Youth in and transitioning out of foster care face many challenges and need a wide range of support—in terms of resources and tools, as well as in relationships. January's CBX highlights supportive services for youth as well as resources for professionals and other caring adults to help youth in foster care and after.
- Engaging Youth in Foster Care
Social media has emerged as a new tool for caseworkers and other child-serving professionals to engage youth. A recent podcast from Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Engaging Youth in Foster Care," features an interview with Sixto Cancel, youth consultant to the Children's Bureau's Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for States, founder and CEO of Think of Us, and foster care alumnus.
The interview focuses on the emerging use of social media, specifically Facebook, to engage youth in foster care and help them to develop a dialog with their caseworkers and other supportive adults. Using outlets like Facebook also allow caseworkers to get a youth's perspective on their lives while in the foster care system as well as provide youth with a place to connect with others in similar situations.
Cancel shares an example of this strategy in use in Bridgeport, CT. There, the Department of Children and Families uses Facebook in a safe and structured way to not only connect youth with caseworkers as Facebook friends but also as a means for child welfare professionals to relay important information, such as upcoming training or case plan meetings. In addition, this social media connection gives caseworkers, who otherwise may be dealing with heavy caseloads, the ability to stay abreast of their cases via youth status updates.
As the founder and CEO of Think of Us, Cancel discusses how his organization is leading the way in using multimedia and technology to help youth in foster care thrive as they enter adulthood. With the goal of creating an online web and mobile platform that connects young people to education and employment opportunities based on their abilities, Think of Us aspires to give youth in foster care the chance for a prosperous future.
Engaging Youth in Foster Care is available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-engaging-youth. A PDF of the transcript is available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cw_podcast_engaging_youth_foster_care_transcript.pdf (184 KB).
Think of Us is available at http://www.thinkof-us.org.
In May 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Labor released The Foster Care Transition Toolkit. This toolkit was designed for use by both youth who are currently in foster care and those formerly in foster care as well as by the supportive adults in their lives. The toolkit provides resources on career support, financial management, and housing to help youth transition from foster care into independent adulthood. Read more in November's Children's Bureau Express.
- The Impact of Social Relationships on Youth Educational Outcomes
In 2014, America's Promise Alliance and its Center for Promise at Tufts University released Don't Call Them Dropouts: Understanding the Experiences of Young People Who Leave High School Before Graduation. The report outlined key messages from more than 200 youth interviewed about why they dropped out of school before graduation and what would help them return to school. In 2016, the Center released a follow-up report, Don't Quit on Me: What Young People Who Left School Say About the Power of Relationships, highlighting a study of the impact of social relationships on educational outcomes for youth.
Data for the study on social relationships and supports were collected via interviews with 102 young people during 16 group interviews, followed by 19 individual interviews. Additionally, a 96-question national survey of 2,830 young people focused on youth demographics, such as the background of their parents and their relationships with parents, family, and peers.
Four key findings are outlined in the report:
- Student responses revealed that dealing with adverse life experiences (ALEs), such as a toxic home environment, violence, or homelessness, without having supportive relationships, had detrimental effects on their education.
- The sources and types of support in a student's life and if that support is sufficient during times of adversity play an important role in predicting whether students stay in school.
- The more supportive relationships a student has, the more likely he or she is to stay in school or go back after dropping out.
- Students identified three sources of support as the most impactful—the anchor (someone who is not a family member or paid youth worker); the youth worker; and the web of support, which encompasses their entire network of support.
Report authors suggest further research is needed on the mental health concerns of students who have dropped out of school, the level of support they receive from the adults in their schools, the level of support they receive from their parents, and prevention and intervention strategies that will help students dealing with ALEs. In addition, the report lists recommendations for individuals, schools, and communities on how to provide the proper support to keep students in school, such as being present in the youth's life; ending zero-tolerance disciplinary practices that discourage a student from returning to school, such as suspensions and expulsions; and making sure at-risk students have access to youth workers and anchors.
Don't Quit on Me: What Young People Who Left School Say About the Power of Relationships is available at http://www.gradnation.org/sites/default/files/FullReport%20DontQuit_23mar16.pdf (4 MB).
Don't Call Them Dropouts: Understanding the Experiences of Young People Who Leave High School Before Graduation is available at http://www.gradnation.org/sites/default/files/DCTD%20Final%20Full_0.pdf (2 MB)
- Framework for Improving Adolescent Well-Being
From the ages of 14 to 25, young people experience tremendous growth physically, cognitively, and emotionally. For this reason, this stage of adolescence leading into early adulthood can be a time of possibility as well as a time when youth are most vulnerable to their environment and susceptible to at-risk behavior. A new policy and practice brief by the Youth Transition Funders Group (YTFG) examines what roles and to what extent youth-serving systems (i.e., education, work force, and justice systems) have in supporting the well-being of young people; offers a framework for well-being involving families, communities, funders, and policymakers; and, finally, provides recommendations on how to support our youth during this critical time in their lives.
YTFG proposes a framework centered on six domains of well-being:
- Cognitive Development—Focuses on giving every youth, regardless of race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status, the opportunity for intellectual growth through education opportunities
- Social and Emotional Well-Being—Focuses on building self-esteem and encouraging healthy relationships with others
- Mental Health and Wellness—Focuses on preparing youth and teaching them coping skills for life situations they will experience as they grow into adulthood
- Physical Health—Focuses on giving youth opportunities to participate in healthy activities and teaching them about facets of health pertaining to nutrition, exercise, and sexual health
- Safety—Focuses on ensuring that youth are safe from violence, abuse, and neglect
- Economic Well-Being—Focuses on preparing youth to be able to sustain themselves as adults through steady employment, proper education, and exposure to a variety of career options
The 11 recommendations for supporting these six domains follow an integrated approach involving families, individuals, and advocates, which encourage them to support and empower youth as they explore their prospects for their future. YTFG also recommends that those in the position to change policies and procedures make Federal, State, and local laws that best enable youth to build and sustain their sense of well-being.
Investing to Improve the Well-Being of Vulnerable Youth and Young Adults: Recommendations for Policy and Practice is available at http://www.ytfg.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Investing-in-Well-Being-small.pdf (2 MB).
- January Is National Mentoring Month
January 2017 is the 15th annual National Mentoring Month, which is the largest campaign to promote mentoring in the United States. Each year, National Mentoring Month highlights the positive impact mentoring has on the lives of young people by raising awareness of the various forms of mentorship; recruiting potential mentors, especially to areas where there is the most need; and engaging with corporations and constituencies to garner support for mentoring programs in their area.
In honor of National Mentoring Month, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership released the 2017 Campaign Toolkit. The toolkit includes the following:
- The Mentoring Connector, which is a tool that gives prospective mentors the ability to search for mentoring opportunities nationwide through the MENTOR website or its partner sites, such as My Brother's Keeper and National Basketball Association (NBA) Cares.
- The January launch of the Mentoring Flipped video series, which was inspired by the recent video of President Obama teaching Stephen Curry, a professional basketball player with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, how to shoot a basketball. This series highlights mentoring success stories featuring high-profile individuals being "mentored" by young people.
- Key statistics on how mentoring is a positive force in the lives of young people. For example, at-risk youth who are mentored are 52 percent less likely to skip school and 55 percent more likely to attend college.
- A calendar of important dates and events throughout the month.
- A social media engagement guide, including the official campaign hashtag #MentorIRL.
- Tips on how to open up a dialogue with local, regional, and national media outlets, public officials, and corporations about how to increase support and funding for mentorship opportunities.
To download the 2017 Campaign Toolkit and learn more about mentoring, visit the MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership's website available at http://www.mentoring.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 an episode from a series of podcasts produced by the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, NCFY Voices, focusing on engaging parents in school programs to prevent teen pregnancy as well as an article about the importance of healthy marriages and stable fatherhood in the life of a child.
- 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:
- Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Final Rule: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/14/2016-29366/adoption-and-foster-care-analysis-and-reporting-system
- Evaluating Systems Change: At a Glance: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/evaluating-systems-change-infographic
- Evaluation Brief: Evaluating Systems and Organizational Change in Child Welfare Settings: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/evaluating-systems-change-brief
- Video Series on Data-Driven Decision-Making: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/data-driven-decision-making-series
- Information Memorandum IM-16-06 - CCWIS Overview for State and Tribal IT Staff: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/im1606
- Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) Technical Bulletin #9: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/cfsr-technical-bulletin-9
- National Youth in Transition Database Data Brief #5: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/nytd-data-brief-5
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb.
- Runaway and Homeless Youth Final Rule
The Family and Youth Services Bureau, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), issued a final rule that reflects existing statutory requirements in the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and changes made through the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008. The final rule provides program performance standards for Runaway and Homeless Youth grantees that will monitor grantees' achievements related to the goals of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, as well as assess the quality and effectiveness of their programs. These performance standards include additional requirements for Basic Center, Transitional Living, and Street Outreach Programs regarding nondiscrimination, background checks, outreach, and training. Specifically, grantees will be required to do the following:
- Ensure homeless youth are not discriminated against or excluded from programs or services because of their race, ethnicity, age, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical or cognitive ability, or background
- Meet performance standards to improve outcomes for youths’ social and emotional well-being, permanent connections, education and employment, and stable housing
- Require background checks for all paid and nonpaid staff who have regular and unsupervised contact with youth served by a grantee as well as for all adults who reside in or operate host homes
- Promote collaboration and partnership with communities and Federal, State, and local systems, including child welfare, juvenile justice, and continuums of care to address youth homelessness
The final rule also updates procedures for soliciting and awarding grants.
For more information, access the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Final Rule at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/20/2016-30241/runaway-and-homeless-youth.
Read ACF’s press release on the rule at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/media/press/2016/new-rule-strengthens-runaway-and-homeless-youth-programs.
- Evaluating the Successes, Challenges of Healthy Marriage Programs
Since 2005, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has administered grants to provide healthy marriage (HM) and responsible fatherhood services. These grant programs work to support couples and fathers in their efforts to improve adult and parent-child relationships and build stronger families.
In an effort to learn about the challenges and successes of service implementation, the needs and experiences of participants, and the effectiveness of the services that are provided, ACF awarded a contract in 2011 to Mathematica Policy Research to conduct the Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation. In October 2016, the publication Parents and Children Together: Design and Implementation of Two Healthy Marriage Programs reported on two HM grantees that participated in PACT—the Healthy Opportunities for Marriage Enrichment (HOME) program from the El Paso Center for Children in El Paso, TX, and the Supporting Healthy Relationships program from University Behavioral Associates in Bronx, NY.
In accordance with HM legislation, HM grantees are required to offer at least one of eight "allowable activities," such as premarital education or marriage and relationship skills education, which support and strengthen the relationships of participating couples. They also are encouraged to offer services related to job and career advancement and financial management. The report describes the program design and implementation of the HOME and the Supporting Healthy Relationships programs, including a focus on the job and career advancement services offered by the two grantees and present data on enrollment, initial participation, retention, and the amount of services couples received throughout the PACT enrollment period.
Other topics covered in the report include descriptions of PACT's evaluation framework, data sources, and collection methods; program workshops and other activities; strategies to recruit couples and encourage participation; and participant characteristics, attendance, and program experiences. In addition, the backgrounds, experience, training, and supervision of program staff were examined.
Some key findings of the study include:
- Relationship education workshops, which included both married and unmarried couples, were well attended. Strong participation may have resulted from programmatic efforts to promote attendance and restricting eligibility to only couples who reported being in a committed relationship.
- Both programs offered low-intensity services designed to improve participants' economic well-being, including job and career advancement workshops. Participation in the job and career advancement services was low, which may have reflected couples' limited needs or preferences.
- The programs reported that effective recruitment required face-to-face outreach.
Two appendices provide detailed profiles of the programs.
Parents and Children Together: Design and Implementation of Two Healthy Marriage Programs, by Heather Zaveri and Scott Baumgartner, is available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/resource/parents-and-children-together-design-implementation-two-healthy-marriage-programs.
- Involving Parents in Teen Pregnancy Prevention Efforts
A recent episode in a series of podcasts produced by the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth called NCFY Voices focuses on how schools can better involve parents in teen pregnancy prevention efforts. The short interview features Kathleen Courtney, a program advisor with the Arkansas Department of Education. Ms. Courtney describes how empowering and educating schools—particularly wellness committees—on how to initialize engagement between parents, schools, and students is a crucial first step in gaining support for teen pregnancy prevention efforts at home.
The audio podcast and transcript for "Engaging Parents in Teen Pregnancy Prevention Efforts" are available at http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov/media-center/podcasts/engaging-parents-teen-pregnancy-prevention-efforts.
NCFY Voices is produced by the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, which is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau.
- AFCARS Final Rule
The Administration on Children, Youth and Families published a final rule that will improve the data collection process for the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). This final rule is the first change to AFCARS since 1993 and includes the following:
- Data will now be collected about all of a child’s removals, placements, and permanency plans rather than at the end of the reporting period.
- Data will now be collected from State title IV-E agencies for the first time related to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
- New information will be collected about a child's educational well-being, siblings, timely health assessments and transition plans.
- The circumstances surrounding the child at removal will be expanded to include issues such as homelessness, educational neglect, if they were a sex-trafficking victim, and parental immigration detainment or deportation.
- Data will be collected on children who exit out-of-home care to a legal guardianship, their legal guardians, and children with title IV-E guardianship assistance agreements.
- New data will be collected on child, legal guardian, foster, and adoptive parent sexual orientation.
The AFCARS final rule is intended to enhance the well-being, safety, and permanency of children in foster care and assist States and Tribes in their efforts to deliver more effective child welfare services.
More information on the AFCARS final rule, including an Information Memorandum, will be available soon on the Children’s Bureau website at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/laws-policies/whats-new.
You can also read a blog post about the final rule on the Administration for Children and Families' The Family Room blog at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2016/12/new-data-will-benefit-foster-children-and-adoptive-families.
- An Opportunity for Agencies to Improve Their Child Welfare Workforce Outcomes
Are you interested in strengthening your child welfare workforce? Challenges in staff recruitment, hiring, and retention are common in the field of child welfare. Issues such as staff turnover can be costly. They can also negatively impact the relationship between families and the agency. The Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD) believes that an investment in your child welfare workforce is an investment in the children and families you serve.
The QIC-WD is a new 5-year cooperative agreement funded by the Children’s Bureau and led by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in partnership with experts from the University of Colorado, Denver; the University of Louisville; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; C.F. Parry Associates; CLH Strategies & Solutions; and Great Eastern Consulting. The QIC-WD is dedicated to understanding how to improve child welfare workforce outcomes by using research to build knowledge in the field. Experts in workforce, evaluation, and implementation will work with 5 to 10 selected sites. In partnership with agency leadership, the QIC-WD will work with sites to develop and test promising workforce interventions and apply best practices. This process will build the evidence for what works in child welfare workforce improvement.
The QIC-WD is currently seeking agencies that care about improving staff recruitment, retention, and agency culture and climate. County, State, and Tribal child welfare organizations with title IV-B funding can apply to be a site. Selected agencies will:
- Develop a deeper understanding of their workforce challenges
- Implement research-informed strategies
- Learn from their peers
- Be part of a rigorous evaluation
- Build their capacity to strengthen their workforce
By strengthening the workforce, project sites aim to improve outcomes for the children and families they serve.
The QIC-WD team includes a variety of experts who care deeply about improving the child welfare workforce. The team will use a systematic process when working with sites. This process begins with developing a thorough understanding of a site's specific workforce needs. It includes selecting and implementing strategies that can address these needs. The process also prepares the sites for an evaluation. Site-specific and cross-site evaluations are part of the project. Participating sites will have access to experts and resources to help cover project-related expenses.
If you are interested in a systematic approach to understanding and improving your workforce, consider applying to be a site. The application process is open through February 15, 2017. Qualified applicants will be selected in cooperation with the Children's Bureau and notified by July 2017. Visit www.qic-wd.org to review and download the Call for Applications, the Application Cover Sheet and Narrative Template, and view a webinar. Contact Michelle Graef, QIC-WD Project Director, with any additional questions.
Read an article by the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child that looks at how emerging insights from child development science can be used to improve outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system as well as reports covering the child health-care rates in the United States and tips on how to help youth in foster care reach college.
- Helping Youth in Foster Care Attain Postsecondary Goals
New recommendations from the Educational Commission of the States (ECS) outline how State policymakers can more intentionally help youth currently or formerly in foster care attain postsecondary educational goals. In an October 2016 policy paper, Strengthening Policies for Foster Youth Postsecondary Attainment, ECS recommends States make better use of existing supports to implement policies that will boost postsecondary attainment for youth in foster care. ECS recommendations include the following:
- States should consider filing for reimbursement under the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) and promote training vouchers for youth under the Educational and Training Vouchers (ETV) Program. The CFCIP was established in 1999 to incentivize States with Federal funds to increase a variety of supports for youth, including assistance with employment, housing stability, access to health-care coverage, educational attainment, and personal development. The ETV program was added to CFCIP in 2002 to provide financial, academic, and social support to youth to help them complete their education. ETVs are CFCIP funds extended directly to students for enrollment in accredited training or postsecondary programs. ECS contends that ETVs will encourage students to enroll in such programs and also provide States with financial support to help make these reforms sustainable.
- States should consider expanding the age for foster care eligibility beyond age 18. By providing wraparound services such as housing, child care, transportation, financial literacy, and counseling—in addition to offering financial aid—fewer youth are likely to slip through the cracks during the college transition process.
- States should create, or, if already existing, enhance, tuition waiver programs. ECS argues that this will help increase access to postsecondary education for youth coming from foster care. Twenty-eight States have enacted tuition assistance policies with varying eligibility requirements and funding options.
- States should expand awareness of the financial and other important supports available to assist youth currently and formerly in foster care in pursuing postsecondary education.
Current statistics show that less than 3 percent of youth in foster care will obtain a bachelor's degree and only 46 percent will receive a high school diploma.
ECS operates as an interstate compact representing all 50 States and four territories to exchange information, ideas, and emerging research in the field of educational policy, including early learning, postsecondary education, and workforce readiness. Each State appoints seven commissioners, including elected officials (Governors, State senators, or Representatives) and appointees.
Strengthening Policies for Foster Youth Postsecondary Attainment is available at http://www.ecs.org/strengthening-policies-for-foster-youth-postsecondary-attainment/.
- Health-Care Coverage of U.S. Children at Historic Rate
The number of children with health insurance coverage in the United States reached a historic rate of 95.2 percent in 2015, according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's Center for Children and Families (CCF). The key findings of the CCF October 2016 report include the following:
- About 1.7 million children gained health-care coverage between 2013 and 2015—the time period coinciding with implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010—representing a drop in the rate of uninsured children from 7.1 percent to 4.8 percent.
- All groups of children saw an increase in health coverage, regardless of age, ethnicity, race, or family income level.
- Health-care coverage rates went up in 41 States, and declined in only one—Wyoming.
- Hispanic children and children whose families live between 100 and 200 percent of the Federal poverty level continue to have the highest rates of uninsurance.
- Half of all remaining uninsured children in the United States reside in the South, with almost one in five living in Texas.
The report, Children's Health Coverage Rate Now at Historic High of 95 Percent, can be accessed at http://ccf.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Kids-ACS-update-11-02-1.pdf (624 KB).
- Child Development Science and Improving Child Welfare Outcomes
A new paper by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University looks at how emerging insights from child development science can be used to improve outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system. The paper specifically focuses on strengthening parents' and caregivers' nurturing capabilities.
Child development science emphasizes the importance of cultivating consistent and nurturing relationships early in a child's life to build a safe and secure foundation for future development, finding that when these connections are absent, the child suffers negative consequences and is vulnerable to toxic stress. Early adverse childhood experiences have been associated with a host of debilitating emotional and behavioral health problems later in life. The Center on the Developing Child suggests that a greater understanding of this science by caseworkers, judges, court staff, birth parents, kinship caregivers, and foster parents can help reduce the shame and stigma experienced by many families in the child welfare system by viewing negative behaviors as a product of toxic stress.
With a primary focus on improving parental and caregiver capabilities, the October 2016 paper, Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems, identifies three major opportunities for drawing on child development knowledge to improve child welfare outcomes:
- Reduce external sources of stress by helping to secure basic shelter, food, and organizational needs for children, parents, and caregivers in the child welfare system and by creating a supportive work environment for frontline staff and supervisors.
- Develop responsive relationships by training caseworkers in the skills needed to build and nurture relationships; helping birth, foster, kin, and adoptive parents to become more responsive caregivers; identifying a family's most important relationships and finding ways to strengthen them; trying to reduce the number of placements for children and youth in foster care; encouraging positive relationships between birth and foster parents to help children in care feel more secure and supported; and helping to maintain important relationships after placement or permanency changes so children don't lose touch with a trusted adult.
- Strengthen core life skills by helping children and adults to cultivate the essential life skills of self-regulation and executive functioning; supporting related skill-building, such as employment training; helping parents and caregivers to build on existing strengths; using positive feedback to reinforce progress in case goals; and using coaching to build the skills and mindset needed for a sustained behavior change.
The paper emphasizes the importance of addressing the needs of infants and young children, including access to medical care and developmental screenings.
Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems is available at http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/child-welfare-systems/.
The Center on the Developing Child and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child developed the video Serve and Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry, which explores how the interaction between children and significant adults in their lives helps shape children's developing brains. Access the video, part of a series on Three Core Concepts in Early Development, at http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/serve-return-interaction-shapes-brain-circuitry/.
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.
- Strategic Communications Guide to Engage Hispanic Communities
The Child Trends Hispanic Institute and the Crimsonbridge Foundation has collaboratively developed a communications guide called Reaching and Engaging With Hispanic Communities: A Research-Informed Communication Guide for Nonprofits, Policymakers, and Funders. The purpose of this tool is to equip and assist nonprofits and human services professionals to effectively reach out to Hispanic/Latino communities, particularly low-income Hispanic families, in order to enhance service delivery systems and cost-effective measures that would save time for both clients and providers.
Information in the guide is based on reviews of available research, focus groups comprising Hispanic/Latino parents, and interviews with representatives from organizations serving the Hispanic/Latino community. This guide emphasizes the importance of building communication strategies that are culturally relevant and sensitive to how Hispanic/Latino communities prefer to get information, as well as their access to technology. The main focus of this guide is the development of the research-informed communication framework that would craft a message that inspires individuals to take initiative in utilizing resources to meet their needs. Key components of the communication framework include:
- Identify the target audience and set outreach objectives to support planning and practice.
- Create a message relevant and applicable to the target audience based on outreach objectives.
- Consolidate outreach strategies to provide channels to engage communities using appropriate and culturally sensitive language.
- Apply tactical strategies via the creation of brochures, websites and social media posts, public announcements, or interview scripts.
- Execute data collection and assessment to track and update information on the targeted population.
- Recognize communication resources and tools that encourage community members to receive services.
In addition, the guide lists 16 recommendations of best practices used by service providers, such as partnering with respected community leaders and engaging in direct person-to-person contact as often as possible.
Access Reaching and Engaging With Hispanic Communities: A Research-Informed Communication Guide for Nonprofits, Policymakers, and Funders at http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016-51LatinoCommunicationsGuide.pdf (3,186 KB)
- Special Initiative: National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The National Human Trafficking Hotline defines trafficking as a crime that "occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will." While there is no single profile for trafficking victims—men and women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic status have been found as victims of trafficking in all 50 States—children and youth who have run away or are in out-of-home care have a particularly high risk of being trafficked. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children found that 1 in 5 of the 11,800 reported runaways were probable sex-trafficking victims. That ratio is up from both 2013 and 2014. Additionally, the Center found that 74 percent of these probable victims were in the care of social services.
Children and youth who are trafficked may experience complex trauma that affects them in many ways—from mental health issues, such has having trouble building trusting relationships, to physical ones such as untreated injuries or addiction. Child welfare professionals may find the resources listed below useful in learning about how to best serve these children and youth.
- Strengthening Families (Center for the Study of Social Policy) http://www.cssp.org/young-children-their-families/strengtheningfamilies
- Human Trafficking (Child Welfare Information Gateway) https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/trafficking/
- Trauma-Informed Practice (Child Welfare Information Gateway) https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/responding/trauma/
- Blue Campaign (Department of Homeland Security) https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign
- Resource Library (National Human Trafficking Hotline) https://humantraffickinghotline.org/resources
- Human Trafficking (The Polaris Project) https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking
- Child Trafficking (UNICEF USA) https://www.unicefusa.org/mission/protect/trafficking
Publications and more:
- Addressing Child Sex Trafficking From a Child Welfare Perspective (Casey Family Programs) http://www.casey.org/media/child-sex-trafficking.pdf (352 KB)
- Child Welfare and Human Trafficking (Child Welfare Information Gateway) https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/issue-briefs/trafficking/
- Building Child Welfare Response to Child Trafficking Handbook (Loyola University Chicago Center for the Human Rights of Children) http://www.luc.edu/chrc/Monograph.shtml
- The Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice Toolkit (National Child Traumatic Stress Network) http://www.nctsn.org/content/trauma-informed-child-welfare-practice-toolkit
- Promoting "Normalcy" for Foster Children: The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (Missouri Law Review) http://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol81/iss1/21/
- The 12 Core Concepts: Concepts for Understanding Traumatic Stress Responses in Children and Families (National Child Traumatic Stress Network) http://nctsn.org/resources/audiences/parents-caregivers/what-is-cts/12-core-concepts
- Implementing Trauma-Informed Practices in Child Welfare (State Policy Advocacy & Reform Center) http://childwelfaresparc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Implementing-Trauma-Informed-Practices.pdf (276 KB)
- Using Relationship and Marriage Education to Strengthen Families
The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) developed its Strengthening Families framework to increase family stability, enhance child development, and reduce child maltreatment. A recent CSSP brief describes how relationship and marriage education supports the goals of Strengthening Families. Enhancing how couples function can benefit their parenting, which in turn can improve child outcomes. The brief outlines the seven core principles of the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Model that promote healthy relationships. Examples of the principles include caring for self, social connections, and conflict management. Additionally, the brief lists ways organizations serving children and families can incorporate relationship and marriage education into their existing programs.
The brief, Making the Link Between Strengthening Families and Relationship and Marriage Education, is available at http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengtheningfamilies/practice/body/CSSP-RME-Link.pdf (1,462 KB).
- Helping Young Adults From Foster Care Succeed in College
The lack of stability that many youth in foster care experience, either from changing schools or foster homes, can have significant implications for their transitions to adulthood and for pursuing higher education. While many youth anticipate college as an opportunity to establish community, several stressors unique to college environments may exacerbate their feelings of instability and isolation. Helping Young Adults From Foster Care Succeed in College, a new resource produced by the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, provides tips for educators to effectively help youth in foster care transition to college.
This resource outlines various experiences that may affect the higher educational achievement of youth in care, in addition to tips for educators to help youth transition successfully.
Tips include the following:
- Reach out to students in order to provide them a safe place to engage and be heard as well as to help them feel welcome and connected to the life of the college.
- Encourage and connect students to disability services, while being mindful that youth are often stigmatized with labels such as being "troubled," making them reluctant to disclose any disabilities they may have.
- Mental health care is important, but students may find it difficult to access the mental health services offered through the university. Be patient, and offer resources and support. It's also important to understand that some youth may not be ready to engage in services.
Access Helping Young Adults From Foster Care Succeed in College at https://www.pathwaysrtc.pdx.edu/pdf/proj-1-FUTURES-helping-young-adults-from-foster-care.pdf (1,039 KB).
- Using Data to Study Use of Early Childhood Programs by Hispanic Families
A webinar hosted by the Research Connections and the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families focused on accessing the quality, research-based information on the characteristics, experiences, and diversity of Hispanic children and families that can inform programs and policies that support better utilization of early care and education (ECE) services. The webinar was intended to help researchers learn about several new ECE data resources.
Approximately one in four children in the United States is Hispanic, and that number is expected to rise to one in three by 2050. With nearly two-thirds of Hispanic children living in low-income households and one-third living in poverty, it is clear that many of these children are in economic need. Yet, data show that Hispanics, particularly those in immigrant families, are less likely than any other racial/ethnic group to participate in government support programs.
Although Hispanic enrollment in ECE programs has increased significantly over the past decade (from 39 percent in 2007 to 52 percent in 2012), particularly for preschool-aged children, studies show that fewer Hispanic children participate in ECE than children from any other minority group. Webinar presenters discussed the necessity and value of ECE for low-income Hispanic families, introduced four ECE data briefs, and described the data sets that were included. The issue briefs discuss the use of large-scale data to study ECE participation among Hispanics for these specific topics:
- How Hispanic parents experience ECE settings
- Families' utilization of ECE
- How Hispanic families seek out and select ECE settings
- Project overview and methodology
A description of the presentation and links to the webinar, "Finding and Exploring Existing Large-Scale Data to Study Early Care and Education Among Hispanics," and the issue briefs can be found on the Research Connections website available at http://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/resources/32670.
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 March 2017 include:
- 2017 Children's Law Institute
Southwest Region National Child Protection Training Center at New Mexico State University
January 11–13, Albuquerque, NM
- SSWR 21st Annual Conference
"Ensure Healthy Development for All Youth"
The Society for Social Work (SSWR)
January 11–15, New Orleans, LA
- 31st Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment
Chadwick Center for Children and Families & Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego
January 29–February 3, San Diego, CA
- The 2017 Wells Lecture
The Family and Youth Law Center at Capital University Law School
February 8, Columbus, OH
- 15th Annual Mississippi Child Welfare Institute Conference
"Rethinking Child Welfare Services: Forging New Direction Through Community-Based Partnerships"
Mississippi Child Welfare Institute
February 8–10, Jackson, MS
- 2017 National Conference on Juvenile Justice
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
February 12–15, New York, NY
- 13th Annual Childhood Grief and Traumatic Loss
Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect
February 16, Los Angeles, CA
- 2017 National Conference on Bullying
Florida Association of School Administrators & Florida Association of School Resource Officers
March 1–3, Orlando, FL
- 2017 BPD Annual Conference
Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, Inc. (BPD)
March 1–5, New Orleans, LA
- 2017 AMCHP Annual Conference
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP)
March 4–7, Kansas City, MO
- 30th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health
University of South Florida College of Behavioral and Community Sciences
March 5–8, Tampa, FL
- 2017 Learning & Leadership Summit
Child Abuse North Carolina
March 8–9, Durham, NC
- 2017 SAHM Annual Meeting
"Cultivating Connections: The Importance of Relationships in Adolescent and Young Adult Health"
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM)
March 8–11, New Orleans, LA
- CWLA 2017 National Conference
"Advancing Excellence in Practice and Policy: Highlighting Successful Strategies to Address the Needs of Children, Youth, and Families"
Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)
March 29–31, Washington , DC
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/.
- 2017 Children's Law Institute
- Child Welfare Response to Child and Youth Sex Trafficking
The Children's Bureau's Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for States offers an online training titled Child Welfare Response to Child and Youth Sex Trafficking. The two-part course is intended for local-level, State, territory, and Tribal child welfare professionals to integrate the course curriculum in their training programs on child and youth sex-trafficking victims. Part one includes four training modules tailored to each of the following professionals: caseworkers, supervisors, administrators and managers, and caregivers. Each module includes a trainer's guide, a video series, PowerPoint presentation, and digital stories from the perspectives of survivors and professionals. Part two includes three modules that focus on intake/investigation workers, ongoing workers, and caregivers. Each module features skill-building activities and accompanying videos.
While the training course is available free of charge, in order to gain access to the page, users must first create a login ID and password. To download part one of the training course or each module individually, visit https://learn.childwelfare.gov/content/child-welfare-response-child-and-youth-sex-trafficking. To download part two or each module individually, visit https://learn.childwelfare.gov/content/child-welfare-response-child-and-youth-sex-trafficking-part-2.