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September 2013Vol. 14, No. 7Spotlight on Continuous Quality Improvement

In August 2012, the Children's Bureau released an Information Memorandum on Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), the process by which organizations identify, describe, and analyze strengths and problems and then test, implement, learn from, and revise solutions. This month, CBX looks at how the child welfare field is using the philosophy of CQI to evaluate and improve interventions for children and families. We also highlight a new Children's Bureau CQI Training project.

Issue Spotlight

  • CQI Practice Model in North Carolina

    CQI Practice Model in North Carolina

    The October 2012 issue of Training Matters, a publication of the North Carolina Department of Social Services (NC DSS) Child Welfare Services Statewide Training Partnership, provides information and resources on Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). In addition to defining CQI, the issue outlines the State's CQI practice model for creating an achievement-focused child welfare system.

    Reaching for Accountability and Excellence in Practice (REAP) puts a CQI approach into practice and is a collaboration among NC DSS staff, community partners, and families served by NC DSS. Using implementation science to shift practice and incorporate REAP, NC DSS is piloting the model in nine counties. The core components of the model include the following:

    • Adopt outcomes, indicators, and standards
    • Collect data and information
    • Review, analyze, and interpret data
    • Apply learning

    NC DSS is offering training to its pilot counties to build coaching and other supervisory skills. This issue of Training Matters outlines the connections between CQI and the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews and provides a list of CQI learning resources for agencies.

    Training Matters, 14(1), 2012, is available on the Training Matters website: (104 KB)

  • Building Child Welfare's CQI Capacity

    Building Child Welfare's CQI Capacity

    In August 2012, the Children's Bureau released an Information Memorandum (IM) for State title IV-B and IV-E child welfare agencies about the importance of establishing and maintaining continuous quality improvement (CQI) systems. Nine months later, the Bureau awarded a cooperative agreement for the Building Child Welfare Capacity for Continuous Quality Improvement Project to JBS International, Inc., and its partner, the Center for the Support of Families (CSF). This 17-month training project is intended to support child welfare professionals in performing and improving CQI activities and processes.

    The training project, currently in the planning and development stage, will include an online training program with individual and group-based learning opportunities delivered through a dynamic online learning environment. Before developing the training, project team members reviewed CQI-related resources in child welfare and then branched out to investigate CQI frameworks in other fields. They crosswalked these frameworks with the essential components of a functioning CQI system as described in the IM. Then, based on their analysis, team members identified key CQI management functions and the competencies necessary to perform them in child welfare. Armed with this list, the team now has an understanding of the competencies and skills that managers need in order to effectively administer a CQI system in child welfare—competencies the training project aims to bolster.

    The project's training module will be rigorously evaluated, and the project team has worked closely with its evaluators throughout development. Ultimately, the project will benefit children and families served by child welfare by building the capacity of States to routinely collect and use data to examine their work and make adjustments in an informed manner.

    Outreach to title IV-E States for participation in the training will begin in the fall. For more information about the Building Child Welfare Capacity for Continuous Quality Improvement Project, contact Yolanda Green-Rogers:

    The CQI IM is available on the Children's Bureau website: (324 KB)  

  • Court Performance in Improving Child Well-Being

    Court Performance in Improving Child Well-Being

    The January issue of The Judges' Page newsletter focused on the court's shared responsibility in improving the well-being of children in foster care. In "Improving Child Well-Being Through Continuous Quality Improvement," author Victor E. Flango, Executive Director, Program Resource Development, National Center for State Courts, outlines recent work to develop court-related outcomes measurements that will allow courts to determine their impact on children and families.

    In 2009, the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues (NRCLJI) released the Toolkit for Court Performance Measurement in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. The toolkit recommended measures for the courts in the areas of safety, permanency, due process, and timeliness. Recognizing that the courts also have the responsibility to ensure that children's education, physical, and emotional needs also are met, in 2010, the National Center for State Courts and Casey Family Programs established a focus group to work on educational well-being outcome measures. In 2011, the NRCLJI, in conjunction with the National Center for State Courts, assembled a focus group to establish measures to determine the courts' success in addressing the physical and emotional well-being of children under their jurisdiction. 

    The measures created by the focus groups provided a foundation for court-related well-being outcome measures for children in foster care. Both sets of measures are currently being tested in the field and will be reviewed and evaluated by experts and stakeholders to determine their practicality and usefulness. In the article, Flango notes that the well-being outcome measures must be used to change practice using the philosophy of Continuous Quality Improvement—assessment, feedback, and information to continuously evaluate processes and improve services.

    The Judges' Page is a publication of the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and is available on the National CASA website:

  • CB's Focus on Continuous Quality Improvement

    CB's Focus on Continuous Quality Improvement

    The Children's Bureau (CB) completed two rounds of Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico during Federal fiscal years 2001–2004 and 2007–2010. At the end of the second round of reviews, the Children's Bureau took a step back to consider ways that Federal monitoring of child welfare programs could be improved, building on the basic foundation of the CFSRs—to focus on outcomes and use data to drive systems and practice improvements. While CB is considering how to improve the CFSRs, CB strongly encourages States to continue to strengthen their ability to monitor their own performance and child and family outcomes using continuous quality improvement (CQI) principles.

    In August 2012, CB issued Information Memorandum ACYF-CB-IM-12-07 on establishing and maintaining CQI systems. This information memorandum (IM) provides States with CB's current view of a State Quality Assurance(QA)/CQI system framework that is comprehensive and well-functioning in accordance with existing Federal requirements for Quality Assurance (QA (45 CFR 1357.15(u)).The IM outlines five key components of an effective CQI system. They are as follows:

    • A strong foundational administrative structure
    • Quality data collection
    • An effective case record review process
    • Process to analyze and disseminate data
    • Processes to provide feedback to stakeholders/decision-makers and adjust programs and process

    The IM also specifies CB's intention to provide consultation and technical assistance to States with the goal of assisting States with implementing well-functioning QA/CQI systems. 

    In addition to the IM, on April 10, 2013, CB issued Program Instruction ACYF-CB-PI-13-04 to States on requirements for the fiscal year 2013 Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR). The Program Instruction offered guidance to States on providing a self-assessment of their current QA/CQI system (using the framework outlined in IM-12-07) including any training or technical assistance (T&TA) that the State anticipates needing from CB or any other partners. Using the CQI information provided by States in the APSRs, and supplemented by CB knowledge of State child welfare programs and systems gathered from discussions with the States, CB staff will work collaboratively with States to identify both the strengths in their respective QA/CQI systems, as well as areas that may need further development. 

    CB will continue to support States in building and enhancing their QA/CQI systems through various technical assistance resources. For instance, the CFSR Information Portal, maintained by JBS International, Inc., houses the E-Training Platform, a web-based learning system designed to provide pertinent CFSR information. One of the topic-specific sections, the CQI module, provides an introduction and overview of CQI and its benefits. The CQI module will be accessible to all interested persons by mid-September and will include the following five sections: 

    • Defining CQI and Building a CQI Framework
    • Effective Leadership and Creating a Learning Environment
    • Functional Components and Processes of CQI
    • Implementing and Sustaining Systems Change
    • Additional Resources

    Another way CB is supporting States in their efforts to enhance their QA/CQI systems is through the Building Child Welfare Capacity for Continuous Quality Improvement Project. The 17-month training project is intended to support child welfare professionals in improving CQI processes and will include an online training program with individual and group-based training opportunities. See the related article, "Building Child Welfare's CQI Capacity" in this issue of CBX.   

    For more information on the CFSRs and CQI, please contact Miranda Lynch Thomas at

  • CQI for Early Childhood Grantees

    CQI for Early Childhood Grantees

    The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program was developed to improve health and developmental outcomes for at-risk children. The MIECHV program, which is coordinated by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, includes grants to States, jurisdictions, Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations. As part of the process to receive funds, MIECHV grantees must submit an Updated State Plan, and one component of this submission is a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) plan.

    CQI helps organizations identify, describe, and assess strengths and weaknesses and then take steps to develop and implement solutions. The Design Options for Home Visiting Evaluation (DOHVE) Technical Assistance team developed a brief to help MIECHV grantees develop their CQI plans. The DOHVE brief provides a suggested reporting format for grantees' CQI plans. The following seven areas are addressed in the brief, which also may be helpful to nongrantees in assessing their current CQI systems:

    • Infrastructure for driving improvements
    • How to leverage current resources
    • Description of the management information system (MIS)
    • Data collection design
    • Reporting data to users
    • Alignment and integration of the CQI plan with benchmark reporting
    • Sustainability 

    The brief also includes a description of the three broad stages of CQI to help grantees assess their current capacity and plan how to move along the continuum.

    Suggested Guidelines for Continuous Quality Improvement for MIECHV Grantees is available here: (214 KB)

    For more information about MIECHV, visit:

  • Promoting CQI: The NRC on Organizational Improvement

    Promoting CQI: The NRC on Organizational Improvement

    By Peter Watson, Director, National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement

    There is a growing consensus in the child welfare field that we need to incorporate the ongoing use of reliable data and information into our management, supervision, and practice. Over the past 20 years, the child welfare field has dramatically expanded data collection and analyses focused on practice and outcomes. Most States leveraged Federal funds to develop comprehensive, automated data systems, and most also implemented qualitative case review processes. As a result, child welfare agencies now have access to numerous reports from various quantitative and qualitative data sources that can help track critical outcomes and related practice. Nevertheless, most agencies also struggle with how to effectively use the enormous amount of information. Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) offers a way forward that addresses this challenge.

    The concepts of CQI are couched in the learning organization literature, with "learning organizations" described as open to change, supportive of adaptation and continuous improvement, and willing to address important organizational challenges.1The Children's Bureau (CB) has long promoted and supported CQI approaches and principles in child welfare. As part of its Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network, CB funds the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) that has worked for the past decade to help child welfare agencies define and implement CQI approaches. In a 2002 framework, the NRCOI identified five key processes in the quality assurance (QA) cycle that are still widely cited:

    • Adopt outcomes and standards
    • Embed QA throughout the agency
    • Gather data
    • Analyze data
    • Use information to make improvements

    In 2005, the NRCOI and Casey Family Programs convened a diverse panel of experts and child welfare stakeholders to refine this model and promote a practical CQI framework and approach. This framework informs the NRCOI's work with States and defines CQI in child welfare as:

    the complete process of identifying, describing, and analyzing strengths and problems and then testing, implementing, learning from and revising solutions. It relies on an organizational culture that is proactive and supports continuous learning. CQI is firmly grounded in the overall mission, vision and values of the agency. Perhaps most importantly, it is dependent upon the active inclusion and participation of staff at all levels of the agency, children, youth, families, and stakeholders throughout the process.

    The NRCOI's training and technical assistance (T&TA) has supported multiple States in developing and refining their CQI systems in recent years. We continue to offer a range of resources and services that can assist child welfare agencies in their CQI development efforts, including the following:

    • Short- and long-term T&TA for State child welfare agencies. This includes facilitated CQI assessment and action planning sessions focused on the CQI functional components described in CB's Information Memorandum; CQI skills training and coaching; CQI leadership coaching; qualitative review process development and implementation; and other topics.
    • A CQI research project site that presents the results of a 2012 survey on State CQI systems. The project site includes descriptions of 26 State CQI systems, topical summaries of State approaches to key CQI functions, and other CQI resources agencies can use to explore different CQI models and approaches.
    • An active CQI Peer Network composed of professional CQI staff from State and local child welfare agencies across the country. The NRCOI facilitates quarterly webinars focused on issues of interest to CQI Peer Network members, sends out information requests in response to needs among members, and posts CQI resources and materials.
    • The NRCOI Child Welfare Matters newsletter that often includes a "CQI Corner" column. The most recent issue focused on "Leading Adaptively in Child Welfare" and includes the column "Exercising Leadership in CQI" that links adaptive leadership techniques to CQI activities.

    We are currently developing a series of CQI working papers focused on key aspects of CQI systems in child welfare. The NRCOI first developed draft papers for use in a national CQI Working Meeting convened in August 2012. These papers will soon be revised and posted on the NRCOI website.

    As jurisdictions continue to refine their CQI systems, with much of the work focused on better using CQI results to drive systemic change, the NRCOI will continue to develop, gather, and share resources and provide targeted T&TA to assist the child welfare field in this critical work.

    1 Behn, Robert D. (2006) Performance leadership: 11 better practices that can ratchet up performance. Retrieved from

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News From the Children's Bureau

The twelfth in a series of reports about State performance on delivering child welfare services has been released, along with new statistics from the Children's Bureau on the numbers of children involved with the child welfare system. Also, look for the Children's Bureau's e-book celebrating its 100-year history.

  • Federal Health Care, Mental Health Websites

    Federal Health Care, Mental Health Websites

    In preparation for the new Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment that will begin in October, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) relaunched updated site includes answers to such questions as:

    • What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?
    • What is the Marketplace in my State?
    • How can I get lower-cost coverage?
    • What do small businesses need to know?

    A new online chat feature allows users to ask questions in real-time, and HHS will also sponsor a series of webinars for organizations to learn about the marketplace. 

    For people looking for information about mental health issues, HHS recently launched The new site includes information about the signs of mental health disorders, how to get help—including a treatment locator—and videos highlighting stories of recovery and hope. This new site is a one-stop-shop for Federal Government mental health information for the public, emergency preparedness professionals, policymakers, schools, and communities.

  • Webinar: Early Identification of Autism and FAS in Foster Care

    Webinar: Early Identification of Autism and FAS in Foster Care

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six children in the United States has a developmental disability. Frontline child welfare staff play an important role in identifying potential disorders in children involved with child welfare. To underscore the importance of early identification, the Children's Bureau and the CDC are sponsoring a webinar on the early identification of developmental disabilities in foster and adoptive homes.

    The webinar will focus on the two most common developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and fetal alcohol spectrum (FAS) disorders. Research shows that early identification and intervention for children with these disorders can greatly improve outcomes. Handouts, fliers, checklists, and other useful materials for staff will be made available during the webinar.

    "Early Identification of Developmental Disabilities in Foster/Adoptive Homes: Practical Tools and Resources for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders," will be held on September 12, 2:30–4 p.m. Register here:

    A recording of the webinar will later be available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

  • Connecting the Dots for Transitioning Youth

    Connecting the Dots for Transitioning Youth

    Each year in Ohio, between 1,000 and 1,400 youth transition out of foster care. Jennifer Justice, Deputy Director, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Office of Families and Children, said the State needs to do more to meet the needs of this vulnerable population. "Kids that don't achieve permanency and emancipate from our care have extremely poor outcomes. We have to do better by them, because we are their parents." That's where Ohio's Connecting the Dots program aims to make a difference.

    Connecting the Dots From Foster Care to Employment and Independent Living is a new effort to increase cross-system collaboration among State and county agencies by connecting child welfare caseworkers, employment counselors, mentors, and other services with youth who are exiting care. The State has used funding from its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to operate this program.

    The impetus for the program began in 2011 when members of the Ohio Youth Advisory Board—consisting of youth currently in care and those who have emancipated—met with ODJFS Director Michael Colbert. Because ODJFS is an umbrella agency for health and human services that includes programs such as workforce development, unemployment compensation, child support, child care, and food assistance, Colbert was not specifically entrenched in child welfare. Justice said the Youth Advisory Board members captured Colbert's heart and brought him up to speed on the challenges they face after leaving foster care. Colbert then realized that the offices within ODJFS needed to break out of their silos and collaborate to better serve these young people.

    The first phase of the program was cross training. "We had to set a baseline of understanding about what our departments had to offer," Justice said. "We had to explain to the folks in child welfare what the workforce development people did. We had to explain to workforce development what child welfare is about, what our kids have gone through, and what their needs are. We needed a better understanding of how our different systems worked."

    To achieve this goal, 13 training webinars were conducted, and not just for staff. Some of the trainings focused on youth and foster parents and covered State-level resources, such as online job search tools and training and a "real cost of living" program through the Department of Education that focuses on the actual costs of apartments, utility bills, and other necessities.

    An even larger strategy was employed to help reduce the number of children who age out of foster care. ODJFS entered into a partnership with the Dave Thomas Foundation's Wendy's Wonderful Kids program, which awards grants to agencies to implement innovative recruitment programs to help move children from foster care to adoptive families.

    Justice added that even with increased recruitment efforts, not all children in care will be adopted. "We know there will always be some percentage [of youth] who will not achieve permanency through adoption, and we can't allow them to leave our system without better tools in their toolbox," Justice said. "We have to think about permanency in a different way. We believe that even if we can't succeed in finding permanent adoptive homes for these kids, we should always make sure they have a permanent adult connection in their lives." Enter, Big Brothers Big Sisters.

    ODJFS is partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters to provide volunteer mentors specifically focused on vocational counseling for youth preparing to leave foster care. "Big Brothers Big Sisters has a rigorously evaluated mentoring service, but they typically mentor younger children," said Alice Worrell, Project Manager, ODJFS Office of Workforce Development. "Working with older youth is a new venture for them."

    The partnership has yielded a customized curriculum for mentors, which was developed after focus groups with youth from across the State gathered information about what youth want from a mentor or an adult supporter. Recruiting began this spring, and the program aims to match mentors with youth who have common interests in vocation and background.

    The partnerships with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Wendy's Wonderful Kids are currently being piloted in five locations in eight counties in Ohio. While Ohio has a State-run, county-administered child welfare system, Justice said she hopes successful program elements can be implemented statewide. "We are already sharing with other counties as much as we can about best practices from the pilot locations. It is our hope that these efforts will be big pieces in connecting the dots for youth."

    More information about the Connecting the Dots from Foster Care to Employment and Independent Living program is available in a press release from ODJFS:

    Special thanks to the following people for providing information for this article: Jennifer Justice, Deputy Director, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Office of Families and Children; Alice Worrell, Program Manager, ODJFS Office of Workforce Development; James Lacks, Program Administrator, ODJFS Office of Families and Children; and Amy Eaton, Section Chief, ODJFS Office of Families and Children.

  • New Child Welfare Outcomes, AFCARS Reports

    New Child Welfare Outcomes, AFCARS Reports

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the twelfth 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 2008–2011: Report to Congress 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.

    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 2011, approximately 742,000 children were confirmed to be victims of child maltreatment. The national child victim rate continued its long-term downward trend, decreasing from 10.3 child victims per 1,000 children in fiscal year (FY) 2008 to 9.9 in FY 2011.
    • Nationally, there were approximately 407,000 children in foster care on the last day of 2011. Between 2002 and 2011, the number of children in care on the last day of the FY decreased by 23.3 percent from 523,000 to 401,000.
    • Seventy-two percent of States showed improved performance between 2008 and 2011 in the percentage of children in foster care for 17 months or longer on the first day of the year who were adopted by the end of the year.

    Child Welfare Outcomes 2008–2011: Report to Congress, including State-by-State data tables, is available on the Children's Bureau website:

    Also released this month were new statistics from the Children's Bureau on the numbers of children involved with the child welfare system. Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #20 provides preliminary estimates for fiscal year (FY) 2012 and indicates that, as of July 2013:

    • There were 399,546 children in foster care.
    • The average age of children in foster care was 9.1 years.
    • The largest percentage of children (47 percent) in foster care were in foster family homes, followed by 28 percent in relative family placements.
    • The largest percentage of children (53 percent) had reunification with parents or primary caregivers as their placement goal.
    • Of the children adopted from foster care that year, 56 percent were adopted by a foster parent.

    Find the latest AFCARS report on the Children's Bureau website: (311 KB)

  • Coming Soon: The Children's Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood

    Coming Soon: The Children's Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood

    As part of its centennial celebration, the Children's Bureau researched and produced a history of its first 100 years. The resulting e-book will be released in October and combines compelling text with striking historical images to tell the story of the first Federal agency to focus exclusively on improving the lives of children and families.

    The e-book, The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood, will be available for purchase on the Government Printing Office bookstore website for $9.99. A standard PDF version will be available at no cost on the Children's Bureau website.

    For a sneak peak at information about the Children's Bureau's history of addressing critical issues affecting children and families, complete with historical photos, video recordings, and an interactive historical timeline, visit the Children's Bureau's centennial website: 

  • 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:

    For news from the Administration for Children and Families, read the latest blog entries in The Family Room:

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

Training and Technical Assistance Update

A new issue brief from the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services explores the intersection between differential response and disproportionality. We also highlight a new guide from the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health about the importance of supporting father involvement.

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

A site visit report explores a diligent recruitment project in Ramsey County, MN, and a new synthesis of the Collaboration Between Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Child Welfare to Improve Child Welfare Program Outcomes grant cluster outlines lessons learned from the cluster's six projects.

  • National Adoption Recruitment Campaign and Response

    National Adoption Recruitment Campaign and Response

    The Adoption Exchange Association (AEA), as part of its administration of the AdoptUSKids (AUSK) and National Adoption Recruitment and Response Initiative Grants, is accepting proposals to further the localization efforts of the National Adoption Recruitment Campaign and Response Initiative. 

    A primary focus of this effort is for the AEA to partner with State and regional adoption exchanges to further localization efforts of the National Adoption Recruitment Campaign and Response Initiative. The intent is that through the administration of a cluster meeting with the grantees, and other supports, that grantees will develop stronger relationships and knowledge specific to, but not limited to, media and advertising so that project efforts can be maintained beyond the grant period. A more complete scope is outlined in the request for proposals (RFP).

    State and regional Adoption Exchanges may apply (see details within the RFP). The deadline for submission is September 13, 2013, and award announcements will be made no later than September 30, 2013

    Please direct any questions to Melissa Otero at or 240.449.9747. 

    The RFP is available here:

  • TANF and Child Welfare Collaboration Synthesis

    TANF and Child Welfare Collaboration Synthesis

    In 2006, the Children's Bureau published a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for Collaboration Between Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Child Welfare to Improve Child Welfare Program Outcomes. A new synthesis posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website discusses the knowledge gained through the grant cluster's projects.

    Between 2006 and 2011, six grantees conducted innovative projects to either broadly address dual-system families or to focus on specific subgroups. The interconnections between the two programs reflect the role of poverty, often accompanied by parental stress, as a risk factor for child abuse and neglect. In addition, other co-occurring issues, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, or mental health issues also affect many families receiving services from either or both systems.

    The five projects developed infrastructure and implemented interagency practices to promote collaboration among the child welfare and TANF systems. Several common lessons learned were identified, including the following:

    • Leadership commitment is essential to successful implementation.
    • Relationship building sets the foundation for collaboration.
    • Taking time to plan and prepare is indispensable.
    • Data collection and technological capacity are important considerations in developing and evaluation collaborative efforts.
    • Meaningful collaboration stems from shared accountability.

    The five projects funded in this grant cluster were:

    Synthesis: Collaboration Between TANF and Child Welfare to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes, including individual site visit reports for each project, is available on the Information Gateway website:

  • Site Visit: Diligent Recruitment in Ramsey County

    Site Visit: Diligent Recruitment in Ramsey County

    In 2008, the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded eight 5-year demonstration grants for the diligent recruitment of families for children in foster care. One of those grants was provided to the Ramsey County Community Human Services Department (RCCHSD) to develop, implement, and evaluate a multifaceted recruitment plan and systems change project to increase the number of foster and adoptive homes, with a particular focus on African-American and Hispanic children and youth ages 12 and older. To achieve this, the project, titled the Permanent Families Recruitment Project (PFRP), used the following strategies:

    • Involving stakeholders. The project included input from foster and adoptive parents, youth in foster care, adopted youth, RCCHSD staff, and community members, to identify barriers to permanency and how to improve permanency outcomes for youth. Early in the project, it formed a Youth Advisory Group to assist with various facets of the project.
    • Enhancing recruitment. Using a system assessment and onsite technical assistance from AdoptUSKids, PFRP was able to make several changes to improve its recruitment process, including developing a customer service practice model and establishing a Permanency Recruitment Specialist position.
    • Developing a customized training curriculum. The project developed six new training modules to support existing and prospective foster and adoptive parents. Topics included appropriate discipline, educational success, reactive attachment disorder, and others.
    • Implementing concurrent permanency planning practice. Through policy development, implementation planning, and training, the project instituted concurrent permanency planning practice within the agency. The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections assisted the project with this effort.
    • Collecting and utilizing data. The project was in the midst of designing and developing a stand-alone pre-licensure data collection and reporting system to examine key management and evaluation issues.

     Preliminary evaluation data show promising results. The total number of inquiries about becoming a foster or adoptive parent increased from 191 in 2009 to 258 in 2012, and from October 2009 to October 2012, 78 African-American families have become licensed. Additionally, customer satisfaction surveys indicated improvement on several indicators, such as staff returning calls promptly, staff encouragement to become a foster parent, and staff assistance through the process.

    For more information about the project, visit or

    The full site visit report will soon be posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    The Ramsey County Permanent Families Recruitment Project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CO1041). 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.

Child Welfare Research

CBX points to the 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book with State data on key indicators of child well-being, the results of the Children's Stability and Well-Being study conducted by PolicyLab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and a report that outlines five practices that organizations need to successfully foster a culture of authentic child and family engagement.

  • Health Care Reform and Child Welfare

    Health Care Reform and Child Welfare

    While many of the broad reforms in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are expected to benefit children involved with child welfare, there is a specific provision within ACA that will have a more direct impact on youth and families served. A stipulation in the law requires that, beginning in January 2014, States must extend Medicaid coverage to age 26 for all youth who are enrolled in the program and in foster care on their 18th birthday, or who have aged out of care. The Urban Institute recently published a paper highlighting the ways in which this reform can benefit children and families involved with child welfare.

    The researchers warn that, while the benefits of this provision have potentially positive implications for the children, youth, and families involved in child welfare, successful implementation of the law will require active participation from child welfare leaders, policy experts, and advocates. Change will need to occur on the policy level as well as within the child welfare system in order to revamp service delivery, engage staff and partner agencies, and reach out to youth and families.

    The report is aimed at initiating conversation about the issue so that stakeholders can begin preparing for the transition. The authors note three goals for the paper:

    1. To provide an overview of the key ACA provisions that will impact those enrolled in the child welfare system
    2. To motivate child welfare leaders to get involved in ACA implementation
    3. To suggest potential strategies for action by key stakeholders

    Researchers interviewed stakeholders to gain better understanding of the potential challenges associated with child welfare-related ACA implementation. Leaders in both the health and child welfare fields expressed concern over problems arising due to the intricacies in both systems, how substantially each varies by State, and citizens' lack of understanding of both systems. Health and child welfare officials also tend to set different types of goals, with Medicaid staff working toward functions of enrollment or benefit packages and child welfare workers focusing on populations. Finally, health officials might assume that linkages to broader human service programs, such as income support programs, cover needed connections to child welfare programs.

    How Health Care Reform Can Help Children and Families in the Child Welfare System: Options for Action, by Olivia Golden and Dina Emam, is available on the Urban Institute website: (640 KB)

  • Authentic Child and Family Engagement

    Authentic Child and Family Engagement

    The Alliance for Children and Families recently published a report highlighting the strengths of a child and family engagement values system in which "engagement" is geared toward empowering families to share responsibility for child safety, permanency, and well-being. The report notes that, while the child welfare field has made positive changes in recent decades by moving toward emphasizing kinship care and family-centered practice, these approaches can achieve long-term results only when they are embraced by every aspect of system policy, organizational culture, and day-to-day practice.

    The paper outlines five practices that must be in place in order for an organization to successfully foster a culture of authentic child and family engagement. These are as follows:

    • Each child must feel and be safe, experience permanency in all aspects of their lives, and have a sense of consistency and belonging.
    • Children must be involved in defining family on their own terms.
    • Children and families must feel listened to, respected, and included in all parts of decision-making as it relates to their own development or the development of their families.
    • Priority is placed upon family search and engagement as a matter of standard policy and practice for every child unless there are clearly identified safety risks.
    • Children must recognize that their families are being respected and engaged.

    The authors note that, in order to implement these tenants into standard practice, child welfare providers need to transform their organizations through leadership, staff professional development, coordination of programs and policies, and engagement in research and development by utilizing evidence-based practices promoting authentic engagement.

    The report fleshes out the aforementioned issues and recommendations by:

    • Highlighting the importance of the proposed reforms
    • Showcasing examples of organizations that have successfully transformed their policy and practice to support these initiatives
    • Compiling a set of core organizational characteristics necessary to shape policy and practice around family engagement
    • Providing guidance for nonprofit human services organizations engaged in the child welfare system for furthering their leadership role in continuously improving the system

    Realizing Permanency Well-Being Through Authentic Engagement, by Laura Pinsoneault, Cecilia Fiermonte, and Susan Dreyfus, is available on the Alliance for Children and Families website:

  • 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book

    2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book

    Annie E. Casey's 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book is now available with national and State data on key indicators of child well-being. The annual KIDS COUNT project examines the status of children across four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

    This year's report reveals that while children in the United States have experienced negative economic effects of the recent recession, they have made progress in the areas of education and health. In 2011 (the latest data available), approximately one of every five children in the United States lived in poverty and one of every three children lived in families in which no parent had full-time, year-round employment. The Data Book highlights the particular vulnerability of very young children.

    Despite economic conditions, education indicators—such as preschool attendance, reading and math proficiency, and high school graduation rates—improved modestly over prior years. Likewise, progress was evident in child health trends, including improvements in health insurance coverage and declines in child and teen mortality rates.

    The full KIDS COUNT Data Book, along with State child well-being data and an interactive data wheel with State rankings, is available from the KIDS COUNT Data Center website:

  • Success Beyond 18 Campaign

    Success Beyond 18 Campaign

    Each year, approximately 23,000 youth transition out of foster care without a permanent connection. These vulnerable youth are more likely than their peers to become homeless, drop out of school, become parents at a young age, or spend time in jail—outcomes that cost about $300,000 over each young person's lifetime. To create a better path for transitioning youth, the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative launched the Success Beyond 18 campaign.

    The national campaign aims to achieve three key policy and practice goals:

    1. Provide developmentally appropriate services and extend foster care to at least age 21.
    2. Ensure youth are engaged in decision-making so that they have a meaningful say in their futures.
    3. Increase quality oversight and accountability to support the unique and evolving needs of youth in care.

    To help achieve these goals, the campaign offers the following tools and resources:

    • A Public Service Announcement designed to raise awareness about what young people face when they transition out of foster care
    • An infographic depicting the costs associated with the current path for young people who transition from foster care
    • A campaign overview providing information about the campaign
    • A list of frequently asked questions about the campaign and transitioning youth
    • Other available resources include information on adolescent brain development, assets for youth, policy tools, and more.

    More information is available on the Success Beyond 18 website:

  • Children's Stability and Well-Being Study

    Children's Stability and Well-Being Study

    PolicyLab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recently released the results of the Children's Stability and Well-Being (CSAW) study, which included a 2-year longitudinal study and 10 focus groups. The CSAW study assessed the educational experiences, particularly educational instability, of children involved with child welfare. Educational instability refers to frequent changes in schools, delays in enrollment, and chronic absenteeism. It can affect any school-aged children, but children involved with child welfare are disproportionately affected.

    Results from the longitudinal study, which followed 407 children ages 3 to 8 in the Philadelphia child welfare system, include the following:

    • Children involved with child welfare missed an average of 25 days (5 weeks) of school per year, which is twice the number of days the overall pool of children missed.
    • Children involved with child welfare attended an average of 2.7 schools during the 2-year period, with 20 percent attending 4 or more schools.
    • Absenteeism is higher prior to placement in foster care than after placement in foster care.

    The focus groups yielded several themes, including limited communication between the education and child welfare systems, inconsistent levels of knowledge and implementation of policies and procedures in both systems, and the variety of challenges associated with caring for children with behavioral problems.

    The CSAW brief also describes the implications of these findings and next steps to improve education outcomes. The three opportunities for action outlined in the brief are:

    • Promote real-time data sharing and cross-systems communication.
    • Track and respond to school absences, suspensions, and behavioral health issues.
    • Integrate the delivery of educational, child welfare, and behavioral health services.

    Improving Education Outcomes for Children in Child Welfare, by David Rubin, Amanda O'Reilly, Sarah Zlotnik, Taylor Hendricks, Catherine Zorc, Meredith Matone, and Kathleen Noonan, is available on the PolicyLab website: (680 KB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Cross-System Core Practice Model in California

    Cross-System Core Practice Model in California

    California adopted its cross-system Core Practice Model (CPM) to give practical guidance and direction to county child welfare and mental health agencies, as well as other partners working with children and families. To help support the implementation of the Core Practice Model, California's Department of Social Services and Department of Health Care Services developed Pathways to Mental Health Services: Core Practice Model Guide, which is the first in an upcoming series of resources. The guide is divided into three sections: (1) background, purpose, and context, (2), the practice model, and (3) a framework for adopting and implementing the model.

    To view Pathways to Mental Health Services: Core Practice Model Guide, visit: (5 MB)

  • Improving Medicaid for Children in Care

    Improving Medicaid for Children in Care

    Nearly all children involved with child welfare are eligible for Medicaid, and a report by the Center for Health Care Strategies explores strategies used in four States to improve Medicaid delivery systems for this population. The report includes case studies, best practices, and strategies from Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey. The best practices, experiences, and lessons learned by these States may inform other States in developing more coordinated Medicaid delivery systems.

    The report focuses on the following key Medicaid strategies from each State:

    • Medicaid Financing
    • Eligibility, enrollment, and access
    • Screening and early intervention
    • Covered services
    • Individualized service planning and intensive care coordination
    • Psychotropic medication
    • Medicaid providers
    • Performance and outcome measurement

    The following lessons learned may provide insight for other States as they move to improve their Medicaid services:

    • Understand the unique needs of children and families involved with the child welfare system
    • Recognize the importance and benefits of relationships and collaboration
    • Create multiple strategies
    • Incorporate a broad array of Medicaid benefits
    • Adopt an individualized approach to services using wraparound services
    • Create financing channels to maximize resources and flexibility
    • Understand the mandates, goals, and cultures of partner agencies
    • Ensure solid implementation and monitoring of new strategies
    • Implement strategies in order to sustain each new provision

    Making Medicaid Work for Children in Child Welfare: Examples From the Field is available on the Center for Health Care Strategies website: (821 KB)

  • Working With Children With Incarcerated Parents

    Working With Children With Incarcerated Parents

    A growing number of children in care have one or more incarcerated parents, and parental absence due to imprisonment correlates with several negative outcomes. To improve services to this vulnerable population, the Federal Interagency Working Group for Children of Incarcerated Parents produced a toolkit for child welfare agencies, Federal prisons, and residential reentry centers. The toolkit provides information to help facilitate communication and cooperation between the professionals working in both the child welfare and justice systems so that parents can stay engaged in the lives of their children.

    The toolkit includes:

    • Frequently asked questions for social workers and for residential reentry centers
    • Timelines for both child welfare and incarceration system processes
    • A glossary of commonly used terms by different agencies
    • A list of myths associated with the child welfare system
    • State child welfare agency contact information
    • Additional resources for professionals and families

    The Federal Interagency Working Group for Children of Incarcerated Parents is composed of members from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and the Domestic Policy Council.

    Children in Foster Care With Parents in Federal Prison: A Toolkit for Child Welfare Agencies, Federal Prisons, and Residential Reentry Centers is available here: (3 MB)


  • CASCW Launches E-Newsletter

    CASCW Launches E-Newsletter

    The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) recently launched an e-newsletter, CASCW eUpdate. CASCW, housed at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work, collaborates with county, Tribal, State, and community social services that are dedicated to improving the lives of children and families involved with child welfare.

    Each issue of eUpdate includes information on the following:

    • Professional development opportunities
    • Recent research and evaluation
    • Featured publications
    • Upcoming webinars and other events
    • Outreach

    To sign up for eUpdate, visit:

    More information on CASCW, its work, and its resources is available on the center's website:

  • Rise: Your Lawyer and You

    Rise: Your Lawyer and You

    In the summer 2013 issue of Rise magazine, a publication written by and for parents involved in the child welfare system, parents describe their experiences working with lawyers. This issue also presents some of the innovations enabling lawyers to be effective advocates and empowering parents to be heard in the courtroom.

    One article, "Afraid to Speak Up," summarizes the author's heartbreaking introduction to the child welfare system, the removal of her children, her path to reunification, and her decision to become a Parent Partner who advocates for and provides guidance to other parents. She highlights her feelings, both good and bad, about the attorney who assisted her and the importance of other parents retaining strong legal counsel.  

    Rise, 24, 2013, Your Lawyer and You, is available on the magazine's website: (530 KB)

  • Illustrated Handbook for Immigrant Families

    Illustrated Handbook for Immigrant Families

    The Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) website offers an illustrated handbook for new immigrant and refugee families. Developed by BRYCS and the Office of Head Start's National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR), the handbook is designed to provide newly arrived parents with basic information about early childhood development, age appropriate discipline strategies, and the availability of services, support, and family engagement opportunities.

    Focused on children between the ages of 0 and 5, the handbook highlights the following six themes:

    • Family well-being
    • Safety and protection
    • Guidance and discipline
    • Healthy brain development
    • Early learning and school readiness
    • Connecting to early care and education

    For each topical area, this guide provides useful tips and examples, as well as a list of references and referrals including BRYCS publications, related toolkits, and links to relevant materials by other organizations.

    Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development is available on the BRYCS website: (4 MB)

  • Tools for Dealing With Parental Incarceration

    Tools for Dealing With Parental Incarceration

    Sesame Street recently introduced a new character, "Alex," a boy whose father is incarcerated. Alex is representative of the growing number of children dealing with parental incarceration and the trauma caused by parental separation due to imprisonment. To address this issue, Sesame Workshop produced a toolkit for service providers and caregivers. Resources are available in English and Spanish.

    The toolkit is part of Sesame Workshop's Little Children, Big Challenges series that offers resources to help parents and caregivers build resilience in children and help kids learn how to express themselves. Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration offers printable downloads, multimedia tools, and more for helping children and caregivers dealing with the unique challenges caused by parental incarceration. A guide for parents offers tips for helping children cope and information about family visitation.

    Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration is available on the Sesame Street website:

  • Guide for Fathers Involved With Child Welfare

    Guide for Fathers Involved With Child Welfare

    A 2012 toolkit produced by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) was written for fathers with open Child Protective Services (CPS) cases. The guide provides advice from fathers who have been involved with CPS and thoroughly explains the child welfare and judicial components of the process, including:

    • An overview of what CPS is and what it does
    • Who the major players are—caseworker, judge, court appointed special advocates, guardian ad litem
    • Legal questions/issues and information on and tips related to working with a lawyer
    • The court—what fathers can expect, how they should act, and the importance of knowing their rights
    • What a service plan is and why it is important
    • Visitation, including activity ideas for fathers based on the age of the child

    The toolkit, available in both English and Spanish, also provides a "dictionary for dads" of common child welfare terms and a section for fathers to enter the contact information for the individuals involved in their child welfare case.

    The Father's Toolkit: A Guide to Navigating Child Protective Services is available on the DFPS 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.

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through December 2013 include:

    October 2013

    November 2013

    December 2013

    • Beyond the Bench XXII
      Improving Justice for Children and Families: The Legacy of Clarence Earl Gideon
      Judicial Council for California, Administrative Office of the Courts
      December 2–4, Anaheim, CA
    • 15th Annual Ending Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Conference
      Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
      December 9–13, Lexington, KY

    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:

  • Certified Parent Support Provider Training

    Certified Parent Support Provider Training

    The Certification Commission for Family Support offers the only national certification for the Certified Parent Support Provider (CPSP). The CPSP certification identifies and defines the best practice standards for parents helping other parents who have children between the ages 0 and 26 with emotional, behavioral health, substance use, and intellectual disabilities.

    The CPSP website provides online materials with an overview of the certification, testing, and an application. Applicants must register with the Certification Commission for Family Support to create a user ID and password. Resources include the following:

    • The 2013 Candidate Handbook
    • The 2013 Code of Ethics
    • The 2013 Application
    • Information for Recertification
    • Available Scholarships

    For more information, or to apply for CPSP certification, visit the Certification Commission for Family Support website:

  • Videos for Law Enforcement on Child Safety

    Videos for Law Enforcement on Child Safety

    A series of training videos explains how law enforcement can promote child safety and minimize trauma when interacting with children and their parents. Created by New Mexico State University Creative Media Institute to educate officers in New Mexico, these videos offer tips and best practice procedures relevant to law enforcement officers nationwide.

    • Ensuring Child Safety: Upon Parental Arrest—highlights appropriate practices to protect children and identify alternate caregivers when a parent is arrested: (16:28 minutes)
    • Ensuring Child Safety: In Abuse and Neglect Referrals—focuses on situations when a child abuse and neglect referral is needed and emphasizes the importance of collaborative relationships between law enforcement and child protection: (17:53 minutes)
    • Ensuring Child Safety and Minimizing Trauma—addresses lessening the negative impact for children of traumatic situations: (17:56 minutes)