March 2012Vol. 13, No. 2Spotlight on Aging Out of Foster Care
This month, CBX focuses on aging out of foster care with articles highlighting CB's NYTD program and the fifth wave of data on the Midwest Study.
- NRCYD Resources for Professionals, Youth
NRCYD Resources for Professionals, Youth
The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) provides training and technical assistance (T&TA) to help States and Tribes meet the needs of youth (ages 14–26) in foster care. Funded by the Children's Bureau as part of its T&TA Network, the NRCYD collects and disseminates information on youth in foster care, offers targeted peer-to-peer dialogues, and provides intensive TA with States and Tribes. The website offers an array of resources and tools for both professionals working with youth and for youth who are in care, about to transition, or have transitioned out of care.
For child welfare professionals, individual State webpages are full of State-specific information, including State agency coordinator and contact information, annual Chafee and Educational Training Voucher (ETV) allocations, AFCARS data, and answers to frequently asked questions. Tribal pages highlight Tribe-specific information on the four Tribes that administer their own Chafee and/or ETV programs, information on independent living programs for Tribal youth, and other resources for Tribes and those who work with Tribes.
The Fostering Connections web section highlights specific elements of the Fostering Connections Act that pertain to or affect older youth. The LGBTQ Youth web section offers facts and statistics about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning youth (LGBTQ) and an online toolkit for working with this population.
NRCYD's web section, Youth Port, utilizes the "youth voice" by sharing stories of young people who make positive changes in their communities. Young people with foster care experience made suggestions and recommendations for the name, the look-and-feel, and the content of the site, and youth who have transitioned out of foster care contribute timely information and resources.
The NRCYD's Youth Development eUpdate incorporates the youth perspective while providing professionals with quarterly updates on best practices for permanency planning, youth engagement, and positive youth development. A 2011 NRCYD summer intern who spent 12 years in foster care before being adopted wrote the current article in eUpdate's Youth Corner, "Financial Capability Map." The article addresses financial principals, provides financial management advice, and introduces the Financial Reflection Tool. The reflection tool provides youth with prompts to help them reflect on their personal finances before using the tips on creating a personal finance map to improve money management habits.
These tools and more are available on the NRCYD website:
In April 2011, CBX covered the NRCYD's Youth Port in the story "Youth Port Is By, For, and About Youth in Foster Care."
- Reinstating Parental Rights
Reinstating Parental Rights
Not all children whose parents' parental rights have been terminated by a court end up with a new family. In fact, many youth never achieve permanency, but instead remain in some kind of out-of-home care until they age out of the foster care system.
In a new journal article, "Reinstating Parental Rights: Another Path to Permanency?", authors Susan Getman and Steve Christian explore the option of reuniting these youth with their birth parents. In a handful of States, State law permits the parents' parental rights to be restored; in other States, the path to legal reunification is less well defined. In most cases, the courts will approve reinstatement of parental rights only when the child wishes to be reunited, the circumstances of the parents have improved to the point that they are able to safely parent the child, and the reunification is in the child's best interests.
The article also discusses the policy implications of this permanency option, such as a need to make youth aware of their right to seek connections with their birth families. Other considerations include whether reinstatement affects the youth's eligibility for Independent Living services, education and training vouchers, tuition waivers, and Medicaid. The authors note that the potential for loss of these benefits may act as a disincentive to taking advantage of the reinstatement option, and they suggest that State policymakers review and perhaps amend the relevant State eligibility criteria, to the extent that is consistent with Federal law.
"Reinstating Parental Rights: Another Path to Permanency?" was published in the November 2011 issue of American Humane Association's Protecting Children 26(1). The issue is available on American Humane's website:
http://www.americanhumane.org/assets/pdfs/children/protecting-children-journal/pc-26-1.pdf (1 MB)
The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections has developed a webpage on Reinstatement of Parental Rights.
- Adult Outcomes of Crossover Youth in LA
Adult Outcomes of Crossover Youth in LA
The negative outcomes that are often experienced by foster youth transitioning to adulthood are documented in a new report, Young Adult Outcomes of Youth Exiting Dependent or Delinquent Care in Los Angeles County.
The study focused on youth who exited care between the ages of 16 and 21 in Los Angeles County in 2002 and 2004. The study sample was divided into three groups:
- The child welfare group, made up of youth who exited from a child welfare out-of-home placement
- The juvenile probation group, made up of youth who exited from any type of juvenile probation supervision
- The crossover group, made up of all youth who exited an out-of-home child welfare placement and also had a record of involvement with the juvenile probation system
This is the first study to examine adult outcomes of the crossover population—youth involved in the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system. Study authors Dennis Culhane et al. analyzed a comprehensive set of data on the utilization of services by the youth from 2005 to 2009, including welfare, health, mental health, and substance abuse treatment services. The results of the study show that youth in the crossover group were more at risk for negative outcomes than their cohorts in the other two groups. Some specific challenges for the crossover youth included:
- Crossover youth were more likely to have multiple out-of-home placements and to exit care from a group home (rather than with relatives or a foster family).
- Crossover youth were more than twice as likely to be heavy users of public systems in adulthood, three times as likely to experience a jail stay, one-and-a-half times more likely to receive welfare benefits, and 50 percent less likely to be consistently employed.
- Nearly one-quarter of crossover youth received treatment for a serious mental illness during the first 4 years of adulthood, more than double the rates of those who were in foster care or probation only.
The researchers conclude that providing foster care and transition services to nonminor youth, as well as education and employment services, can result in more positive outcomes for these vulnerable youth.
The study was funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The full report, an executive summary, a factsheet, and a slide presentation of the results are available on the Conrad Hilton Foundation website:
- Fifth Wave of Midwest Study Data Released
Fifth Wave of Midwest Study Data Released
The Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at Age 26 (Midwest Study) presents the fifth wave of data in the longitudinal study examining how 17- or 18-year-old foster youth fared as they transitioned to adulthood. Their outcomes are compared to those of young people without foster care experience (control group). The report presents survey data from 596 of the initial 732 young adults who made up the baseline sample of transitioning youth.
Data were collected between October 2010 and May 2011, when most study participants were 26 years old, and covered a number of areas: relationships with family of origin, social support, education, employment, economic well-being, receipt of government assistance, physical and mental well-being, sexual behaviors, pregnancy, marriage and cohabitation, parenting, and criminal justice system involvement.
While many individual study participants were thriving, outcomes for the group as a whole were poor.
- Approximately 80 percent of the Midwest Study group and 94 percent of the control group had earned at least a high school degree or GED. But only 19 percent of the Midwest Study group had earned a 4-year college degree, while 36 percent of the comparison group had done so.
- Only 46 percent of the Midwest Study group were employed at the time of the survey; 80 percent of the comparison group were employed.
- Average income of the Midwest Study group for the previous year was about $14,000; the average for the control group was about $32,000.
- Among the Midwest Study group, 43 percent of the females and 74 percent of the males had been incarcerated at some time; in the comparison group, the percentages were 6 percent for females and 23 percent for males.
Outcomes continue to suggest that youth are aging out of foster care without the knowledge and skills they need to successfully transition to adulthood.
The Midwest Study is a collaborative effort involving Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago; the University of Wisconsin Survey Center; and the public child welfare agencies in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. This report, authored by Mark E. Courtney, Amy Dworsky, Adam Brown, Colleen Cary, Kara Love, and Vanessa Vorhies, is available on Chapin Hall's website:
http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/Midwest%20Evaluation_Report_12_21_11_2.pdf (1 MB)
Children's Bureau Express has published other stories about the Midwest Study and the well-being of children in foster care:
- "Areas Where Transitioning Youth Need Services" (June 2010)
- "Transitioning From Foster Care to Adulthood: Three Studies" (May 2008)
- "How Courts Can Help Keep Foster Youth in Care Beyond Age 18" (October 2008)
- "Transitioning Youth: A Longitudinal Study" (May 2006)
- "Foster Youth Receive Some, Not All, Independent Living Services They Need" (May 2004)
- Youths' Perception of College Preparedness
Youths' Perception of College Preparedness
Youth aging out of foster care are more optimistic about entering college, are less prepared to engage in college, and earn lower grades in their first semester when compared to all incoming freshmen, according to a new study published in Children and Youth Services Review. The authors of the study examined the perceptions and experiences of 81 freshmen enrolled in Western Michigan University's program for current and former foster youth, which offers tuition assistance and 24-hour support throughout their college career.
Youth who had been or were in foster care were more academically and socially motivated to enter college than their peers, which was demonstrated in such ways as:
- More positive attitudes toward educators and interest in intellectual activities
- Better perceived study skills, leadership qualities, and self-reliance
- A stronger desire to finish college
Other findings include:
- With the exception of career counseling, foster youth were more open to student services than their peers.
- Foster youth were similar to their peers in academic confidence and several areas of coping but felt they had less family support.
- Forty-seven percent of foster youth withdrew from one or more courses in their first semester, compared to 18 percent of all freshmen.
- Foster youth earned a GPA of 2.34 in their first semester, compared to 2.85 for all freshmen—however, this difference was consistent with incoming ACT and high-school GPA scores.
The study's authors encourage child welfare and education professionals to target services to the areas in which foster youth pursuing higher education need the most support, especially right before and during their first semester in college. Because of the optimism many foster youth feel upon entering college, the authors suggest that caseworkers focus on engaging and supporting youth at this critical time to promote their overall success.
"Readiness for College Engagement Among Students Who Have Aged Out of Foster Care," by Y. A. Unrau, S. A. Font, and G. Rawls, was published in Children and Youth Services Review, 34(1), and is available on the ScienceDirect website:
- Newsletter Addresses Transitioning Youth
Newsletter Addresses Transitioning Youth
The winter 2010/2011 edition of Child Welfare Watch examines how young people find stability after life in foster care. The issue primarily focuses on housing, early parenthood, and New York City's various resources and programs that help youth transition into adulthood from foster care.
In 2010, approximately 1,100 New York City 18-year-olds left the foster care system. Within 2 years, many were in homeless shelters or had children of their own. The city's New York/New York III program is one example of the city's initiatives that address the issues faced by transitioning youth. New York/New York III provides supportive housing combined with services to help those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The city's Administration for Children's Services (ACS) also offers a number of programs to help young mothers find gainful employment and independent living.
These programs and more are highlighted in the double issue of Child Welfare Watch.
Child Welfare Watch is a project of the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy. The double issue can be found on the New School's website:
http://www.newschool.edu/milano/nycaffairs/documents/CWW_Vols19and20_In_Transition.pdf (5 MB)
- Pregnancy Among Youth in Foster Care
Pregnancy Among Youth in Foster Care
Teen pregnancy and parenting are pressing issues within the general youth population but especially among youth in the foster care system. Nearly half of the girls in foster care have been pregnant by age 19, which is more than two-and-a-half times higher than the rate of nonfoster youth.1 By age 21, nearly half of all male foster youth reported having impregnated their female partner, as opposed to 19 percent of nonfoster youth.2
Through a 2011 Children's Bureau grant, the Clark County (NV) Department of Family Services (DFS) DREAMR (Determined, Responsible, Empowered Adolescents Mentoring Relationships) project is seeking to reduce pregnancy among youth in foster care and improve relationship and parenting skills for those youth already pregnant or parenting. Judy Tudor, Child Welfare Manager at Clark County DFS, noted that there is a lack of models and services for pregnant and parenting youth in foster care and that serving the population requires a different approach than the general youth population. "When we see teen pregnancy occurring in foster youth, it is often an intentional pregnancy to replace the family they have lost through being in foster care, as opposed to the general population where teen pregnancy is often unplanned."
The project, which is currently in a planning phase, will use a randomized control group experimental design, with the treatment and control groups each including approximately 150 youth aged 12 to 14 and 50 youth aged 15 to 21. Youth in the treatment group will participate in the following three project components:
- Training and education. All youth in the treatment group will receive training and education about pregnancy prevention, and youth who are already pregnant or parenting will receive education and training about parenting issues.
- 3-5-7 Model. The DREAMR project is utilizing this model to help children explore grief and loss issues related to being in foster care. A youth specialist will work one on one with foster youth to discuss issues such as why they came into care, permanency, and how to integrate significant relationships into their life plans.
- Mentoring. The project will pair current foster youth with mentors who are former foster youth. The mentors will attend the training and education sessions with the youth and maintain an ongoing dialogue with them about the foster care experience, pregnancy prevention, and relationship skills.
Each of the two age groups will participate in the same set of services, but the content will be tailored toward the level and needs of each group. Additionally, the project will provide education and training to caregivers and case managers about how to discuss pregnancy prevention and other related issues with foster youth.
Youth input has been critical to the project. During the planning and grant-writing phases, DFS obtained youth feedback on service approaches and models, and they established a youth advisory committee to help develop a presentation to recruit youth as participants and mentors. Additionally, former foster youth will serve as facilitators for the various education and training sessions.
To help recruit for and maintain participation in the initiative, the DREAMR project will present foster youth in the treatment group with a unique incentive: smartphones. These phones will be loaded with software specially designed for the project. The purpose of the software is twofold: (1) to help youth track and receive the necessary services (e.g., sending reminders about their appointments, allowing them to easily keep in touch with service providers) and (2) to assist with data collection for the evaluation (e.g., sending texts to youth asking if they have met with their mentor that week). With the increasing importance of technology to young people, this approach is youth friendly, and it can help move youth more efficiently through the project and evaluation. Control group participants will receive another incentive.
Several organizations are collaborating with DFS on this project:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada is helping implement the mentoring component.
- The Turning Point Experience is developing the smartphone software.
- Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) is assisting with the implementation of the 3-5-7 Model.
- Olive Crest is assisting with the parenting education and training component.
- The University of Nevada, Las Vegas will evaluate the project.
- Darla Henry served as a consultant on the project.
Many thanks to Judy Tudor of the Clark County Department of Family Services for providing information for this article.
1 Bilaver, L. A., & Courtney, M. E. (2006). Foster care youth. Retrieved from
http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/SS/SS27_FosterCare.pdf (129 KB)
2 Courtney, M., Dworsky, A., Cusick, G. R., Havlicek, J., Perez, A., & Keller, T. (2007). Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former
foster youth: Outcomes at age 21. Retrieved from
http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/ChapinHallDocument_2.pdf (999 KB)
- National Youth in Transition Database
National Youth in Transition Database
The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) provides States with funding to assist youth in the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency. As a part of this program, the Children's Bureau was required to establish a system to track the services States provide to foster youth and collect information about outcomes that could be used to assess State performance in providing those services. To meet these requirements, the Children's Bureau developed the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) (pronounced "knighted").
Every 6 months (May and November), States report data to NYTD about the services and supports they provide to all foster youth, as well as demographic information. States will submit outcome data for specific cohorts of foster youth rather than for entire population. In the first year, States will conduct a baseline outcome survey of youth on or around their 17th birthday. The States will then collect data on that same cohort of youth on or around both their 19th and 21st birthdays, regardless of whether they are still in the child welfare system or otherwise receiving services. The next cohorts of 17-year-olds will be surveyed every 3 years after the initial cohort. Outcome data will be collected on the following six topics:
- Financial self-sufficiency
- Experience with homelessness
- Educational attainment
- Positive connections with adults
- High-risk behavior
- Access to health insurance
The first submission of services and outcome data to NYTD was in May 2011 for information regarding the period of October 2010 through March 2011. States that do not comply with NYTD reporting requirements may be penalized between one and five percent of their annual CFCIP funding.
This is a novel data collection initiative because, for the first time nationally, States are collecting data directly from a population they serve. It also may be a new experience for many States since they are being asked to conduct survey research, which often is done by universities or other research organizations. To support States with this initiative, the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) and the National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) are providing technical assistance regarding data collection, reporting, and other related areas. The NRC-CWDT website includes extensive documentation about NYTD issues, such as mapping data elements to AFCARS, incentives and motivators for youth participation in data collection, informed consent, and other survey research and technological issues. The Children's Bureau also established a NYTD community of practice to facilitate communication among States about various aspects of this data collection effort, such as using the outcome data, locating youth, and stakeholder engagement. Resources and event information also are posted on the site.
Both the Children's Bureau and the States have encouraged the participation of current and former foster youth in NYTD planning and implementation, including survey and protocol development. Some States have even reached out to former foster youth to administer the surveys. Additionally, the Children's Bureau plans to work closely with foster youth on the dissemination of the NYTD data. A national workgroup that includes former foster youth is discussing ways the data can be presented in a youth-friendly manner.
The Children's Bureau currently is reviewing the initial data submissions and plans to release an analysis of the data on its website in the summer of 2012. In the future, the Children's Bureau hopes to incorporate the data into its annual Child Welfare Outcomes report.
For more information about NYTD, contact Miguel Vieyra at NYTDinfo@acf.hhs.gov.
- Improving Outcomes for Youth in Care
Improving Outcomes for Youth in Care
A new study from Casey Family Programs asserts that youth in foster care with fewer placements experience better employment outcomes, and those who receive frequent educational services experience greater educational attainment. Employment Programs and Life Opportunities for Youth (EmPLOY): Findings From a Two-Year National Project provides results from an evaluation of six transition centers located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, and New York.
The program was funded in 2004 by five grants from the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL's) Employment and Training Administration to improve educational and employment outcomes for foster youth aged 16 to 25. Casey Family Programs later funded the program in 2007 when DOL's funding ended. The EmPLOY report highlights data gathered through interviews with 788 youth and alumni of foster care in the six transition programs over 2 years as they transitioned out of care and interviews with 92 staff, youth in foster care and alumni, and stakeholders of these programs.
The study examined participant demographics, foster care experiences, educational and employment outcomes, and services provided.
Participants received the following services:
- Ninety percent received goal assistance.
- Seventy-three percent received career-planning services.
- Seventy-one percent received job search skills services.
- Seventy-one percent received academic assessment services.
- Seventy-three percent received transportation services.
- Sixty-seven percent received money management services.
Participants enrolled in the EmPLOY program experienced the following outcomes:
- Twelve percent earned a high school diploma, but the rate increased to 36 percent when school tours were provided
- Five percent earned a GED, but the rate increased to 13 percent when GED preparation was optimized.
- Fifty percent enrolled in some type of postsecondary education program, but the rate increased to 99 percent when college tutoring was provided more than once a week.
- Twenty-six percent obtained employment, and 80 percent maintained employment for 6 months consecutively or longer; no services predicted these outcomes.
In addition to clinical and collaborative recommendations, the authors recommend providing transition programs that give youth access to secondary school tours, GED preparation services, paid work experiences, and job retention services to improve educational and employment outcomes.
Employment Programs and Life Opportunities for Youth (EmPLOY): Findings From a Two-Year National Project, by Mei Ling Ellis, Tobin Marsh, Debbie Staub, and Kirk O’Brien, is available on the Casey website:
http://www.casey.org/resources/publications/employ/pdf/National_2Year.pdf (3 MB)
Spotlight on Incorporating Youth Engagement and Lived Experience Into Child Welfare Practice
Spotlight on the Title IV-E Prevention Program and the Family First Prevention Services Act
News From the Children's Bureau
The eighth article in our Centennial Series looks at the state of international child welfare at the turn of the century. We also feature several new reports now available on the Children's Bureau website, such as Child Welfare Outcomes 2006-2009.
- New! From CB
New! From CB
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:
- AFCARS Assessment Reviews Map – Map of States that are scheduled for AFCARS Assessment Reviews
- SACWIS Assessment Review Process – Information about the review process, as well as the latest SACWIS Assessment Review Guide
- AFCARS Assessment Review – Alabama and Georgia reports
- PI-12-02 (PDF - 711 KB) – Program Instruction for State Courts Applying for Court Improvement Program (CIP) Funds for Fiscal Years (FYs) 2012-2016
- OMB Circular A-87 Cost Allocation Exception (PDF – 197 KB) Additional guidance to States on taking advantage of the exception
See the message from the Acting Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, Joe Bock, regarding the new Administration for Children and Families and Children's Bureau websites.
- New Child Welfare Outcomes Report
New Child Welfare Outcomes Report
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Welfare Outcomes 2006–2009: Report to Congress, the tenth in a series of reports designed to inform Congress, the States, and the public about State performance on delivering child welfare services. Child Welfare Outcomes provides information about State performance on seven national child welfare outcomes related to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children involved in the child welfare system. The outcomes reflect widely accepted performance objectives for child welfare practice.
Data come from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), and the report includes some data analyses across States.
Highlights of the recent report show:
- In 2009, 763,000 children were confirmed to be victims of maltreatment.
- Nationally, there were approximately 435,000 children in foster care on the last day of fiscal year 2009.
- Between 2002 and 2009, there was a steady decline in the number of Black children entering foster care.
- In many States, a large percentage of youth who aged out of foster care in 2009 had been in foster care for long periods of time.
The full report, including State-by-State data tables, is available on the Children's Bureau website:
The Child Welfare Outcomes Report Data website is now refreshed with data from 2007 through 2010:
- 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
The 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, sponsored by the Children's Bureau Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN), will be held April 16–20, 2012, in Washington, DC. The timing of and the theme for the 2012 conference, "Celebrating the Past—Imagining the Future," coincide with the Children's Bureau's centennial. This year's conference also marks the first time live video streaming and interactive webinar options will be offered.
Registration information and the conference program preview are available here:
- Children's Bureau Centennial Preview
Children's Bureau Centennial Preview
The Children's Bureau's 100th birthday is only 1 month away! To celebrate this important milestone, several events and activities will take place over the course of 2012. CB's goals for the centennial are to:
- Increase CB's visibility: Enhance CB's leadership position by increasing its visibility among key stakeholders and constituents—particularly across Federal and State systems and with Tribes, national organizations, and the public.
- Stakeholder engagement—collaborate in creating a common focus: Strengthen CB's role in moving the child welfare field forward by collaborating more extensively with stakeholders to create a common focus that will culminate in a roadmap for the future of child welfare.
- Celebrate 100 years of achievement and progress: Acknowledge and applaud the important work being done across child welfare and in related fields; motivate and inspire the workforce.
To achieve these goals, and more, CB has organized the following events and activities:
- The Children's Bureau e-brochure will be published in English and Spanish and provide readers with an overview of CB's history of collaboration, assistance programs to States and Tribes, public awareness campaigns, and leadership development initiatives.
- The centennial webinar series will include four historical and eight topical webinars, each open to the public. The first historical webinar will take place on April 11 and focus on CB's first 25 years.
- CB's centennial website will be dedicated to all things centennial. Visitors will find the e-brochure, historical photos, webinar recordings, and much more.
- A short video about CB's 100 years of work protecting children and strengthening families will premiere on the CB website in late April. The video will be available in both English and Spanish.
- The centennial workgroup initiative, Voices to Vision, will engage experts and practitioners in child welfare on issues that are important to the field. Input from the sessions will be used to develop a second-century document that will provide ideas and suggestions for the next 100 years in child welfare. The second-century document will be published in March 2013.
- A commemorative e-book will be available for order through the Government Printing Office in late summer 2012.
- The second Children's Bureau Centennial Series, CB Decade-by-Decade, will examine highlights from each decade of the Children's Bureau's first 100 years. The first Centennial Series addressed some of the social issues, practices, and policies that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau. The second Centennial Series will feature short articles on the following:
- May 2012: The Children's Year Campaign
- June 2012: The Children's Bureau and Juvenile Court Standards
- July 2012: The Children's Bureau and the Great Depression
- August 2012: The Children's Bureau During Wartime
- September 2012: The Children's Bureau's 50th Anniversary
- October 2012: The Children’s Bureau and Family Planning
- November 2012: The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
- December 2012/January 2013: CB's Clearinghouses and National Resource Centers
- February 2013: The Adoption and Safe Families Act
- March 2013: Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act
Look for the new CB centennial logo on the CB website and CBX over the next year and visit the Children's Bureau website often for more centennial updates!
- ACF, CB Launch New Websites
ACF, CB Launch New Websites
The message below is from the Acting Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, Joe Bock, regarding the new Administration for Children and Families and Children's Bureau websites.
The Children's Bureau is pleased to introduce you to ACF's new website. The new site was designed to share the stories of the people affected by our programs, while also providing stronger tools for our grantees and clear, easy–to-understand information for the public. Today, you see the first phase of development; the site will be a work in progress throughout 2012. While we're updating content daily, you'll find much of the detailed information you need still lives on the old site. By fall of 2012 the new website will be complete and all of the content will be on the new platform.
I'm particularly pleased to introduce you to CB's new home page, where you will find the latest CB news, highlights from our programs and links to useful resources. From strengthening families to protecting children, this new website features grantees and participants who are part of the growing CB family promoting the overall health and well-being of our nation's children and families.
As we develop this website through the coming year, we would like your feedback on how to improve what we are building. As you navigate through the new website, please look for the blue "Was this helpful?" tool in the sidebar of every page and let us know your thoughts. And please encourage others to use the email list sign up on CB's home page so that we can keep you informed.
Thank you for your continued interest in the work of the Children's Bureau.
- TANF Evaluation Reports Released
TANF Evaluation Reports Released
The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released two reports centered on evaluations of programs utilizing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. One report highlights the ongoing evaluation of the Tribal Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOGs), and the other presents findings from the first phase of the Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (STED) project.
The HPOG program is funded by the Affordable Care Act and administered by ACF's Office of Family Assistance. The program funded 32 5-year health workforce training programs to increase the number of health professionals in underserved areas. The program specifically targets TANF recipients. Five of the 32 demonstration projects were awarded to Tribal organizations that will integrate culturally informed practice models. Four of the five sites are Tribal community colleges, and the fifth is the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, a human and social services organization in Alaska.
The first in a series of practice briefs describes the Tribal HPOG grantee organizations and target populations and provides a synopsis of the Federal evaluation.
An Introduction to the Tribal Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) and Evaluation is available on the ACF website:
STED is sponsored by ACF and will conduct several program evaluations in the coming years. This report focuses on findings from a study examining how States and municipalities accessed TANF Emergency Funds to subsidize employment programs in 2009 and 2010 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The first phase of STED was the largest subsidized employment initiative since the 1970s and, when the fund expired on September 30, 2010, more than 250,000 people had been placed in subsidized jobs.
The evaluation of the first phase was conducted via telephone interviews with 48 States, Tribes, and territories; eight sight visits; and other documentation provided by States. The report evaluates the swift implementation and variety of subsidized employment programs but does not evaluate their effectiveness.
Subsidizing Employment Opportunities for Low-Income Families: A Review of State Employment Programs Created Through the TANF Emergency Fund can be found at:
- Centennial Series: International Child Welfare
Centennial Series: International Child Welfare
This is the eighth article in our Centennial Series, as we count down to the Children's Bureau's 100th anniversary in April 2012. These articles address some of the social issues, practices, and policies at the turn of the last century that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.
As countries in the early 20th century began to embrace the concept of children as national resources, governments devised social programs aimed at improving maternal and child well-being. While most research collected by the Children's Bureau on other countries centered on Europe and English-speaking nations, it still paints a clear picture of bourgeoning international child welfare programs. Birth registries, home visitation, and mothers' pensions were just a few common initiatives around the world.
Australia was one of the first countries to provide national assistance to offset the financial burden of childbirth. Through its Maternity Allowance Act of 1912, the Federal Government awarded £5—or roughly $25—to families of newborns. The Prime Minister was quoted as saying "It is the duty of the community and especially the duty of a national parliament to protect every possible life . . . " (Harris, 1919).
To help women avoid destitution, mothers' pension laws emerged around 1911. The first U.S. mothers' pension law—also called widows' pensions—was passed in Illinois and provided payments to widows with children (Leff, 1973). New Zealand's mothers' pension law, also passed in 1911, allowed any widow with "good character" and children under the age 14 to receive payments (Lathrop, 1914c).
Denmark's 1913 pension law aided widows with children younger than 14 so long as their income and property value were below a certain amount. Pension amounts graduated with the age of the child or children, and larger sums were awarded for children aged 2 and younger. The pension also was subject to the mother's parental fitness and the condition of her home (Lathrop, 1914c).
Infant mortality rates were also a common challenge around the world. According to the 1910 U.S. Census, there was an estimated 2.2 million children under 1 year of age (U.S. Census Bureau, 1910). That year, there also were approximately 300,000 infant deaths (babies under 1 year), at least half of which were due to poor sanitation, hygiene, and "individual and civic neglect" (Lathrop, 1914a).
Conditions were similar in England. George Newman, England's Chief Medical Officer for the Board of Education, devised a plan to address the issue—educating mothers on proper infant and child care. The British instituted similar educational efforts for young Boer women in South Africa during the South African War in the early 1900s (Van Heyningen, 2010). By 1913, England had 150 Schools for Mothers with curricula focused on domestic training. Several women's charitable organizations conducted health visits to working-class families to provide "sanitary and moral advice" (Foley, 2001). By 1905, English authorities established regulations governing charity visits and appointed paid female health visitors. The number of local maternity and child health visitors increased from 600 in 1914 to more than 2,500 in 1918 (Hendrick, 1994).
These efforts laid the groundwork for early health clinics, known as Infant Welfare Centres, and England's Notification of Births Act in 1907, requiring all births to be reported within 36 hours (Foley, 2001). These measures, among others, are thought to have contributed to the drop in England's infant mortality rate between 1891 and 1917 from 149:1 to 96:1 (Hendrick, 1994).
Unlike the United States and England, New Zealand's infant mortality rate was among the lowest in the world, attributed to the efforts of the New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children. Nurses visited families to educate parents in hygiene, homemaking, and proper infant and child care (Lathrop, 1914b).
Comparing the sparse U.S. birth and death records to those of New Zealand points out the stark contrasts. In 1910, the death rate of infants under 1 year per 100 births was 5.1 in New Zealand, compared to 12.7 in Connecticut, 13.1 in Massachusetts, 12.9 in New York, and 15.8 in Rhode Island.
Staff at the new Children's Bureau believed that the methods in place in New Zealand could be applied in the United States, and they set out to conduct the Bureau's first investigation of infant mortality. Work began in January 1913 gathering data from births in 1911 in Johnstown, PA (Duke, 1915). Female agents made visits to homes to gather information on the social, civic, and, industrial conditions of families and to mark the growth and development of babies.
It was determined that the incidence of infant death could be reduced through a number of efforts:
- The overall improvement of unsanitary living conditions (such as water and sewage systems) in cities and towns
- The dissemination of literature and instruction on prenatal care
- The creation of baby welfare clinics and consultation stations for expectant and nursing mothers
- The availability of visiting nurses to instruct mothers (Duke, 1915)
This Johnstown study and subsequent report laid the groundwork for future infant mortality and child welfare studies in the United States and legislation geared toward improving the health and well-being of children and families.
Duke, E. (1915). Infant Mortality: Results of a field study in Johnstown, PA, based on births in one calendar year. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from
Foley, P. (2001). The development of child health and welfare services in England (1900-1948). In P. Foley, J. Roche, & S. Tucker (Eds.) Children in society: Contemporary theory, policy and practice (pp. 9–17). Houndsmills, UK: Palgrave, the Open University.
Harris, H. (1919). Maternity benefit systems in certain foreign countries. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from
Hendrick, H. (1994). Child welfare England 1972–1989. London, UK: Routledge.
Leff, M. (1973). Consensus for reform: The mothers' pension movement in the Progressive Era. Social Service Review, 47, 397–417.
Lathrop, J. (1914a). First annual report of the Chief, Children's Bureau, to the Secretary of Labor, for the fiscal year ended June 1913. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from http://www.mchlibrary.info/history/chbu/21867-1st.PDF (1MB)
Lathrop, J. (1914b). New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children: An example of methods of baby-saving work in small towns and rural districts (Infant Mortality Series, No. 2; Bureau Publication, No. 6). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from
Lathrop, J. (1914c). Laws relating to "mothers' pensions" in the United States, Denmark and New Zealand. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from http://www.mchlibrary.info/history/chbu/20375.PDF (7 MB)
U.S. Census Bureau. (1910). Census of population and housing. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/decennial/1910.html
Van Heyningen, E. (2010). A tool for modernisation? The Boer concentration camps of the South African War, 1900–1902. South African Journal Of Science, 106(5/6), 1-10.
- Federal Waivers Fund State Programs
Federal Waivers Fund State Programs
A recent report summarizes ways in which States use Federal waivers to allocate some of their title IV-E funding for innovative child welfare programs. The flexibility afforded by the waivers allows States to support approved demonstration programs that promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children in new ways. All waiver programs are cost-neutral to the Federal Government.
The report, Summary of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations, focuses on three types of waiver demonstration projects:
- Subsidized guardianship/kinship permanence projects provide a monthly subsidy to kinship caregivers who have legal custody of children who would otherwise be in foster care.
- Flexible funding/capped IV-E allocations projects give local jurisdictions the flexibility to use their child welfare funds for innovative services in exchange for a cap on their IV-E amounts.
- Services for substance-using caregivers projects use title IV-E moneys to help families in which parental substance abuse puts children at risk.
The report looks at outcomes—including foster care reentry, maltreatment recurrence, preventing out-of-home placement, and more—in States that have completed their demonstration projects as well as States that have ongoing projects.
The full report, prepared by James Bell Associates for the Children's Bureau, is available on the Children's Bureau website:
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/2011/summary_demo2011.pdf (281 KB)
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently posted a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on proposed information collection for future waiver demonstration proposals. The notice solicits public comment on the ACF proposal to request a letter of intent and a full proposal for waiver demonstration projects. For details, read the announcement:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-02/pdf/2012-2296.pdf (147 KB)
Training and Technical Assistance Update
Discover the new website and resources from the NRC-CWDT and read about updates on WPIC projects and more from CB's T&TA Network.
- NRC-CWDT Launches New Website
NRC-CWDT Launches New Website
The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) has launched a new website to help the NRC fulfill its mission of advancing child welfare practice through data and technology by providing easier access to its resources and tools.The refreshed website, complete with a new logo—a data tree—houses a multitude of new resources, such as the Peer Networking page. The new networking page allows professionals in States and Tribes to connect and share resources such as data management strategies, webinars, technical assistance, and more.
The News and Events page highlights the latest announcements for child welfare professionals, including the newest smartphone applications. Smartphone applications like Verbal Victor, which can help children with developmental and communication challenges communicate with others, can enhance the efforts of professionals working with children and families across the medical, behavioral health, and human services fields. Other applications allow users to communicate between agencies, integrate case management with Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS), report child abuse and neglect remotely, and more. For technical assistance with smartphone applications and more, contact the NRC:
Another addition is the group site, which features a shared calendar, discussion forums, member profiles, a photo gallery, and file storage. Interested parties can create individualized profiles, engage with other professionals in their field, and help drive content updates to the site by providing feedback. The group site currently has more than 600 members, 50 discussion threads, and nearly 100 documents and is available here:
The new website also features a mobile-friendly browser for easy viewing on the go. To view other new resources and sign up for content updates, visit the NRC-CWDT website:
- More Updates From the T&TA Network
More 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:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway posted updates to the following publications:
- Searching for Birth Relatives
- Searching for Birth Relatives Adoption General Information Packet 3
- Searching for Birth Relatives
- National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) is sponsoring the webinar "Methods for Increasing Medication Adherence With HIV Positive Parents." Presenters will summarize interventions that social service providers can implement to help increase their clients' medication adherence. Sign up for the March 7 event on AIA's website.
- National Child Welfare Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) is launching its spring series of webinars beginning March 27 with "Getting to Outcomes: An Approach to Implementing Systemic Change." For information about registration and future webinars, visit the website.
- The National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues (NRCLJI) posted the audio portion and corresponding slides for its recent webinar on "Education Outcome Measures for Courts." The webinar discussed newly released court measures of educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care.
- The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) published the user's guide to the Second National Juvenile Online Victimization Incidence Study (NJOV-2). Researchers collected information on Internet sex crimes against minors, as well as law enforcement efforts to combat these crimes, in this update to the original (2004) study.
http://www.ndacan.cornell.edu/Ndacan/Datasets/UserGuidePDFs/162user.pdf (139 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) posted its January issue of State Liaison Officer E-Newsletter. Topics include medication assisted treatment, questions and answers about the updates to the Children's Bureau's Child Welfare Policy Manual, and newly released data and Federal reporting resources.
http://nrccps.org/documents/2012/pdf/January_2012_SLO_Newsletter.pdf (288 KB)
- The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) recently published the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) Guide to the Data Elements, which has compiled information issued by the Children's Bureau into a reference for the 58 NYTD data elements and each element's allowable values, data compliance checks, and data quality advisories.
- The National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (FRIENDS) posted the Winter 2012 edition of the Parents and Practitioners Newsletter. Produced by the FRIENDS' Parent Advisory Council, this issue features articles about bullying, Head Start, and the 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.
FRIENDS also announced that the January 2012 edition of EBHV Connector is available on the Supporting Evidence Based Home Visiting website:
- The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) is hosting a follow-up teleconference on March 14 about Child Welfare, Education, and the Courts and a webcast on March 28: "Oversight of Psychotropic Medication Use Among Youth in Foster Care." Access details on the NRC's website:
- The National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUSKids (NRCRRFAP) posted a widget, developed with the Children's Bureau and the Ad Council for the national recruitment campaign, which translates popular acronyms used by preteens. Access and share the widget on the AdoptUSKids website
- The National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health (the Center) will host a webinar on March 15 titled "Linking Primary Care and Systems of Care: Innovation at the State and Community Levels to Support the Social and Emotional Well Being of All Children."
- The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) welcomes members of system of care grant communities as well as partnering organizations, family members, colleagues, and others concerned with child welfare topics to join its community of practice. TA Partnership accepts suggestions for subjects to discuss and may schedule a call or virtual learning event to focus on that topic.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway posted updates to the following publications:
- Update on WPIC Projects
Update on WPIC Projects
The Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center (WPIC) partners with public child welfare systems in the eight States and two territories within the Administration for Children and Families' Regions 9 and 10. Among its goals are to work with States, Tribes, and territories to improve collaboration; promote shared accountability for child welfare outcomes; and institute strategies that will improve the quality and effectiveness of services for families, youth, and children.
"Each project offers us different lessons learned, lessons that are relevant to projects with other States and Tribes," said Kim Pawley Helfgott, WPIC associate director.
WPIC's quarterly e-newsletter provides readers with project updates and, according to Helfgott, "Offers the opportunity to connect key stakeholders and learn from each implementation process to overcome barriers to implementation."
The current issue of the e-newsletter highlights three projects underway in Alaska, Navajo Nation, and Los Angeles. The projects have achieved measures of success using data in decision-making, enhancing collaboration and leadership capacity, and overcoming barriers to implementing systems changes.
In Alaska, a 3-day leadership summit brought together Native youth leaders, Office of Children's Services management staff, representatives of the Alaska Court Improvement Project, and Alaska policymakers to discuss meeting the challenges of leadership, systems change strategies, Tribal-State collaboration, and the overrepresentation of Native Alaskan children in child welfare. The summit resulted in strengthening partnerships among Tribes and State child welfare leaders and a plan of action for implementing policies and practices.
Tribal caucus representatives in Alaska traveled to the Navajo Nation, where the Navajo Nation Department of Social Services shared how they integrate culture, language, and traditions throughout their child welfare programs and services. The staff explained how they collect data, support families, implement policies and procedures, and build partnerships across child-serving agencies in culturally appropriate ways.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services officially launched Kids Information Data Systems for Leadership and Accountability (KIDS LA) with technical assistance from WPIC, the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology, and Casey Family Programs. A large focus of the program is a data dashboard that tracks indicators for the department’s priority outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being. KIDS LA is scheduled for full implementation by the summer of 2012.
For more information about WPIC and its programs and resources and to register for its quarterly e-newsletter, visit its website:
CBX last wrote about WPIC in "The Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center" (October 2010).
Children's Bureau Grantee Updates
- Site Visit: A Model for CFAs in Illinois
Site Visit: A Model for CFAs in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) Integrated Assessment Program (IAP) is an example of how one statewide child welfare system is implementing comprehensive family assessments (CFAs) using a dual-professional approach. With a 5-year discretionary grant in 2007 from the Children's Bureau, IDCFS took the IAP—which was designed for children entering foster care—and extended it to intact families in need of services from the Department. The demonstration project was designed to (1) evaluate the IAP serving children in placement and (2) to adapt, implement, and evaluate the IAP for serving intact families.
At the heart of the IAP is the partnership between the child welfare caseworker assigned to work with the family and the IA screener. IA screeners are licensed clinicians employed by one of three university or hospital institutions that contract with IDCFS for this program. The collaboration between caseworker and screener facilitates indepth and accurate assessment across medical, social, developmental, mental health, and educational domains. Together the caseworker and IA screener interview children, parents, and caregivers; assess family dynamics; conduct developmental assessments; review case documentation; and integrate the information to produce a thorough, written IA report with clinical observations and recommendations.
The IA report is then used by the caseworker and supervisor to develop a strengths-based case plan and coordinate with other providers and support systems. The front-end screening process yields a timely and comprehensive assessment of family functioning and allows workers to work with parents to address underlying issues and prioritize and engage with services that meet the family's needs.
The IA process for intact families comprises the following three steps:
- The Initial Assessment Phase begins after a report of maltreatment is assigned to a Child Protection Investigator to assess threats to safety, risk factors, and the need for intervention. Families that are determined to pose the highest risk factors for disruption are eligible for random assignment. If selected through a random assignment program designed and managed by the project evaluation team, an IA screener is assigned and participates in the hand-off meeting, during which the case is transferred from the investigator to the intact family caseworker.
- The Integrated Assessment Phase is highly collaborative and involves an IA team composed of the child, parents or guardians, stepparents, caregivers, caseworker, supervisor, and the IA screener and supervisor. Screenings and interviews are conducted using the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment tool, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, and other tools. Within 40 days, the caseworker and supervisor conduct a family team meeting to discuss IA recommendations and begin developing the service plan. The clinical screener remains available for 90 days to complete additional interviews if family composition changes or previously unavailable parents engage in the process.
- The Ongoing Integrated Assessment is the continuation of the collaboration among the case manager, the family, and service providers throughout the life of the case and after the screener is no longer involved. The service plan and the IA report are updated at a minimum of every 6 months to document the family's progress in completing services and addressing risk factors.
Field staff reported during the site visit that the IAP provides a number of significant advantages in their work with intact families, including:
- Earlier and better identification of services
- Coaching and mentoring opportunities between screeners and caseworkers
- Improved quality of information compared to standard interviews by one caseworker
- Improved family engagement because the family feels more comfortable with the screener and with the holistic nature of the questions
Other benefits noted in evaluation reports released thus far include increased engagement of fathers and better inclusion of educational experiences and considerations. These reports focus on the evaluation of IAP with families that have a child placed in foster care.
For more information about this project, contact Melissa Frank, Grant Administrator, Melissa.Frank@Illinois.gov
The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
The Model for Comprehensive Family Assessments is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award #90-CA-1752). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.
- ACF Requires Online Grant Applications
ACF Requires Online Grant Applications
As of January 1, 2012, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) requires electronic submission for all discretionary grant applications. Applicants without Internet access or that lack the ability to upload large files may contact ACF to request an exemption. Exemption request information will be provided in all discretionary grant opportunity announcements.
Applications for discretionary grants, information on applying electronically, and contact information is available here:
Child Welfare Research
This month's CBX links to research on polyvictimization and an evaluation by DC's Citizens Review Panel.
- Data on Multiple Types of Victimization
Data on Multiple Types of Victimization
A recent study found that children and youth witnessing or experiencing one type of victimization are at much greater risk for experiencing other types of victimization—a problem known as polyvictimization. The study, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), used data from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) and the Developmental Victimization Survey (DVS) to examine children who experienced physical assault, child maltreatment, sexual abuse, or bullying as well as those who witnessed violence at home, in school, or in the community. Major findings include:
- Forty-nine percent of youth experienced two or more kinds of victimization or exposure to violence, crime, or abuse in the last year, and 8 percent of youth experienced seven or more.
- Polyvictimized youth were more likely to experience serious victimization, faced more life adversities, and showed more signs of psychological distress than their peers.
- Factors most associated with polyvictimization included living in a violent family or neighborhood, living in a distressed and chaotic family, and having preexisting psychological symptoms.
- Victimization usually persisted over time and was most likely to start near the beginning of elementary or high school.
Professionals should be aware that the physical, mental, and emotional harm caused by polyvictimization is likely to accumulate and multiply over time. To improve services and support for polyvictimized children, the authors of the report offer recommendations in the areas of prevention, assessment, intervention, and treatment.
"Polyvictimization: Children's Exposure to Multiple Types of Violence, Crime, and Abuse," by D. Finkelhor, H. Turner, S. Hamby, and R. Ormrod, was published in the October 2011 issue of OJJDP's Juvenile Justice Bulletin. The study is available to download from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service website:
- Teens in Care At Risk of Becoming Pregnant
Teens in Care At Risk of Becoming Pregnant
Teens in foster care face varying challenges throughout their lives, many of which may put them at a higher risk for becoming a teen parent. Child Trends recently published a research brief, Teen Parents in Foster Care: Risk Factors and Outcomes for Teens and Their Children, which examines research on teens in foster care and assesses the extent to which they are at risk for teen pregnancy and parenting. Current research shows that teen pregnancy rates are higher in teens who are in foster care than their peers without foster care experience.
Certain risk factors have been identified as influencing susceptibility to teen pregnancy. Teens in foster care tend to experience these risk factors more than their peers. The risk factors include family structure, turbulence in the family environment, socioeconomic status, exposure to abuse or neglect, educational performance, behavioral problems, and sexual risk taking. The brief also discusses the challenges to caseworkers, foster parents, and policymakers in reducing the rate of pregnancy among teens in foster care, including:
- Difficulty in discussing teen sexual activity and relationships
- Disruptions in placements
- Heavy caseloads for workers
- Lack of consensus about who should provide sex education
- Limited outreach to teen males
Child Trends hopes the brief will increase understanding of this high-risk population, the factors that put them at risk, challenges to helping this population, and areas for research.
The research brief, Teen Parents in Foster Care: Risk Factors and Outcomes for Teens and Their Children, by Jennifer Manlove, Kate Welti, Marci McCoy-Roth, Amanda Berger, and Karin Malm, was supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It is available on the Child Trends website:
http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2011_11_01_RB_TeenParentsFC.pdf (998 KB)
- Citizens Review Panel Examines Removals
Citizens Review Panel Examines Removals
The Washington, DC, Citizens Review Panel published the findings of its examination of the Child and Family Services Agency's (CFSA's) child removal and decision-making policies. The report highlights 17 findings and seven recommendations for improvement.
Between 2006 and 2010, approximately 18–35 percent of Washington, DC, children removed from their homes reunited with their families within 4 months. The quick reunification timelines brought into question the necessity of the removals.
The panel devised a five-person subcommittee to study 27 cases involving 41 children between February and April 2011. The panel concluded that while CFSA was right to be concerned for the safety of the child or children, removal was not always the correct intervention. It was also noted that the majority of children who reunited with their families did not suffer repeat maltreatment.
The panel found that:
- In 20 of the 27 cases, removals occurred on the same day as the report.
- In 26 of the 27 cases, removals occurred without a Family Team Meeting (FTM).
- In 16 of the 27 cases, the FTM was held after the removal.
- In 25 of the 27 cases, children returned to the home from which they were removed.
The panel recommended that CFSA:
- Create a clear definition for immediate danger to a child that justifies removal without a court order and include that definition in the CFSA policy manual
- Increase the use of preremoval FTMs for nonemergency cases while continuing to hold postremoval FTMs when they are not possible prior to removal
- Create policies geared toward increasing foster care alternatives such as kinship or respite care
The Citizens Review Panel is a mandate of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. More information on the District's Citizens Review Panel is available on its website:
The full report, An Examination of the Child and Family Services Agency's Performance When It Removes Children From and Quickly Returns Them to Their Families: Findings and Recommendations From the Citizens Review Panel, is available on the panel's website:
http://www.dc-crp.org/Citizen_Review_Panel_CFSA_Quick_Exits_Study.pdf (1 MB)
Strategies and Tools for Practice
- Implementing Evidence-Based Practices
Implementing Evidence-Based Practices
As a conceptual model for improving child welfare outcomes, evidence-based practice (EBP) has created new opportunities as well as a number of challenges related to the implementation process. To address these challenges, the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC) website offers The Implementation Decision Guide for Child Welfare, a tool that tackles the issue of implementation with a focus on the interaction between people, organizations, and systems.
Three sections highlight some key aspects of the implementation process:
- Logistic challenges in real-life implementation resulting from organizational and workload issues
- The potential interplay of the outer and inner context of a system where an EBP is to be implemented
- The assessment of an organization's place along an implementation continuum that includes the four phases of exploration, preparation, active implementation, and sustainment
The implication for moving human services toward EBP is that it will require a combination of effective leadership, training, policy changes, and networking. The guide recommends using the four-phase approach accompanied by specific considerations and critical tasks for each phase. From the identification of a need for practice improvement through a problem-solving/preparatory phase to the actual implementation and sustained use of an EBP, this resource provides an effective tool for implementing EBPs in human services fields.
The Implementation Decision Guide for Child Welfare can be accessed on the CEBC's website:
- Evaluating FGDM With Native Families
Evaluating FGDM With Native Families
Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) is a child-centered family intervention approach that brings together family members and other significant persons to make decisions about the care and case plans for their children. While FGDM is a practical method used in child welfare to increase family engagement and minimize the number of children in foster care, its effectiveness has not been thoroughly examined for American Indian and Native American children and youth, who are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system.
To address this gap, Casey Family Programs collaborated with Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi and Sicangu Child and Family Services in South Dakota to develop materials for evaluating participant satisfaction with FGDM meetings. The materials have been gathered into an online toolkit, An Evaluation of Family Group Decision Making With Native American Families. This toolkit contains a number of evaluation surveys and guides, consent and assent forms, and procedural summaries to aid individuals and organizations interested in conducting their own FGDM evaluations.
Casey staff will collect and assess the data from the South Dakota Tribes and plans to release their findings and subsequent recommendations for program improvement to help other Tribal communities replicate this FGDM program to better serve at-risk children and families.
To view the toolkit, An Evaluation of Family Group Decision Making With Native American Families, visit:
http://www.casey.org/resources/publications/pdf/Evaluation-FGDM-Native.pdf (730 KB)
- Action Guide for Supporting Youth in Care
Action Guide for Supporting Youth in Care
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and Fostering Media Connections released Rescuing Forgotten Futures: An Action Guide to the Improvements Everyone Can Make to Help Foster Youth Succeed in School. The guide focuses on the correlation between child welfare experience and education and provides research, anecdotal evidence from foster care youth and alumni, and legislative histories with examples on how the two intersect.
The guide also provides profiles of three States that implemented programs to improve educational outcomes for children in foster care. The authors stress the importance of understanding a child's challenges during the early stages of development and the need to find a person or program that can help him or her find academic success. The influence that people across all disciplines can have on a child's education is also discussed, and engagement strategies are proposed:
- Citizens in the community can help children succeed in school through mentoring or by participating in a school supply drive.
- Journalists can use their voice in the media to attract attention to children in foster care, their educational experiences, and solutions to improve outcomes.
- Teachers and other school staff can be a constant presence in the lives of children in foster care, who experience little consistency.
- Researchers can conduct more evaluations and studies, collecting more data on educational outcomes of children in foster care, and share that vital information with decision-makers in and outside the child welfare field.
Download the full Rescuing Forgotten Futures guide on Fostering Media Connections' website:
http://fosteringmediaconnections.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Rescuing-Forgotten-Futures-FINAL_@-Oct.-18.pdf (8 MB)
- Outcomes Tool for MIECHV Home Visitors
Outcomes Tool for MIECHV Home Visitors
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) jointly fund a number of Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) programs around the country. The programs are committed to implementing evidence-based home visiting to prevent child maltreatment. In order to demonstrate their outcomes, the programs must identify and use tools that can measure their progress on a variety of benchmarks.
A recent brief from James Bell Associates, funded by HHS, describes the Life Skills Progression (LSP) tool, which can be used by home visitors to score family competencies based on information that the home visitor gathers through interviews and conversation, observations, formal assessments, and selected screening tools. LSP is intended to be completed every 6 months and at case closure and is designed to focus on low-income, expecting parents or new parents of children age 0–3. LSP specifically measures health care literacy and personal health literacy along with 43 life skills grouped into five categories:
- Educational and employment status
- Parent and child health
- Mental health and substance abuse
- Basic essentials
The brief describes the proper use of the LSP tool by MIECHV grantees, including the tool’s scales, format, scoring, training, psychometric properties, and data management.
Read the Life Skills Progression Brief: Information and Guidelines for Use in Meeting MIECHV Benchmarks on the MDRC website, which is home to the Design Options for MIECHV Evaluation Technical Assistance team:
- Psychotropic Medications and Children in Care
Psychotropic Medications and Children in Care
Psychopharmacology is one way to manage mental health disorders in children and youth. Yet for children in foster care, medication combined with a lack of understanding about their mental health backgrounds and trauma histories has the potential to cause more harm than good. A new policy brief produced by the American Bar Association (ABA) makes recommendations for practice that can support healthy psychopharmacology plans for children and youth in care.
The brief outlines the benefits and drawbacks of psychotropic medications and common diagnoses in infants, children, and youth. The brief also lists the American Academy of Child and Psychiatry's recommendations for the use of such medications, including:
- Complete a psychiatric evaluation prior to beginning pharmacotherapy.
- Obtain a medical history and conduct a medical evaluation prior to beginning pharmacotherapy.
- Develop a plan to monitor the development of side effects, the need to increase or lower dosages, or the need to change medications entirely.
- Devise a specific plan for tapering off medications to avoid abrupt termination.
The brief also provides a three-page factsheet on medication types and possible side effects.
Psychotropic Medication and Children in Foster Care: Tips for Advocates and Judges, by JoAnne Solchany, is available on the ABA website:
http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/child_law/PsychMed.authcheckdam.pdf (1 MB)
- The Child Indicator Newsletter
The Child Indicator Newsletter
The fall 2011 issue of Child Trends' The Child Indicator newsletter summarizes findings from the latest editions of several national reports.
- The 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book reports on economic damage and how it has affected child well-being.
- America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011, from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, includes a special feature on adoption.
- "A Child's Day: 2009" is a series of 2009 data collected through the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), which is sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Three reports on unintended pregnancies highlight various aspects of the issue. The Brookings Center on Children and Families report focuses on negative outcomes for teens who become pregnant; the report by the Guttmacher Institute explores unintended pregnancies as they relate to financial trends; and the Child Trends report is centered on contraception use by teens.
- "The Nation's Report Card" describes test results of U.S. students' knowledge of history, geography, and civics.
Additional articles in The Child Indicator describe reports on conditions affecting newborns, mothers, and youth around the globe.
The newsletter is available on the Child Trends website:
http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2011_10_01_CI_ChildIndFall2011.pdf (377 KB)
- Native Infant Safe Sleep Workbook
Native Infant Safe Sleep Workbook
The National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) Healthy Native Babies Project produced a workbook packet to assist in the communication of safe sleep messages through programs working in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The packet is one outreach piece the project created in an effort to find effective ways to reach out to American Indian and Alaska Native groups, who have the highest rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the United States.
The packet includes:
- A workbook that educates readers about the science of SIDS, explores SIDS risk factors and how to change them, and offers ideas for outreach in American Indian and Alaska Native communities
- A handout featuring images to help explain the risk factors and risk reduction of SIDS
- A toolkit with outreach materials such as posters and brochures that users can customize for different Tribes and Native regions
Find the Healthy Native Babies Project Workbook Packet on the NICHD website:
- State Fostering Connections Legislation
State Fostering Connections Legislation
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act was enacted in 2008 to connect and support relative caregivers, improve the lives of children in foster care, support Tribal foster care and adoptions, and improve incentives for adoption. Since then, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has tracked State legislation related to the Fostering Connections Act.
During the 2009 and 2010 State legislative sessions, 33 States and the District of Columbia enacted 63 bills related to the provisions of the Fostering Connections Act. In the 2011 legislative session, 26 bills were enacted or are pending in 18 States. The NCSL has produced a summary of these bills and all 2011 State legislation pertaining to the act.
Common topics of the legislation reflect Federal requirements, including continuity of educational services, subsidies and funding, sibling groups placed together or permitted frequent visitation, and identifying and notifying relatives of a child removed from parents' custody.
More details are available on the NCSL website:
- When a Parent Is Incarcerated
When a Parent Is Incarcerated
A new guide from the Annie E. Casey Foundation provides information for public child welfare agencies and caseworkers on working with incarcerated parents and their children. This primer aims to familiarize child welfare professionals with the impact of incarceration on children and provide child welfare and correctional systems with the information necessary to help improve permanency outcomes for children.
In 2007, 1 in 110 White children, 1 in 41 Hispanic children, and 1 in 15 African-American children had one or both parents incarcerated.
Chapters in the guide include:
- Information on child welfare considerations regarding incarcerated parents
- General information about the correctional system
- Information on immigrant parents in deportation proceedings
- Handouts on the importance of letter writing by incarcerated parents to their children and "Ten Tips for Kinship Caregivers of Children of Incarcerated Parents"
- Additional resources
When a Parent Is Incarcerated: A Primer for Social Workers, by Yali Lincroft and Ken Borelli, is available on the Annie E. Casey Foundation 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.
Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through June 2012 include:
- National Citizen Review Panel Conference
April 15-17, Washington, DC
- The 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
Celebrating the Past ~ Imagining the Future
Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, the Children's Bureau
April 16-20, Washington, DC
- 30th Annual "Protecting Our Children" National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
Protecting Our Children, Ensuring Our Legacy
National Indian Child Welfare Association
April 22-25, Scottsdale, AZ
- American Adoption Congress 2012 National Conference
Mile High Expectations – Adoption in 2012
American Adoption Congress
April 25-29, Denver, CO
- 19th Annual Foster Care Conference
Daniel Memorial Institute
May 05-11, Orlando, FL
- Colorado Summit on Children, Youth, and Families
Colorado Department of Human Services
May 23-25, Keystone, CO
- Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 49th ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
June 06-09, Chicago, IL
- 14th Annual International Fatherhood Conference
Partnerships and Collaboration: Expanding Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Family Program Connections
National Partnership for Community Leadership
June 12-15, Fort Lauderdale, FL
- 2012 National Foster Parent Association National Education Conference
National Foster Parent Association
June 15-18, Chicago, IL
- 2012 National Pathways to Adulthood
Convening on Youth in Transition
National Resource Center for Youth Development
June 26-29, New Orleans, LA
Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- National Citizen Review Panel Conference
- Immigration Law and Managing Subpoenas
Immigration Law and Managing Subpoenas
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) California Chapter announced two online training courses. Both courses are free and approved by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
- The Intersection of Immigration Law, Its Enforcement and Social Work Practice. Worth two continuing education credits, this training is intended to help social workers throughout the country better understand U.S. immigration laws and policies as well as NASW policies pertaining to immigration. This session features the Applied Research Center's report Shattered Families: The Perilous Intersection of Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System.
- Understanding and Managing Subpoenas. Worth one continuing education credit, this intermediate ethics course is intended to help workers navigate the six types of subpoenas and provides recommendations from an expert witness, the NASW Legal Defense Fund (LDF), and NASW Assurance Services, Inc. (ASI), a malpractice insurance company.
More information and registration for each training is available on the National Association for Social Workers–California Online Continuing Education website: