News From the Children's Bureau
- New Online Database of ACYF-Funded Programs
The ACYF Grant Website now offers a searchable database containing abstracts of research, demonstration, training, and services grants funded by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The site's guided search feature allows users to search for past grant awardees by bureau (Child Care Bureau, Children's Bureau, Family and Youth Services Bureau, or Head Start Bureau) as well as by specific grant program, geographical region, target population, and funding range.
This site offers prospective grant applicants the opportunity to see what kinds of projects ACYF funds before applying. Users may also find program and contact information for organizations across the country using innovative methods to address familiar challenges.
The database can be accessed at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/grantreview/directory.
For more about ACYF Grant Web, see "Assistance for Prospective Grant Reviewers and Recipients" in the April 2003 Children's Bureau Express.
- Flexible Funding Demonstration Projects Show Promise
The President's recent child welfare proposal would allow States the option to receive their foster care funding as a flexible grant. This flexibility will help States enhance the array of services for families and improve outcomes for children. While this proposal is still pending, demonstration projects are already exhibiting some of its promise on a smaller scale.
Under the child welfare waiver demonstration authority, four States--Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon--are providing counties or other local entities the opportunity to use Title IV-E funds more flexibly to prevent foster care placement, facilitate reunification and otherwise ensure safe, permanent outcomes for children. Participating counties' total Title IV-E allotment is fixed by agreement with the State. These States have arrangements with participating counties to share risks and rewards if expenses are either below or above their planned Title IV-E allotment.
Three of the States have submitted final evaluations reporting outcomes for children based on their first 5 years of implementation. Selected findings include:
- In North Carolina, researchers found the probability of out-of-home placement following a substantiated report of abuse or neglect declined more dramatically in the demonstration counties than in comparison counties during the 5 years of the project.
- In Ohio, researchers found demonstration counties were more likely than comparison counties to express a strong commitment to prevention, target new prevention activities to areas previously identified as insufficient, and target services to particular populations identified as in need of services. The evaluation's analysis of outcomes did not suggest significant differences between demonstration counties as a group and the comparison counties on either safety outcomes or permanency rates; however, individual demonstration counties did show significant differences that could be attributed to the waiver (e.g., in two counties children had shorter stays in foster care before being adopted).
- Oregon's final evaluation report found children were more likely to remain in their own homes in localities where the child welfare agency had access to flexible funds through the Title IV-E waiver or through a State-funded System of Care initiative. Children in the localities with access to both waiver and System of Care funds were more than 3 times as likely to remain at home as children in localities that did not have access to either source of flexible funding.
Strategies employed to achieve these outcomes varied greatly by State and locality. Some of the services funded through the waiver include:
- Family support, family reunification, and child and family counseling
- Enhanced visitation
- Family decision meetings
- Parenting, homemaker, and job-related education
- Adoption services
- Substance abuse and mental health treatment
In Ohio, counties developed their own managed care strategies for expenditures, including establishing capitated or case-rate contracts with private providers; developing utilization review strategies such as pre-placement and period review processes; increasing incentives to enhance foster care provider networks; and establishing quality assurance procedures.
These demonstration projects show that, when coupled with strong leadership and a willingness to deploy new practice tools, flexible funding can be an important catalyst toward achieving better outcomes for children and families. Detailed information about these and other demonstration projects can be found on the Children's Bureau website at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/initiatives/cwwaiver.htm.
Read more about the proposed Child Welfare Program Option in "HHS Assistant Secretary Testifies Before Congress on the President's Child Welfare Proposal" in the August issue of Children's Bureau Express.
- Promoting Improved Permanency Outcomes for America's Children and Youth: National Resource Center f
In response to needs identified in the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs), the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPP) offers States a number of resources to help improve outcomes for children and youth in the critical areas of permanency and well-being, as well as several of the CFSR systemic factors.
In February, the Center offered its first national Web-based broadcast on the topic of concurrent planning. The broadcast is now archived on the Center's website ( www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/index.html), and a second broadcast, focusing on the critical importance of worker-child/parent contact, is planned for this fall. A five-module curriculum on concurrent planning (in English or Spanish) also can be downloaded free from the site. In addition, the Center currently is conducting surveys to examine how States are meeting the challenges of placement stability; worker-child/family contact; child and family involvement in case planning and permanency goal setting; permanency for older adolescents; permanency issues in Tribes; and several other areas related to permanency and well-being, with the intention of sharing promising approaches with the field.
As a member of the Children's Bureau Technical Assistance Network, NRCFCPP works collaboratively with the other National Resource Centers to provide technical assistance to States, Tribes, and Territories. NRCFCPP is committed to increasing the capacity and resources of child welfare agencies to achieve permanency for youth and children in out-of-home care. To do this, the Center supports a mix of:
- Family-centered and strengths/needs-based practice approaches
- Community-based service delivery
- Cultural competency and respect for all families
- Open and inclusive practice
- Non-adversarial approaches to problem-solving and decision-making
- Concurrent rather than sequential consideration of all permanency options
With its array of training, technical assistance, and information dissemination, NRCFCPP helps States, Territories, and Tribes respond to policy and systemic changes in child welfare brought about by implementation of Federal legislation. These systemic changes encompass a variety of issues for children and youth in foster care, including concurrent permanency planning, recruitment and retention of resource families, post-permanency services, case planning assessments, placement stability, fatherhood initiatives, family group conferencing, kinship care, and health and mental health care for children and youth.
For more information, or a brochure outlining how NRCFCPP can help States achieve positive outcomes in response to their CFSR, contact:
National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning at the Hunter College School of Social Work
129 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10021
Phone: (212) 452-7053
- Positive Results for Family Group Decision Making
A relatively new approach in child welfare, family group decision making (FGDM) seeks to give family members, rather than professionals, a leading voice in determining how best to ensure a child's safety and protection from future maltreatment. A recent special volume of Protecting Children provides findings from more than 20 research and evaluation studies showing, in general, FGDM has a positive impact on families, children, and communities.
Some of the findings presented in this volume include:
- Children whose families participate in FGDM spend less time awaiting permanency.
- Children participating in FGDM have more stable placements compared to those going through traditional child welfare processes.
- FGDM increases the involvement of fathers and paternal relatives.
- Families often report greater communication and unity as a result of FGDM.
- Families and professionals are highly satisfied with the process.
Despite these positive results, studies also show very few families currently participate in FGDM, and even fewer have been involved in building and sustaining FGDM processes in their communities.
For a complete copy of the introductory article to this volume, as well as information on many other aspects of FGDM, go to the American Humane Association's National Center on Family Group Decision Making at www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pc_fgdm.
Read more about FGDM in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "New Video, Parent's Choices, Highlights Impact of Parental Decision-Making" (Aug/Sept 2002)
- "Families as Decision Makers in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases" (Jan/Feb 2001)
- National PSA Campaign Urges Adults to Report Child Abuse
A new national PSA campaign, developed by the Advertising Council in partnership with Childhelp USA®, encourages adults to intervene in cases where they suspect child abuse. The television, radio, print, out-of-home (e.g., bus shelter), and Internet PSAs are available free to media members through the Ad Council website at www.adcouncil.org/psa. Professionals and concerned citizens can assist in the campaign by contacting public service directors at local television, radio, and print media to emphasize the importance of child abuse intervention and to request that the ads be used. Organizations wishing to place PSA banners on their websites will find instructions online at www.adcouncil.org/psa/internet.
"Frequently, adults recognize the signs of abuse but are unsure about whether to get involved, or even what they can do to help a child," noted Ad Council president & CEO, Peggy Conlon. "I am confident [this campaign] will motivate bystanders to take action."
Ads feature people wearing "child abuser" labels on their coats, bags, or T-shirts to demonstrate that perpetrators are not always easy to recognize. The tagline, "Trust Your Instincts," conveys to audiences that suspecting abuse is reason enough to seek help. The campaign was created pro bono by the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather.
PSAs direct audiences to call the anonymous and confidential Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD®, or visit www.childhelpusa.org to receive support and information. Childhelp USA is one of the oldest and largest national nonprofits dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Its hotline is staffed 24 hours a day with degreed professional counselors.
For more information about the campaign, visit the Ad Council website ( www.adcouncil.org/campaigns/childhelp_usa/) or contact Rebecca Heller, Director of Communications for Childhelp USA, at (480) 922-8212 x131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Access to Adoption Law Now Easier Than Ever
State law governs almost every aspect of the adoption process--yet these laws vary widely from State to State and are often difficult for adoptive families to find and understand. In July, the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy at Capital University Law School launched a new comprehensive online tool designed to help families, their advocates, and others concerned with adoption law. The website, www.adoptionlawsite.org, offers free access to adoption-related statutes and regulations, as well as key cases and articles, from every State and territory. The site also offers material on Federal and international adoption law.
"The Adoption LawSite is a powerful tool for policymakers, judges, child advocates, and adoption professionals, but it's also a long-needed resource for adoptive and prospective adoptive parents trying to better understand the adoption system," said U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio). Pryce, a former judge and adoptive mother, helped secure $230,000 in Federal funding to support the site's creation.
The site's content represents more than 8,000 research hours by Capital University law students. It includes plain-English summaries of State laws and key cases, with links to the original sources. The site can be searched by topic, document type, and State.
"Knowledge is power," said Sue Badeau, an adoptive mother of 22 children who spoke at the site's unveiling. "This site provides access to critical adoption information for the folks who need it most."
The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse also offers information on Federal and State adoption laws in the Legal Issues section of its website, at http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/general/legal/index.cfm.
- Foster Parents, Relatives Adopt Majority of Children with Special Needs
A June 2003 research brief from the Urban Institute outlines characteristics of parents who adopt children from the foster care system. The report, Who Will Adopt the Foster Care Children Left Behind?, found foster parents and relatives were more likely than the general population to adopt waiting children. The information in the brief may offer clues to help States further hone their recruitment efforts.
Some of the other findings include:
- Foster parent adoptions accounted for 56 percent of the children adopted from foster care in fiscal year (FY) 1999.
- Relative adoptions accounted for 20 percent of foster care adoptions in FY 1999. Relatives were also caring for an additional 24,000 children in the foster care system.
- Foster parents were found to be similar to general applicants in terms of age, marital status, and race. Relative adopters, however, were found to be significantly older and less likely to be married than foster parents or general applicants.
- Relatives (not surprisingly) were more similar in race and ethnicity to the children they adopted than were foster parents or general applicants.
- Adoptions by general applicants were more likely to be transracial than foster-parent adoptions.
- The children in foster care waiting for adoptive families tend to be closest in characteristics to the children adopted by relatives (older, male, and Black). Children who are adopted from foster care are younger and more likely to be female, Caucasian, and Hispanic.
The author notes that because Black parents already adopt foster children at a rate double their proportion in the population, it might be unrealistic to expect to identify enough Black families for the children still waiting for homes. He suggests agencies may be able to increase the number of children adopted from foster care by dismantling barriers to relative adoption, encouraging foster parenting as a precursor to adoption, and helping families overcome challenges involved in transracial and special needs adoptions.
The full report is available on the Urban Institute website at www.urban.org/urlprint.cfm?ID=8465.
Read about Federal support for State efforts to find families for waiting children in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Better Futures for Waiting Children" (December 2002/January 2003)
- "HHS Selects Adoption Exchange Association to Administer AdoptUSKids Initiative" (November 2002)
- The Child Welfare System, Step by Step
The path a child takes through a State child welfare system can be confusing for those unfamiliar with it. The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care has recently developed an online resource, "A Child's Journey Through the Child Welfare System," that provides a step-by-step flow chart of the process. Users can click on any part of the flow chart and be linked to text that describes that key decision point, or they can read a text overview of the entire system.
To view or download this product, go to the Pew Commission website at http://pewfostercare.org/docs/index.php?DocID=24.
"A Child's Journey" is based on Federal laws and may not reflect all laws and practices in individual States. To learn more about State laws related to child welfare issues, visit the State Statutes section of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/general/legal/statutes/.
The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care has also developed short (3 to 10 page) easy-to-read briefing papers on various child welfare topics. Topics include:
- The Federal Legal Framework for Child Welfare
- Child Welfare and the Courts
- The Child Welfare Financing Structure
These papers can be obtained at http://pewfostercare.org/docs/index.php?DocID=22.
For more about the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, read "Bipartisan Commission Launched to Address Foster Care Outcomes" in the May 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express.
- Linking Child Welfare and Behavioral Health Services
As managed care becomes a reality for behavioral health services in more communities, child welfare professionals need information to help them continue to meet the mental health and substance abuse treatment needs of the children they serve. As part of the Promising Approaches for Behavioral Health Series, Georgetown University published two new papers specific to child welfare issues. Though developed primarily for behavioral health professionals, the papers provide valuable insight for child welfare professionals working with managed care systems.
The first paper, A View from the Child Welfare System (www.georgetown.edu/research/gucdc/cw2.pdf), details information to consider when designing a public behavioral health managed care system to meet the needs of children and families in the child welfare system. Along with the necessary components of any public behavioral health system (e.g., access to services, coordination of care), child welfare professionals will learn how four communities designed programs and services specifically for children involved in the child welfare system. In addition, the paper discusses some of the decisions States and communities will need to make about how the child welfare and behavioral health systems will work together.
A companion paper, Making Interagency Initiatives Work for Children and Families in the Child Welfare System (www.georgetown.edu/research/gucdc/cw3.pdf), describes the basis for collaborative efforts on the part of behavioral health, child welfare, and other agencies to provide services to children with behavioral health needs.
Through detailed descriptions of interagency initiatives in New Jersey, Indiana, and Massachusetts, the paper offers practical tips, such as:
- How interagency initiatives are structured and administered
- How issues and problems are addressed
- How successful partnerships with families are developed
- How initiatives are funded by each partner
- How children and their families are enrolled in services
- How services are coordinated
- How partners share information
- How interagency initiatives affect the participating partners, as well as the families they serve
Similarities, differences, and challenges of the three initiatives are also discussed. In addition, participants offer lessons learned and recommendations for States and communities interested in developing their own interagency initiatives.
Information for these papers is drawn from the Health Care Reform Tracking Project, an ongoing study of managed care and children's issues based at the Department of Child and Family Studies, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida.
Hard copies of both reports can be obtained from:
Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development
3307 M Street, NW, Suite 401
Washington DC 20007
Phone: (202) 687-5000
A recent study from the Center for Health Care Strategies explores the issue of coordination between privatized child welfare initiatives and Medicaid managed care systems for the delivery of behavioral health services for children and families in the child welfare system. Find the study on the Center for Health Care Strategies website at www.chcs.org/publications/pdf/ips/childwelfare.pdf.
- Boston Partnership for Child Welfare Reform Sees Results
From 1999 to 2002, Casey Family Programs and the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, Boston Regional Office (DSS), worked to address an urgent need for improvements to Boston's child welfare system. Their journey is chronicled in the recent report, Turning a Vision into Reality: What it Takes to Improve a Child Welfare System.
Some initial outcomes of the 3-year partnership include:
- A 45 percent increase in kinship placements from 2000 to 2001.
- A 15 percent increase in sibling groups of two or three placed together from 2000 to 2001.
- A decrease in the number of children who reentered placement within 1 year of returning home, from 30 percent in 1998 to 20 percent in 2001.
The report details a number of strategies participants felt were key to these accomplishments, including a focus on data and quantifiable outcomes, statewide implementation of family group conferencing, an innovative program designed to keep sibling groups together, and a continuing emphasis on developing effective leadership. Lessons learned (and the occasional "missed opportunity") are also discussed.
The report is available online at www.casey.org/cnc/recruitment/turning_a_vision.htm. (This link is no longer available.)
A report of the partnership's first 2 years is discussed in "Casey Family Programs and Boston Department of Social Services Collaborate for Lasting Reform" in the November 2002 issue of Children's Bureau Express.
For more about leadership in child welfare, see "Tools for Leaders: National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement" in the August 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express.
- Direct Service Grants Available from Hasbro
The Hasbro Children's Foundation offers grants to improve the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of children through innovative direct service programs. Recent grants have supported a program to recruit and train foster parents for high-risk infants, a national child abuse prevention initiative, and a program to support grandparent caregivers.
The foundation offers three levels of funding support to nonprofit organizations only:
- Innovative programs with local impact. These smaller grants fund direct service programs for disadvantaged children in a local community. New or existing programs are eligible.
- National replication of innovations. Larger, sometimes multi-year grants are available to bring successful programs to other communities.
- Innovative programs with national impact. These grants are available for programs that show potential for improving the quality of life for vulnerable children in every community across the nation.
Funding decisions are made three times per year; unsolicited requests are accepted on a rolling basis. For more information and how to apply, visit the Hasbro Children's Foundation website at www.hasbro.org/hcf.
- New Publication Promotes Best Practices for Reports of Maltreatment in Foster Care
The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), in partnership with Casey Family Programs, developed Best Practice Guidelines: Child Maltreatment in Foster Care to offer direction to child welfare agencies providing placement and child protective services. The guidelines provide agencies with a tool to help them develop administrative policies, procedures, and practices that will ensure a coordinated, effective response to reports of maltreatment of children in foster care.
Best Practice Guidelines is the result of a 2-year collaboration between CWLA and the Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support. The collaboration involved surveying the States to assess their current responses to reports of maltreatment and convening an expert panel to provide guidance in the development of the best practices.
Best Practice Guidelines: Child Maltreatment in Foster Care is available in PDF format on the Casey Family Programs website at www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/policy-issues/maltreatment-guidelines.pdf. (PDF 315 KB)
- The Manager's Guide to Program Evaluation
The Manager's Guide to Program Evaluation by Paul Mattessich, Ph.D., provides organizational managers and decision-makers with useful information on planning, contracting, and managing an evaluation. This is not a how-to book on conducting an evaluation. Rather, it provides guidance to managers overseeing the process.
The book provides:
- A description of program evaluation and its benefits.
- Explanations of the types of questions evaluations can answer and the types of information an evaluation can provide.
- Descriptions of the different phases of an evaluation.
- Advice on finding and working with an evaluation consultant.
This book is available from the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation for $25. For more information, visit the foundation's website at www.wilder.org/pubs/program_evaluation/index.html.
Find information on other evaluation publications in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Resources for Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant Applicants" (April 2003)
- "Managing for Outcomes: A Basic Guide to the Evaluation of Best Practices in the Human Services" (October 2002)
- State Guide to Subsidized Guardianship
Due in part to the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997, States are looking for innovative ways to move children in the foster care system to permanency more quickly. In cases where adoption is not appropriate, many States have established subsidized guardianship programs to provide financial support to families (often relatives of the child) who agree to care for the child permanently.
The Children's Defense Fund and Cornerstone Consulting recently published a practical guide for States on key issues of subsidized guardianship. Expanding Permanency Options for Children includes:
- Frequently asked questions about subsidized guardianship programs.
- A checklist for State legislation on subsidized guardianship, including 10 key issues to consider when reviewing or developing legislation on this issue.
- Creative legislative approaches to subsidized guardianship.
- State-by-State information on subsidized guardianship programs, including child eligibility, caregiver considerations, State agency considerations, and payment levels.
A copy of this report can be obtained through the Children's Defense Fund website at www.childrensdefense.org/childwelfare/kinshipcare/subsidy_guide.pdf.
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.
- Resources for Children Affected by Substance Abuse
An estimated 6 million children were living with at least one substance-abusing parent in 2001, according to a recent analysis by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Many of these families eventually come to the attention of the child welfare system. SAMHSA's Children's Program Kit offers professionals assistance in designing programs to meet these children's unique needs.
The Children's Program Kit was developed by childhood mental health professionals to help teach skills such as problem-solving, coping, social competence, autonomy, and a sense of purpose and future. Its contents include:
- Activities, stories, and videos for children of all ages.
- Tools to help parents better understand their children's needs.
- Training materials for substance abuse professionals or others who plan to offer support groups for children.
Free copies of the Children's Program Kit (#CPKIT) can be ordered by contacting SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) at (800) 729-6686. For more information or related materials, visit the NCADI website at http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/promos/coa.
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through December 2003 include:
- "Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse: Equal Justice for Children" (National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse; October 6 through 10, Baltimore, MD; www.ndaa.org/education/ndaa/child_abuse_training_schedule.html).
- "Linking Together: Reaching the Summit" (American Association of Children's Residential Centers; October 7 through 10, Denver, CO; www.aacrc-dc.org/templ/display.cfm?id=269).
- 12th Generations United International Conference "Uniting Generations to Build a Better World" (October 15 through 18, Alexandria, VA; www.gu.org/conference03.htm).
- It's My Life Conference (Casey Family Programs; October 16 through 17, Austin, TX; http://www.casey.org/its_my_life_conference.htm -- this link is no longer available).
- NCALP Fifth Annual National Symposium "In the Matter of ASFA: Examining the First Five Years of the Adoption and Safe Families Act" (National Center for Adoption Law & Policy; October 20 through 21, Columbus, OH; www.law.capital.edu/adoption/conferences.htm).
- "The Lifegiver's Festival" (Insight: Open Adoption Resources and Support; October 23 through 26, Higgins Lake, MI; http://openadoptioninsight.org/lifegiver.htm).
- Children's Rights Council 14th National Conference "Effecting Positive Outcomes for Children" (November 7 through 8, Hanover, MD; www.gocrc.com).
- "Lifelong Connections in Adoption" (Adoption Knowledge Affiliates; November 7 through 8, Austin, TX; www.adoptionknowledge.org/confer1.htm).
- "Tools that Work: Improving Child Welfare Services Through Research, Performance Measurement, and Information Technology" (CWLA Walker Trieschman Center; November 12 through 14, Miami, FL; www.cwla.org/conferences).
- "Shared Connections: Bringing Birthmothers and Adoptive Mothers in Open Adoptions Together" (Insight: Open Adoption Resources and Support; November 13 through 16, Higgins Lake, MI; http://openadoptioninsight.org/shared_connections.htm).
- American Public Health Association's 131st Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 through 19, San Francisco, CA; www.apha.org/meetings).
- Federation for Children's Mental Health 15th Annual Conference "Families Deserve the Best ... Promising Interventions and Best Practices for Serving Children with Mental Health Needs" (November 20 through 23, Washington, DC; www.ffcmh.org).
- First Annual Trauma Treatment Clinic (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; December 1 through 5, Lahaina, HI; www.apsac.org).
- Zero to Three's 17th National Training Institute (December 4 through 7, New Orleans, LA; www.zerotothree.org/nti00/index_main00.html -- this link is no longer available).
Further details about national and regional child welfare conferences can be found in the "conferences" section on the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/profess/conferences/index.cfm.
Further details about national and regional adoption conferences can be found in the "conferences" section on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website at http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/general/conferences/index.cfm.