This month, CBX focuses on the relationship between housing insecurity and child welfare involvement. We feature a report on approaches to reducing poverty for low-income families; factsheets on how complex trauma can affect homeless children, youth, and caregivers; and training for professionals on supportive housing.
- Complex Trauma and Homeless Children, Youth, and Families
Children, youth, and families who are homeless or who have experienced homelessness must often deal with complex traumatic issues including domestic violence; physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; food insecurity; illness; and the stresses of unstable housing and changing schools. For children and youth, these traumatic experiences, if left unaddressed, can lead to negative long-term consequences such as depression, anxiety, attachment issues, substance abuse disorders, and other mental health problems. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network published two companion factsheets on complex trauma aimed at professionals who work with homeless children, youth, and families.
One factsheet provides information related to complex trauma for shelter staff working with homeless children and families. The factsheet illustrates traumatic issues that families can face through the story of a mother and her two daughters who sought help at a shelter after escaping a domestic violence situation. By following this family's story, the factsheet explains what complex trauma is, what shelter workers need to know to provide appropriate services for traumatized families, how complex trauma affects homeless caregivers and children, and how complex trauma can affect a family's participation in services. A list of recommendations for staff is included.
The second factsheet offers information for service providers on complex trauma related to homeless youth and young adults. The factsheet illustrates issues these youth can face through the story of a homeless youth with a history of abuse and neglect, multiple foster care placements, behavioral issues, and substance use. Traumatized youth's interactions with staff members and authority figures, their interactions with peers, and their ability to participate in programs and follow case plans are discussed. A list of recommendations for staff also is provided.
Access Complex Trauma: Facts for Shelter Staff Working With Homeless Children and Families at http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/complext_trauma_facts_homeless_shelter_staff_final.pdf (195 KB).
Access Complex Trauma: Facts for Service Providers Working With Homeless Youth and Young Adults at http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/complext_trauma_facts_homeless_youth_final.pdf (99 KB).
- The Relationship Between Housing and Child Welfare
While much work has been done to address the interrelated issues of housing insecurity and child welfare involvement, studies continue to show that there is a significant relationship between the two. Families that are homeless or who face unstable housing situations tend to have higher rates of involvement in the child welfare system than families with a more stable housing situation. A recently published issue brief from First Focus' State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC) explores the relationship between housing and child welfare, examines why child welfare agencies should address families' housing needs, and describes what some agencies are already doing to address these issues.
The brief begins by summarizing the current knowledge about the relationship between housing and child welfare involvement. It goes on to discuss the prevalence of housing problems among families involved in child welfare as well as possible explanations for the higher rate of involvement among homeless or unstably housed families. The brief suggests that, while housing families does not explicitly fall into the mandate of child welfare agencies, helping families to stabilize their housing situations can help to reduce risks to children's health and safety and may therefore help lower the rate of out-of-home placement.
Strategies that are currently being used by child welfare agencies to address families' housing needs are discussed. The brief includes examples from several States, and it also discusses the Family Unification Program, a Federal program authorized by Congress in 1990 that provides housing choice vouchers to families in unstable housing situations whose children are at risk of out-of-home placement or who cannot be reunited with their parents due to inadequate housing. Three types of housing interventions are also explored in detail:
- Rapid rehousing
- Transitional housing
- Supportive housing
The brief concludes with a discussion of implications for policy, practice, and future research. Access Families at the Nexus of Housing and Child Welfare, by Amy Dworsky, at http://childwelfaresparc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Families-at-the-Nexus-of-Housing-and-Child-Welfare.pdf (230 KB).
- Two-Generation Approach to Reducing Poverty
A new report puts forth an approach to promoting more positive program/service delivery and improved family outcomes by collaborating across agencies to address the obstacles and insecurity poverty places on families. Without a coordinated, whole-family approach to addressing the myriad challenges associated with poverty, the cycle of poverty from generation to generation is likely to persist.
In response to this dire need, the Annie E. Casey Foundation report Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach describes an approach to lifting low-income families out of poverty by addressing the needs of parents and their children concurrently. The approach aims to connect families with early childhood education, home-visiting, job training, and other programs necessary to work toward financial stability and equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive.
The report explores some of the many challenges low-income families face, including the following: (1) inflexible, unpredictable low-paying jobs; (2) lack of access to high-quality and reliable early child care and education; and (3) stress at home. It also highlights the challenge of agencies working in isolation. While many Federal, State, private, and nonprofit programs are in place to help low-income families, programs often cater to just parents or children. Also, these programs do not always consider whole-family needs. For example, if parents participating in government food assistance and child-care programs experience even slight income growth, income-based benefits essential to meeting basic family needs are threatened, such as child-care subsidies, the loss of which would leave families no better off than when they started.
Report authors examine the key components of a two-generation approach to strengthening families. These components include:
- Provide parents with multiple pathways to get family-supporting jobs and achieve financial stability.
- Ensure access to high-quality early childhood education and enriching elementary school experiences.
- Equip parents to better support their children socially and emotionally and to advocate for their children's education.
Report authors also present recommendations, broken down into multiple suggestions, for policymakers, businesses, and community leaders in their work to help whole families access the tools and develop the skills necessary to thrive. A number of infographics, data tables, and call-out boxes highlight the information contained in the report.
The Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach policy report was developed by KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report and additional related data and resources are available on the Foundation's website at http://www.aecf.org/resources/creating-opportunity-for-families/.
- Training Module on Supportive Housing
A recent study conducted by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare's (CASCW's) Minnesota-Linking Information for Kids (Minn-LInK) program explores how supportive housing can positively impact outcomes for children involved in child welfare. CASCW created an online training module that discusses findings from the study, which examines how homelessness affects child outcomes, with a particular focus on how educational and child welfare indicators are affected.
The module begins by broadly discussing the problem of homelessness, specifically family and child homelessness, and draws a connection between families with unstable housing situations or who are homeless and increased rates of child welfare involvement. Homelessness programs and policies, such as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1978, are discussed, and housing and homelessness issues among Minnesota's children and families are addressed. The module explains that supportive housing is a kind of housing assistance that (1) focuses on homeless families with significant barriers to housing stability and long histories of homeless and (2) may provide services such as job training, drug and alcohol abuse programs, and case management.
In partnership with Hearth Connection, a Minnesota-based supportive housing organization, Minn-LInK conducted a 3-year longitudinal analysis comparing educational outcomes among four cohort groups of children who were homeless or highly mobile, some of whom were involved with supportive housing services and some who were not. Findings showed that supportive housing positively affected children's educational well-being in areas such as school mobility and attendance, and out-of-home placements for children involved in supportive housing groups were reduced by approximately 50 percent.
Upon completion of the training, participants are given the opportunity to earn Continuing Education Hours. To access "Supportive Housing and Implications for Child Welfare" and learn more about the study and its findings, visit http://cascw.umn.edu/portfolio-items/supportive-housing-module/.
- Performance Partnership Pilot Launches
At the close of 2014, a program aimed at improving educational, employment, and other outcomes for disconnected youth began soliciting applications from States, Tribes, and municipalities. Made possible through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, the Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) program will allow up to 10 pilot programs to pool funds from discretionary programs already received in 2014 from the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. P3 pilot programs will have the flexibility to use these funds in ways that will provide the best outcomes for their particular jurisdiction and community needs.
Applicants whose program plans are based on existing evidence of positive outcomes, include a focus on detailed data collection, and propose to evaluate a component of their pilot will be given priority consideration. P3 will also strongly consider applicants whose proposals will serve disconnected youth in rural or Tribal communities.
Applications are due on March 4, 2015, and the selected applicants will be announced in late spring 2015. To read more about P3 and application requirements, including the application invitation and application package, visit the Administration for Children and Families website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2014/11/performance-partnership-pilot-new-program-launches-to-improve-the-lives-of-disconnected-youth.
To view a webinar on the P3 program, including details on selection criteria and requirements, visit https://www.workforce3one.org/view/5001427539847497608/info.
Children's Bureau Express featured the P3 program in the September 2014 issue. Read the article at https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=160&articleID=4294&keywords=Performance%20Partnership%20Pilot.
- Legal Handbooks for Homeless Youth
In an effort to empower youth to navigate the complexities of homelessness and equip them with the knowledge and tools necessary to improve their circumstances, three innovative State guides were recently developed as part of a pro bono project to help homeless youth better understand their legal rights. Homeless youth face a number of challenges that threaten their safety, stability, and path to self-sufficiency. The complex legal and social issues that often accompany homelessness cover a broad range of areas, such as foster care, family law, delinquency, domestic violence, mental health, and substance abuse. Limited knowledge about, access to, and availability of needed services to help this young population frequently compound these challenges.
The Homeless Youth Handbooks, specific to Minnesota, Washington, and Illinois, provide practical and accessible legal resources to homeless youth and the professionals and concerned community members dedicated to helping them. Each handbook offers information and assistance in the following topical areas: Options for Safety and Stability, Status Offenses, Foster Care, Turning 18, Housing and Contracts, LGBTQ, Education, Employment Law, Criminal Law, Health Care and Medical Rights, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Pregnancy and Parenting, Domestic Violence and Sexual Exploitation, Identification, Public Benefits, Lawsuits, Consumer and Credit, Immigration, and Native American Youth. A glossary and links to additional useful resources are also included.
For example, the Housing and Contracts section of each handbook begins with the interactive question, "What are my housing options if I am homeless?" Information is then presented on various related topics such as trespassing/squatting, couch-surfing, public housing, shelters, renting a room or apartment, and other housing options. Most of the information is presented in a youth-friendly Q&A format (What is public housing? How do I know if I am eligible for public housing? How long can I stay?), and readers can select the topics and questions they are interested in exploring.
HomelessYouth.org and the related State-specific legal handbooks for homeless youth and youth-serving professionals are a pro bono project of Baker & McKenzie, a global law firm dedicated to serving and advocating for the legal rights of underserved and disadvantaged youth populations. The firm partnered with lawyers and legal staff from the following organizations to develop the homeless youth handbooks: Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Ecolab, Columbia Legal Services, Starbucks Law and Corporate Affairs Department, Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and United Airlines Legal Department.
The handbooks are accessible at http://homelessyouth.org/.
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
News From the Children's Bureau
We highlight the Children's Bureau's new National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation, a new factsheet from Child Welfare Information Gateway, and a National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) brief on disconnected youth.
- Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation
Services to increase permanency stability must begin at the moment children or youth enter the child welfare system and continue even after permanency is achieved. In an effort to help maintain permanency, the Children's Bureau recently funded the National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG). The QIC-AG is a 5-year project and partnership among the Children's Bureau, Spaulding for Children, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The QIC-AG will implement evidence-based supports and interventions that are culturally competent to help achieve long-term, stable permanency in adoptive and guardianship homes. Services will be provided to families in six to eight sites in States, counties, and Tribes. Demonstration sites will be chosen later this year. In addition to increasing postpermanency stability, the interventions will aim to improve behavioral health for children and child and family well-being. The target populations for these services include the following:
- Children awaiting adoptive or guardianship placements or those who have been placed in adoptive or guardianship homes but whose permanency has not been finalized—for a significant time—due to challenging mental health, emotional, or behavioral issues.
- Children and families who have finalized adoptions or guardianships but whose permanency is at risk. This population includes private adoption and guardianships, either domestic or international.
The QIC-AG's website, available at http://qic-ag.org/, offers an FAQ about the project and its scope, a PowerPoint presentation providing a project overview, and information about partner organizations and the site selection process.
- Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: AFCARS
A Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) was published in the Federal Register on Monday, February 9, 2015, and will be open for comment until April 10, 2015. AFCARS is the only Federal national data set that collects case-level information on all children in foster care and children adopted with the involvement of the title IV-E (child welfare) agency. The NPRM proposes to update the AFCARS requirements and includes changes made as a result of the enactment of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351) and the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183). Comments on the proposed rule can be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov on or before April 10, 2015.
The Children's Bureau published an Information Memorandum (IM) that provides State, Tribal, and territorial title IV-E agencies with information about the publication of the AFCARS NPRM. Access IM-15-01: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for AFCARS Authorized Under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/im1501.
A presentation providing an overview of the NPRM is also available on the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/afcars-nprm-overview-presentation.
- Associate Commissioner's Page
The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current CBX Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.
A lack of safe and stable housing can have negative impacts on the well-being of children, youth, and families and place them at increased risk of child welfare involvement. The Children's Bureau is committed to addressing homelessness and housing issues among children, youth, and families involved with or at risk of involvement with child welfare.
Over the past 2 years, the percentage of youth transitioning out of foster care through aging out or emancipation has remained the same. This means that more work must be done to help youth achieve permanency and ensure they leave foster care with a positive, lifelong connection to a caring adult. Research shows a high rate of homelessness among youth involved with child welfare, particularly among those who age out of foster care. Our efforts to help this vulnerable population include reducing their risk of homelessness or unstable housing experiences.
In 2012 and 2013, the Children's Bureau funded two 24-month planning grants to develop a model intervention for youth and young adults with child welfare involvement and who were at risk of homelessness. These grants are designed to build evidence-based interventions to prevent and address homelessness among youth in and who age out of foster care. We developed an intervention framework based on a pilot intervention developed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (http://usich.gov/) with populations of youth and young adults who have or have had involvement with foster care. This year, we announced the second phase of this grant: 3-year implementation grants to fund the installation of model interventions developed under the planning grants. Read the implementation grants forecast at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/hhsgrantsforecast/index.cfm?switch=grant.view&gff_grants_forecastInfoID=70847.
In 2014, the Children's Bureau released an Information Memorandum (IM) that provides guidance to States on services for youth under age 18 who run away from foster care and come in contact with runaway and homeless youth programs. More information about the IM is available on the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource-library/search?from=2014-01&to=2014-12&topic=3486.
We also are working to prevent children from entering foster care by helping families for whom a lack of adequate housing puts children at risk of entering out-of-home care. In fact, every year, inadequate housing contributes to the removal of 22,000 children from their families.To help prevent children from entering foster care due to family homelessness and other critical issues—including the need for services to address mental illness, substance use, domestic violence, and more—the Children's Bureau funded five projects in 2012 under the Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System grant cluster. The five projects are working to support:
- The development and expansion of triage procedures for families who come to the attention of child welfare due to severe housing issues in addition to other high service needs
- Local implementation of supportive housing services that integrate community services for housing and other services for this population
- Customized case management services for children and their parents, as well as trauma-informed interventions and evidence-based mental health services
- Evaluations that examine the process and implementation outcomes for these grants
The Urban Institute published a report on the Children's Bureau grants. Supportive Housing for High-Need Families in the Child Welfare System is available at http://www.urban.org/publications/2000010.html.
A joint letter released in May 2014 and signed by leaders from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development announced the new Federal plan Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness and set the goal of ending homelessness for youth and families by 2020. Read the letter at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/acf-hud-announce-prevent-end-homelessness.
- New Factsheet in a Series for Parents
Children who have been abused or neglected need safe and nurturing relationships that address the effects of child maltreatment. Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children's Bureau's information service, recently launched the third factsheet in a series of factsheets for families who are raising a child who has experienced maltreatment. The newest item in the series, Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma, discusses the nature of trauma, its effects on children and youth, and ways parents can help their child heal. This factsheet is available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/child-trauma.
The first factsheet in the series, Parenting a Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused: A Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents, was published in 2013 and discusses how foster and adoptive parents can help children and adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse. It provides basic information about sexual abuse and links to other information so that parents can educate themselves about the topic. The factsheet suggests ways to establish guidelines for safety and privacy in the family, and it offers suggestions about when to seek professional help and where to find such help. This factsheet is available at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f-abused/.
Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Abuse or Neglect, published in 2014, is intended to help parents (birth, foster, and adoptive) and other caregivers better understand the challenges of caring for a child who has experienced maltreatment and learn about the resources available for support. This factsheet is available at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/parenting-can/.
Child Welfare Information Gateway offers a number of publications for a wide range of audiences, including bulletins for child welfare and related professionals, factsheets, factsheets for families, State statutes and more. Factsheets and factsheets for families also are available in Spanish. Browse the publications catalog by title, series type, or topic at https://www.childwelfare.gov/catalog/.
- CB Website Updates
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.
Recent additions to the site include:
- Discretionary Grant Toolkit – This toolkit provides information to assist grantees as they implement their projects and offers information on the Children's Bureau, grants management, reporting, evaluation, dissemination, sustainability, and closeout: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/news/new-childrens-bureau-discretionary-grant-toolkit
- Child and Family Services Reviews Factsheets – A series of factsheets on the Child and Family Services Reviews for a variety of audiences—including governors, State legislatures, mental health professionals, and substance abuse professionals—are now available: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/cfsr-fact-sheets
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb.
- NSCAW Findings on Disconnected Youth
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) produced the 21st in a series of National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) briefs that address topics related to children who receive child welfare services. This brief focuses on disconnected youth involved in child welfare. Disconnected youth are defined in the brief as youth ages 16 to 24 that are not in school and have not been employed for 3 years after they were identified and reported as victims of child maltreatment. Characteristics of disconnected youth and their families and the possible negative outcomes of being disconnected are examined.
The brief shares NSCAW findings showing that 15 percent of youth reported as victims of maltreatment are considered disconnected 3 years after the initial maltreatment report. Findings recorded no remarkable differences related to gender, race or ethnicity, level of poverty, or placement setting among disconnected youth. However, older youth tended to be more at risk for disconnectedness than younger youth. Over all, disconnectedness rates were higher among youth with child welfare involvement who were reported for maltreatment than among youth in the general population. The brief includes tables illustrating youth and family risk factors for disconnectedness as assessed by caseworkers during maltreatment investigations, youth and family characteristics, and child protective services investigation characteristics.
To read more, access NSCAW, No. 21: Disconnected Youth Involved in Child Welfare at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/briefdiscyouth508v2.pdf (284 KB).
CBX explores home-visiting models for families living in public and mixed-income communities, a framework for promoting mental health and wellness among children and youth, and the economic costs of child maltreatment.
- Home-Visiting Models for Public, Mixed-Income Communities
Home-visiting programs are frequently used across the nation to provide support and services to vulnerable families. The Urban Institute has been working with public housing agencies and service providers since 2011 to evaluate home-visiting models for families in public and mixed-income housing. A recent brief published by the Urban Institute examines Housing Opportunity and Services Together (HOST), a demonstration that provides two-generation support services and includes regular home visits and counseling. The brief also discusses efforts to implement home-visiting models in HOST partner sites in Chicago, IL, and Portland, OR.
In Designing a Home Visiting Framework for Families in Public and Mixed-Income Communities, Urban Institute researchers report that although home-visiting programs are beneficial for helping vulnerable families, many do not consider the needs of public and mixed-income housing residents. In particular, researchers recognized that the HOST model concentrates on providing support and services to adults and school-aged children while missing the needs of the youngest children within these families.
The HOST model partners located in Illinois and Oregon outlined five primary areas that require special attention:
- Positive parenting
- Child development
- School readiness
- Caregiver mental health
- Referrals and follow-through for screening and services for children and caregivers
Home-visiting programs include elements that touch on these highlighted areas (working with families in their homes toward common goals, child safety, school preparation and parenting skill training, child development, etc.). However, in order to best meet the needs of the Chicago and Portland HOST communities and allow for more focus on the youngest children who are often overlooked, a customized home-visiting framework was necessary. The brief examines the particular issues each site faced in creating their frameworks. This brief also discussed the importance of having a strong framework for a home-visiting program. Researchers suggested that in addition to understanding familial needs, a home-vising framework should also look at program content, delivery, and infrastructure.
Read Designing a Home Visiting Framework for Families in Public and Mixed-Income Communities on the Urban Institute website at http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/413281-Designing-a-Home-Visiting-Framework-for-Families-in-Public-and-Mixed-Income-Communities.pdf (242 KB).
- The Economic Costs of Child Maltreatment
The Perryman Group, a Texas-based economic research and analysis firm, published a report on the economic aspects and costs of child maltreatment in order to demonstrate the importance of adequate funding for efforts to prevent, investigate, and alleviate cases of maltreatment. The study analyzed data from 2014 related to national lifetime social and social welfare costs and lost earning due to nonfatal maltreatment. Data on the costs of child maltreatment by State were also examined.
The study found that child maltreatment was associated with increased costs related to health-care expenses, social welfare services, criminal justice, and education. Lifetime earnings and productivity were also reduced, and costs totaled to hundreds of thousands of dollars per victim of maltreatment. Other findings include the following:
- Individual occurrences of first-time child maltreatment cost the national economy about $1.8 million in total expenditures, $800,000 in gross product, and $500,000 in personal income.
- Overall increased health-care costs during childhood resulted in a loss of approximately $270.9 billion in gross product and 3,158,946 person-years of employment.
- Overall, additional social welfare costs resulted in a loss of approximately $42.5 billion in gross product and 430,037 person-years of employment.
- Overall, lifetime reduction in earnings resulted in a loss of approximately $2.2 trillion in gross product and 22,050,950 person-years of employment.
The report's appendices include details on the research and data-collection methods used and detailed results of the impact of maltreatment on various economic sectors. To access Suffer the Little Children: An Assessment of the Economic Cost of Child Maltreatment, visit http://www.perrymangroup.com/wp-content/uploads/Perryman_Child_Maltreatment_Report.pdf (1 MB).
- CDC Reports on Health of U.S. Population
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report featuring data that reflect the status and progress of the health of the U.S. population from 2005 through 2013. The report examines important health concerns among the nation, successes in improving health in the United States, and areas in which more effort is needed. Among the sections that might be of interest to child welfare and related professionals working with children, youth, and families are those focused on maternal and child health, infant mortality, teen births, and more.
Data on various health indicators—including, but not limited to, life expectancy and premature mortality, leading causes of death, tobacco use, heart disease and stroke prevention, cancer prevention and control, diabetes, and asthma—were collected beginning in 2005. However, because health indicators and data sources varied over the years, the most recent year for which data are available may range from 2010 to 2013. A detailed description of each data source, including information about the method of collection and whether data were adjusted for age, race, or other factors, is available at http://www.cdc.gov/program/healthreport/publications.
Child welfare and related professionals working with pregnant or parenting teens may be interested to see that teen births among girls ages 15–19 years has steadily declined, hitting a record low in 2013 (26.6 births per 1,000 female teens). Between 2005 and 2013, the teen birth rate declined at an average of 5.4 percent each year.
CDC National Health Report: Leading Causes of Morbidity and Mortality and Associated Behavioral Risk and Protective Factors—United States, 2005–2013 is available on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6304a2.htm?s_cid=su6304a2_w.
- Promoting Mental Health and Wellness Among Children and Youth
Child Trends published an issue brief that presents a framework to promote a better understanding of the meaning and importance of mental wellness among children and youth to help improve their well-being. The brief summarizes current knowledge on children's mental health and addresses issues that arise when mental and physical wellness are treated as separate and unrelated priorities. This includes a discussion of the economic and social costs associated with inadequate treatment of children and youth's mental health needs and the impact of social stigmas related to mental health challenges. Difficulties in accessing and paying for mental health services are also addressed.
The model presents three concepts that are key to this new understanding of wellness: (1) physical and mental health are inseparable, as positive treatments and outcomes in one can help lead to positive outcomes in the other; (2) wellness is more than the absence of illness; and (3) wellness is a resource. Child welfare and related professionals as well as policymakers may be particularly interested in the sections that discuss ways to promote wellness at multiple levels.
The brief addresses ways to foster wellness within families, such as promoting nurturing parenting, taking care of parents and caregivers, and promoting parenting programs. Other suggestions for promoting wellness include fostering school-based and school-linked services, using media campaigns to change community norms, training health professionals to identify warning signs of mental health issues, and more.
Access Are the Children Well? A Model and Recommendations for Promoting the Mental Wellness of the Nation's Young People at http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/2014-33AreChildrenWellRWJF.pdf (1 MB).
This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other instruments that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.
- Family Support and Engagement in Black Families
The National Black Child Development Institute released a report, Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor: A Strengths-Based Look at the State of the Black Child, designed to enhance the lifestyles of children who are part of the Black community and address the challenges they may face. Children of color continue to be disproportionally represented in the child welfare system. In this publication, child welfare professionals will find a collection of essays from experts that focus on promoting the strengths of children, families, and communities to improve outcomes for Black children.
In the section entitled "The Black Family: Re-Imagining Family Support and Engagement," author Iheoma Iruka, a scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, identifies challenges the Black family faces in today's society and uses strength-based perspectives to explore positive ways for redefining how schools and early childhood education programs can support and engage families in the Black community. Iruka also provides a method for establishing a more effective and culturally relevant support system for Black families through the use of the "4Es"—exploration, expectation, education, and empowerment.
To access Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor: A Strengths-Based Look at the State of the Black Child, visit http://www.nbcdi.org/sites/default/files/resource-files/Being%20Black%20Is%20Not%20a%20Risk%20Factor_0.pdf (2 MB).
For more information on family engagement, explore Child Welfare Information Gateway's Family Engagement Inventory at https://www.childwelfare.gov/FEI/program-strategies/.
- Tool for Quality Intensive Family Preservation Services
Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) are family-focused, community-based crisis interventions designed to maintain children safely in their homes and prevent the unnecessary separation of families. They are often offered to families as an alternative to their children's out-of-home placement. It is important to ensure that these programs are effective in their approaches to promoting wellness, permanency, and safety for children.
The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) developed a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Instrument to assess, sustain, and enhance the quality of IFPS on the State and local levels. This tool helps providers assess current levels of effectiveness and also areas needing improvement. The CQI-IFPS Instrument provides additional resources, including information on the benefits of family preservation interventions and quality assurance, a tally sheet for conducting specific case studies, and instructions for how to utilize the tool effectively.
More information on the CQI-IFPS Instrument and purchasing instructions are available at http://www.nfpn.org/assessment-tools/cqi-ifps-instrument.
To learn more about NFPN and its mission, visit http://www.nfpn.org/home.
The Children's Bureau's 2012 Information Memorandum (IM) for State title IV-B and IV-E child welfare agencies addresses the importance of establishing and maintaining CQI systems. Access the IM at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/im1207.
- Strengthening Tribal-State Court Relationships
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) published a technical assistance brief that provides information on specific collaboration strategies for strengthening relationships between Tribal and State courts. The brief provides examples implemented by individuals, model courts, and specific States and identifies approaches from State and Tribal courts and Court Improvement Projects to improve outcomes for children, families, and communities. Examples include the following:
- A partnership between the Honorable Patricia Clark (Ret.), King County Superior Court Judge, Seattle, WA, and the Honorable Theresa Pouley, Chief Judge of the Tulalip Tribe
- A California Tribal court/State court forum
- A partnership between the Charlotte Model Court in North Carolina and the Metrolina Native American Association
The brief asserts that while there is information on collaboration efforts between Tribal and State courts, there is still more to be done to strengthen partnerships and increase engagement in order to work together in harmony.
Tribal Engagement Strategies: Establishing and Sustaining Connections is available on the NCJFCJ website at http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/tribal_engage_tab_final.pdf (393 KB).
- Working With Refugee Families From Iraq
Child welfare professionals touch the lives of families from many different cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. To provide effective services, it is important for professionals to be culturally competent. Working with refugee families from Iraq who have resettled in the United States is one such example. Iraqis comprised many different ethnic groups and have varying cultural practices, and a recent factsheet from Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) provides general cultural information for professionals working with this population. The publication offers tips and techniques surrounding various domains of Islam and Iraqi culture, such as family and community, child rearing and child development, religion, guidance and discipline, school and education, health and mental health, and community leadership.
Refugee Families From Iraq is available on the BRYCS website at http://www.brycs.org/documents/upload/iraqi-cultural-backgrounder.pdf (271 KB).
This CBX section provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.
- Web Series Promotes Healthy Adolescent Relationships
Developed to promote healthy adolescent relationships and well-being and prevent gender-based violence, a new eight-episode web series follows three young men in Boston, MA, and their struggles related to relationships, trauma, violence, and identity. Each 60- to 90-minute video addresses multiple themes, such as:
- Healthy vs. unhealthy relationships
- Sexual assault and supporting survivors
- Childhood abuse/sexual abuse and supporting survivors
- Challenging norms associated with relationships and sex
- Gender expectations related to relationships and sex
- Young parenthood
- Family conflict
- Conflict resolution
- Sexual orientation
- Sexting and social media
An accompanying facilitator discussion guide is available and serves as a tool for teens and adults to continue conversation and further explore the many themes presented in the videos. Organized by episode, the guide provides highlights of each episode, the themes important to each, and a variety of multipart discussion questions intended to encourage further dialog on the issues. Important lessons learned (the "take away") and anticipated challenges to each question are also presented.
The web series and accompanying guide were developed by the Boston Public Health Commission, Division of Violence Prevention, in 2014 as part of the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. To access The Halls and related resources, visit the FindYouthInfo.gov website at http://engage.findyouthinfo.gov/node/51079.
- Tool for Differential Response Implementation
Casey Family Programs published a resource kit for jurisdictions that are interested in learning about different implementation methods for differential response (DR) approaches. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway Glossary (https://www.childwelfare.gov/glossary/glossaryd/), DR is an approach that enables child protective services to differentiate its response to reports of child abuse and neglect based on several factors, including the level of risk associated with the report, indicators of child safety, and the family's need for services and support. The brief reviews methods used by jurisdictions that have implemented DR and includes information on jurisdictions' policy, practice, implementation processes, communications, and evaluation. The kit includes a map providing an overview of national DR implementation and a list of additional resources for more information.
Access The Differential Response (DR) Implementation Resource Kit: A Resource for Jurisdictions Considering or Planning for DR at http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/pediatrics/subs/can/DR/Documents/Differential%20Response%20%28DR%29%20Implementation%20Resource%20Kit--May%202014%5B1%5D.pdf (1 MB).
- Promoting Educational Success for Homeless Students
According to recent U.S. Census Bureau figures, nearly 3 million children live in households without a biological parent. While some of these children's living situations may fall under the definition of permanent housing, others may actually meet the definition for "homeless children/youth." Research has shown that children in nonparental care face a number of potential risks that may greatly impact their emotional, behavioral, and educational development.
Students Living With Caregivers: Tips for Local Liaisons and School Personnel, by the National Center for Homeless Education, highlights the link between parent-child separation and negative outcomes. The tip sheet offers practical information to assist local liaisons and school officials in the provision of necessary support services for eligible homeless children under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
In particular, this brief focuses on some key considerations in determining eligibility for
- Nature of the relationship between the child and caregiver
- Length of time the child is expected to stay with the caregiver
- Alternative living arrangement for the child if not staying with this caregiver
- Suitability of living conditions
- Reason for the child's move
- Definitions of the terms "homeless" and "unaccompanied"
Some of the other relevant areas of the McKinney-Vento Act examined in this article include:
- Overcoming barriers to enrolling a child in school due to lack of legal documentation
- Transportation to and from school of origin
- Caregiver participation in educational decisions
- Ensuring rights and protection to students with disabilities
- Linking caregivers to supportive services
- Transitioning to higher education
The authors conclude that the provision of necessary supports to students and their caregivers can lead to successful outcomes in and outside the classroom. Students Living With Caregivers: Tips for Local Liaisons and School Personnel is available on the National Center for Homeless Education website at http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/briefs/caregivers.pdf (856 KB).
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through June 2015 include:
- 2015 AEA Conference focusing on The Spectrum of Family Engagement: Recruit, Develop & Support
Adoption Exchange Association (AEA)
April 8–9, Charleston, SC
- 2015 PCCYFS Annual Spring Conference
Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services (PCCYFS)
April 8–9, Harrisburg, PA
- First Responder Training: When the Call Comes for Mandated Reporters
Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center
April 9, Bentonville, AR
- 2015 Child Abuse Prevention and Family Support Conference
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
April 13–15, Des Moines, IA
- New Worlds of Adoption Conference: Launching into Adulthood
Rudd Adoption Research Program, University of Massachusetts
April 17, Amherst, MA
- 33rd Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
National Indian Child Welfare Association
April 19–22, Portland, OR
- Annual National Council Conference
National Council for Behavioral Health
April 20–22, Orlando, FL
- CWLA 2015 National Conference: Advancing Excellence Through Innovation and Collaboration
Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)
April 27–29, Arlington, VA
- National Residential Education Conference
Coalition for Residential Education
April 29–30, Washington, DC
- 2015 APSAC Child Forensic Interview Clinics
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC)
May 4–8, Norfolk, VA
- NYSCCC 26th Annual Conference: Uniting Families
New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children (NYSCCC)
May 8–9, Albany, NY
- 22nd Annual National Foster Care Conference "Footsteps to the Future"
Daniel Memorial Institute
May 20–22, Orlando, FL
- 2015 NCA Leadership Conference
National Children's Alliance
May 31–June 3, Washington, DC
- National Post-Adoption Conference
Harmony Family Center
June 1–2, Nashville, TN
http://harmonyfamilycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/ASAP/ASAPConferenceSavetheDateAnnouncement.pdf (474 KB)
- One Child, Many Hands: A Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare
Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
June 10–12, Philadelphia, PA
- Putting Family First Conference: Family Strengthening to Adoption
National Council For Adoption & Joint Council on International Children's Services
June 22–24, Arlington, VA
- National Foster Parent Association 2015 National Convention
National Foster Parent Association
June 25–28, Norfolk, VA
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 at http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm.
- 2015 AEA Conference focusing on The Spectrum of Family Engagement: Recruit, Develop & Support
- Nurturing Child Well-Being
ZERO TO THREE National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Their Families offers an online training titled Knowledge and Know-How: Nurturing Child Well-Being Series. This training provides professionals with the knowledge they need to effectively work with families on best practices for nurturing and raising their young children. The training features the following eight lessons:
• "Partnerships With Families"
• "Social and Emotional Development for Infants, Toddlers, and Parents"
• "Building a Healthy Brain"
• "Well-Being and Prevention of Maltreatment of Very Young Children"
• "Culture and Caring for Young Children"
• "Understanding Temperament"
• "Challenges in Young Children’s Behavior"
• "Relationship-Based Practice"
For more information or to view a lesson demo, visit http://k2k.zerotothree.org/.