In order for child welfare agencies and professionals to provide effective services for children and families, they must have the capacity and flexibility to grow with the emerging needs of their field. This month, CBX highlights tools and resources to help agencies and professionals build their skills, develop their workforce, improve working environments, and more.
- Self-Efficacy and Retaining Agency Workers
Child welfare agencies and researchers alike have been working to address the problem of burnout and high rates of job turnover among child welfare professionals, both of which can have negative effects on outcomes for children and families. A recently published article in the journal Advances in Social Work examines the role of worker self-efficacy in predicting worker retention and job performance.
The term "self-efficacy" is used to refer to "people's belief in their capacity to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to exercise control over given events." Studies in other fields indicate that high self-efficacy is related to greater job satisfaction, better job performance, lower job burnout, and better well-being. Studies in the field of child welfare found positive associations between self-efficacy and job retention. The researchers in this study collected data from a sample of 395 child welfare workers, with the following goals:
- Develop a measure of job preparedness to assess worker confidence (self-efficacy) for child welfare job duties
- Explore these levels of self-efficacy at the time workers begin their jobs
- Examine factors that predict self-efficacy
The researchers developed the Level of Preparedness Scale (LOPS) to gauge new hires' feelings of preparedness for undertaking particular job tasks. Analysis showed that levels of self-efficacy can change over time, and those levels are influenced by the work environment. In addition, levels of self-efficacy can be predicted to a certain degree by certain characteristics of new hires, such as level of education, prior work experience, and the type of preservice training received. The article also includes a review of the literature on self-efficacy in child welfare professionals.
To read more about this study, access the article "Self-Efficacy in Newly-Hired Child Welfare Workers," by D. Cherry, B. Dalton, and A. Dugan, Advances in Social Work, 15(2), 2014, at https://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/advancesinsocialwork/article/view/12140.
- Desk Guide to Building a High-Performing Agency
Changes in child welfare research, data, and emerging evidence often require child welfare and other systems to periodically reevaluate what is working, what is not, and what improvements are needed to hone best practices and provide quality services to children and families. The Annie E. Casey Foundation published 10 Practices: A Child Welfare Leader's Desk Guide to Building a High-Performing Agency to help agency leaders and other partners in their endeavors to institute positive, effective, cost-conscious change; ensure quality; and, ultimately, commit to better outcomes for children and youth through a continuous improvement process.
The guide serves as a structured, yet flexible, roadmap for assessing an agency's strengths, identifying opportunities for adjustments and/or improvements, and creating an achievable plan to make these changes. Authors recommend that high-performing agencies focus on fine-tuning their practices and underperforming agencies begin with "the basics," such as tracking and measuring outcomes and effectively managing caseworker caseloads. Further guidance and step-by-step recommendations for agencies are outlined in each of the following 10 best practices sections:
- Focus on Child and Family Outcomes
- Emphasize Human Resources, Training, and Supervision
- Develop a Broad Service Array
- Measure and Address Racial and Other Disparities
- Use a Practice Model
- Develop Competent Front-End Decision-Making
- Promote Expert Casework
- Make Family Relationships and Permanence the Focus of Casework
- Meet Teens' Needs for Family and Other Supports
- Build a Healthy Caregiver Network
Each section is accompanied by a table to help agencies assess their performance in each practice area. To read more, access 10 Practices: A Child Welfare Leader's Desk Guide to Building a High-Performing Agency, Part One, on the Annie E. Casey Foundation's website at http://www.aecf.org/resources/10-practices-part-one/.
Additional research, references, tools, and appendices related to the 10 practices of high-performing agencies are presented in Part Two, available at http://www.aecf.org/resources/10-practices-part-two/.
- Retention, Turnover of Child Welfare Professionals
Using data obtained from focus groups with 25 child welfare professionals, a recent Children and Youth Services Review article explores factors affecting their retention and turnover. The workers had varying years of experience, roles (case managers and supervisors), and employment statuses (currently employed at the agency or resigned). The two primary themes that emerged for retention efforts were a supportive environment (e.g., positive interactions with children and families as well as coworkers) and opportunities within the agency (e.g., advancement, job security). For turnover, the two primary themes were organizational issues (e.g., high caseload and workloads, low compensation, negative interactions with parents and foster parents as well as the courts) and stress. The article highlights the importance of agencies increasing their focus on improving retention rather than just decreasing turnover, which is a more strengths-based approach. Recommendations from focus group participants to reduce turnover and increase retention are also provided, including the following:
- Reduce caseload: Workers suggested that fewer cases would not only lead to more attention to the families and faster reunifications, but also help retain staff since caseloads would be more manageable.
- Provide assistance: Workers recommended hiring more staff to help reduce caseloads and assist with home visits. They also listed other types of assistance, including help with transporting children to appointments and having support staff to assist with specific types of cases that require more expertise and time.
- Increase salary: Workers suggested increasing the starting salary for case managers, and that increases should consider years of experience, education, quality of work, and commitment to the organization.
- Training: Workers recommended increasing the number of field days for training as well as being given opportunities to shadow experienced case managers, receive more hands-on training before being assigned full caseloads, and have a gradual assignment of cases.
"Child Welfare Workers' Perspectives on Contributing Factors to Retention and Turnover: Recommendations for Improvement," by C. Johnco, A. Salloum, K. Olson, and L. Edwards, Children and Youth Services Review, 47, 2014, is available for purchase at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740914003879.
- Webinars on Workforce Development Strategies
The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute's (NCWWI's) webinar series Mind the Gap: Addressing Child Welfare Challenges With Workforce Development Strategies highlights specific workforce development strategies that can help professionals and agencies address a variety of issues. The first webinar in the series, launched in 2014, featured the NCWWI Workforce Development Framework (WDF), and subsequent webinars focused on workforce development strategies being implemented in the field that relate to the eight core components of the WDF: job analysis and position requirements; education and professional preparation; recruitment, screening, and selection; incentives and work conditions; professional development and training; organizational environment; community context; and supervision and performance management. The latest webinar in the series highlights strategies related to the third of these core components.
"Mind the Gap #3—Children's Corps: A Dynamic Approach to Child Welfare Worker Recruitment, Screening, and Selection" highlights Children's Corps' (CC's) strategic recruitment and selection practices. Created by Fostering Change for Children and piloted in 2011 in partnership with Columbia School of Social Work, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and New York City's Administration for Children's Services, CC aims to improve caseworker retention rates, work toward positive child and family outcomes, and help develop future leaders in the field.
CC implemented specific strategies to attract, prepare, and sustain high-quality workers. This webinar session focuses on the first of these topics: how to attract candidates who possess the child welfare competencies necessary to successfully contribute to CC's work and goals. Webinar presenters from both CC and Fostering Change for Children discuss what was involved in developing and implementing this screening process and share strategies, tips, and tools related to the following:
- Attracting a diverse group of candidates
- Providing a realistic portrayal of the work
- Finding individuals who are the "right fit"
- How and where to focus recruitment efforts
- Application requirements, components, and scoring
- Interview design and postinterview processes
- Lessons learned
Access the materials and recording of "Mind the Gap #3—Children's Corps: A Dynamic Approach to Child Welfare Worker Recruitment, Screening, and Selection" via NCWWI website at http://ncwwi.org/index.php/link/225-children-s-corps-a-dynamic-approach-to-child-welfare-worker-recruitment-screening-and-selection.
For more information about the Mind the Gap webinar series, and to learn about future webinars, visit the NCWWI website at http://ncwwi.org/index.php/webinars.
- Building Capacity Using the CQI Process
In September 2013, the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, an affiliate of the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), convened a continuous quality improvement (CQI) workgroup composed of child welfare practitioners from across the country. Created in response to an August 2012 Children's Bureau Information Memorandum advising States to maintain and enhance their quality assurance systems using a CQI approach, the workgroup aimed to asses States' understanding and priorities pertaining to CQI capacity building and to develop guidance for the child welfare field in the pursuit of those CQI efforts.
With the help of other experts from child welfare and related fields—public and private, CEOs to direct services field workers—the CQI workgroup published a report in 2014 entitled A Guide to Build Capacity for Child Welfare Using the CQI Process. The guide was designed to help public child welfare agencies drive system improvements using the CQI process. It provides a framework for building organizational capacity and targeting practice and service improvements that increase safety, permanency, and well-being for children and youth involved in child welfare.
The report defines CQI as the process of identifying and analyzing strengths and weaknesses and then testing, implementing, learning from, and revising solutions. The success of the CQI process is reliant on the committed participation of staff at all levels of the agency, as well as children, youth, families, and stakeholders throughout the continuous learning process.
The report was created primarily for child welfare directors and managers responsible for overseeing the implementation of CQI at a State or local level, but it is also relevant to other children and family-serving professionals, including human services workers, legislators, educators, legal professionals, and researchers. It focuses on CQI education and implementation support and is organized into the following main sections:
- Part 1: The Cycle of CQI and the Role of Evidence presents the basic elements of the CQI process and explains the importance and types of evidence needed to support each step of the process.
- Part 2: CQI Implementation—Building CQI Systems That Demand and Make Use of Evidence identifies the organizational capacities essential to support evidence-based CQI. This section also presents technical assistance, organizational resources, and tools that can help agencies develop their CQI capacity.
- Part 3: Recommendations summarizes what State and local agencies will need to be successful in developing rigorous and sustainable CQI systems.
Access A Guide to Build Capacity for Child Welfare Using the CQI Process on the APHSA website at http://www.aphsa.org/content/dam/NAPCWA/PDF%20DOC/Home%20Page/A%20Guide%20to%20Build%20Capacity%20for%20Child%20Welfare%20Using%20the%20CQI%20Process%201.23.15.pdf (1 MB).
- Using Design Teams to Improve Worker Satisfaction
A recent journal article reports on a 5-year initiative beginning in 2003 that implemented and tested the Design Team model in five public child welfare agencies. The initiative was jointly supported by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau. The overarching goal of the initiative was to foster team building within the agency, as teams collectively have more diverse skills, knowledge of clients, and job satisfaction.
State child welfare agencies face an ongoing challenge in retaining and recruiting employees and maintaining a stable workforce. High turnover rates lead to understaffing, which leaves remaining workers with high caseloads. Design teams offer a model for implementing a team-based, learning organization practice that can help child welfare agencies and professionals solve complex problems, generate new knowledge, mentor and coach each other, and increase the engagement of individual staff members.
The initiative's research team met with staff from the five selected agencies to introduce the Design Team concept and discuss agency-wide problems that staff would like addressed. Design teams, which included middle managers, supervisors, and front-line professionals, were created to categorize, prioritize, design, and implement solutions for the problems. While the issues identified by each agency varied, typical problems included safety, job stress and burn-out, unclear job descriptions, on-call responsibilities, lack of recognition, and inconsistent supervision. Each team was provided with a master's level social work facilitator with organizational and team-building experience.
The teams participating in the initiative demonstrated some success in addressing agency policy and practice, reducing workforce turnover, and supporting practices that engaged staff at all organizational levels. The findings from the study show that the Design Team model may positively affect overall worker job satisfaction and can potentially improve worker retention.
The article, "Design Teams as an Organizational Intervention to Improve Job Satisfaction and Worker Turnover in Public Child Welfare," by N. Claiborne, C. Auerbach, C. Lawrence, B. McGowan, H. Lawson, M. McCarthy, J. Strolin-Goltzman, and J. Caringi, Journal of Family Strengths 14(1), 2014, is available at http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol14/iss1/12/.
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
News From the Children's Bureau
We highlight the Administration for Children and Families' (ACF's) new office dedicated to the prevention of human trafficking, as well as an announcement for grants available to State and regional adoption exchanges to help further localize efforts of the National Adoption Recruitment Campaign.
- Associate Commissioner's Page
The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current Children's Bureau Express Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.
The Children's Bureau's primary mission is to partner with and support Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies in their continuous work to improve the health and well-being of all children in the United States. One of the most important ways the Bureau seeks to ensure improved outcomes for children and families is by supporting the continuous quality improvement (CQI) and capacity-building efforts of the agencies with which it partners. In order to provide the most effective services, it is vital that child welfare agencies have the capacity and flexibility to adapt and grow with the emerging needs of their field, current legislation and research, and changes in standards of best practice. By constantly striving to improve our own abilities and standards, we, as public-serving entities, can better provide the timely and high-quality services our customers deserve.
With this in mind, this year the Children's Bureau introduced a new technical assistance service delivery structure. The Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative (the Collaborative) builds on the excellent prior work of the National Child Welfare Resource Centers and Child Welfare Implementation Centers to serve jurisdictions that receive title IV-E or title IV-B funds. Its purpose is the promotion of an ongoing, evidence-informed process of capacity building among agencies and systems that aims to help them continuously improve their productivity and effectiveness.
The Collaborative comprises three centers that partner to support States and other jurisdictions:
- The Capacity Building Center for States works to build the capacity and effectiveness of public child welfare agencies by offering expertise in child welfare and change management and helping States and jurisdictions initiate and sustain innovative change and improvement.
- The Capacity Building Center for Tribes collaborates with American Indian and Alaska Native Nations to help strengthen Tribal child and family systems and services.
- The Capacity Building Center for Courts works to create integrated capacity building plans that engage Court Improvement Programs (CIPs) in system improvement work, provide direct support to CIPs, and create learning opportunities and resources to elevate legal and judicial practice nationwide.
Together, the centers offer strategic services to assist child welfare professionals and organizations in the assessment and development of resources, infrastructure, knowledge and skills, climate and culture, and partnerships so that they may enhance their services and grow their ability to make a real and lasting positive impact on people's lives.
Child welfare services are an important safety net for children and families who may need extra support to achieve well-being. Each and every rope in that net must be strong and ready to provide the support different families need. By focusing on CQI, training, and capacity building, we can reinforce strengths, fortify gaps in the system and remove its weak points to make sure no child falls through, and explore new ways to ensure every child and family that comes into contact with child welfare consistently finds the supports they need, when they need them most.
CBX featured the Collaborative and the Center for States in this May's "News From the Children's Bureau" section.
- CB Website Updates
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.
Recent additions to the site include:
- IM-15-03 - This Information Memorandum (IM) provides notice of a Final Rule on the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA): http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/im1503
- PI-15-02 - This Program Instruction (PI) provides instruction on the availability of Federal fiscal year 2015 funds under the Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect program created by Title II of CAPTA as amended by Public Law (P.L.) 111-320: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pi1502
- PI-15-06 - This PI provides instruction on Adoption Savings Calculation Methodology: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pi1506
- PI-15-07 - This PI provides information on new legislation—Public Law 113-183, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pi1507
- Improving Quality and Reducing Risk With IV&V and QA - This webinar provided a baseline understanding of Independent Validation and Verification (IV&V) and Quality Assurance (QA) as methods for improving the quality of delivered systems and to identify and mitigate risks as early as possible: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/cwit-improving-quality-reducing-risk
- Round 3 of the CFSRs - This page contains Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) information relevant to the reviews conducted between 2015 and 2018: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/monitoring/child-family-services-reviews/round3
- CFSR Technical Bulletin #8A and Transmittal Letter - This technical bulletin provides technical detail on how the Children's Bureau calculates whether a State has met the national standards: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/cfsr-technical-bulletin-8a
- Overview of CFSR Round 3 Statewide Data Indicators Syntax - This document provides an overview of the syntax and supporting files used by the Children's Bureau to calculate data quality, observed performance, and risk-standardized performance for the CFSR Round 3 Statewide Data Indicators: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/cfsr-round3-data-indicators-syntax
- Combined Federal Register Announcement: Statewide Data Indicators and National Standards Round 3 - This document integrates corrections from the May update of the statewide data indicators and national standards (Round 3) into the original document: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/cfsr-round3-combd-fed-register-annc
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb.
- Working With Interpreters to Engage Families
An article from the Family and Youth Services Bureau's National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth provides information for social service professionals about the life-altering role of interpretation services to youth and families whose first language is not English. Its primary message is that access to culturally competent interpreters who are well-versed in providing social services is a necessary component of a successful transformation into participatory, engaged citizens.
The article offers four tips for working with interpreters:
- Hire a former volunteer: This person not only speaks the client's language, but also understands and can discuss the details about the organization's programs. This can also help avoid reliance upon young people to interpret for their own families—an unnecessarily stressful, potentially negative situation for children and youth.
- Explain your philosophy and expectations: Request the same interpreter(s) to work with your client(s) routinely; suggest that interpreter(s) attend orientation sessions. Explain assignment details, the philosophy and processes of your organization, and your expectations of the interpretation services.
- Check in with youth: Ask them if they're happy with their interactions with the interpreter.
- Give youth choices: Advise that clients may make requests, such as asking for an interpreter from a preferred gender.
The ability to successfully work with interpreters can lead to better engagement with children, youth, and families. Interpreters can help build trust between clients and service providers by creating a bridge for communication and helping clients feel safer and more comfortable receiving services. Hanna Getachew-Kreusser, program director of Minneapolis' Avenues for Homeless Youth's transitional living program, found that "[Working with quality interpreters has] validated for us that this person from the community could vouch for us, how safe we are."
Access the article "4 Tips for Working With Interpreters" on the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth website at http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov/news/2015/04/4-tips-working-interpreters.
- ACF's New Office on Trafficking in Persons
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is committed to preventing the trafficking of persons and to ensuring that survivors of trafficking—including adults and children; foreign nationals, U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents; and survivors of labor and commercial sexual exploitation—receive necessary services. Several ACF offices have been providing these services to trafficking survivors, including the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Children's Bureau, and the Family and Youth Services Bureau. In response to the passage of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, and in recognition of the importance of antitrafficking work, ACF created the Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) within the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary. OTIP aims to better realize ACF's coordinated, strategic, and effective antitrafficking efforts.
Katherine Chon, who has served as ACF's Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons for the past 2 years, will lead OTIP as its director. Ms. Chon and OTIP leadership will be supported by staff who will work with ACF's antitrafficking grantees, contractors, Federal partners, and nongovernment stakeholders. Priority goals for OTIP include the following:
- Establish a cohesive national human trafficking victim service delivery system that will serve victims of all forms of human trafficking
- Develop a culture of data-informed antitrafficking programming and policy making
- Integrate antitrafficking efforts into existing and new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services prevention strategies
For additional information, read an article by Mark Greenberg, ACF's Acting Assistant Secretary, in The Family Room blog at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2015/06/acf-creates-new-office-on-trafficking-in-persons. You can also visit the Frequently Asked Questions on the reorganization (https://www.acf.hhs.gov/office-on-trafficking-in-persons-frequently-asked-questions), as well as ACF's website on human trafficking (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/endtrafficking).
- National Adoption Recruitment Campaign Grants
The Adoption Exchange Association (AEA), as part of its administration of the AdoptUSKids and National Adoption Recruitment and Response Initiative Grants, is accepting proposals from State and regional adoption exchanges to further the localization efforts of the National Adoption Recruitment Campaign and increase the measurable penetration of the campaign into the local markets of each State. The intent is that, through the administration of cluster meetings and other supports provided, grantees will develop strong relationships with one another and additional knowledge around media, public relations, and advertising. In addition, it is expected that grant activities will be sustained as long-term efforts beyond the official grant periods. A more complete scope of work and goals are outlined within the request for proposals (RFP).
The deadline for submission is Friday, July 31, 2015, by 5:00 p.m. EDT. Award announcements will be made the week of August 17, 2015.
For more details and to access the RFP and application packet, visit http://www.nrcdr.org/news-and-e-notes/story?k=localization-grant-rfp.
CBX features an issue of CW360° on culturally responsive child welfare practice, a brief on homelessness among youth in the United States, and a study on the experiences of trafficking victims and possible sources of their resistance to helpful service.
- Survival Sex Among Youth in New York
The Urban Institute recently released a research report detailing the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth; young men who have sex with men (YMSM); and young women who have sex with women (YWSW) who were currently engaged in the commercial sex trade in New York City. These interviews with almost 300 youth and young adults bring to the forefront the variety of different circumstances, origins, issues, concerns, and realities of their lives. The report shares findings in several sections addressing particular topics/questions surrounding youth involvement in survival sex, including:
- What are the characteristics of the LGBTQ youth, YMSM, and YWSW involved?
- What are the characteristics of the commercial sex market?
- What do youth earn and how do they spend it?
- How many youth are involved with exploiters?
- What are youth perceptions of engaging in survival sex?
The research reinforces previous findings that LGBTQ youths' past experiences are driving factors for their current situations, and that LGBTQ youth often experience abuse and discrimination by law enforcement and/or program and shelter staff. Researchers also found that the experiences of youth engaged in survival sex are not static. Youth start and stop engaging in survival sex and also may be involved with—and later leave—an exploiter, and vice versa.
The report provides several policy and practice recommendations that social services and child welfare professionals can incorporate into their practices and organizations. The recommendations for policy changes and practice pull from the varied experiences of the interviewees and take into consideration the underlying themes that occurred throughout all of their experiences. Recommendations focus on creating safe spaces for these youth, making services more tailorable and sensitive to the diverse needs of this group through staff training, and increasing awareness of and access to services.
Access the Urban Institute's research report, Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YSMS, and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex, at http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/2000119-Surviving-the-Streets-of-New-York.pdf (887 KB).
To access a webpage from the Centers for Disease Control on preventing sex trafficking, see this article in the current issue of CBX. Sexual exploitation of children and youth and human trafficking issues have also been featured in the following CBX articles and issues:
- "Sex Trafficking in Schools"
- "Sex Trafficking and Child Welfare"
- "Sexual Exploitation, Trafficking Prevention"
- "Identifying Human Trafficking Victims"
- "Addressing the Sexual Exploitation of Minors"
- Spotlight on Child Welfare and Human Trafficking
- Human Trafficking Survivors and Resistance to Treatment
In working with child victims of human trafficking, service providers often find that these young people are highly resistant to receiving services and fully participating in treatment. A recent study explores the experiences and observations of service providers working with child survivors of human trafficking. The purpose of this exploratory, qualitative study was to better understand the experiences of survivors and possible sources of their resistance to the provision of available services, with the goal of informing the development of more appropriate and targeted interventions.
Researchers recruited adult working professionals who provide services—including legal assistance, human services, and advocacy—to victims and survivors of child trafficking. A total of 15 service providers from 12 separate agencies were interviewed through a semistructured interview process. Practitioners who work in the area of trafficking assert that fear (of violence, threats to family, lack of documentation, punishment by police, etc.) can keep victims from asking for help and receiving services. In addition, the study identified the following five other factors that contribute to victim resistance:
- "Good" vs "bad" victims: Service providers described a "good victim" as a victim with whom society sympathizes (e.g., a victimized child from an upstanding family). A "bad victim" may come from a "less desirable" family background for which people may feel less sympathy.
- Identification with the trafficker: Sometimes, a victim may appear to form perceived positive relationships or emotional connections with his or her trafficker despite the abuse experienced.
- Lack of self-identification: Child victims often do not have an adult framework for defining abuse and exploitation and, therefore, do not identify themselves as victims.
- Building trust with providers: Child victims often have difficulty trusting others after experiencing abuse and exploitation.
- Lack of empowerment: The provision of services reintroduces child victims to a more structured life in which they may have difficulties adhering to routines and tedious environmental requirements or meeting behavioral expectations they may now find oppressive.
Read more about this study in the article "Understanding Victim Resistance: An Exploratory Study of the Experiences of Service Providers Working With Victims of Child Trafficking," by A. West and D. Loeffler, Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, 6(1), 2015, available at http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/childrenatrisk/vol6/iss1/5/.
- Report Provides Data on Homeless Youth
A 2015 brief from Child Trends reports that homelessness among youth in the United States is increasing. Using data counting homeless children who are enrolled in school and homeless children served in shelters, this study found that nearly 1.3 million students were reported to be homeless during the 2012–2013 school year. However, that number may not include children who were neither enrolled in school nor being served at shelters. There is an increased concern for the welfare and well-being of these children who are more likely to experience negative conditions such as:
- Chronic health concerns
- Behavioral problems
- Excessive school suspensions and expulsions
- Separation from parents
A homeless youth is defined in this report as someone who:
- Does not have access to a consistent nighttime residence
- Utilizes an atypical nighttime residence such as a car or public/private place
- Lives in a private or public shelter
- Lives in a place unintended for human habitation
- Lacks the resources to obtain and maintain housing
- Is limited in sustaining housing due to chronic physical, mental, or behavioral disorders
This report also provides research-based evidence that recorded differences in homelessness among youth by living situation, racial and ethnic backgrounds, sex, and age. Access the full report, entitled Homeless Children and Youth, on the Child Trends website at http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/112_Homeless_Children_and_Youth.pdf (357 KB).
Children's Bureau Express spotlighted the relationship between housing insecurity and child welfare involvement in the March 2015 issue. For a self-assessment tool related to shelter employees creating safe and developmentally appropriate spaces for young children, see the article "Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters" in this issue of CBX.
- CW360° Issue on Cultural Responsiveness
The theme of the winter 2015 issue of CW360°, which is published by Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) at the University of Minnesota, is culturally responsive child welfare practice. CASCW partnered with the Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota–Duluth to develop this issue. The issue focuses on practice with African-American and American-Indian families, but also includes articles that discuss general concerns and/or challenges when working with children, youth, and families from other cultures. Articles include the following:
- "Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in the Child Welfare System"
- "Evidence-Based Practice: Implications for Communities of Color and Child Welfare"
- "Addressing the Trauma-Related Needs of Latino Children and Families Involved in the Child Welfare System"
- "Family Group Decision-Making as a Culturally Responsive Child Welfare Practice"
The issue is available at http://cascw.umn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CW360-Winter2015.pdf (9,905 KB).
This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other instruments that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.
- Reducing Racially Disparate Outcomes in Child Welfare
The Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare at the Center for the Study of Social Policy conducted a study that highlighted the how effective policy and practice strategies can contribute to racial equity with children and families in the child welfare system. The report provides profiles of the disparity-reduction efforts underway in various States and localities across the country and how these efforts relate to seven strategic categories:
- The use of legislative and executive mandates
- Improving operational structures within child welfare agencies
- Strategic data development and analysis
- Workforce development, training, and capacity building
- Developing and strengthening partnerships
- Engagement with Tribal governments and community partners
- Community engagement strategies
The report includes a discussion of lessons learned and reflections and recommendations for eliminating racial disproportionalities and disparities within the child welfare system. Download Strategies to Reduce Racially Disparate Outcomes in Child Welfare from the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare website at http://www.cssp.org/publications/child-welfare/alliance/Strategies-to-Reduce-Racially-Disparate-Outcomes-in-Child-Welfare-March-2015.pdf (3 MB)
Children's Bureau Express spotlighted diversity in child welfare, including racial disproportionality, in the June 2011 issue.
- Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) created an early childhood self-assessment tool for families in shelters. This tool is designed to help support shelter employees in creating safe and developmentally appropriate environments for children, ranging from infants to preschoolers.
The tool can be used as an initial assessment of a shelter's environment, programming, policies, and staff training, specifically in the areas of health and safety, wellness and development, workforce standards and training, programming, and food and nutrition. The recommendations included are classified according to the level of complexity and amount of resources required to bring them to fruition, as follows:
- Recommendations that likely require few resources, i.e., those that can be done for little to no money or staff time
- Recommendations that likely require some resources, i.e., those that may need a small amount of money or staff time
- Recommendations that likely require substantial resources, i.e., those that may require shelters to apply for grant funding
Access the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters on ACF's website at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/ech_family_shelter_self_assessment_tool_120114_final.pdf (460 KB).
- Toolkit for Casework With Immigrant Families
Immigrants are a multifaceted and fast-growing population that includes children, youth, and families who may be documented or undocumented, refugees, or asylum recipients. These families also often include U.S.-born children. Immigrant families face the same everyday challenges of family life as nonimmigrant families, but they may also have endured unique traumatic experiences and face complex problems related to their immigration issues. Child welfare professionals must be adequately prepared to address these challenges and meet the needs of all the families they serve.
The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare (CICW) released an updated toolkit to assist child welfare agencies in their work with immigrant families. Social Worker's Tool Kit for Working With Immigrant Families: Healing the Damage: Trauma and Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System provides practical and comprehensive information on the delivery of culturally sensitive and appropriate interventions based on an understanding of traumatic stressors, exposure to violence, and their implication for treatment.
The toolkit's guidelines are rooted in the assumption that effective interventions must be built around a family's protective factors and supported by evidence-based treatment strategies that take into consideration cultural norms and values. The toolkit consists of four sections:
- Section I offers an overview of child welfare practices with immigrant families.
- Section II highlights integrating good child welfare practice with trauma-informed care during the intake and assessment, family engagement, and closure phases.
- Section III focuses on building child welfare agency capacity through standards and training procedures that direct everyday practice.
- Section IV offers answers to frequently asked questions about immigrant families.
The toolkit, which includes several appendices featuring definitions of terms, related resources, and a case example, is available on the CICW website at
http://cimmcw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CICW-toolkit-trauma-immigrant-families-2-20-15-alt-cover1.pdf (943 KB).
This CBX section provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.
- Foster Youth Museum
Current and former youth in foster care have come together to create the Foster Youth Museum in Oakland, CA. The museum aims to share the struggles youth face while in care, while also bringing to light stories of resilience and hope. The museum currently features a travelling exhibit, Lost Childhoods, which highlights a collection of art, personal artifacts, video portraits, and stories shared by youth in foster care that details their experiences and perspectives of the foster care system. The purpose of the exhibit is to help educate professionals and the public on the needs of children and youth in foster care, the adversities they face, and how organizations, communities, and individuals can help support children and youth in care. The exhibit can be rented for use in galleries, staff training, and other venues for community education. For more information on exhibit rentals, visit http://fosteryouthmuseum.org/exhibit-rentals/.
For more background information on the museum and to read detailed, personal stories from youth in or formerly in foster care, visit the Foster Youth Museum blog at http://fosteryouthmuseum.org/.
- Supporting Mothers Who Were Raised in Foster Care
In the winter 2015 issue of Rise magazine, mothers who were raised in foster care describe their experiences in care and their desire to build stable families. The young mothers share their fears regarding having their own children removed and placed in foster care, and they emphasize the importance of making sure the voices of mothers raised in foster care are heard. This issue also presents recommendations on how the child welfare system can improve its response to and support of mothers who were raised in care, as well as a discussion of mothers' legal rights.
The article, "Fight and Flight," summaries one mother's involvement with child welfare, her struggles to maintain a stable family life as a young mother, the pain of having her two sons placed in care, and the subsequent joyful reunification with one of them.
Another article, "A Responsibility to Support," shares an interview with several professionals within the child welfare field in which they discuss the importance of improving how child welfare systems respond to mothers who grew up in care. Susan Notkin, associate director at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, shared some strategies for improving services for pregnant and parenting youth in foster care. Amelia Franck Meyer, CEO of Anu Family Services in Minnesota and Wisconsin, asked "When moms don't get the support they need to heal, what makes us think we won't be in the same spot when that child becomes a parent? We know more than ever how to break that cycle. We just have to start doing it."
Rise: Generations in Foster Care, 28, 2015, is available on the magazine's website at http://www.risemagazine.org/PDF/Rise_issue_28.pdf (752 KB)
- Webpage on Preventing Sex Trafficking
In order to successfully prevent, combat, and help eliminate child sex trafficking, it is important to understand what sex trafficking means, who the perpetrators and victims are, and its impact on children, youth, families, and communities. Child welfare professionals in particular should be aware of issues surrounding trafficking because children and youth involved with child welfare are at high risk for victimization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a webpage that provides practitioners with the tools, information, and resources to better understand and help prevent the sex trafficking of children.
The website gives a brief overview of the problem of sex trafficking, describes the victims, and addresses the risks and consequences associated with trafficking victimization and perpetration. The website also provides tips about what communities can do to help prevent trafficking and points to CDC and Federal resources, as well as victim and survivor services.
To learn more, visit the Understanding Sex Trafficking webpage on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/trafficking.html.
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 October 2015 include:
- FFTA 29th Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care
Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA)
August 2–5, Denver, CO
- 27th Annual Crimes Against Children Conference
Dallas Children's Advocacy Center/Dallas Police Department
August 10–13, Dallas, TX
- 32nd Annual 2015 NOFSW Conference
"Forensic Practice: Promoting Social Justice for All Through Policy and Practice Reform"
National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW)
August 21–23, Arlington, VA
- 38th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference
National Association of Counsel for Children
August 24–27, Monterey, CA
- Victim Assistance in Child Abuse Cases
Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center
September 21–23, La Crosse, WI
- 29th Annual Children’s Network Conference
September 23–24, Ontario, CA
- ICAN Nexus XX Training Conference
"Violence Within the Home and Its Effects on Children"
Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) & ICAN Associates
September 25, Universal City, CA
- Your FIRST Response to Allegations of Child Maltreatment Training
Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center
September 25, Burnsville, MN
- Together We Can Conference
Louisiana Supreme Court; Louisiana Department of Children and Families, Children's Justice Act; Pelican Center for Children and Families; LouisianaChildren.org; CASA Association of Louisiana; CACLA; NASW-LA Chapter; Louisiana Children's Trust Fund
October 13–15, Lafayette, LA
- 17th Annual Shoulder to Shoulder Conference
Albertina Kerr; CASA for Children (Multnomah and Washington Counties); Children's Justice Act Task Force; Children's Trust Fund of Oregon Foundation; Citizen Review Board; Foster Club; Juvenile Court Improvement Program; Morrison Child and Family Services; Native American Youth and Family Center; Northwest Resource Associates/ Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center; Portland State University Child Welfare Partnership; Providence Child Center Swindells Resource Center
October 25–26, Portland, OR
- International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement
Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect
October 27–30, Minneapolis, MN
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 at http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm.
- FFTA 29th Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care
- Online Course on Implementation Science
The National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (FRIENDS) developed an online training titled Implementation Science: Effectively Implementing Sustainable Programs. The course is divided into two modules: the first introduces key elements in systems change or program implementation, implementation drivers, and the organizational stages leading to full implementation and sustainability. The second module focuses on three of the five key elements—leadership, vision and values, and environment and organizational culture. The second module also addresses issues individuals may experience due to the changes in their work environment during and after implementation and strategies to help supervisors advance implementation.
The training includes a set of activities and resources to enhance the lessons and provide more information, as well as a knowledge assessment for course completion and awarding of a course certificate. Access this and many other free trainings on a variety of topics—available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—via FRIENDS' Online Learning Center at http://friendsnrcelearning.org/.