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April 2013Vol. 14, No. 3Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

As part of our Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month, CBX highlights a CBCAP grantee, the Maryland Family Network. We also present research on the science of neglect, new State legislation amending existing child maltreatment laws, and promising practices in child abuse prevention.

Issue Spotlight

  • Promising Practices in Child Abuse Prevention

    Promising Practices in Child Abuse Prevention

    A new publication identifies promising trends or lines of learning that may be useful in efforts to improve child maltreatment prevention and policies. In Innovations in the Field of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention: A Review of the Literature, author Genevieve Benedetti presents the results of a Chapin Hall study designed to identify promising programs and examples of successful collaboration across State agencies, or improved methods of service.

    The study consisted of a review of academic journals in order to pinpoint promising programs in the areas of child abuse and neglect prevention, public health, parenting and family support, and child development. In addition, interviews were conducted with 22 experts from a range of fields. Participants were asked to identify key trends in their respective fields.

    The findings are organized into eight topical areas or trends:

    • Advances in neuroscience that highlight the negative impacts of poor parenting on a child's developing brain
    • How social context and culture can protect the developing child and strengthen parental capacity
    • Promising community prevention strategies
    • Federal policy initiatives that direct public investments toward evidence-based programs
    • Research findings that underscore the importance of addressing the needs of new parents and young children
    • Ways that implementation science can strengthen service delivery and improve the odds of replicating model programs with fidelity and quality
    • Understanding how to construct and sustain effective State systems and robust community-based organizations
    • New technologies, such as social media and the Internet, that can be used to reach different populations and support direct service providers

    Innovations in the Field of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention was published by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and is available on the Chapin Hall website: 

    http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/Child%20Abuse%20&%20Neglect%20Prevention_09_11_12.pdf (415 KB)

  • April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and promote activities aimed at protecting children and supporting families. This year's Prevention Month activities continue to reflect the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect's (OCAN's) June 2011 conference theme, Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: Network for Action.

    The annual observation of Prevention Month includes the release of an updated resource guide, with the latest research, practices, and information centered on prevention. Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: A Network for Action: 2013 Resource Guide continues to include the six protective factors that can help families safeguard children from the risk of abuse. The six protective factors include:

    • Nurturing and attachment
    • Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
    • Parental resilience
    • Social connections
    • Concrete supports for parents
    • Social and emotional competence of children

    In addition to tools and strategies for integrating the protective factors into everyday child and family services, the guide also includes 14 tip sheets for parents. The tip sheets, available in both English and Spanish, cover topics that range from "10 Ways to Be a Better Dad" and "Connecting With Your Teen" to "Dealing With Temper Tantrums."

    The 2013 Resource Guide has been refreshed with new information, while maintaining some of its main content structure.

    • Chapter One, "Laying the Groundwork," contains information on a framework for understanding child well-being and the Protective Factor Framework.
    • The "Levers for Change" section was updated to include new examples from Network for Action's Strategic Projects.
    • Chapter Four, "Protecting Children," contains new statistics from the Child Maltreatment 2011 Report and new information on working with parents who have a history of trauma.
    • The three new tip sheets are "Managing Stress," "Managing Your Finances," and "Helping Your Child Heal From Trauma."
    • Three new activity calendars provide suggestions for different ways to use the six protective factors. The calendar, "30 Ways to Promote Child Well-Being During National Child Abuse Prevention Month," provides activities to support children and families throughout an entire month.

    The resource guide is the result of collaboration among the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Children's Bureau, OCAN, Child Welfare Information Gateway, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and numerous national organizations.

    To view or order a copy of the resource guide, please visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth/guide2013/ 

    Child Welfare Information Gateway updated its Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect web section to reflect the new material in the guide and more. The title of the Prevention section on Strengthening Families was changed to Promoting Child & Family Well-Being to indicate this new focus. The updated section offers new pages on the following topics:

    Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway webpage to access these tools and materials:

    http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/

  • Maryland Family Network

    Maryland Family Network

    As part of its effort to prevent child abuse and neglect, the Children's Bureau provides funding to States to develop, expand, and enhance community-based, prevention-focused programs that strengthen and support families. To receive these funds, governors must designate a lead agency to receive the funds and implement the program. One of the Bureau's community-based child abuse prevention (CBCAP) grantees is the Maryland Family Network (MFN). 

    Maryland was one of the first States awarded a CBCAP grant in 1992. Linda Ramsey, Deputy Director of Family Support, said Maryland Family Network is one of the few nonprofits in the country that serves as a CBCAP lead for its State. "When I go to CBCAP conferences, I am struck with how many (child welfare) agencies in States take leadership roles. We're excited that Maryland has designated us as the lead for the program." She notes that one reason behind the program's leadership selection is its statewide network of Family Support Centers.

    Maryland Family Network sponsors 21 Family Support Centers that offer comprehensive programs that serve young families, pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. Their emphasis is identifying and building family strengths. "Everything we do in those centers is about child abuse and neglect prevention," Ramsey added. MFN adapted Strengthening Families, a framework that advocates the promotion of protective factors (parental resilience, social connections, parenting knowledge, concrete support, and children's social and emotional development) to prevent child maltreatment.

    The key to Maryland Family Network's programs is easy access and easy entry. Melanie Martin, Program Consultant, said any child from birth through age 3 and their parents, or pregnant women, can participate.

    Seven of the Family Support Programs are Early Head Start models and for those seven, there are income and other requirements for enrollment and eligibility. Ramsey said MFN was creative with funding streams for those programs, using some State general funds, to maintain the flexibility to serve a small number of families who might be over Federal poverty guidelines but within that working poor gray area and could benefit from Early Head Start services.

    Funds from Maryland's Race-to-the-Top Early Learning Challenge Grant will allow MFN to  transform two Family Support Centers in Baltimore into Community Hubs. Hubs will reach more families in the neighborhoods they serve through home visiting, services for child care providers, and assistance to families as their children make the transition to school.

    One of the important features of Family Support Centers is transportation, removing the barrier to center participation. While 2,100 participating families throughout the State may not be a lot, Ramsey said the intensity of services provided prevents MFN from serving larger numbers. "Our programs are about children and parents together," Ramsey said. "Parents don't come in without children, or just drop off their children. These are programs designed to address the needs of parents and provide developmentally appropriate activities to bring parents and children together."

    At Family Support Centers, staff work with parents to ensure that children receive immunizations on time. Children are screened for age-appropriate developmental milestones to identify delays early and link families with resources. Parents develop parenting skills, increased educational attainment through MFN's adult education programs, and work on self-sufficiency. They are achieving positive outcomes:

    • Of the 2,094 children under the age of 48 months who visited a Family Support Center at least three times last year, 97 percent had up-to-date immunizations, compared to 73 percent statewide in 2010.
    • Of the 2,094 children ages birth to 3 who attended a Family Support Center at least three times in 2012, 94 percent received at least one developmental screening using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. Of these children, more than 96 percent were at or above the expected level of performance at each of the measures. The remaining 4 percent were referred to the Local Infants and Toddlers program for additional assessment.
    • In 2012, 3,749 individuals participated in formal and informal parenting activities, parent-child activities, and skill development training in family management. More than 90 percent of this group improved parenting behaviors and/or attitudes.
    • In 2012, 1,211 participants took part in adult education services. That same year, 889 participants took part in employment readiness activities. Of these participants, 50 percent received computer literacy instruction; 58 percent participated in job readiness activities; and 24 percent received job training, skill development, and/or work experience. Roughly 27 percent of participants enter the centers employed and 43 percent are employed 1 year later.

    MFN's Family Support Centers are truly  community-based programs. MFN contracts with sponsoring agencies and local communities to operate centers. The strength of the program lies in the partnership with local agencies familiar with their communities and families. Partnerships are formed with a range of local agencies, such as Housing Authorities, community colleges, school districts, private nonprofits, hospitals, health departments, and more. When there is money for new centers, MFN releases a Request for Proposal (RFP) in communities without Family Support Centers. "People have to want these centers in their community and make a case for the need and willingness of the community to embrace and operate these programs. Centers belong to their communities and work best when the community takes ownership of them," said Ramsey. They are required to have an advisory board made up of parents and community partners who meet on a regular basis to give feedback and input on center activities.

    Another innovative aspect of MFN programming is its 2-day Parent Leadership Institute. Two annual trainings are focused on parent advocacy, decision-making, communication skills, and other competences. After the training, parents are charged with serving in a leadership capacity within in their centers and their community. The Family Support Centers provide transportation to these events and a stipend for child care. "We believe these trainings are a critical piece of our programming," Ramsey added. 

    Special thanks to Jean Mitchell, Program Director, Melanie Martin, Program Consultant, and Linda Ramsey, Deputy Director Family Support, for providing information for this article.

  • The Science of Neglect

    The Science of Neglect

    In 2010, 78 percent of the half a million reported cases of child maltreatment were reports of neglect. Research over the past 30 years has shown that young children who experience neglect are at risk for several negative outcomes, including cognitive delays, academic struggles, social adjustment difficulties, and more. A white paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child outlines research on the science of neglect, from neuroscience and molecular biology to the behavioral and social sciences, to promote greater public understanding of this threat to child well-being. 

    The authors define neglect as the ongoing disruption or significant absence of caregiver responsiveness. While the four most common forms of neglect (physical, medical, educational, and psychological) tend to co-occur, judging the severity of neglect and determining when to intervene remains difficult. Understanding the science of neglect can help ameliorate these difficulties.

    The paper describes four types of diminished responsiveness and their consequences to provide a framework for developing effective interventions that can protect children.

    • Occasional inattention is categorized as irregular or reduced attention in a usually responsive environment, which requires no intervention.
    • Chronic understimulation is defined as ongoing and diminished responsiveness and developmental enrichment and can cause a range of developmental delays. Interventions addressing the needs of caregivers along with high-quality early care and education for children can be effective.
    • Severe neglect in a family context is the significant absence of caregiver responsiveness to a child's needs, which can cause a range of negative outcomes that include developmental impairments and other threats to child well-being. Helpful interventions that ensure caregiver responsiveness and address development needs of the child are needed.
    • Severe neglect in an institutional setting includes too few caregivers for several children and no individual adult-child relationships, which can cause severe cognitive, physical, and psychological developmental deficiencies. In these cases, removal as soon as possible and placement in a stable environment is the suggested intervention.

    Promising interventions, such as attachment and biobehavioral interventions, child-parent psychotherapy, and treatment foster care for preschoolers are described as effective for children who have experienced significant neglect. The paper also outlines a number of public misconceptions about the effects of neglect and implications for policy and programs.

    The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain is available on the Center on the Developing Child website:

    http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/reports_and_working_papers/working_papers/wp12/

    Related Item

    The January 2013 issue of Practice Notes, a publication of the North Carolina Division of Social Services (NCDSS) Child Welfare Services Statewide Partnership, is centered on the theme "Child Neglect: Impact and Interventions." The issue highlights the impact of neglect on child brain development and outlines promising evidence-based interventions.

    Practice Notes is available on the NCDSS website:

    http://www.practicenotes.org/v18n1/cspnv18n1.pdf  (199 KB)

  • States Consider New Child Abuse Laws

    States Consider New Child Abuse Laws

    Summaries of legislation that would amend existing State child maltreatment laws have been compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Approximately 53 bills in 21 States on the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect have been introduced so far during the 2013 legislative session, which is nearly three times the number of bills introduced in 2012.

    The issues being addressed by these bills include:

    • Expanding the types of professionals who are mandated to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect
    • Requiring training for certain professionals on the recognition of child abuse and neglect and the requirement to report
    • Imposing or increasing penalties for failure to report
    • Imposing or increasing penalties against employers that interfere with employees who try to report

    The complete list of pending legislation can be found on the NCSL website:

    http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/human-services/mandatory-rprtg-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-2013.aspx

  • Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships

    Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships

    Safe, stable, and nurturing relationships (SSNRs) are paramount to healthy child development and preventing child maltreatment. To help concerned individuals and communities promote these healthy relationships and environments, a new guide offers evidence-based strategies for helping children grow and thrive.

    The guide, produced by the National Center for Injury Prevention, Division of Violence Prevention, within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is organized into four sections that reflect the goals and subsequent steps necessary for community action:

    • Raise Awareness and Commitment to Promote SSNRs and Prevent Child Maltreatment
    • Use Data to Inform Actions
    • Create the Context for Healthy Children and Families Through Norms Change and Programs
    • Create the Context for Healthy Children and Families Through Policies

    The scope of child maltreatment is discussed, and common types of abuse are defined. Similarly, the guide describes each component of SSNRs and provides insight into why SSNRs are so important to a child's well-being. The authors reiterate that while child maltreatment is a pervasive public health concern, it is preventable with the help of communities that are committed to fostering nurturing relationships and safe neighborhoods where today's children and future generations can flourish.

    Essentials for Childhood: Steps to Create Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships and other related documents are available on the CDC website:

    http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/childmaltreatment/essentials/index.html

    Related Item:

    Essentials for Childhood: Steps to Create Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships is also part of the Public Health Leadership for Child Maltreatment Prevention Initiative toolkit, which was developed to aid State health departments in their child maltreatment prevention efforts. The toolkit and related items are accessible on the VetoViolence website:

    http://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/childmaltreatment/phl/index.html

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News From the Children's Bureau

In a special message, Joe Bock, Acting Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, gives his final thoughts on the Bureau's centennial year. We also feature a study on the economic well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth transitioning out of care and a report on the number of intercountry adoptions in 2012.

  • New! From CB

    New! From CB

    The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.
    Recent additions to the site include:

    For news from the Administration for Children and Families, read the latest entries in its blog, The Family Room:

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog

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

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb

  • Children's Bureau Centennial Wrap-Up

    Children's Bureau Centennial Wrap-Up

    A message from Joe Bock, Acting Associate Commissioner, Children’s Bureau

    The Children's Bureau is the oldest government agency in the world that actively serves children, youth, and families. Our centennial celebration has included a yearlong series of activities to reflect on our accomplishments, challenges, and visions for the future. The centennial has also provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate and expand our commitment to achieving the safety, permanency, and well-being of the nation's children and families. Our goals for the centennial year were to:

    • Share CB's history and increase visibility: Share our unique and important history with the public, while enhancing the Bureau's leadership position by increasing our visibility among key stakeholders and constituents—particularly across Federal and State systems and with Tribes, national organizations, and the public.
    • Collaborate in creating a common focus—Stakeholder engagement: Strengthen the Bureau's role in moving the child welfare field forward by collaborating more extensively with stakeholders to create a common focus.
    • Celebrate 100 years of achievement and progress: Acknowledge and applaud the important work being done across child welfare and in related fields.

    To achieve these goals, and more, we produced several materials and organized a variety of events:

    • The Children's Bureau e-brochure was published in English and Spanish and provides readers with an overview of our history of collaboration, assistance programs to States and Tribes, public awareness campaigns, and leadership development initiatives.
    • The centennial webinar series included thought-provoking discussions on the Bureau's historical evolution and explored critical topics that shape the current child welfare field.
    • The centennial website is dedicated to all things centennial. Visitors can find the e-brochure, historical photos, webinar recordings, and much more.
    • A short video, The Children’s Bureau, 1912–2012: A Passionate Commitment. A Legacy of Leadership, about our 100 years of work protecting children and strengthening families was released in April 2012. The video is available in English and Spanish.
    • The centennial workgroup initiative, Voices to Vision, engaged experts and practitioners in child welfare on issues that are important to the field.
    • A commemorative e-book, The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood, will be available for order through the Government Printing Office later this year.
    • The second Children's Bureau Centennial Series, CB Decade-by-Decade, examined highlights from each decade of the Children's Bureau's first 100 years. The first Centennial Series addressed some of the social issues, practices, and policies that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.

    While we have had much to celebrate this past year, there is still much work to be done. As we look toward the future of child welfare, we will continue to meet our noble mission of supporting those in the field who serve America's children and families.

  • ACF Evaluation Policy

    ACF Evaluation Policy

    In November 2012, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released its evaluation policy. To achieve its goal of fostering health and well-being through "providing Federal leadership, partnership, and resources," ACF's evaluation policy ensures its activities are assessed for quality and effectiveness.

    The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) oversees many of ACF's evaluations; however, ACF program offices consult with OPRE when developing evaluation activities, or request that OPRE design and oversee evaluations. The policy is rooted in rigor, relevance, transparency, independence, and ethics.

    The Evaluation Policy is available on ACF's website:

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/acf_evaluation_policy_november_2012.pdf (131 KB)

  • Economic Well-Being of LGB Youth in Care

    Economic Well-Being of LGB Youth in Care

    While much research has centered on racial and ethnic differences in the self-sufficiency of youth transitioning from foster care to independent living, less research has been conducted concerning differences related to sexual orientation. An issue brief from Mathematica Policy Research describes the characteristics and economic well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth who age out of foster care.

    Data were pulled from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth, which followed a sample of youth from Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin through their transition from foster care to independent living. Five waves of survey data were collected between 2002 and 2011. This issue brief focuses on the economic well-being of study participants interviewed at wave 3 when they were 21 years old. Of that sample, 437 identified as heterosexual and 67 as LGB.

    Findings included the following:

    • Few statistically significant differences were found regarding living arrangements; approximately 45 percent of both groups were living in their own place.
    • No statistically significant differences were found regarding educational attainment between the two groups.
    • Of LGB respondents, 60 percent were employed at age 21, earning an average of $7.82 an hour. While their heterosexual peers were not more likely to be employed, they were more likely to earn an average of $1 more per hour ($9.04) than the LGB sample. 
    • About 61 percent of LGB respondents, compared to 47 percent of their heterosexual peers, had experienced one of five economic hardships (inability to pay rent, inability to pay utility bills, gas or electric services had been turned off, phone service had been disconnected, or they had been evicted).

    The authors note that physical and mental health well-being were not explored in this study, and such outcomes should be examined in future research.

    The Youth Demonstration Development issue brief series is funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as part of a larger ACF project to develop research-based frameworks to promote the well-being of at-risk youth.

    The Economic Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care, by Amy Dworsky at Chapin Hall, University of Chicago, is available on the ACF website:

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/opre_lgbt_brief_01_04_2013.pdf  (954 KB)

  • Annual Intercountry Adoption Report

    Annual Intercountry Adoption Report

    The Office of Children's Issues within the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs has issued the Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption. The report is mandated by the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-279).

    The report outlines the number of intercountry adoptions during fiscal year (FY) 2012 involving immigration to the United States, regardless of whether the adoption occurred under the Hague Adoption Convention, and it also outlines the number of intercountry adoptions involving emigration from the United States. A number of tables in the report provide 2012 intercountry adoption statistics, including average days to completion and fees. The report also shows:

    • There were 8,668 adoptions into the United States in FY 2012.
    • The largest number of children came from China—2,697.
    • Ninety-nine U.S. children emigrated to another country to be adopted.

     FY 2012 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption Report is available on the website for the Office of Children's Issues:

    http://adoption.state.gov/content/pdf/fy2012_annual_report.pdf  (525 KB)

Training and Technical Assistance Update

Updates from CB's T&TA Network this month include a new bulletin on chronic child neglect, a guide to help agencies implement a family-centered practice model, and a toolkit for child welfare professionals about the developmental and emotional importance of maintaining sibling relationships.

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

Every spring, ACF recruits new grant reviewers. Find out how to become a grant reviewer, and read about a report examining whether an implementation science model would be effective for Federal child welfare programs.

  • Funding Opportunity Announcement

    Funding Opportunity Announcement

    The Administration on Children, Youth and Families announced a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for fiscal year (FY) 2013.

    Information about planned FY 2013 FOAs is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants Forecast website:

    https://www.acf.hhs.gov/hhsgrantsforecast/

    To find the Children's Bureau's FOA forecasts, go to the forecast website and enter the title or Funding Opportunity Number (FON) in the search box. Please check the forecast site regularly, as forecasts are subject to change.

  • Implementation Science and CB Grantees

    Implementation Science and CB Grantees

    As the Children's Bureau places greater emphasis on the use of evidence-based programs and interventions by its grantees, much focus has shifted toward implementation science to examine issues affecting application and execution. A report prepared by James Bell Associates on behalf of the Children's Bureau outlines the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) implementation model and examines whether the model would be effective for Federal child welfare programs.

    The report outlines organizational characteristics and processes necessary to support successful implementation of Bureau programs. For a quantitative study in 2011, data were gathered via document reviews, site visits, and discussions with 17 Bureau grantees that had demonstrated successful program implementation. 

    After examining more than 100 implementation factors from the NIRN model, the authors suggest that while NIRN's implementation model provides useful concepts, its focus is on the replication of evidence-based practices. Because the Bureau's grantees often implement untested, albeit innovative interventions, the model may be of limited use.

    Lessons Learned Through the Application of Implementation Science Concepts to Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Programs

    http://www.jbassoc.com/reports/documents/cb_impsciencereport_final_012413.pdf (1 MB)

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express highlighted the National Implementation Research Network in the October 2010 issue, which featured Implementation as the theme for the Spotlight section.


     


     
     

  • Apply to Be a Grant Reviewer

    Apply to Be a Grant Reviewer

    Each spring, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recruits reviewers and panel chairpersons for its grant programs, including those administered by the Children's Bureau. Grant reviewers receive training and then review grant applications—reading, evaluating, discussing, and scoring grant proposals. Grant reviewers and chairpersons, including students, receive compensation for their time, as well as valuable experience in the Federal grant review process.

    To apply, visit:

    https://www.acfgo.com/public/sitePage.aspx?key=Home

Child Welfare Research

CBX points to research on the causes of broken adoptions, funding reinvestment in child welfare, and health-care issues faced by youth transitioning out of foster care.

  • Funding Reinvestment in Child Welfare

    Funding Reinvestment in Child Welfare

    While child welfare agencies are trying to identify and use evidence-based practices to improve well-being outcomes for families, they are also dealing with significant economic challenges. Noting that child welfare agencies are operating under evolving conditions, Casey Family Programs published a research brief providing strategies for shifting resources to maximize their effectiveness and efficiency.

    The brief suggests that, in order to free up funds for investing in the latest child welfare innovations and interventions, agencies need to first reduce investments in less effective programs (descaling). Examples of ineffective initiatives are:

    • Short-term emergency foster care placements
    • Nonspecific psychotherapy
    • Long-term congregate care
    • Ineffective parenting skills classes

    Funds for these ineffective programs can then be reallocated to finance evidence-based practices. For each of the above examples of an ineffective initiative, the brief provides an example of a State that successfully shifted its resources to fund a more effective practice. Yellow Medicine County, MN, for example, reduced spending on foster care placements from over $635,000 in 2002 to $70,000 in 2009 after implementing restorative justice and Signs of Safety frameworks. The brief concludes by suggesting financing and implementation strategies that agencies can use in their funding reinvestment initiatives.     

    Shifting Resources in Child Welfare to Achieve Better Outcomes for Children is available on the Casey Family Programs website:

    http://www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/ShiftingResources.htm

  • Study Explores Broken Adoptions

    Study Explores Broken Adoptions

    While there are no reliable statistics, a new study suggests that a significant number of children who have been adopted from foster care later reenter out-of-home care. In a recent journal article, "The Revolving Door of Family Court: Confronting Broken Adoptions," authors Dawn Post and Brian Zimmerman of the Children's Law Center New York (CLCNY) examine case data collected from attorneys who work with the New York City family court to determine the causes of broken adoptions and whether such disruptions were preventable.

    The authors reviewed 6 months' worth of cases of broken adoptions and guardianship cases in which the children returned to family court, in addition to surveying the New York City Family Court bench and several attorney groups. Of the survey responses, 70 percent said they had seen cases return to family court, and one-third of the respondents indicated that between 5 and 25 percent of cases that returned to the family court involved adopted children.

    Adopted children can return to the court system in a number of ways, including through allegations of abuse or neglect in the adoptive home, requests by the parent for voluntary placement of the child, or charges of juvenile delinquency. Although each family's situation is unique, a common theme throughout these cases was the adoptive family's realization that they lacked the resources to adequately address the adopted child's needs.
    The authors suggest that many broken adoptions could be prevented by better preparing the adoptive family before placement and expanding the availability of targeted postadoption services.

    Originally published in the Capital University Law Review, the article is available from the CLCNY website:

    http://www.clcny.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/the-revolving-doors-of-family-court-confronting-broken-adoptions.pdf (508 KB)

  • Evaluating Trauma-Informed Care Training

    Evaluating Trauma-Informed Care Training

    Research shows that children who suffer abuse or neglect are more likely to be exposed to other trauma-inducing situations, such as domestic violence or parental substance abuse. Additionally, children receiving child welfare services may experience further trauma if they are removed from the home, live in multiple out-of-home settings, transfer to new schools, or are forced to separate from their existing social networks. These findings suggest the need for child welfare agencies to develop trauma-informed practices and to train workers in these practices. A recent study in the Child and Youth Services Review evaluated such a training program for promoting trauma-informed practices among child welfare workers. 

    The study looked at statewide implementation feasibility, as well as the effects the program had on participants' relevant knowledge, attitude, and behaviors. The researchers tested a training curriculum developed by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). The program was designed to:

    • Increase awareness among child welfare workers of the effects that trauma has on children
    • Promote evidence-based screenings, assessments, and treatments for children exposed to trauma
    • Promote coordinated care with other service agencies to minimize placement disruptions that might increase the likelihood of further trauma

    The participants were 102 child welfare area directors and supervisors from the Arkansas Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) who participated in 2-day training sessions. Participants were surveyed on their knowledge and current implementation of trauma-informed practices at three points in time: prior to training, immediately following the training, and 3 months after the training.

    Results indicated that participant knowledge of trauma-informed practices increased significantly immediately after the training. At the 3-month follow-up, participants reported increased use of trauma-informed practices, and these changes were significantly correlated with improvement in knowledge. The majority of participants were able to partially implement action steps taught in the training; however, time constraints, heavy caseloads, lack of staff, and limited resources were listed as barriers to full implementation.

    "A Statewide Introduction of Trauma-Informed Care in a Child Welfare System," by Teresa Kramer, Benjamin Sigel, Nikki Conners-Burrow, Patricia Savary, and Ashley Tempel, was published in the Children and Youth Services Review, 35, and is available for purchase:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740912003945

  • Finding Kin With Facebook

    Finding Kin With Facebook

    A news release from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in January highlights its use of social media to find kin for children and youth involved with child welfare. Hoping to prevent children and youth from moving from one unfamiliar home to another, a resource developer with DHHS found Facebook to be a beneficial tool when searching for relatives.

    Debi Schriner was challenged by DHHS to find new ways to locate kin. She was familiar with the ability to "friend" family members through Facebook's photo tagging, so she established a page and began to search for relatives of the children and youth in her caseload. Her focus has been on reconnecting children with family after long stays in foster care, even if parental rights have not been terminated. Schriner found that she rarely struggles to find kin of the children and youth in care. Through confidential messages exchanged, Schriner has looked for relatives of about 80 families thus far. All information about the children and youth is confidential and is not posted on the DHHS Facebook page.

    The news release highlights specific cases for which Facebook has been used to locate kin. The news release is available on Nebraska's DHHS website:

    http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Newsroom_Newsreleases_2013_Jan_Facebook.aspx

  • Health-Care Issues for Transitioning Youth

    Health-Care Issues for Transitioning Youth

    Despite having three to seven times more chronic health or behavioral/mental health issues than youth in the general population, youth in foster care are half as likely to have health insurance compared to their peers. An article in Pediatrics describes the obstacles that transitioning youth face when trying to address health-care needs.

    In recent years, provisions within a number of health-care laws have provided a range of supports to youth exiting care, and the article describes the Federal Government's efforts to provide youth with access to health care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, for example, requires States to work with youth to develop a transition plan that includes securing health insurance. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, beginning in 2014, extends Medicaid eligibility to age 26 for youth aging out of foster care.

    The article highlights future challenges and provides recommendations for physicians and pediatricians working with child welfare agencies, including the following:

    • Be informed about State programs that provide health-care coverage to older youth in foster care and those transitioning out of care
    • Educate transitioning youth about the eligibility extension for Medicaid coverage to age 26
    • Help young adult patients transfer health records, understand health issues, and link them with a adult primary care physicians and, as needed, mental health, reproductive health, and dental services

    "Health Care of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care," by P. Jaudes, was published in Pediatrics, 130(6), 2012, and is available on the American Academy of Pediatrics website:

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/6/1170.full.html

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Strengthening Families and QRIS Integration

    Strengthening Families and QRIS Integration

    Strengthening Families is an evidence-based framework designed to promote the positive development of children and prevent child abuse through family engagement and empowerment. A growing number of States are integrating Strengthening Families into their Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), which they are developing to systemically measure interactions with families. An issue brief by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) highlights implementation strategies and State approaches to integrating Strengthening Families into QRIS.

    The brief offers an overview of the various tools that can be used for implementation of the Strengthening Families framework, developing quality improvement plans, and monitoring activities. Profiles of pilot initiatives in four States and lessons learned, as well as additional State examples, are also featured.

    To support continuous improvement, CSSP also recommends States explore alignment with other nationally recognized quality standards and measurement tools, implementing practices that are more culturally and linguistically competent and including QRIS validation as a required activity.  

    Integrating Strengthening Families Into Quality Rating and Improvement Systems is available on the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services website:

    http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dcyf/cdb/documents/sf-article.pdf  (218 KB)

  • Implementing Evidence-Based Practice

    Implementing Evidence-Based Practice

    As the child welfare field continues to move toward employing evidence-based practice models and interventions, much focus is being placed on best practices for integrating and implementing these programs. Using the principles of implementation science to successfully transfer the lessons learned from evidence-based practice models into programs that deliver effective services was the focus of a 1-day symposium at the University of California, Davis campus.

    At the symposium, "Implementation Science: Closing the Gap Between Innovation and Practice," human services professionals, which included workers from the fields of education, mental health, child welfare, and criminal justice, participated in a series of workshops and facilitated discussion groups to learn how to use implementation science to build effective programs. The topics of the workshops included models of implementation science, building organizational structures to support implementation, and adapting the innovations identified in evidence-based practice models to specific program needs.

    Documents from the symposium, including the program, PowerPoint presentations and handouts from many of the workshops, and a resource guide, are now available from the website of the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC):

    http://calswec.berkeley.edu/2013-leadership-symposium-evidence-based-practice-implementation-science-closing-gap-between

Resources

  • Social Media Tips for Caregivers

    Social Media Tips for Caregivers

    The Department of Human Services in Oregon produced a tip sheet for foster parents and relative providers about the world of social media. The tip sheet identifies the various types of social media and highlights what respective audiences need to know regarding social media, networking, and texting.

    The tip sheet also explores the roles of those involved in the lives of youth in foster care and assesses the risks, benefits, and safety issues of using the Internet. Links to advice on how to establish rules and guidelines with youth for social media are also included. Child welfare and related professionals will find an outline of the State of Oregon's Confidentiality guidelines for posting pictures of children in foster care on the Internet.

    Social Media Tips for Foster Parents and Certified Relative Providers is available on the Oregon Department of Human Services website:

    http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/features/Pages/social-media-tips.aspx

  • Judges' Page Promotes Well-Being

    Judges' Page Promotes Well-Being

    The January 2013 issue of The Judges' Page newsletter presents articles on child well-being and the multilayered aspects of what it means to ensure well-being for children and youth in foster care. In one article, Bryan Samuels, the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), outlines strategies the courts and other partners with the child welfare system can use to focus their efforts on child well-being.

    Other article topics focus on the continuous quality improvement approach to help States evaluate interventions that improve child well-being, the role of legislation in enhancing well-being, and how model courts impact the social and emotional well-being of foster children and youth. 

    The Judges' Page is a publication of the National CASA Association in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and is available on the National CASA website:

    http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5301323/k.8E21/Judges_Page.htm

  • Teen Guide to Adoption

    Teen Guide to Adoption

    Children and youth who are adopted often have difficult questions and complex feelings about themselves and their experiences. A book about adopted teens with personal stories told by adopted teens may help this population address their fears and concerns.

    Suzanne Slade, an adoptive mother and author of more than 50 books on children and youth, wrote Adopted: The Ultimate Teen Guide. The book provides personal experiences of other adopted teens, as well as ideas and strategies from experienced child welfare professionals. Information from adoption experts, including Hollee McGinniss from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, Judy Stigger from The Cradle, and Kathleen Morrison from the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, also is included.

    The 17 chapters explore a range of topics, including:

    • Finding Out You're Adopted
    • Learning About Your Adoption
    • Should I Search?
    • Meeting the Birth Parents
    • Adopted at an Older Age

    Adopted: The Ultimate Teen Guide is available for purchase through Scarecrow Press:

    https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780810857742

  • Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice

    Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice

    The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare and the Ambit Network partnered for the winter 2013 edition of CW360°. The annual publication provides communities and child welfare and human services professionals with information related to key areas affecting child well-being. The winter 2013 issue of CW360° focuses on trauma-informed practices within the child welfare system. Twenty-four articles written by a variety of child welfare, mental health, and related professionals explore the issue of traumatic stress, as well as best practices for implementing trauma-informed practices into child welfare programs.

    The articles presented in the publication are divided into three sections: overview, practice, and perspectives. The overview section defines traumatic stress and explores the impact traumatic stress has on families served by child welfare and how traumatic stress can inform child welfare policy. The practice sections offer articles on training, evidence-based and promising practices, and cultural awareness. Lastly, the articles in the perspective section share lessons learned and provide recommendations for creating policy and implementing practices through a trauma-informed lens.

    CW360° Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice is available on the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare website:

    http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/cascw/attributes/PDF/publications/CW360-Ambit_Winter2013.pdf (1 MB)

    Related Items

    Children's Bureau Express featured previous issues of CW360° in the following articles:

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.

  • Cultural Competence Training

    Cultural Competence Training

    A partnership among the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN), the Alaska Office of Children's Services, and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council Child and Family Services Department led to the development of a cultural competence training for child welfare workers. In addition, the partnership resulted in the creation of a case example of an Alaska Native family that could serve as an illustration of a typical family for Alaska child welfare workers who completed the North Carolina Family Assessment Scales. The cultural competence training is linked with the use of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scales, the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General Services (NCFAS-G), the NCFAS-R (for families that are reunifying), and NCFAS-G+R assessment tools. The training is recommended for workers who have used the assessment tool for at least 1 year.

    The training includes:

    • An introduction and "how-to" on using the training
    • A demographic information form
    • The Native Alaskan case example
    • Standard ratings for intake and case closure
    • Comparison data
    • Resources

    The training package can be purchased for $200 per agency, which covers training for workers licensed to use the assessment tools. For more information, or to order the training, visit NFPN's website:

    http://nfpn.org/products/253-cultural-competence.html

    The case example is also available on the NFPN website:

    http://nfpn.org/articles/252-alaska-native-research-report.html

  • Conferences

    Conferences

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

    May 2013

    June 2013

    • One Child, Many Hands: A Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare
      Field Center for Children's Policy, University of Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
      June 12–14, Philadelphia, PA
      www.onechildmanyhands.org
    • The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children 21st Annual Colloquium
      American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
      June 25–28, Las Vegas NV
      http://www.apsac.org

    July 2013

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

    http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm