a capacity-building tool for identifying and advancing policy strategies to improve child welfare systems and practices. The guide provides a framework for thinking about child welfare policy options (e.g., legislation, multiparty agreements) and taking actions that promote an effective policy initiative. It provides printable assessment and planning documents for users to complete and share with partners and other stakeholders as they advance their policy initiatives. The guide will soon be available on the Information Gateway website:
- 2011 T&TA Network Directory Now Available
2011 T&TA Network Directory Now Available
The 2011 edition of the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network Directory is now online. The updated webpages and directory contain brief descriptions, websites, and contact information for the 31 network members.
The T&TA Network helps States, territories, Tribes, courts, and grantees meet Federal requirements related to child welfare. Network members also can provide assistance in improving outcomes for children and families as identified in States' Child and Family Services Reviews.
States can request help from the T&TA Network by contacting their Regional Offices.
Find the updated webpages and the link to the complete directory on the Children's Bureau website:
- More Updates From the T&TA Network
More Updates From the T&TA Network
The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:
- The Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center (ACCWIC) has produced a PowerPoint presentation that describes the "North Carolina R.E.A.P: Reaching Excellence and Accountability in Practice: ACCWIC Forum":
http://www.accwic.org/news_events/PDFs/2010_Files/North%20Carolina%20Presentation.pdf (665 KB)
- Child Welfare Information Gateway has published more new resources and updates:
- Understanding Child Welfare and the Courts (a new factsheet for families):
- Three updated publications: About CAPTA: A Legislative History (http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/about.cfm), Family Reunification: What the Evidence Shows (http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/issue_briefs/family_reunification), and Major Federal Legislation Concerned With Child Protection, Child Welfare, and Adoption (http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/otherpubs/majorfedlegis.cfm)
- A refreshed and updated web section on Interagency and Cross System Collaboration:
- Understanding Child Welfare and the Courts (a new factsheet for families):
- The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) will host a teleconference on September 14 at 10 a.m. PST, "Addressing Poverty as a Risk Factor in Child Neglect":
- The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NCROI) has instituted a Practice Model Peer Network to focus on issues associated with developing and implementing practice models:
NRCOI also has posted a schedule of fall webinars at http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/helpkids/tele.htm:
- September 29: Performance-Based Contracting and Quality Assurance: Building Systems to Support Success will highlight lessons learned by the Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services (QIC-PCW) about structuring and monitoring performance-based contracting in public-private partnerships.
- October 25: Resources for Supervisory Training will demonstrate the information on the NRCOI website about State approaches to child welfare supervisory training and support.
- November 29: Implementing and Sustaining Practice Models will showcase presenters from two States further along in implementation who will share the steps they took to move their practice model from paper into practice.
- The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) announces the kickoff of its National Webinar Series, which begins September 21 with "What Works for the Workforce: Leadership Competencies in Action":
- The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRCCWDT) has a "groupsite" available for discussions, blogs, events, jobs, email blasts, and more. Current topics under discussion include rules that agencies use for social networking sites and the statement from the Government Accountability Office that estimates of child fatalities are likely too low:
- The National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (FRIENDS) has posted slides and handouts from the recent webinar "Building Organizational Resilience: Bolstering Sustainability: Part 2":
- The National Resource Center for In-Home Services (NRC In-Home) has posted an annotated bibliography, Services for Pregnant and Parenting Youth in or Exiting Substitute Care:
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) has posted a number of new resources:
- "Organizational Self-Study on Educational Stability," an assessment tool to review educational provisions in the Fostering Connections Act:
- A new section on its website: Emancipating and/or Older Youth Connections, with resources from States and Tribes, evidence-based practice, and more:
- The audio recording and handouts for "Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare," a teleconference held July 13, 2011:
- "Organizational Self-Study on Educational Stability," an assessment tool to review educational provisions in the Fostering Connections Act:
- The National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUSKids (NRCRRFAP) has posted a new PowerPoint presentation, "Social Media Basics: Social Networking in Child Welfare," which includes the section "Using Social Media to Engage and Support Families, What AdoptUSKids Has Learned":
http://adoptuskids.org/images/documents/AdoptUSKids-Webinar-Slides-Social-Media-June-2011.pdf (5.26 MB)
NRCRRFAP also has published a tip sheet, Moving Toward Cultural Competence: Key Considerations to Explore:
www.adoptuskids.org/images/resourceCenter/Moving-Toward-Cultural-Competence.pdf (604 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Tribes (NRC4Tribes) has a newly redesigned website. It features announcements such as the Native American Youth Challenge program and its trio of Tribal gatherings that focus on the Fostering Connections Act, the third of which will happen in Minneapolis on September 13-14. Cohosts for the gatherings are the NRCOI and the NRCPFC:
- The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF) has posted a judicial bench card, Engaging Fathers in Child Protection Cases by Understanding Male Help-Seeking and Learning Styles:
http://fatherhoodqic.org/engaging_fathers_judge_card2.pdf (176 KB)
- The National Quality Improvement Center for the Representation of Children in Child Welfare (QIC ChildRep) has selected two partners to implement its Best Practice Model of Child Representation: the Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children and the Center for Children & Youth Justice (as staff to the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care):
- The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) TA Partnership Newsletter for June/July has articles about family-driven service delivery and governance, highlights on activities from system of care communities, and more:
The TA Partnership has updated its Crosswalk to Implementing Your Cooperative Agreement: 2011, a guide for first-year communities in implementing cooperative agreements in developing systems of care:
http://www.tapartnership.org/docs/Crosswalk.pdf (1.57 MB)
- The Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center (ACCWIC) has produced a PowerPoint presentation that describes the "North Carolina R.E.A.P: Reaching Excellence and Accountability in Practice: ACCWIC Forum":
- Transition Planning With Adolescents
Transition Planning With Adolescents
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 requires States to help youth develop a plan for transitioning to independent living during the 90 days before they leave foster care. To help States and agencies with the requirement, the National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) recently produced a new resource, Transition Planning With Adolescents: A Review of Principles and Practices Across Systems. The monograph includes a review of the literature identifying key elements of transition planning for youth not only in child welfare, but also in special education, mental health, and juvenile justice, as well as in other countries. A number of themes emerge from the literature review, and four successful practices are highlighted:
- The Transition to Independence Process system
- Person-centered planning
- Fostering self-determination
- Building resiliency
Programs in six States, some identified in an NRCYD national survey, are characterized as excelling in transition planning and briefly described.
This monograph was written by Dianna Walters, Marty Zanghi, Dorothy Ansell, Eprise Armstrong, and Kathy Sutter and is available on the NRCYD website:
http://www.nrcyd.ou.edu/publication-db/documents/transition-planning-with-adolescents.pdf (917 KB)
- Placement Stability Toolkit
Placement Stability Toolkit
The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) recently posted "A Web-Based Placement Stability Toolkit" designed to help States, Tribes, and agencies (1) identify challenges to providing stable foster care placements for children and (2) learn about effective practices that can increase placement stability. The toolkit includes:
- A self-assessment tool that can be used by organizations to determine their strengths and challenges related to placement stability for children in foster care
- An overview of placement stability in a question-and-answer format that also provides resources on this topic
- The three core components of placement stability (individualized assessment and placement services; recruitment, assessment, selection, and support of caregivers; and child welfare policies and practices)
Access the toolkit on the NRCPFC website:
Children's Bureau Grantee Updates
Three new site visit articles provide on-the-spot descriptions of different child welfare projects funded through Children's Bureau grants.
- Site Visit: Louisiana Kinship Integrated Service System
Site Visit: Louisiana Kinship Integrated Service System
In the fall of 2005, when the Greater New Orleans region was beginning its recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) realized it needed to improve services to kinship families involved with the child welfare system. After the hurricane, DCFS found disruption of kinship placements was higher in New Orleans than the rest of the State, and coordination between Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and child welfare services for kinship families was ineffective at coordinating services that would meet the varied needs of caregivers who are taking care of relative children.
To address these problems, DCFS applied for and was awarded a competitively competed discretionary grant from the Children's Bureau to develop the Louisiana Kinship Integrated Service System (LA KISS). LA KISS is a multilevel partnership between the State's child welfare and economic stability programs to improve outcomes for kinship families in New Orleans. DCFS recognized the need to reorganize how these two programs interact to better serve residents returning to the region following the hurricane's destruction.
To achieve its goal, LA KISS funded the cross-training of two child welfare and two economic support care managers providing direct services to kinship families; the training equipped them with strategies to improve families' access to and understanding of both systems. In addition, the project has focused heavily on establishing an integrated system of care across New Orleans DCFS offices, with the hope of replicating the system statewide when the project ends. Collaborative partners have been engaged throughout this system-building effort, including community-based organizations, private service providers, The Council on Aging, and other TANF and child welfare stakeholders.
Staff members have identified the following successful LA KISS strategies:
- Using a client-focused perspective that identifies and responds to families' needs
- Emphasizing relationship-building between care managers and families to engage them in services and help them view DCFS in a more positive light
- Sharing a new case management system and calendar for care managers to input data and monitor case progress
- Partnering with community-based organizations to establish accessible family service centers
To strengthen evidence of the project's effectiveness, DCFS randomly assigns families to receive services as part of the LA KISS project. The Louisiana State University School of Social Work Office of Social Service Research & Development is performing process and outcome evaluations of the project. Although the results are preliminary, surveys of care managers, kinship caregivers, and other stakeholders so far indicate the following:
- Services are more family-focused.
- Policies and procedures are explained more clearly.
- Community resource referrals are provided more frequently.
- Caregivers feel they are respected and their input is being received.
To ensure continuity of services when funding for the project ends, DCFS is helping community-based organizations establish ongoing services and supports for kinship families. The State also is planning a regionwide training titled "LA KISS and Beyond" to teach kinship caregivers how to access services from community providers or State agencies when LA KISS care managers are no longer available.
For more information on LA KISS, contact Shewayn Watson, Program Manager: Shewayn.Watson@LA.GOV
LA KISS is funded by the Children's Bureau, CFDA #93.556. 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.
The full site visit report will be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- Site Visit: A Parent for Every Child
Site Visit: A Parent for Every Child
More than 3,700 children in New York State are eligible and waiting to be adopted. On average, they have been legally free for adoption for more than 7 years and in care more than 11 years. Of those children, about 1,500 do not have an identified adoption resource. To address this problem, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services received a grant from the Children's Bureau to establish the program A Parent for Every Child (PFEC). Its goal is to find permanent families for at least 50 youth who are available for adoption.
The targeted group includes children who reside in a facility licensed or operated by the following:
- New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)
- NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD)
- Office of Children and Family Services’ (OCFS) juvenile justice facilities
The target group also includes youth residing in child welfare residential or congregate care, who have a permanency goal other than adoption. PFEC will recruit a pool of families willing to adopt these children with special needs and provide training on their unique parenting requirements.
Specific actions that PFEC staff have taken are the following:
- Conducted a public awareness campaign to dispel misconceptions about the adoption of youth with disabilities
- Implemented targeted recruiting to match these youth with resource families with the skills and commitment to meet their needs
- Developed specialized training for families without experience who are open to adopting children with disabilities
- Engaged Adoption Navigators—experienced adoptive parents who help potential adoptive parents navigate the system and overcome barriers
- Identified successful recruiting practices that will work for the target population
- Collaborated through a statewide partnership with private agencies to implement promising practices such as child-specific permanency recruitment through family search and engagement and activities and media that feature waiting children
One highlight of the project is the development of Adoption Chronicles, which are video interviews that provide prospective parents with indepth profiles of children. Another feature of the project is the Child Survey and Database, which facilitates the staff's ability to capture data that measure PFEC's effects on intervention and control group children and youth. The database also functions as a case management tool (e.g., contacts, recruitment strategies, milestones, child characteristics, and needs).
Among the challenges the staff experienced are separating State agency and project responsibilities, the poor economy and staff layoffs, agency closures, lack of continuing care, and incomplete files for children.
After the first year planning period, the project experienced several successes:
- Identification of resource families for 12 children
- Development of data collection instruments
- Significant data cleanup of New York State's Child Care Review System, which tracks children in foster care
- Training for all PFEC Permanency Specialists on:
- National Resource Center for Adoption's "Adoption Competency Curriculum"
- Family search and engagement from the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
- Family finding by Kevin Campbell
- Improvements in making the children and youth in the target population a priority on agency agendas
- Increased awareness of the need for wraparound, adoption-competent, postadoption services
Learn more by visiting:
A Parent for Every Child is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award #90CO1038) as part of Adoption Opportunities: Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System. 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.
The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- Site Visit: Engaging Fathers Project in Indiana
Site Visit: Engaging Fathers Project in Indiana
The National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF) awarded subgrants in 2008 to projects in four States for fatherhood classes for nonresident fathers whose children have been removed from their homes. One of the four subgrants was awarded to the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) to locate and recruit nonresident fathers of children in the Marion County child welfare system to participate in fatherhood classes. The goal was to increase fathers' involvement with their children and the child welfare system.
The fatherhood classes met for 20 weeks and used a curriculum developed by the QIC NRF to support nonresident fathers in engaging their children. The curriculum covers topics such as navigating the child welfare system, supporting their children, and workforce issues. Between December 2008 and December 2010, 98 fathers participated in these classes.
The following are examples of successful strategies used by the project to engage nonresident fathers and help gain buy-in from caseworkers:
- DCS staff led some sessions, which helped build rapport and trust between the fathers and the agency. The fathers said they were impressed that someone from DCS would provide them with so much useful information and that this helped them see they were all on the same team.
- The project received funds to make the DCS lobby more father friendly, including installing a baby-changing table in the men's restroom, leaving out literature about fatherhood, and hanging pictures of fathers with their children.
- The project had one staff member based in a DCS office. The staffer, who served as a liaison between the fathers and the agency, helped caseworkers better understand the program, what their roles were, and the resources available to them. Having the liaison based at a DCS office eased caseworkers' concerns about confidentiality and information sharing.
- Fathers who participated in the program spoke on panels for the caseworkers. This helped the caseworkers view the fathers as more than names in case files and helped them better understand how to engage fathers in case planning.
The QIC NRF subgrant ended in March 2011, but the Marion County DCS plans to continue offering classes to help engage fathers in the child welfare system. Additionally, Indiana DCS will continue incorporating father engagement into its case practice and issued a statewide request for proposals to establish fatherhood liaisons in all 18 regions of the State to conduct location and engagement efforts with nonresident fathers.
Visit the QIC NRF website to learn more:
The National QIC NRF is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award #90CO1025). 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.
The full site visit report will be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
Child Welfare Research
The child welfare research community has much to offer, and this month CBX looks at studies of a community-based program, infants in foster care, group care characteristics, and disproportionality data.
- Characteristics of Infants in Foster Care
Characteristics of Infants in Foster Care
Infants in out-of-home care are a vulnerable population with needs and challenges that significantly differentiate them from older foster children. A recent study by Chapin Hall explores the unique set of strengths and vulnerabilities that infants in foster care exhibit as a group. The study looks at foster care data from 14 States for the years spanning 2000 to 2008 as well as data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) and existing research on smaller samples of foster infants and toddlers.
Researchers examined key findings across five main domains: incidence of first-time out-of-home placements, duration in care, experiences in care, characteristics, and vulnerability for delayed development. Results indicate the following:
- Children under the age of 1 enter care at a higher rate than older children.
- The youngest infants spend more time in care than older children.
- Like older children, the most common placement for infants is a foster family setting.
- Infants entering care are most likely to be African-American, while older children are most likely to be White.
- Intellectual impairment, mental health issues, and higher levels of stress are more prevalent in the primary caregivers of young infants.
- Prenatal factors heightened by the effects of postnatal trauma (i.e., neglect, abuse and/or caregiver transitions) may produce a "toxic stress" that negatively impacts most areas of development, including emotions, cognitive abilities, and physical health.
Although infants and toddlers in foster care face a number of challenges, the authors conclude that recent research points to promising new developments in the areas of recovery and brain functioning. Early intervention programs, appropriate therapeutic responses, and caregiver training and support can greatly reduce the harmful effects of toxic stress and improve the odds for better cognitive outcomes.
The complete study, Who Are the Infants in Out-of-Home Care? An Epidemiological and Developmental Snapshot, by Fred Wulczyn, Michelle Ernst, and Philip Fisher, is available on the Chapin Hall website:
http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/publications/06_08_11_Issue%20Brief_F_1.pdf (562 KB)
- Standards for Effective Group Care Practice
Standards for Effective Group Care Practice
Group care programs for youth in child welfare vary widely, and the differences in program characteristics and service settings are not adequately delineated when considering the role and effectiveness of group care. Rather, there has been a tendency to lump all group care together. In a new publication, Defining Group Care Programs: An Index of Reporting Standards, researchers Bethany Lee, Richard Barth, and Charlotte Bright developed measures that can examine the relationship between specific program characteristics and youth outcomes in group care. To identify the characteristics that may be important for describing and differentiating programs, a review of the literature was conducted, and an expert panel of group care scholars was convened to review the distinctions.
The publication presents a chart of possible program characteristics, along with a definition of the characteristic and possible options for each characteristic. The list of characteristics includes size of the program, population, setting and location, program model, program activities, family involvement, services offered, recreational activities, staffing, systems influences, restrictiveness, and outcomes.
The authors propose reporting standards for describing group care programs so that the relationship between program characteristics and youth outcomes can be used to guide service evaluation and development. They also discuss implications for stakeholders, including States, licensing agencies, group care provider organizations, and researchers.
Defining Group Care Programs: An Index of Reporting Standards is available on the Annie E. Casey Foundation website:
http://www.aecf.org/~/media/Pubs/Topics/Child%20Welfare%20Permanence/Foster%20Care/DefiningGroupCareProgramsAnIndexofReportingStandards/LeeBarthBrightDefiningGroupCarePrograms.pdf (340 KB)
- A Community Initiative to Improve Outcomes for Children
A Community Initiative to Improve Outcomes for Children
A new publication from Casey Family Programs describes the Magnolia Place Community Initiative, a place-based effort to improve the lives of children and families in a 5-square-mile area of Los Angeles, CA, notable for low academic achievement, low rates of employment, and high rates of child welfare involvement. Officially launched in 2008, the Magnolia Place Community Initiative includes a community center that houses more than 70 agencies and county departments within the neighborhood being served. But the core of the initiative is the incorporation of the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework in order to build resiliency and create sustainable change throughout the neighborhood.
The Casey report, Getting to Scale: The Elusive Goal, describes how the Magnolia Place Community Initiative is working so far, what the challenges and successes have been, and what will be the key components to achieving community success. The report is organized around five commitments that service providers have made as part of the initiative:
- Accept the challenge to improve the lives of all of the children within the community.
- Acknowledge that while services may be necessary for everyone at various points, services themselves are not sufficient for achieving community-level change.
- Be reflective and do not repeat things that did not work in the past.
- Honor the promising work happening in the community by supporting it and building on it.
- Focus the planning on those things that each has some control over.
The full report was written by Patricia Bowie and is available on the Casey website:
http://www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/pdf/GettingToScale_MagnoliaPlace.pdf (2.31 MB)
- State-by-State Disproportionality Rates
State-by-State Disproportionality Rates
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has produced a technical assistance bulletin that provides data on racial disproportionality in the child welfare system of each State and of 21 city or county jurisdictions. Racial disproportionality occurs when the percentage of children of a particular race or ethnicity in the child welfare system differs from that percentage in a State's general population. African-American children and Native American children have been represented disproportionately in the child welfare system for some time, and Hispanic children are disproportionately represented in some States.
Disproportionality Rates for Children of Color in Foster Care presents national and State data for each State for 2004 and 2009 and then presents more detailed data for each State for 2009, including a race/ethnicity breakdown of the children in foster care and the State's racial disproportionality index. Although the trend shows a reduction in racial disproportionality in foster care, the data indicate that African-Americans and Native Americans continue to be overrepresented.
The technical bulletin, written by Joshua Padilla and Alicia Summers, is available on the NCJFCJ website:
http://www.ncjfcj.org/images/stories/dept/ppcd/pdf/disproportionality%20tab.pdf (2.38 MB)
Strategies and Tools for Practice
- Implementation Toolkits
The California Social Work Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley, (CalSWEC) is developing several implementation toolkits that can be used as models for implementing new child welfare programs and improving current ones. The model toolkits are roadmaps that can help agencies decide what changes to make, when to make them, and how to make them. Eventually, there will be six model toolkits available for use.
The website also offers templates and resources for users to create their own toolkits for implementing child welfare initiatives, programs, or interventions. To support these efforts, the website offers the following components:
- Definitional tools
- Communication tools
- Assessment tools
- Planning tools
- Training, coaching, and transfer of learning tools
- Evaluation tools
- Policy and procedures tools
- Fiscal and funding tools
Find the implementation resources on CalSWEC's website:
- Toolkit for Education Provisions of Fostering Connections
Toolkit for Education Provisions of Fostering Connections
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 included several provisions designed to increase the educational stability and experience of children in foster care. The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education has developed an online toolkit for States and agencies that focuses on these education provisions by providing resources to help ensure compliance. The State Implementation Toolkit features:
- Detailed issue briefs with analyses, examples, and best practices on the education stability provisions
- State checklists that outline questions and considerations for implementing Fostering Connections
- Materials to explain the overlap of the McKinney-Vento Act and Fostering Connections Act
- A webinar about providing school transportation for children in out-of-home care
Users are encouraged to contact the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education if they would like training and technical assistance on implementing the Fostering Connections education provisions.
To view the State Implementation Toolkit, visit the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law:
- Safe Baby Discussions Among Urban American Indian Parents
Safe Baby Discussions Among Urban American Indian Parents
In May, the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) released findings from its qualitative research project that gathered views, attitudes, and insight from American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) parents about keeping babies healthy and safe. The report, Discussions With Urban American Indian and Alaska Native Parents: Keeping Babies Healthy and Safe, and its findings will be used to develop a communications campaign aimed at improving infant mortality rates in AI/AN communities.
The study was conducted using a series of four focus groups and four one-on-one discussions with 39 AI/AN parents. Because the majority of AI/AN families live in urban areas, focus groups and conversations were held in urban Indian health organizations in four areas with some of the highest populations of AI/ANs. Discussions revolved around neutrally worded questions on parent-perceived barriers to and facilitators for keeping babies safe and healthy. Discussions were taped and transcribed, and responses were coded according to themes and subthemes. The 11 major themes that emerged included:
- The concept of "safe and healthy baby" regarding physical, emotional, and environmental aspects
- Health and safety as they relate to activities and behaviors
- Barriers to health and safety
- Sources of information
- Sources of support
- The role for men/dads
- Communication channels and messages
- Urban life and urban Indian health organizations
Cultural practices, teachings, and traditions were highlighted in discussions regarding actions and behaviors that keep babies safe and healthy. Additionally, violence and experiences with violence emerged as a subtheme, and conversation from both mothers and fathers focused largely on "breaking the cycle" in order to provide a safe environment for babies. Other barriers to keeping babies safe and healthy included lack of support, shortage of resources such as transportation, minimal follow-up care from health-care providers, and lack of accessible and affordable child care.
The full report can be viewed on the UIHI website:
http://www.uihi.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Discussions-with-Urban-American-Indian-and-Alaska-Native-Parents.pdf (2.80 MB)
- Responding to Drug-Endangered Children
Responding to Drug-Endangered Children
Effective practices for responding to the problem of drug-endangered children (DEC) are presented in a new publication, Promising Practices Toolkit: Working With Drug Endangered Children and Their Families. The toolkit is the result of an assessment conducted by DEC Task Force Federal Partnerships Subcommittee of promising practices in the field and of training modules provided by Federal, State, local, Tribal, and community-based providers across the country.
Those practices are separated into three categories:
- Increasing DEC awareness with first responders and the community
- Fostering community collaboration, including fostering a continuum of care
- Creating a more effective response, including documented medical evaluation, effective evidence collection, coordinated child investigative interviews, and development of substance abuse treatment and mental health services
For each practice, the toolkit provides information about the practice ("what is working"), information about how this practice can be helpful ("why it works"), and information and other resources for implementing the practice in the community ("how to get started"), such as checklists and useful websites.
The DEC Task Force Federal Partnerships Subcommittee is part of the Federal Interagency Task Force on Drug Endangered Children, which was established by the U.S. Department of Justice with participation from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Transportation, and Interior.
The toolkit is available on the White House Drug Policy website:
http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/pdf/promising_practices_toolkit.pdf (1.41 MB)
- Website Resources for Children Exposed to Violence
Website Resources for Children Exposed to Violence
The Child Witness to Violence Project (CWVP) offers an array of written and media resources for professionals who work with young children who are victims of domestic and community violence. The website provides online bibliographies on related topics, including early childhood trauma, resilience, educational and school issues, and legal issues. CWVP also offers trainings for social workers, mental health clinicians, school counselors, school psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and other social service providers. Descriptions of scheduled seminars are available on the website.
The CWVP is a counseling, advocacy, and outreach project that is run under the auspices of the Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.
- CDC Grand Round Highlights Child Maltreatment
CDC Grand Round Highlights Child Maltreatment
The latest installment of the Public Health Grand Rounds, a monthly webcast series produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), focuses on the costs and long-term implications of child maltreatment. Each of the CDC's Grand Rounds highlights a major health topic and aims to generate discussion and draw attention to new innovations. The June webcast, "Creating a Healthier Future Through Prevention of Child Maltreatment," is a 1-hour presentation by members of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Deputy Secretary for Health of the Florida Department of Health.
The webcast can be viewed at CDC website:
- Foster Care Factsheet for Pediatricians
Foster Care Factsheet for Pediatricians
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in partnership with Healthy Foster Care America, has released a foster care factsheet for pediatricians. 10 Things Every Pediatrician Should Know About Children in Foster Care addresses the topics of trauma, children with special health needs, barriers to improving health outcomes, and other foster care issues pertinent to pediatricians and other health professionals.
The factsheet can be viewed at AAP's website:
http://www.aap.org/fostercare/PDFs/HFCA_10Things.pdf (400 KB)
- Foster Care Alumni Provide Insight on Transition
Foster Care Alumni Provide Insight on Transition
Offered by the Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA), a new book written by more than 100 foster care alumni highlights the complex journeys, challenges, and opportunities faced by youth transitioning out of foster care to independent living. Flux provides unique insight into the world of transition through stories told by youth. The book functions as a resource guide to youth currently in care and is centered on the question: What do I wish someone had told ME when I was 15, 18, 25?
FCAA also offers a customized, 1-day training curriculum with the book. For more information on the training or the book, or to download a sample chapter, visit FCAA's website:
- Addressing Eating Problems With Children in Foster Care
Addressing Eating Problems With Children in Foster Care
Experiences of trauma and loss may make children in foster care more vulnerable to eating- and food-related difficulties. A new paper, An Overview of Problematic Eating and Food-Related Behavior Among Foster Children: Definitions, Etiology, and Intervention, addresses these behaviors, reviews prevention and intervention strategies, and highlights implications for future research. The information is targeted for child welfare workers who may encounter these eating patterns and problems in practice. The paper also looks at ways to incorporate strategies for encouraging healthy nutrition among families.
Written by Carolyn M. Casey, Catherine Cook-Cottone, and Meredith Beck-Joslyn, the paper is available on the Buffalo State College website:
http://www.bsc-cdhs.org/ecdsseep/collegerelations/Cooke-Cottone%2010/FinalReportASId43.pdf (73 KB)
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.
- Pennsylvania's Online Training
Pennsylvania's Online Training
The University of Pittsburgh provides training for Pennsylvania's child welfare workforce. The Child Welfare Training website offers a wide variety of online classes, and the tools and resources on the website are available to anyone. Topics include core child welfare courses, as well as specialized courses on such subjects as Adolescent Issues, Family Finding, Engaging Incarcerated Parents, and Practical Parenting.
View the website:
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through December 2011 include:
- Alliance and UNCA National Conference
Alliance for Children and Families and United Neighborhood Centers of America
October 17–19, Washington, DC
- CSWE 57th Annual Program Meeting
Increasing Access: Confronting Disparity and Inequality
Council on Social Work Education
October 27–30, Atlanta, GA
- Fourth Annual ISS-USA Conference
Kids in Between: Exploring a United Strategy for Child Protection in the Americas
International Social Service, USA Branch
November 4, Washington, DC
- NAEHCY 23rd Annual Conference
Forging the Future: Educating ALL Our Children and Youth
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
November 5–8, Pittsburgh, PA
- Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare
American Humane Association
November 8–10, Chicago, IL
- DEC's 27th Annual International Conference
Young Children With Special Needs & Their Families
The Division for Early Childhood
November 17–19, National Harbor, MD
- 26th National Training Institute
Connecting Science, Policy and Practice
ZERO TO THREE
December 9–11, National Harbor, Washington, DC
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- Alliance and UNCA National Conference
- Runaway Prevention Curriculum
Runaway Prevention Curriculum
The National Runaway Switchboard offers a free, online curriculum for teens, families, and those who work with them that is designed to increase knowledge about running away and help explore alternatives. "Let's Talk" is an interactive curriculum with 14 modules that each take approximately 45 minutes to complete. The modules cover such topics as Communication and Listening, Adolescent Development, Sexuality and Sexual Orientation, and Internet Safety and Fun. The curriculum includes a film, "Runaway Reality," promotional materials, a webinar, an activity kit, and Spanish-language materials.
Access the curriculum on the National Runaway Switchboard website: