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June 2010Vol. 11, No. 5Spotlight on Father Engagement

This month, CBX spotlights "Engaging Fathers" and the importance of fathers and paternal relatives in the lives of children involved with the child welfare system. Articles focus on federally funded efforts to study and promote father involvement, as well as promising practices from the field.

Issue Spotlight

  • Fathers as Family and Community Resources

    Fathers as Family and Community Resources

    A recent article in American Humane's Protecting Children describes the impact of fathers in the lives of families involved with the child welfare system, as well as ways to support and promote positive father involvement. The article, "Fathers as Resources in Families Involved in the Child Welfare System," focuses on the evaluation of a model program for low-income families involved with the child welfare system. 

    More than 500 families with child welfare involvement were randomly divided among three interventions: a fathers-only group, a couples group, and an information-only (control) session. The fathers and couples groups received 32 hours of group training and discussion over 16 weeks, facilitated by a clinically trained couple using the Supporting Father Involvement curriculum. Before the intervention and 2 and 11 months after the intervention, parents were assessed for mental health and well-being, quality of the couple's relationship, quality of the parent-child relationship, generational transmission of expectations and behaviors, and balance of life stresses and social supports.

    Results show the interventions' success in reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors:

    • Parents in the couples group showed increased father involvement and decreased personal and parenting distress compared to the control condition.
    • Fathers-only participants made slightly fewer gains than the couples participants but showed significant and positive effects on father involvement.
    • Children of parents who participated in one of the groups had no increases in problem behaviors, unlike children in the control condition.

    In addition, agencies that hosted the fathers-only groups showed improvement in father-inclusive policies and services.

    The authors note that this ongoing program is still learning how to best provide parents with the skills and supports that are needed to eradicate old patterns and improve family relationships.

    The article, by Marsha Kline Pruett, Carolyn Pape Cowan, Philip A. Cowan, and Kyle Pruett, was published in American Humane's Protecting Children, Vol. 24(2), which was a special issue on "Bringing Back the Dads: Engaging Non-Resident Fathers in the Child Welfare System."

    The issue is posted on American Humane's website: (2.4 MB)

  • Bridging the Child Welfare System and Father-Focused Services

    Bridging the Child Welfare System and Father-Focused Services

    Both the Child and Family Services Reviews and research have highlighted the lack of engagement of nonresident fathers in the child welfare system. The Engaging Fathers project, a collaboration between the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) and Fathers and Families Center (the Center), is taking steps to bridge this gap to improve outcomes for children in Marion County, Indiana. This project, which is one of four subgrants of the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF), utilizes a 20-week, peer-led support group curriculum for nonresident fathers that was developed by the QIC NRF.

    The Center has a full-time male staff person onsite at the Marion County DCS office to serve as the initial contact for nonresident fathers. This person helps the project—and DCS—locate nonresident fathers and also helps the fathers who come into contact with the agency understand their cases and navigate the child welfare and court systems. Additionally, the staff person provides training and support to DCS staff about father engagement on the project.

    Eligible fathers are invited to attend the 20-week peer support group and may also receive other services through the Center, such as job assistance, GED preparation, relationship counseling, and transportation. The project is currently on its ninth cohort of fathers attending support groups, with approximately two to eight fathers in each cohort. The project team reports that the support groups—in addition to providing information about parenting skills, the child welfare system, legal issues, and other areas—have helped empower the fathers and supply a much-needed support network. Within the groups, fathers share the successes and challenges that each has experienced in trying to become a more engaged father.

    The collaboration between DCS and the Center has proven beneficial for the partnering organizations as well. The Center's staff have learned more about the child welfare system and are able to offer help in that area to fathers. Center staff now ask fathers whether their children are involved with the child welfare system (and are surprised by the number of fathers with positive responses). Similarly, DCS staff have become more familiar with fatherhood issues and the Center.

    Some project funding was used to make the Marion County DCS office more father-friendly by adding an infant changing table to the men's restroom and supplying posters, brochures, and other resources that highlight the role and presence of fathers. The project also has been able to use its experience to support other organizations. For example, Casey Family Programs provided 1 year of funding to three other regions in Indiana to improve father involvement in the child welfare system. The Center has provided technical assistance about how to better involve and locate fathers and how to develop and implement an amended version of the curriculum.

    Although the evaluation of the project is still preliminary, the team noted that they are aware of several fathers who attended the support group—or the paternal families—that have since received custody of their children. They also reported that DCS has been making a concerted effort to locate and engage nonresident fathers and verify information about fathers that was provided by mothers or other individuals. Although the project staff believe they have made a lot of headway in connecting the child welfare system and father-focused services, they are still amazed at how many fathers are left out of the child welfare process.

    "Several project fathers have told us during their peer group meetings that they were unaware that they were to take part in their children's Family Team Meetings and various court hearings," stated Tiffany Mitchell of DCS.

    The project team stresses the importance of remembering that families include fathers, even if they may not live with their children, and recognizing that including fathers in the process should not be an afterthought.

    Funding for this project came through the QIC NRF, which was created in 2006 with funding from the Children's Bureau to American Humane and its partners, the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and the National Fatherhood Initiative. As a part of this initiative, the QIC NRF funded four sites in 2008 to help determine the impact of nonresident father involvement on child welfare outcomes. In addition to the Indiana project, awards were made to projects in Fort Worth (TX), Seattle (WA), and Colorado Springs (CO).

    For more information, visit the QIC NRF website:

    Many thanks to Tiffany Mitchell of the Indiana Department of Child Services and Robert Ripperger and James Melton of Fathers and Families Center for providing the information for this article.

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express first wrote about the QIC NRF in "Engaging Dads: The National QIC on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System" in the February 2008 issue.

  • Father Involvement in the Illinois Integrated Assessment Program

    Father Involvement in the Illinois Integrated Assessment Program

    Chapin Hall recently released a report that examined the extent to which fathers of children entering foster care were involved in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Integrated Assessment (IA) program. The IA program partnered child welfare caseworkers with licensed clinicians who interviewed families of children entering the child welfare system to gather better information about child and family strengths, support systems, and service needs. This study specifically looked at the extent to which fathers were interviewed as part of the IA process and the factors associated with fathers being interviewed.

    More than 9,000 families were interviewed, and 45 percent included interviews with fathers. The researchers noted a number of demographic characteristics associated with the fathers interviewed for the IA program, including various problematic behaviors such as alcohol and/or drug abuse and criminal backgrounds. The study also found that, while nearly all nonresident fathers were described as being positively involved with their children, the same was not true for all resident fathers.  

    Researchers noted that the information covered in the assessments and the recommendations made by the IA reports or service plans were often not aligned. Findings also highlight the difficulties in providing multiple services to fathers. Finally, the study found that when both parents were interviewed as part of the IA process, children were significantly more likely to be reunified than when only one or neither parent was interviewed.

    The researchers note several implications from the findings, including:

    • Techniques for engaging fathers, as well as the services provided, must be tailored for the individual.
    • Support for positively involved fathers in their ongoing involvement in their children's lives may have significant payoffs.
    • Negatively involved resident fathers may offer some resources to their children, but many do not understand the impact of their behaviors on their families. These fathers can be more difficult to engage in services and reunification efforts, and caseworkers working with these individuals should be ready to address the dynamics of the entire family and potential resistance from the fathers.
    • The importance of engaging fathers early in the assessment process is crucial, and sustaining father engagement throughout services and interventions needs further attention. 

    The full report, Identifying, Interviewing, and Intervening: Fathers and the Illinois Child Welfare System, by Cheryl Smithgall et al., is available on the Chapin Hall website: (966 KB)

  • Community Roundtable on Responsible Fatherhood

    Community Roundtable on Responsible Fatherhood

    The inaugural White House Community Roundtable and Town Hall Meeting on Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families was held in Chicago, IL, on August 5, 2009. The event was the first in a series of locally focused meetings designed to highlight the importance of fatherhood in communities across the nation. It provided a forum for responsible fatherhood program representatives, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers at the Federal, State, and local levels to discuss the successes and challenges faced by fathers and responsible fatherhood programs.

    A new publication, White House Community Roundtable and Town Hall Meeting on Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Report, provides an overview of the discussions and exchanges that were shared at the Roundtable. Discussions revolved around four topics:

    • Connecting anti-violence and fatherhood
    • Mentoring young men and future fathers
    • Fatherhood and economic stability
    • Promising practices for increasing father involvement

    The Roundtable was sponsored by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Administration for Children and Families. The report was prepared by the Welfare Peer Technical Assistance Network for the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance and is available on the website: (1,561 KB)

    Related Item

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides an array of resources for fatherhood programs in the areas of healthy marriage, effective parenting, improving economic stability, child visitation and support, and other related topics on its Promoting Responsible Fatherhood website.

  • Involving Dads in Family Group Decision-Making

    Involving Dads in Family Group Decision-Making

    Family group decision-making (FGDM), which emphasizes the importance of reaching out to and including all members of a child's family, can be a powerful tool for improving the engagement of fathers and paternal relatives in the lives of children involved with the child welfare system. To support these efforts, American Humane recently published an issue brief that describes how child welfare agencies can use FGDM to locate fathers and more effectively use paternal family members as a resource for children.

    Several studies have identified potential barriers to father involvement in child welfare, including workers' biased perceptions of fathers, the perceived difficulty of engaging fathers, and the gender dynamics of a largely female child welfare workforce. The brief highlights FGDM as a way to avoid some of these barriers by using an independent coordinator to organize family meetings and work closely with both the mother and father to reach as many family members as possible. Doing so ensures more family members play a role in determining the best options for the safety and well-being of the child.

    The brief pays particular attention to situations in which the mother-father relationship is strained, such as cases of domestic or family violence. Although participants may have safety concerns, the brief describes strategies to minimize those concerns through careful preparation, attention to detail, and follow-through after the meeting.

    Involving more family members in decision-making and case planning processes, particularly fathers and paternal relatives, can lead to better outcomes for children in the areas of permanency, stability, and cognitive, social, and emotional development. The brief recommends that child welfare agencies should consider the use of FGDM to improve family engagement and enhance supportive connections in children's lives.

    "Dads and Paternal Relatives: Using Family Group Decision Making to Refocus the Child Welfare System on the Entire Family Constellation," was written by Molly Jenkins and Ellen Kinney. It is part of the series FGDM Issues in Brief, and can be downloaded on the American Humane website: (171 KB)

    Related Item

    American Humane offers tools, research, and training in the areas of fatherhood and FGDM. Visit the website for more information:

  • The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

    The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

    "We all know the remarkable impact fathers can have in our children's lives. So today, on this 100th anniversary of Father's Day, take a moment to celebrate responsible fatherhood and the men who've had the courage to step up, be there for our families, and provide our children with the guidance, love and support they need to fulfill their dreams"  First Lady Michelle Obama, June 21, 2009

    The strength of a father's presence not only provides basic benefits for raising healthy children, it can actually improve child outcomes. When fathers are involved in the lives of their children in a positive way, their children are more likely to experience better friendships, fewer instances of criminal behaviors and behavioral problems, lower incidences of substance abuse, a greater capacity for empathy, and higher educational achievement than average.

    The bottom line is that responsible, involved fathers benefit children! This is the overarching message of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC), which is funded by the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Family Assistance. Through this portal, fathers, families, and program leaders from local, State, and Federal organizations can locate the latest research on responsible fatherhood. This includes the most up-to-date information on responsible fatherhood programs whose promising practices are making a significant impact within the communities they serve.

    Highlighted on the NRFC website are grassroots programs like the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families and The Ridge Project (Ohio), which are successfully demonstrating that fathers can overcome the barriers to healthy parent involvement. Other resources are targeted to a variety of audiences, including:

    • Fatherhood professionals
    • Fathers and families
    • Spanish speakers
    • Grantees
    • Community partners
    • Policymakers
    • Researchers

    For fathers who are actively and intimately engaged in their children's lives, the NRFC has resources to help them to strengthen their ability to nurture their children's abilities, uniqueness, and success. Resources like "Spotlight on Dad" and multimedia Public Service Announcements are designed to encourage, educate, and equip fathers from all walks of life.

    "Take time to be a dad today" is more than a catch phrase. It represents the mission, vision, and hope for strengthening families, and the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse is proud to be a part of this great endeavor!

    Visit the NRFC website to find resources on fatherhood issues:

    Contributed by Randell Turner of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.

    Recent Issues

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News From the Children's Bureau

CBX announces the launch of a video designed to increase awareness of CBX as a timely resource for professionals. In addition, this June issue brings you the latest news from the Training & Technical Assistance Network and from the Children's Bureau, including six new Program Instructions.

  • Updates From the T&TA Network

    Updates From the T&TA Network

    The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:

      • The Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center (ACCWIC) has posted "What Child Welfare Agencies in Regions III and IV Are Most Proud Of," a mini-poster presentation from its March forum that highlights programs from 15 members: (1,334 KB)
        The ACCWIC has also established a Learning Leaders Council to provide guidance on peer-to-peer learning, promote engagement of State and Tribal communities, and develop strategies to target the dissemination of implementation resource information. Members are listed here:

      • The Midwest Child Welfare Implementation Center (MCWIC) has developed and hosts CONNECT, an Internet social networking site designed exclusively for people who work in child welfare at State, Tribal, county, and Federal levels. Additionally, the site lists other networks that are open to subscribers with specific job titles and other interested users:
        MCWIC has initiated projects in Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Read full descriptions on the website:

      • The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) has posted the audio presentation and accompanying slides for two teleconferences.
        • Part I:  Prenatal Substance Exposure in Infants and Toddlers: Developmental Concerns, Parent-Child Relationship Issues, and Effective Interventions, led by Cheryl Pratt
        • Part II:  Mom Has HIV: Now What? led by Maithe Enriquez

      • The National Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC) has initiated projects in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and South Carolina. Read full descriptions on the website:

      • The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) has posted an archived webinar on "A Discussion About Permanence for Older Adolescents," which can be accessed by registering and choosing a password. Several handouts, including a recent journal article on youth permanence, can be downloaded as well:

      • The National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUsKids, in partnership with the North American Council on Adoptable Children, is offering minigrants of up to $5,000 to child welfare organizations to start respite care programs for foster parents and families. Applications are due July 1 and are available at
        The NRC also has collaborated with Rich Newman to produce a video titled "The Road to Adoption and Foster Care." It features firsthand stories from families and children. Visit the NRC's website to view the video and find other adoption promotional tools for members of the media, adoption and foster care professionals, prospective families, and concerned citizens:

    • The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health participated in a webcast with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration about children and mental health. The archived webcast is available here:
  • Children's Bureau Express: The Movie!

    Children's Bureau Express: The Movie!

    For 10 years, Children's Bureau Express (CBX) has been a trusted source of child welfare news. It's your source for timely, reliable child welfare information, but what about your colleagues? Do they know where to find reliable news from the Children's Bureau and other organizations and timely information to help them in their work to protect children and strengthen families?

    A two-and-a-half-minute video is now available that describes the features and benefits of CBX. Share the new CBX video with your colleagues to let them know where they can find child welfare news and reliable resources to help them ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families.

  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    New! On the Children's Bureau Site

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

    Recent additions to the site include six new Program Instructions (PIs):

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

Child Welfare Research

Child welfare research news links you to articles on some of the most critical issues in the field, including placement stability, immigration, workforce turnover, and transitioning youth.

  • Impact of Immigration Enforcement on the Welfare of Children

    Impact of Immigration Enforcement on the Welfare of Children

    An estimated 73 percent of the children of unauthorized immigrants are born in the United States and therefore are U.S. citizens. When the parents of these children are arrested because of their immigration status, the children are at high risk of prolonged separation from their families, and many end up in long-term foster care.

    A new report from First Focus, The Impact of Immigration Enforcement on Child Welfare, looks at the impact on children and families involved in immigration cases. Authors Wendy Cervantes and Yali Lincroft discuss the need for Federal, State, and local agencies to develop more humane protocols when conducting enforcement actions in order to minimize children's trauma when a parent is detained. They also note that a parent who has been detained as an undocumented alien is often hindered in meeting child welfare case plan requirements. The authors suggest that better communication and coordination between law enforcement and child welfare systems is needed.

    The report includes key provisions of humanitarian guidelines developed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that consider the needs of children during worksite immigration enforcement; relevant Federal legislation; and policy recommendations for ICE, immigration court, and child welfare.

    The report is available on the First Focus website:

  • Placement Stability From a Variety of Perspectives

    Placement Stability From a Variety of Perspectives

    CW360°, a journal that focuses each issue on a single topic, covering it from a variety of perspectives, tackles "placement stability" in its spring issue. The issue provides an overview of the research on placement stability, looks at current child welfare practice aimed at achieving stability, and then presents the unique perspectives of different individuals who have the power to affect or are affected by placement stability.

    The 28 short articles include the perspectives of professionals, families, and youth. Some of the topics address placement stability with regard to therapeutic foster care, parent training, home studies, inclusive practice, Native American children, and youth with disabilities. The articles are accompanied by quotations from children and youth in foster care, commenting on their experiences and their thoughts about placement stability, what makes certain placements work, and when it is in the best interests of a child to move to a new placement.

    CW360° is published by the University of Minnesota's Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, and the full issue is available online:  (9.49 MB)

  • Areas Where Transitioning Youth Need Services

    Areas Where Transitioning Youth Need Services

    In the effort to achieve independent adulthood, youth who age out of foster care have, in general, four possible avenues of life experience as they struggle to make it on their own long before the majority of their peers. These subgroups are identified in the latest issue brief from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth (Midwest Study): Distinct Subgroups of Former Foster Youth During Young Adulthood: Implications for Policy and Practice. The study's goal is to provide States with the first comprehensive view of how former foster youth are faring since the John Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 became law.

    The study has been following 732 youth from Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Findings in this issue brief are from the fourth wave of data collected from interviews conducted with 584 youth when they were 23 and 24 years old.

    Researchers took into consideration the youths' experiences in the following transition domains:

    • Living arrangement
    • Educational attainment
    • Current employment
    • Children
    • Conviction of a crime since leaving foster care

    Based on indicators, the four classes of former foster youth are:

    • Accelerated Adults (36.3 percent): 63 percent female; most likely to live on their own, to have a college degree, and to be employed; nearly half with resident children
    • Struggling Parents (25.2 percent): Nearly three-quarters female; nearly all have one living, resident child; most likely to be married or cohabiting; least likely to have graduated high school or attend college; lowest rate of employment; 70.7 percent receiving food stamps
    • Emerging Adults (21.1 percent): about half male; living in settings that are not their own, with second-highest rates of college attendance and employment and the lowest rate of criminal conviction; most likely to avoid hardship
    • Troubled and Troubling (17.5 percent): mostly male; most likely to be incarcerated, homeless, unemployed; about 20 percent not graduated high school; 80 percent convicted of criminal charges since age 18

    Researchers propose that these distinct subgroups support the call for more targeted policy and practice for youth to help them handle the challenges of moving into adulthood from foster care. The Fostering Connections Act, which allows youth to remain in foster care past age 18, may provide a policy framework to support effective social work practices for these youth.

    The issue brief, by Mark E. Courtney, Jennifer L. Hook, and JoAnn S. Lee, can be downloaded from Chapin Hall Center for Children:  (PDF - 404 KB)

    Related Items

    Children's Bureau Express has published other stories about the Midwest Study and the well-being of children in foster care:

    Youth-serving organizations can find a wealth of information on the website, created by the Federal Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). The IWGYP provides resources for effective youth programs on the website and also identifies promising and effective strategies and promotes enhanced collaboration to achieve healthy outcomes for youth. The IWGYP is composed of 12 Federal agencies that support youth services.

  • Workforce Turnover and Career Commitment

    Workforce Turnover and Career Commitment

    The consequences of high turnover in the child welfare workforce are costly. A recent study, "Commitment to Child Welfare Work: What Predicts Leaving and Staying?" notes a number of negative outcomes of high turnover, including workers with less experience making important decisions about child safety, higher caseloads for remaining workers (which leads to lower quality of services), and agencies forced to use their limited funds to train new workers.

    In an effort to identify ways to predict worker commitment, researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 460 workers in a Midwestern State who were new to their child welfare agencies. The study examined the reasons that study participants chose their current job and worked in child welfare, their commitment to their agencies and to child welfare, and how these variables relate to worker turnover. Findings from the study indicate:

    • Commitment to the agency and to child welfare, good supervision, and job satisfaction contribute to preventing turnover.
    • More than 80 percent of both public and private agency workers decided to work in child welfare so they could help children and families.
    • Public agency workers tended to have taken the job because of pay, benefits, job security, opportunities, and variety, while private agency workers were more likely to have taken the job because it was the only job available, it was a good first job to take, and they had heard good things about the agency.
    • Viewing a State's Realistic Job Preview video, which aims to depict a position accurately, is associated with still being on the job at the time of follow-up.
    • Good supervision and higher job satisfaction were also associated with staying on the job.

    "Commitment to Child Welfare Work: What Predicts Leaving and Staying?" by Kathleen Coulborn Faller, Marguerite Grabarek, and Robert M. Ortega, was published in Child and Youth Services Review, Vol. 32(6), and is available for purchase online:

Strategies and Tools for Practice

This month, CBX links you to tools for National Reunification Day, self-assessment, and consumer satisfaction.

  • Self-Assessment Tools for Programs Serving Young Children

    Self-Assessment Tools for Programs Serving Young Children

    Strengthening Families recently revised and expanded its Online Self-Assessment Package for use by all programs serving young children and their families, including early care and education, home visitation, family support, and child welfare. The tool helps programs make small but significant changes in their day-to-day practice to dramatically impact the lives of parents and children. It begins with a self-assessment in which programs answer a series of questions about the services and supports they provide to families. The assessment is structured around the seven Strengthening Families program strategies:

    • Facilitate friendships and mutual support
    • Strengthen parenting
    • Respond to family crises
    • Link families to services and opportunities
    • Value and support parents
    • Facilitate children's social and emotional development
    • Observe and respond to early warning signs of abuse and neglect

    The assessment results can be used to create an action plan for program areas needing improvement. To help programs measure the impact of their improvement efforts, the package also includes two survey tools for use with parents and staff to gauge changes in behaviors and attitudes over time. The surveys address staff interaction with families and parents' perceived strengths related to the five protective factors.

    Program staff may download the tools in PDF format or create an online account to input and analyze the results of the self-assessment and surveys. Using the online system can help programs create an action plan, generate reports based on survey data, and share results with local, State, regional, and national entities.

    View the materials, create an account, or watch a webinar describing the Online Self-Assessment Package on the Strengthening Families website:

  • Plan a National Reunification Day Celebration!

    Plan a National Reunification Day Celebration!

    In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of family reunification to children in foster care and to celebrate families and communities coming together across the country, June 19, 2010, is being recognized as the first National Reunification Day. When children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care, reunification is the preferred outcome. It takes hard work and commitment from social workers, parents, family members, and the community, among others. Hundreds of thousands of children are reunited with their families each year, which is their best option for a permanent home.

    To learn how you can plan your own National Reunification Day celebration, the American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law website has a page dedicated to help. This page provides tools to make your event successful, such as a planning timeline, logos, a proclamation, tips for media outreach, and guidelines for identifying key speakers.

    Organizations that make plans to celebrate National Reunification Day are encouraged to report their plans via the ABA website. This will help them know what other jurisdictions are doing to celebrate successful reunifications.

    To learn more about National Reunification Day and to view the American Bar Association’s Reunification Day webpage, please visit:

  • Measuring Consumer Satisfaction With Treatment Foster Care

    Measuring Consumer Satisfaction With Treatment Foster Care

    Agencies that provide Treatment Foster Care (TFC) often need to collect consumer satisfaction information for a number of purposes, including monitoring service quality or staff performance, informing strategic planning, or interpreting client outcomes. A new publication, User’s Guide to Measuring Consumer Satisfaction in Treatment Foster Care, has been developed to provide guidance to TFC agencies considering consumer satisfaction surveys.

    Produced by Martha Morrison Dore for the Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA), the guide presents survey results from 91 FFTA-member agencies and provides an analysis of currently used instruments designed to measure consumer satisfaction in treatment foster care. The guide also outlines the factors to be considered in any decision on measuring consumer satisfaction in treatment foster care. A decision tree provides a graphic representation of these decisions.

    Many TFC agencies have developed their own multidimensional instrument to measure consumer satisfaction to reflect specific aspects of their program’s structure, process, and outcomes. Information included in this guide about existing standardized multidimensional instruments, their construction, and their content may help agencies assess and improve their current measures. It may also help agencies that are considering the development of a multidimensional measure to have a clearer understanding of how to construct such an instrument and some of the advantages and pitfalls in developing and using such a measure.

    The guide is available on the FFTA website: (335 KB)


  • Justice Department Launches New Website for Tribes

    Justice Department Launches New Website for Tribes

    In an effort to improve public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal communities, the U.S. Department of Justice has created a new website, Tribal Justice and The website presents information and resources to assist Tribal governments in their efforts to improve public safety in Tribal communities, ensure the security of Native women, and build a better future for young people who are the future of Tribal communities.

    The new website provides timely information to Tribal communities on new policy initiatives and grant opportunities. The site represents the department's commitment to increase communication and resources available to Tribal governments and consortia.

    A featured resource is information and application forms for the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS). The CTAS is a streamlined grant-making process that was developed by the Justice Department in response to concerns of many Tribal leaders that the process was too complicated.

  • Out-of-Home Care by State and Urban/Rural Designation

    Out-of-Home Care by State and Urban/Rural Designation

    The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire has developed a factsheet of out-of-home care placement rates based on metropolitan status. Federal AFCARS (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System) data from 2007 were categorized into the following areas:

    • Metropolitan/urban counties
    • Nonmetropolitan counties adjacent to urban settings
    • Remote rural counties

    The factsheet includes a table that shows rates (per 1,000) of children and youth in out-of-home care at any time in 2007 by place, State, and region. The average placement rate for the country was 10.5 (per 1,000). Higher rates of out-of-home care were found in remote rural areas both nationally and within each region, and nearly half of the States have their highest placement rates in remote rural areas.

    The report's authors provide several possible explanations for findings:

    • Larger populations of African-American and Latino children, who tend to have higher placement rates, may increase the risk of placement in an area.
    • Some States and regions have higher poverty rates, which may increase the need for child welfare involvement, including out-of-home care.
    • A scarcity in support and mental health services in rural areas may contribute to higher rates of out-of-home placements in resource-poor areas.
    • Placement rates across States and types of communities may be affected by the child welfare agencies' differing policies and procedures.

    For more information, read Out-of-Home Care by State and Place: Higher Placement Rates for Children in Some Remote Rural Places, by Marybeth J. Mattingly, Melissa Wells, and Michael Dineen, published by the Carsey Institute:  (175 KB)

  • Tips for Youth in Foster Care

    Tips for Youth in Foster Care

    The Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center (FCARC) has produced a series of tip sheets for youth in foster care. The sheets are three to four pages in length in easy-to-print PDF format and include links to book, online, and other resources. Among the titles are:

    • Seeing A Mental Health Therapist
    • Bullying Hurts Everyone 
    • Coping With Anger
    • You Are Not Alone: The Sad Truth About Having A Parent in Prison
    • Keys to Independence: Finding Your First Apartment
    • Your Voice Matters: Speaking Out by Speaking Up (Youth Advocacy)
    • Sharing Your Story
    • Is This Love? Teen Dating Violence
    • How to Ace Your Job Interview
    • Tips for Filling Out a Job Application Form
    • Financial Aid Awareness Assistance and Resources
    • Who Am I? Exploring Your Sexuality
    • Life Books: A Creative and Fun Way to Express Yourself
    • How Career Assessments Can Help You Make School and Career Choices
    • Earning a GED or HSED

    FCARC is a project of Adoption Resources of Wisconsin, Inc., Anu Family Services, and St. Aemilian-Lakeside, Inc., in partnership with the Wisconsin Department Children and Families. FCARC staff welcome suggestions for future tip sheets. Access their current list:

  • Highlights From Adoption USA

    Highlights From Adoption USA

    Adoption USA: Summary and Highlights of a Chartbook on the National Survey of Adoptive Parents presents findings from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Adoption USA: A Chartbook on the National Survey of Adoptive Parents, comparing key population characteristics for adopted children, the general population of U.S. children (based on data from the National Survey of Children’s Health), and children across adoption types.

    The 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP) is the first survey to provide representative information about the characteristics, adoption experiences, and well-being of adopted children and their families in the United States. The NSAP is a collaborative effort among three agencies within the HHS: the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the Administration for Children and Families, and the National Center for Health Statistics.

    The Adoption USA summary article provides information about the number of adopted children in the United States—about 2 percent in 2007—and adopted children by adoption type, as well as other characteristics, including:

    • Children’s history and prior relationship with parents
    • Race, ethnicity, and gender
    • Other demographics and socioeconomic characteristics
    • Family structure
    • Physical health
    • Social and emotional well-being
    • Cognitive development and educational achievement
    • Family and community activities
    • Parenting and parent well-being
    • Adoption satisfaction
    • Parents’ prior connections to adoption

    Adoption USA: Summary and Highlights of a Chartbook on the National Survey of Adoptive Parents, by Sharon Vandivere, Karin Malm, and Amy McKlindon, appears in the National Council for Adoption's online newsletter, Adoption Advocate, and is available on the website: (886 KB)

    The full report, Adoption USA: A Chartbook on the National Survey of Adoptive Parents, is available on the ASPE website:

Training and Conferences

Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.

  • Team Decision-Making and Domestic Violence Curriculum

    Team Decision-Making and Domestic Violence Curriculum

    The Family Violence Prevention Fund has developed an advanced domestic violence (DV) curriculum, Team Decisionmaking and Domestic Violence: Guidelines for Facilitators. This day-long, 6-hour training was designed to aid Team Decisionmaking facilitators and child protection supervisors in preparing for and managing effective meetings, discussing DV issues with parents, assessing the impact of children’s exposure to DV, and making decisions and plans to increase safety for children and battered mothers.

    This curriculum incorporates a number of current child welfare concepts, including comprehensive family assessment, family-centered practice, and solution-focused interviewing.

    The following curriculum and tools are available on the website:

    • Trainer's Guide
    • PowerPoint presentation for trainers
    • Stairs PSA
    • Guidelines for facilitators
    • In the Moment Strategies for Facilitators of Team Decisionmaking Meetings When Domestic Violence is Present or Suspected, Family to Family Tools for Rebuilding Foster Care (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
    • Preparatory reading for this training

    Find the materials on the Family Violence Prevention Fund website:

  • For Resource Parents Caring for Traumatized Children

    For Resource Parents Caring for Traumatized Children

    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers an online curriculum to help foster parents and other resource parents better understand how trauma can affect children's behavior and feelings and how the parents can promote healing.

    Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma: A Workshop for Resource Parents is a PowerPoint-based training curriculum designed to be taught by a mental health professional and foster parent as co-facilitators. The curriculum includes nine case studies of foster children ages 8 months to 15 years, as well as cases of secondary traumatic stress in parents.

    The training provides practical tools for parents to help their children heal and manage their feelings and behaviors, to advocate for the children, and to seek useful support from others.

    Download the workshop package from the NCTSN website:

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through September 2010 include:

    July 2010

    • 2010 National Adoption Conference
      The Age to Engage in Adoption
      National Council for Adoption
      July 6–9, National Harbor, MD
    • International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference
      The Family Research Laboratory and the Crimes Against Children Research Center
      July 11–13, Portsmouth, NH
    • Training Institutes 2010
      New Horizons for Systems of Care: Effective Practice and Performance for Children and Youth With Mental Health Challenges and Their Families
      National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health
      July 14–18, Washington, DC
    • The 13th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference
      The Children's Bureau's National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology
      July 19–21, Bethesda, MD

    August 2010

    • FFTA 24th Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care
      Being the Light at the End of the Tunnel
      Foster Family-Based Treatment Association
      August 1–4, National Harbor, MD
    • Pathways to Adulthood 2010
      National Independent Living/Transitional Living Conference
      The National Resource Center for Youth Services
      August 24–26, Chicago, IL

    September 2010

    • 23rd Annual National Independent Living Conference
      Growing Pains 2010
      Daniel Memorial Institute
      September 7–10, National Harbor, MD
    • Eleventh International Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma
      National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome
      September 12–14, Atlanta, GA
    • XVIII ISPCAN International Congress
      One World, One Family, Many Cultures
      International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
      September 26–29, Honolulu, HI

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