News From the Children's Bureau
- Medicare Modernization Act and the New Prescription Drug Plans
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants State and local agencies to help spread the word about the Medicare prescription drug plans that will go into effect on January 1, 2006. Available to all citizens who receive Medicare, the Medicare prescription plans will provide insurance coverage for prescription drugs. These new plans are different from the current Medicare-approved drug discount cards, which will be phased out. Throughout 2005, Medicare recipients will be receiving more information about the plans, and a booklet, "Medicare and You 2006," will be mailed out in the fall.
Child welfare professionals who have senior clients (for instance, grandparents raising grandchildren) or clients with disabilities who receive Medicare will want to direct their clients to this information as it becomes available. Two websites that carry updates are the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov/default.asp and HHS's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' web page on the Medicare Modernization Act: https://www.cms.gov/mmaupdate (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
- April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month
"Safe Children and Healthy Families Are a Shared Responsibility" is the theme of this year's National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The primary responsibility for children's health and well-being rests with parents, but they cannot do it alone. All families benefit from the help of strong, supportive neighborhoods and communities.
Throughout the month of April, and throughout the year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, its National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, and the FRIENDS National Resource Center encourage communities, organizations, and individuals to play a role in keeping families healthy and children safe.
Visit the 2005 Prevention Month website (Editor's note: This link is no longer available) for the 2005 Community Resource Packet (in English and Spanish) and other resources for information on getting the word out about the need to support families, tip sheets on positive parenting, and what to do when a child is not safe. Information packets and posters can also be ordered by calling the Clearinghouse at (800) 394-3366 or (703) 385-7565.
- A Focus on Marriage Strengthening Programs
Marriage and relationship programs can strengthen marriages by improving participants' satisfaction and communication, according to a recent study released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF). While the study's researchers were not able to address the impact of marriage programs on the children of participants, they noted that other research has linked greater well-being for children to growing up in a family with two married parents.
The review study was carried out as part of a larger effort by the Federal Government to focus on programs that strengthen marriages and, ultimately, improve child well-being. Thus, the government has placed increasing emphasis on funding healthy marriage initiatives, especially for low-income couples, with the goal of improving the lives of children. This emphasis is reflected in the large-scale research agenda of the ACF and in the ACF's recent release of this review of studies of marriage strengthening programs.
Systematic Review of the Impact of Marriage and Relationship Programs looked at 39 studies that involved a variety of marriage programs, including premarital preparation programs, enrichment programs, therapy programs, programs designed to enhance communications skills, and counseling programs. Some of the studies included couples in distress, and all included assessments before and after the program. The findings support evidence from previous reviews and meta-analyses about the positive effects of marriage programs on couples' communication skills and relationship satisfaction.
Another study released by ACF, Service Delivery and Evaluation Design Options for Strengthening and Promoting Healthy Marriages, examined the key components of existing marriage strengthening programs and evaluation issues for these programs, with a focus on marriage services for low-income families. The authors note that most marriage programs serve middle- and upper-income families, so future efforts to serve low-income populations would have to involve (1) the integration of marriage services into current community services for low-income families, or (2) the expansion of existing marriage programs to include low-income families. A few examples of programs that have managed to accomplish this integration are described.
One product of the ACF research agenda is the Building Strong Families project, which is designed to foster programs that help new, unmarried parents build stronger relationships and achieve healthy marriages, if they choose. Building Strong Families was recently the subject of a research brief that examined the characteristics and relationships of unmarried new parents in 20 urban areas in the United States. This brief, What We Know About Unmarried Parents: Implications for Building Strong Families Programs, highlights potential challenges for the Building Strong Families programs, including:
- Limited economic opportunities of most parents
- Frequent lack of trust in the relationships
- Children by other partners
- A history of incarceration among a high proportion of fathers
- Self-imposed economic and relationship criteria for marriage
The implications of these findings for the design of programs that will help unmarried parents achieve strong and healthy relationships, including marriage, are discussed.
The studies released by the ACF were carried out by the Urban Institute and are available on the ACF website. To read Systematic Review of the Impact of Marriage and Relationship Programs by J. Reardon-Anderson, M. Stagner, J. Ehrle Macomber, and J. Murray, go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/systematic-review-of-impact-of-marriage-and-relationship-programs. To read Service Delivery and Evaluation Design Options for Strengthening and Promoting Healthy Marriages by J. Ehrle Macomber, J. Murray, and M. Stagner, go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/service-delivery-settings-and-evaluation-design-options-for.
What We Know About Unmarried Parents by M. Carlson, S. McLanahan, P. England, and B. Devaney was published by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and is available at http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/PDFs/bsfisbr3.pdf (PDF - 100 KB).
- Child Welfare Matters
The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) has just published the first issue of its new biannual newsletter, Child Welfare Matters. The lead article describes the procedure for requesting onsite training and technical assistance (T&TA) using a central point-of-entry for all onsite requests to better coordinate services across National Resource Centers (NRCs) to States and Tribes. With the start of the 2005 fiscal year, the Children's Bureau entered into a new set of cooperative agreements with the seven NRCs that provide services to States and Tribes. Under the new Children's Bureau T&TA network structure, the NRCOI has responsibility for coordinating, facilitating, and evaluating onsite T&TA for States and Tribes. Approval for onsite T&TA requests is still obtained through the ACF Regional Offices. In responding to requests for onsite T&TA, the Children's Bureau NRCs and AdoptUsKids will cooperate with NRCOI as the central point-of-entry.
Other articles in Child Welfare Matters include brief descriptions of all the NRCs, an interview on the use of consultants by State child welfare agencies, and the focus of the NRCOI on quality improvement work.
This first issue of Child Welfare Matters can be accessed on the NRCOI website at http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/helpkids/rcpdfs/cwmatters1.pdf (PDF 128 KB).
The NRCOI recently released a new publication on assessment, the Training System Assessment Guide for Child Welfare Agencies. This guide is designed to provide principles and tools for a child welfare agency to use to assess the extent to which its training system contains components necessary to positively impact children's safety, well-being, and permanency. The guide includes:
- Performance principles and related indicators for effective training systems
- Case examples of successful training system practices
- Guidance on a three-step implementation process for assessment
- Training workshop materials
- A sample assessment tool
- Lessons learned by the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families during its training system assessment
- An appendix containing standards and guidelines for staff development and training programs
Editor's note: This link is no longer available.
- Clearinghouses to Merge!
The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse are pleased to announce that the two Clearinghouses will be coming together under a single, easy-to-access identity. The goal in merging the Clearinghouses is to offer child welfare and adoption professionals one place to quickly get valuable information. The new consolidated Clearinghouse will continue to provide the same high-quality information and services; the most noticeable changes for users will be in the single point of entry and in the name and logo.
Since 1999, the two Clearinghouses have operated under one contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau. Since that time, all operations have been internally consolidated to more efficiently deliver services and information. The Children's Bureau is now working with the Clearinghouses to finalize external consolidation, so the public will recognize one Clearinghouse representing a full continuum of child welfare services and issues, rather than two distinct and separate Clearinghouses for different audiences. A single name for the Clearinghouses that better connects with the child welfare community and provides greater visibility to child welfare information available from the Clearinghouses will more closely align with the Children's Bureau goals of promoting safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children and families.
Currently, the Clearinghouses are working with a subcontractor to conduct market research and propose a name and logo for the new consolidated Clearinghouse. This new identity will convey the full topical scope of information currently provided by two Clearinghouses—child abuse and neglect prevention; service delivery for children and families in the child welfare system, foster care, or other out-of-home placement; and services for children and families who are working toward adoption. Once the new name and logo have been identified and approved by the Federal Government, the marketing firm will assist the Clearinghouse in developing a plan for raising public awareness and recognition of its new identity.
How can child welfare professionals help? The Clearinghouses are holding focus groups at a number of national conferences over the next few months to market-test possible names and logos for the new Clearinghouse. These conferences include the ODS Adoption Community of New England, April 1 to 2, in Milford, MA, and the 15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect Information in Boston, April 18 to 23.
- National Foster Care Month Website
May will be National Foster Care Month, and Casey Family Programs has partnered with 13 other national organizations to focus attention on the 523,000 children and youth living in foster care. In preparation for National Foster Care Month, the website has been updated to provide information and resources to other agencies, groups, and individuals. Resources include a toolkit, media kit, State-by-State listings of Foster Care Month events, and information on foster care success stories.
(Editor's note: This link is no longer available.)
- HHS Releases National Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect for 2003
According to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 906,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2003. The rate of victimization for 2003 was 12.4 victims per 1,000 children—a rate that has remained fairly steady for the last few years (12.3 in 2002 and 12.4 in 2001) but that represents a significant decrease from 1993, when the rate of abused and neglected children peaked at 15.3 per 1,000 children.
Among the victims in 2003, 60.9 percent experienced neglect, while 18.9 percent were physically abused, 9.9 percent suffered sexual abuse, 4.9 percent were emotionally or psychologically abused, and 2.3 percent suffered medical neglect. Some children suffered multiple types of abuse. An estimated 1,500 children died from abuse or neglect, 78.7 percent of whom were younger than 4 years old.
Child abuse and neglect is often discovered because of reports from mandated reporters. While the definition of mandated reporters varies from State to State, it commonly includes such professionals as teachers, doctors, social services workers, law enforcement personnel, and daycare providers—those who are required by law to report suspicions of abuse or neglect. Of the estimated 2.9 million reports made to State child protective services (CPS) agencies in 2003, approximately 57 percent were made by mandated reporters. The other 43 percent were made by nonprofessionals, such as friends and neighbors.
The 2.9 million reports made in 2003 were screened by CPS agencies, and 1.9 million were investigated. Approximately 30 percent of the reports included at least one child who was a victim of abuse or neglect. As a result of these investigations, services were provided to 57 percent of victims and 25 percent of nonvictims. These included services provided to families in the home and, for 15 percent of victims, they included foster care (for children removed from the home).
The release of the full report, Child Maltreatment 2003, is timed to coincide with the start of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The statistics found in the report are based on information collected through the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Child Maltreatment 2003 is available on the HHS Children’s Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2003.
- Defining and Measuring Child Neglect
Conceptualizing child neglect can be a complex undertaking. Child neglect encompasses an array of behaviors that represent an omission of care rather than abusive actions, and many definitions also incorporate statutory, clinical, and research contexts. In a recent commentary, researchers M. A. Straus and G. Kaufman Kantor offer their own definition of child neglect that is intended for empirical research on the etiology and consequences of neglectful behavior by a caregiver. According to this definition, neglect is a failure to act in ways that are presumed by a culture to be necessary to meet the needs of the child and that are considered to be the responsibility of the caregiver to provide.
The authors provide a conceptual analysis of their definition of neglect and identify principles, criteria, and problems in creating measures of neglect. Some of the principles and criteria discussed include:
- Measuring neglectful behavior separately from harm
- Measuring neglectful behavior separately from causes and motives
- Providing multiple perspectives and subscales for dimensions of neglectful behavior
- Distinguishing the child's appraisal of neglectful behavior from actual neglectful behavior
- Identifying the level of severity and chronicity
The authors hope that the principles and criteria that they provide can be used as a checklist to aid in selecting instruments for research, to examine an existing instrument to determine if there is a need for modification, or to guide in the creation of new instruments to measure neglect. The issues of reliability and validity of instruments are also discussed.
The complete article, "Definition and Measurement of Neglectful Behavior: Some Principles and Guidelines," was published in the January 2005 issue of Child Abuse and Neglect. It is available at http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/NS02-published.pdf (PDF - 259 KB).
- Assistance for Children in Kinship Care Remains Low
Government financial support for children in kinship care remains low, despite the fact that most are eligible for some type of assistance. This is the finding of the authors of a new Urban Institute issue brief, titled Estimating Financial Support for Kinship Caregivers. Using data from the 2002 round of the National Survey of America's Families, the authors analyzed responses from a national sample of caregivers to determine both eligibility and receipt of assistance.
While financial support for children in all types of kinship care is low, children in private kinship care receive the least amount of financial support, although nearly all are eligible for some kind of assistance. Traditionally, private kinship care children have less contact with the child welfare system; therefore, the benefits available to them may not be clearly defined. Their caregivers may be less likely to understand the eligibility requirements for various types of assistance, such as TANF child-only payments.
Compared to children in private kinship care, children in State custody (usually placed by the courts) have greater eligibility for assistance; however, only one-half to one-third receive foster care payments. This may be due to the fact that foster care licensure requirements are considered complex and financially burdensome and may create barriers to receiving foster care payments. In fact, 32 percent of these children receive no payment at all for their care.
Low levels of payment receipt for all children in kinship care may indicate a need to change policy and increase outreach efforts. States should focus on various strategies of outreach and support for both public and private kinship caregivers. States need to ensure that children are safe and that kin caregivers have the resources to provide high-quality care.
The complete issue brief, Estimating Financial Support for Kinship Caregivers, by J. Murray, J. Ehrle Macomber, and R. Geen, was published in December 2004 and is available on the Urban Institute website at www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/311126_B-63.pdf (PDF 184 KB).
The topic of kinship care was addressed in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "New Research Sheds Light on Kinship Care Issues" (August 2003)
- "Kinship Care Policies Differ by State, Continue to Evolve" (March 2003)
- Counseling Birth Parents
Among the members of the adoption triad (children, birth parents, adoptive parents), birth parents who voluntarily relinquish their children are the least studied group by researchers and the least visible group for counselors. In "Birth Parents in Adoption," counselors M. O. Wiley and A. L. Baden provide a scientist-practitioner review of the literature on birth parents, present a number of case studies, and discuss implications for counseling birth parents.
A review of both the clinical and empirical literature from a number of professional disciplines focuses on:
- Prerelinquishment and the decision to relinquish one's child for adoption
- Early postrelinquishment (defined as the first 2 years after placing the child)
- Long-term postrelinquishment effects throughout the lifespan
- Birth fathers
- International adoption
- Openness in adoption
More than 20 years of research illustrates that birth parents who are seen in counseling or research have experienced significant disruption in their lives due to the relinquishment of a child. Some recent studies observe that birth mothers who relinquish fare comparably with those who do not relinquish on external criteria of well-being (e.g., high school graduation rates); however, serious long-term psychological consequences of relinquishment are often apparent. Clinical symptoms identified for birth parents include:
- Unresolved grief
- Difficulty with future relationships
The authors note implications for counseling at each relinquishment phase. Prerelinquishment counseling for the birth mother can be helpful for her immediate adjustment and for preventing a disrupted life later, according to adoption specialists. The effects of early postrelinquishment vary greatly, depending on the birth parents' coping skills, support system, and degree of involvement in planning for the adoption. During this phase, counselors should be prepared to help birth parents with their grief reactions, including assistance in normalizing feelings of anger, loss, and sadness. For birth parents experiencing long-term postrelinquishment grief and even trauma, counselors may want to make use of techniques such as journaling, bibliotherapy, and letter writing. A case study is presented that illustrates the effective use of family therapy following a search and reunion to help the birth mother better understand the role of relinquishment in her family.
The authors describe a notable pattern in the literature—that helping to choose the adoptive couple prior to relinquishment was associated with positive psychological outcomes for birth mothers 4 years later. One study reviewed found that birth mothers who had ongoing contact with the adoptive family showed better grief resolution than birth mothers whose contact had ceased. Furthermore, they found those parents with fully disclosed adoptions also showed better grief resolution than those who had no contact. The authors mention a continued need for research on specific variants of openness in adoption and effects on outcomes for birth parents.
The full article, "Birth Parents in Adoption: Research, Practice, and Counseling Psychology," can be found in the January 2005 issue of The Counseling Psychologist, available from Sage Publications at http://tcp.sagepub.com/content/vol33/issue1.
- Strengthening Families Through Mentoring
Over the last decade, research to study the outcomes of youth mentoring programs has demonstrated many positive outcomes for the youth who have participated in such programs. Given the success of youth mentoring, the Family Strengthening Policy Center explored the idea of using mentoring as a family strengthening approach. A recent policy brief, Mentoring as a Family Strengthening Strategy, examines two types of programs:
- Traditional youth mentoring programs that incorporate a strong family engagement component
- Family mentoring programs that use a mentoring model to connect families to volunteer mentors
While the role of the family has been minimal in traditional youth mentoring programs, this policy brief looks at three programs that have used a family-centered approach to mentoring youth. Interviews with professionals at these programs show that their program activities focus on honoring the role of parents in the lives of their children and creating opportunities for families to develop supportive networks within their own community.
Family mentoring applies many of the principles of youth mentoring to families struggling with poverty, social isolation, or other stressors. These programs generally involve pairing a family with volunteers who provide support and encouragement as the family works toward such goals as self-sufficiency, improving parenting skills, and improving their education. Three case studies provide models for this approach.
Lessons learned and policy recommendations are presented for family- and youth-serving agencies, private sector funders, government agencies, and legislators. Web resources and a bibliography are also included.
The Family Strengthening Policy Center is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and is a program of the National Human Services Assembly. This policy brief can be found on the National Human Services Assembly website at http://www.nassembly.org/fspc/documents/PolicyBriefs/Brief4.pdf (PDF - 100 KB).
- Delivery of Victim Services in Indian Communities
American Indian tribes are increasingly developing their own systems for delivering victim services within their communities. Successful delivery of services has many geographical, jurisdictional, and cultural challenges. The Office for Victims of Crime, of the U.S. Department of Justice, has recently released a new publication, Victim Services: Promising Practices in Indian Country, that describes promising practices for assisting victims of violence and abuse in 12 Indian Country locations throughout the United States.
The tribes represented in the survey range from the Cherokee in North Carolina to the Yup'ik Eskimos in Alaska. A wide array of services are offered, including emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence, children's advocacy centers for victims of child abuse, court-appointed special advocate programs for children in care, and a Mothers Against Drunk Driving program that provides support and counseling services for the victims and survivors of alcohol-related accidents.
These programs have been successful within the communities that they serve for many reasons. Geographical barriers have been addressed by locating facilities within tribal communities as much as possible and offering transportation services where needed. Jurisdictional issues have been addressed through partnering with State agencies and through interagency and interprogram cooperation. In addition, the cultural relevance of services is ensured by having them delivered in the victim's own language by tribal members and integrating elements of the tribe's traditional healing methods into the treatments provided.
This monograph was prepared by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. Each description includes the program's keys to success, relevant demographic data, and a contact for further information. This publication is available online at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/publications/infores/victimsrvsindian_country2004/729404.pdf (PDF 741 KB).
- The Child Mental Health Initiative
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has announced the availability of funds for its Child Mental Health Initiative. The initiative is meant to expand community capacity to serve children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances and their families and promote family participation in service planning and development. It is expected that approximately $24 million will be available to fund up to 24 awards in FY 2005. The period of award is 6 years. The maximum allowable award for Year 1 is $1 million in total costs. Awards increase to $2 million in Years 3 and 4 and decrease in subsequent years. Applicants are required to detail plans for infrastructure and service sustainability beyond the 6 years of the Federal grant. Additionally, there are cost sharing/matching requirements for this program.
Eligibility for this program is limited to public entities such as State or local governments (including U.S. territories), Indian Tribes, or Tribal organizations.
Application kits can be downloaded from the SAMHSA website at www.samhsa.gov/grants/2005/nofa/sm05010rfa_cmhi.aspx. Applications can also be requested from the National Mental Health Information Center at 800.789.2647. Applications can be submitted in either electronic or paper format. To submit an application electronically, go to www.grants.gov and click on "Apply for Grants." Due date for submission is May 17, 2005.
- Adoption Clubhouse Website
The Adoption Clubhouse website was launched by the National Adoption Center as a resource for adopted children and their parents. The site contains sections such as "Speak Out," which features writings from children about adoption, as well as sections on famous people, homework help (including suggestions for school projects regarding family trees), a library of books and movies about children who were adopted, fun activities, adoption talk (including suggestions on discussing the subject and adoption-related terminology), and an area for parents. The website is sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Answerthink, Inc. Learn more about the website at www.adoptionclubhouse.org (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
- Spanish Guide to the Child Welfare System
The eminently readable A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System is now available in Spanish. Written in a question-and-answer format to help families navigate the complexities of the child welfare system, this guide was first published at the end of 2003 and now has been made available in Spanish. Families whose first language is Spanish will be able to find information about such topics as Child Protective Services, service planning, foster care, the court process, and parental rights.
A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System and Guía para la familia sobre el sistema de bienestar infantile are the result of a collaborative effort among child welfare professionals, organizations, and families, including the National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health at Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health at American Institutes for Research, Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, Child Welfare League of America, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association. The 140-page Guía is available at www.tapartnership.org/docs/familyGuideToChildWelfare-spanish.pdf (PDF 889 KB).
The English version was first covered last year in Children's Bureau Express (http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov) in "A Family's Guide to the Child Welfare System" (May 2004).
- Supporting Adoptive Families
Adoptive families' need for services and supports may continue long after the adoption is finalized. In North Carolina, public agencies recognize an obligation to provide this support. Adoptive parents in North Carolina say that some of their most important support needs are for information about the resources available to them, access to support groups and contact with other adoptive parents, respite, and additional education.
The December 2004 issue of Children's Services Practice Notes, from the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program, discusses how this NC agency is striving to help local public agencies provide ongoing support to adoptive families. This issue provides brief articles on a number of relevant topics, including:
- Why families need support
- Assessing postadoption support in your agency
- Postadoption support assessment for individual workers
- Removing barriers to postadoption support
Articles in this issue show that postadoption support can include the following:
- Providing accessible information about services, supports, and resources
- Providing parenting education, including practical help with children's needs
- Making available advocacy services, including help negotiating the educational and mental health systems
- Informing parents of adoption assistance (subsidies) and medical coverage
While agencies should be careful not to overestimate the impact their interventions will have, their support may prevent out-of-home placement and promote family well-being.
This issue of Practice Notes is available on the web at www.practicenotes.org/vol10_no1.htm.
- Resource Articles for Fundraising Activities
The Administration for Children and Families National Resource Center for the Compassion Capital Fund offers a variety of tools and services for organizations funded under the Compassion Capital Fund. The Resource Center has just released the "Best of the Best," a compilation of the best articles from their newsletter over the past year. Two sections on Fundraising and Fundraising Research are included, and both provide a wide variety of information, resources, and tools that organizations can use to inform their fundraising activities. To access these and other articles, visit the Best of the Best website at www.ccfbest.org (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
- Virtual Global Taskforce Website
The Virtual Global Taskforce is an international partnership created in 2003 to prevent and deter online child abuse with a mission of making the Internet a safer place; identifying, locating, and helping children at risk; and holding perpetrators appropriately to account. The new taskforce website is designed to become a gateway to all relevant information about child protection online. Partners include the Australian High Tech Crime Centre, Interpol, the National Crime Squad for England and Wales, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Learn more about the organization and its initiatives at www.virtualglobaltaskforce.com.
- Adoption Assistance by State
Adoption assistance information by State is now provided by the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance and the American Public Human Services Association on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website. Users can select a State to view the answers to 13 questions regarding State policies on adoption assistance, or they can select a question to find out how it is addressed across all States. The new database is available at www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/adopt_assistance
- The Intricacies of Foster Care Law
Social service professionals, attorneys, students, child advocates, parents, and even judges will find a wealth of information about the legal process surrounding foster care in Foster Care Law: A Primer. Written by two attorneys with substantial experience in child welfare and foster care, the book includes chapters on each group involved in foster care (foster children, foster parents, biological parents, public agencies, and private agencies), detailing their rights, their relationships with each other, and significant legal issues that may affect each group. A final chapter on the court process describes the roles of the participants, the different types of hearings, the extent of judicial power, and the appeal process. A typical case is described to illustrate the timing of some of the events, as well as the possible outcomes.
The book also includes a number of useful appendixes for those doing research, addressing such topics as:
- Liability for different parties
- A flow chart illustrating how children enter and exit foster care
- Guidance on how to look up a legal case
- The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997
- Useful publications, laws, and websites
Foster Care Law: A Primer, by H. Schweitzer and J. Larsen, is published by and available from Carolina Academic Press at www.cap-press.com.
- Funding Resources for Faith-Based and Community Organizations
The Grant Opportunities Notebook provides faith-based and community organizations with information on funding opportunities within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Now updated for 2005, the Notebook includes descriptions of over 40 discretionary and block or formula grant programs. Although HHS announces thousands of funding opportunities each year, the Notebook focuses on those that are most relevant to faith-based and community organizations. Grants are grouped into the following categories:
- At-Risk Children and Youth
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health
The block and formula grants are listed in the Partnership Opportunities section.
The Notebook was developed by the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the Health Resources Services Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Unlike the 2004 edition, the 2005 Notebook is not available in print. Copies can be downloaded from the HHS website at http://mchenry.house.gov/uploadedfiles/gon.pdf (PDF - 1,761 KB).
- Deadline Extended for Scholarships for Males of Color
The Orphan Foundation of America has extended the deadline for its Casey Family Scholarships for Male Students of Color in Post-Secondary Education. The new deadline for submission is December 31, 2005. To be eligible, students must be in their senior year of postsecondary education and must be able to verify their status as having aged out of the foster care system. This nonrenewable scholarship of up to $5,000 is available to minority male students as commendation for their ambition and tenacity in pursuing a higher education.
(Editor's note: This link is no longer available.)
- Summer Internships for Foster Youth
FosterClub will choose six current or former foster youth (ages 18 to 24) to be FosterClub All-Stars for this summer. These interns will help other youth in foster care, travel across the country, earn approx $3,200 over the summer, as well as improve their leadership skills. Completed applications are due by April 20.
(Editor's note: This link is no longer available.)
- National CASA African-American Outreach
The National CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) Association works with local CASA groups to support quality advocacy on behalf of abused and neglected children. Learn more about the National CASA Association's African-American outreach, including being a volunteer, news, and the African American Advisory Committee, at www.nationalcasa.org/aao (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
- Guidelines for Caseworkers' Family Access and Visitation
Recognizing the importance of caseworker visits to families and children, the Child and Family Services Division of Olmsted County, MN, has developed a 47-page guide for such visits. While regulations for visiting vary among jurisdictions, this guide provides basic information that caseworkers around the country may find useful.
The Visitation/Family Access Guidelines: A Practice Model for Social Workers discusses such issues as visitation and contact with children who remain in their own homes as well as children who are placed in out-of-home care. Other topics include:
- Written visitation and contact plans
- Documentation of visitation
- Who may participate
- Frequency of visits
- Responsibilities regarding visits
- Quality of visits
- Right to contact
- Where and when visits should occur
- Visits after placement occurs
- Visiting in specific situations
The full text is available through the county website at http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/groups/county_access/documents/pub/dhs_id_048528.pdf (PDF - 2,161 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.
- Training the Trainer
The National Resource Center for Youth Services has announced a schedule of courses that will be offered around the country as part of its Train the Trainer program. The four courses are:
- Residential Child and Youth Care Professional trainer certification
- Managing Aggressive Behavior trainer certification
- Behavior Crisis Management trainer certification
- Ansell-Casey Life Skills trainer certification
More information is available on its website at www.nrcys.ou.edu/training/pdfs/tot05sched.pdf (758 KB).
- Foster Parents Video
A new video and discussion guide for foster parent training and recruitment are now available. Produced by the New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children (NYSCCC) and Photosynthesis Productions, the 20-minute video is titled "Foster Parents Speak: Crossing Bridges and Fostering Change," and it features foster parents discussing their own experiences with children in their care. Foster parents also talk about building relationships with birth families and with professionals in order to best care for the children who come into their homes.
A discussion and resource guide, now available online, is designed to accompany the video to provide a more complete training experience. The guide includes chapters on:
- Becoming a foster parent, requirements, how to determine if someone is prepared
- Keeping children connected with their birth family
- Shared parenting
- Understanding birth parents and their experiences
- Family/child visiting
- Finding support
- When foster children leave
- Advocating for children
The NYSCCC's webpage (http://nysccc.org/about-us/programs/nysccc-videos/foster-parents-speak) includes the discussion and resource guide, a script of the video, and instructions for ordering the video.
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through July 2005 include:
- Finding Better Ways 2005: "Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Children, Youth and Families" (Child Welfare League of America; May 2 through May 4; New Orleans, LA)
- Pathways to Adulthood: "Independent Living/Transitional Living Conference 2005" (National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development; May 18 through May 20; Atlanta, GA)
- 2005 National Citizen Review Panel Conference (North Carolina Division of Social Services and the South Carolina Department of Social Services; May 25 through May 27; Nags Head, NC)
- NDACAN Summer Research Institute (National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect; June 1 through June 5; Ithaca, NY)
- 2005 Conference on Family Group Decision Making (American Humane; June 8 through June 11; Long Beach, CA)
- APSAC's 13th Annual Colloquium (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; June 15 through June 18; New Orleans, LA)
- Investigation and Prosecution of Child Fatalities and Physical Abuse (American Prosecutors Research Institute; June 27 through July 1; Denver, CO)
- 27th Annual Conference "Don't Gamble with Truth in Adoption" (American Adoption Congress; July 6 through July 10; Las Vegas, NV)
- 9th International Family Violence Research Conference (Family Research Laboratory & Crimes Against Children Research Center; July 10 through July 13; Portsmouth, NH)
- Children's Bureau's 8th National Child Welfare Data Conference "Achieving Positive Outcomes for Children and Families: It's A Team Effort" (National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology; July 20 to July 22; Washington, DC)
- 19th Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care (Foster Family-Based Treatment Association; July 24 to July 27; Atlanta, GA)
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar feature on Child Welfare Information Gateway at www.childwelfare.gov.
- New Book Tackles Challenging Staffing Issues
A new book by S. A. Larson and A. S. Hewitt provides practical, research-based strategies to address today's workforce challenges in the human services. Staff Recruitment, Retention, and Training Strategies for Community Human Services Organizations is divided into five sections:
- Finding and hiring employees—recruitment and selection strategies
- Socializing and training employees—competency-based training, mentoring, and professionalization
- Motivating and supporting employees—staff recognition, creating and using teams, training supervisors
- Assessing problems and designing solutions—assessing workforce challenges, implementing strategies for change
- The bigger pictures—strategies for policy change
The book also includes a review of the literature, case studies, resources, and tools for managers to use as they address staffing issues within their own organization. The book is available at http://rtc.umn.edu/docs/Larson_and_Hewitt_Staff_rrt_book_U_of_MN_reprint_2012.pdf.
- Kinship Care Training Materials for Caseworkers
The Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago offers a training curriculum on kinship care practice for child welfare caseworkers. The curriculum is intended to prepare caseworkers to engage family members in developing a permanency plan for a child in the custody of the child welfare system.
Materials include a training manual and four videos. The manual is divided into six units covering the following topics:
- The Context of Practice in Kinship Foster Care: Formal and Informal System Constraints and Opportunities
- The Sociocultural Contexts of Kinship Care
- Substance Abuse and Its Impact on Family Systems
- Convening the Kinship Network
- Decision-Making and Family Empowerment
- Supporting Permanent Plans
Each unit contains learning goals, a discussion section that can be used as a lecture guide or distributed as a reading assignment, a reference list, learning activities and resources, and full-page handouts that can also be duplicated as overhead transparencies.
The training videos include four segments, 25 to 40 minutes each, showing a caseworker interviewing family members, using the genogram and ecomap to assess the case and engage family members, and meeting with extended family to discuss permanency options.
All materials can be downloaded from the Kinship Care Practice Project at www.uic.edu/jaddams/college/kincare/curriculum_videos/curriculum_videos.html.