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News From the Children's Bureau

  • Foster Youth Help Develop Curriculum and Provide Training for Child Welfare Workers

    Foster Youth Help Develop Curriculum and Provide Training for Child Welfare Workers

    Youth in foster care need support as they prepare for independence. A new curriculum developed by the Jordan Institute for Families at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services, and youth and practitioners from eight States across the southeast region, helps public child welfare staff strengthen their skills in working with youth ages 16 to 21 in foster care and independent living programs.

    The project has benefited from the participation of current and former foster youth in all aspects of program leadership, development, and implementation. Youth serve on the project's advisory board and often participate as co-trainers. The curriculum itself was developed based on the results of a survey of 800 youth and 400 child welfare workers, and it was pilot tested in four States before implementation.

    The curriculum emphasizes that support for independent living is most effective when youth are seen as resources, rather than as objects or recipients of services. Organized into eight 3-hour units, the course is designed to be flexible and highly interactive. Units include:

    • Personalizing youth work
    • Measuring success
    • Connecting with youth culture
    • Seeing me through your eyes
    • Opportunities for positive youth development
    • Supports for positive youth development
    • Family and community connections for positive youth development
    • Walking the talk

    Materials include participant notebooks, a CD, and a video produced by and featuring youth. The video ensures youth voices are part of the training, even when a youth co-trainer is not available.

    Now in its third and final year, the project is supporting training events across the southeast, training additional trainers, gathering and beginning to process evaluation data, and preparing to make curriculum materials available to a broader audience. By the end of the grant this month, it is anticipated that a total of 400 to 600 child welfare staff from all eight participating states will have been trained.

    For more information or how to obtain a copy of the curriculum, contact:

    Nancy Dickinson, Project Director
    UNC, Chapel Hill
    301 Pittsboro Street, CB #3550
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599

    Note: The development of this training curriculum was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant # 90 CT 0060. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from official Children's Bureau site visits.

    Related Items

    For more on the needs of foster youth, see "White House Task Force Report Targets Foster Youth," "Casey Foster Alumni Achieve Success in High School Graduation, Employment," and "Funds for Transition From Foster Care to Independence" in this issue of CBX.

  • Call for Articles on Transitioning Children to New Caregivers

    Call for Articles on Transitioning Children to New Caregivers

    The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center is soliciting articles for the Fall 2004 issue of its newsletter, The Source. The theme of this issue will be helping children affected by substance abuse and/or HIV transition to new caregivers. Submitted articles should describe effective strategies, services, and programs that support and assist children before, during, and after the transition. Articles also may focus on transitional support provided to caregivers and siblings. Abstracts of 150 to 200 words are due Friday, February 13, to Amy Price, Editor (

    The Source is a biannual newsletter distributed to more than 2,500 administrators, policy makers, and direct line staff. It is available online at

  • Mental Health in Child Welfare

    Mental Health in Child Welfare

    The Summer 2003 issue of Best Practice/Next Practice addresses a number of issues surrounding mental health and mental health care in child welfare, including:

    • A review of the mental health problems that can affect children and adolescents.
    • The role of foster families as partners in mental health treatment.
    • The optimal array of mental health services needed to support children in the child welfare system and the challenges to providing such services.
    • Ways in which children of mentally ill parents can be supported.
    • Information on the discrepancy in mental health referral patterns for children of different races.
  • White House Task Force Report Targets Foster Youth

    White House Task Force Report Targets Foster Youth

    The Final Report of the White House Task Force on Disadvantaged Youth, released in October 2003, proposes a comprehensive Federal response to the needs of millions of disadvantaged youth, with a particular focus on children in foster care. The Final Report presents a national youth policy to support all young people in growing up to be healthy, safe, and ready to participate in educational, professional, family, and civic life.

    Four goals were identified for Federal investment:

    Better management of programs. The Task Force recommends the creation of a Disadvantaged Youth Initiative to oversee policy and coordinate Federal efforts. Other recommendations for improving program management include:

    • Moving some programs into more appropriate agencies
    • Facilitating interagency collaboration for special populations
    • Improving the Federal grants system

    Better accountability of programs. The Task Force recommends that better accountability be achieved by increasing efforts to understand "what works" and holding programs accountable for results.

    Better connections. To foster better connections with parents, the Task Force recommends increasing parent involvement in Federal youth programs and advisory groups. Better connections with older (college-aged) youth also would be promoted through a Youth Service Initiative that would allow these older youth to participate in voluntary service with children in high poverty areas.

    Priority for neediest youth. The Task Force singled out youth in foster care and migrant youth as high priority groups for targeting discretionary resources and as subjects of Federal interagency working groups that would address their most pressing needs.

    In the case of foster youth, the Task Force also recommended creating a program to improve the quality of education for school-aged youth. The Education of Foster Youth Demonstration Program would include the following components:

    • Establishment of programs at Federal, State, and local levels.
    • Appointment of a contact at the Department of Education to represent the educational needs of foster youth.
    • State and local demonstration projects focusing on the educational needs of foster youth.
    • Development of training opportunities and partnerships at the State and local levels.
    • Creation of a system for tracking and maintaining the educational records of youth in foster care.

    Finally, the Task Force recommended that the newly created Interagency Working Group on Mentoring address the needs of foster youth. The Task Force suggested mentors could be assigned to foster youth both when school-aged children enter the child welfare system and when youth age out of care and transition to adulthood.

    The Task Force was created by President Bush in December 2002 and charged with developing a comprehensive Federal response to the problem of youth failure, with a focus on enhanced agency accountability and effectiveness. Representatives from a number of agencies, including the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, made up the Task Force, which was chaired by the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy.

    The Task Force's Executive Summary and the full text of the Final Report can be accessed at

    Related Items

    For more on the needs of foster youth, see "Casey Foster Alumni Achieve Success in High School Graduation, Employment," "Funds for Transition from Foster Care to Independence," and "Foster Youth Help Develop Curriculum and Provide Training for Child Welfare Workers" in this issue.

  • Visiting Between Children in Care and Their Families: State Policies

    Visiting Between Children in Care and Their Families: State Policies

    Foster care managers seeking information on State policies regarding visiting between children in care and their families will find a useful summary in a recent paper published by the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning. "Visiting Between Children in Care and Their Families: A Look at Current Policy" ( reviews State policies in the following content areas:

    • Written visit plans
    • Who may participate in visits
    • Frequency of visits
    • Responsibilities regarding visits (for caseworkers, parents, foster parents)
    • The "right to contact" between children and families
    • Where and when visits occur
    • Visit supervision
    • Visiting activities
    • Visiting in specific situations (e.g., an incarcerated parent, domestic violence)

    Policy excerpts are included to illustrate the wide variation among States, and a checklist is provided of 30 content areas that States should address in their own policies.

  • HHS Assistant Secretary to Speak on Programs for Low-Income Families

    HHS Assistant Secretary to Speak on Programs for Low-Income Families

    Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be a featured speaker for the 2004 Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) Audio Conference Series. In an exclusive, hour-long interview, Dr. Horn will discuss the Bush Administration's past efforts and future priorities for the programs he oversees for low-income families, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), foster care, adoption assistance, family preservation and support, Head Start, child care, child support enforcement, runaway and homeless youth, and mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

    The interview with Dr. Horn is scheduled to occur Friday, February 6, from 12:30 to 1:30 PM. This is the first in a series of audio conferences titled, "The Squeeze: Helping Low-Income Families in an Era of Dwindling Resources."

    Future topics in the series include:

    • Welfare Reform in 2004: Where Are We? What's Next? (March 5)
    • The Fiscal Squeeze: What Does Tax Policy Have to Do With It? (April 2)
    • Financing Child Welfare: What Policies Best Protect Children? (May 7)
    • A New Progressive Agenda: Innovative Ideas for Work and Immigration Policy (June 4)
    • Disconnected Youth: Educational Pathways to Reconnection (July 9)

    The cost for each audioconference in the series is $16. For more information about the series or how to register, visit the CLASP website at, or contact Soleste Lupu at 202.906.8079 or

  • State Strategies for Permanency Planning

    State Strategies for Permanency Planning

    The Fall 2003 issue of Permanency Planning Today highlights State strategies to address permanency planning for children in the child welfare system.

    The issue's lead article, "Achieving Permanence for Children in the Child Welfare System," notes permanency has been a significant focus of the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews. Programs being implemented in Georgia, South Dakota, Mississippi, Vermont, Connecticut, Arizona, and California to address this concern are described. Highlights include:

    • In South Dakota, poor retention of foster families is being addressed through a system to better track foster family stressors and provide timely crisis intervention to prevent placement disruption.
    • Arizona is raising the standard for availability, quality, and visibility of respite care for foster care providers through its Community Respite Care Network.
    • California's Kinship Support Services Program provides community-based family support services to relative caregivers and dependent children who have been placed in their homes or who are at risk of dependency or delinquency. The program also provides post-permanency services to relative caregivers who become legal guardians or adoptive parents of formerly dependent children.

    Other articles in this issue include:

    • Foster Families Working with Birth Families to Help Move Children to Timely Permanency
    • Lighting the Fire of Urgency: Families Lost & Found in America's Child Welfare System
    • Permanency Hearings: Strategies to Achieve Permanence
    • Nontraditional Recruitment for Teens and Preteens

    Permanency Planning Today is published semiannually by the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning. It can be found on their website at

Child Welfare Research

  • Realistic Expectations Found Key to Positive Outcomes in Special Needs Adoptions

    Realistic Expectations Found Key to Positive Outcomes in Special Needs Adoptions

    A recent study of families who adopted children with special needs found parental expectations had a significant impact on parents' satisfaction with the adoption, the quality of the parent-child relationship, and the perceived overall impact of the adoption on the family. These findings underscore the need to adequately prepare families adopting children with special needs and provide post-adoption services that are accessible, affordable, and available to families throughout a child's lifetime.

    "Characteristics and Challenges of Families Who Adopt Children with Special Needs: An Empirical Study" is based on a survey conducted by researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, of 249 adoptive families (including 373 children) in Nevada. All participating families were receiving adoption subsidies or had an adoption subsidy agreement in place as of January 2000.

    Other findings included:

    • Close to one-third of the families (32 percent) reported their children's behavior problems or disabilities as profound or severe. The longer children had been in the adoptive home, the more likely parents were to report behavior problems.
    • A large proportion (58 percent) of families reported not receiving enough information about their child prior to the adoption. More than one-third (37 percent) of adoptive parents reported their child's problems were more serious than the agency originally reported.
    • While relatives reported having significantly more information than nonrelatives about their children prior to adoption, no significant differences emerged between foster/adoptive parents and new adoptive parents.
    • Adoptive families reported significant barriers in obtaining post-adoption services. Parents of children ages 14 and older reported more difficulty obtaining post-adoption services than parents of younger children.

    Children's behavior problems had the greatest influence on parental satisfaction. (Fewer behavior problems were associated with higher satisfaction with parenting.) Parents' expectations had the second greatest influence on parental satisfaction and the greatest influence on the other three adoption outcomes studied: quality of relationship with the child, impact of the child's adoption on the family, and impact of the child's adoption on the marriage. (More realistic expectations for the child were associated with higher satisfaction with parenting and more positive impact on families, marriages, and parents' relationships with their children.)

    While the authors acknowledge the need for additional studies to validate these findings, they cite the following implications for adoption agencies:

    • Agencies may want to increase recruitment efforts targeting families in the larger community to adopt children with special needs since, surprisingly, no significant differences emerged between foster/adoptive parents and new adoptive parents.
    • Adoption agencies need to ensure expectations of both foster/adoptive parents and new adoptive parents are thoroughly assessed. Agencies must provide special training on the developmental needs of children who are medically fragile or substance-exposed.
    • This study reinforces findings from other studies that many problems of children with special needs manifest themselves years after placement. Post adoption services for these families are critical throughout a child's lifecycle. Agencies must develop a wide range of post adoption services and promote and advertise these services to the community.

    "Characteristics and Challenges of Families Who Adopt Children with Special Needs," by Thom Reilly and Laurie Platz, appeared in the October 2003 issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Vol. 25, No. 10). It is available at

    Related Items

    Read more about special needs adoptions in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Foster Parents, Relatives Adopt Majority of Children with Special Needs" (September 2003)
    • "Better Futures for Waiting Children" (December 2002/January 2003)
  • In Appreciation

    In Appreciation

    The child welfare community laments the loss of two distinguished and longstanding contributors.

    William L. Pierce, Adoption Advocate

    William L. Pierce, Ph.D., a leading champion of adoption, passed away on January 13, 2004, after a long struggle with cancer. The founding president of the National Council for Adoption (NCA), Dr. Pierce helped shape public policy on adoption both in the United States and internationally.

    Dr. Pierce was active on Capitol Hill and in the media, promoting legislation to reduce obstacles to transracial adoption and to make adoption more affordable for Americans. He was an ardent and tireless advocate for preserving the option of privacy in adoptions and for a national program that trains pregnancy counselors to present the adoption alternative.

    In 1993, Dr. Pierce was a member of the U.S. delegation to The Hague and, in that capacity, helped draft the 1993 Intercountry Adoption Convention. In 1994 and 2000, Dr. Pierce was on the International Association of Voluntary Adoption Agencies and NGOs delegation to the Hague Conference on Private International Law. His involvement in these efforts helped create international adoption policies that continue to serve the best interests of children.

    Dr. Pierce was a key figure in the adoption field for many years, and he will long be remembered for his many contributions to the welfare of children and families.

    Ellen W. Carey, Children's Bureau

    Ellen W. Carey, M.S.W., Director of the Child Welfare Capacity Building Division of the Children's Bureau, passed away on December 11, 2003, while recovering from surgery. Ms. Carey had led the Division since its inception, having joined the Children's Bureau in 1992 as National Adoption Specialist. In both of these capacities, she was an integral part of the operations and successes of the Children's Bureau.

    Before her career with the Federal Government, Ms. Carey worked in the local Washington, D.C., area in the field of adoption. She held positions with several jurisdictions in Maryland, as well as with the Consortium for Child Welfare, Family and Child Services, Inc., in Washington, D.C. Throughout her career, Ms. Carey was known for her passionate advocacy for adoption, foster care, and the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

    In tribute to Ms. Carey, the Adoption Exchange Association has set up a scholarship fund. The first scholarship will be awarded in July at the National Adoption and Foster Care Recruitment Summit. Donations to the Ellen W. Carey Memorial Fund can be sent to the Adoption Exchange Association, 8015 Corporate Drive, Suite C, Baltimore, MD 21236.

  • Casey Foster Alumni Achieve Success in High School Graduation, Employment

    Casey Foster Alumni Achieve Success in High School Graduation, Employment

    Preliminary results from a national study of alumni of Casey Family Programs foster care services indicate many alumni are graduating high school (86 percent, including those obtaining a GED) and obtaining employment (88 percent). Assessing the Effects of Foster Care: Early Results from the Casey National Alumni Study reports data from life experiences, educational achievements, and current functioning of 1,087 Casey Family Programs foster care alumni served between 1966 and 1998. The study sought information on how these youth are faring as adults, whether they differ from other adults with regard to functioning status, and what key factors or program components are linked with higher functioning.

    High school graduation and employment rates were positive despite the fact that youth experienced many placement changes (the rate of which decreased when they were placed with Casey). Characteristics that, working together, were found to predict the level of success of an alumnus at the time of interview include:

    • Life skills preparation
    • Completing a high school diploma or GED before leaving care
    • Scholarships for college or job training
    • Male gender
    • Participation in clubs and organizations for youth while in foster care
    • Less positive parenting by the last foster mother (perhaps because this lack of support helped motivate the youth to prepare more vigorously for emancipation)
    • Not being homeless within a year of leaving care
    • Minimized academic problems (i.e., youth who received more educational tutoring were less likely to be successful)
    • Minimized use of alcohol or drugs (i.e., alumni who required alcohol or other substance abuse treatment while in care were less likely to be in the highly successful group)

    Assessing the Effects of Foster Care: Early Results from the Casey National Alumni Study is a report of the Foster Care Alumni Studies project, a collaboration of Casey Family Programs, Harvard University, University of Michigan, State of Washington Office of Children's Administration Research, University of Washington, and State of Oregon Services to Children and Families. The report is available on the Casey Family Programs website at Future reports from this study will focus on identifying which youth are most at risk for poor outcomes and for which groups of youth particular services are more effective.

    Related Items

    For more on the needs of foster youth, see "White House Task Force Report Targets Foster Youth," "Funds for Transition from Foster Care to Independence," and "Foster Youth Help Develop Curriculum and Provide Training for Child Welfare Workers" in this issue.

    Also see the following articles in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Supporting Successful Transitions for Youth" (November 2003)
    • "Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Face Uphill Climb to Adulthood" (May 2003)
  • Children of Incarcerated Parents: Research and Resources

    Children of Incarcerated Parents: Research and Resources

    More than 1.5 million minor children have a parent in the criminal justice system. Although the majority of these children reside with another parent or relative, studies indicate at least 3 percent (or approximately 45,000 children) are in the foster care system. Because the number of women in jails and prisons has grown exponentially over the past decade, and women are usually the primary caretaker of minor children prior to incarceration, children of incarcerated parents will likely become a growing issue in the child welfare system. A number of recent research studies and related resources offer guidance.


    • Patterns of Criminal Conviction and Incarceration Among Mothers of Children in Foster Care in New York City ( This December 2003 study from the Vera Institute of Justice compiles data on patterns of arrest and incarceration for nearly 15,000 incarcerated mothers of children who entered New York City's foster care system in both 1991 and 1996. Findings suggest many children were removed from the home during the mothers' downward spiral of drug involvement. Although these findings are not meant to be generalized to all incarcerated mothers of children in foster care, they indicate child welfare agencies should continue to be mindful of the service needs of mothers, especially in terms of drug treatment.
    • Children of Incarcerated Parents: Cumulative Risk and Children's Living Arrangements ( This study by the Joint Center for Poverty Research (July 2002) found that where a child lives when a parent is incarcerated (e.g., with the other parent, with a relative, or in foster care) is associated with the presence of risk factors for poor developmental outcomes (e.g., parental substance abuse, parent's history of foster care). The presence of more risk factors is related to a greater likelihood of being placed in foster care. These results point to the need for child welfare agencies to identify children's risk factors and begin to address these issues through individualized service planning.
    • Families Left Behind: The Hidden Costs of Incarceration and Reentry ( This policy brief (Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, October 2003) discusses the impact of parental incarceration on children and the family unit as a whole. It emphasizes the need for social service agencies to collaborate in order to adequately address the unique needs of these families both during incarceration and re-entry.


    • "Help for Children of Prisoners" The June/July 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express features a new article by Wade Horn, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, outlining the Administration's plan to award $10 million in grants to match children of prisoners with 100,000 mentors who will develop caring, supportive relationships with them.
    • Information Packet: Children of Incarcerated Parents ( Published in May 2003 by the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning, this packet discusses current challenges, policy issues, and model programs, and provides references and resources related to children of incarcerated parents.
    • National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated( The Resource Center collects and disseminates information, provides training and technical assistance, and works to increase awareness among the many disciplines and service systems that come in contact with families separated by incarceration.
    • Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents ( (Editor's note: Link no longer active) The Center provides information and develops model programs on children of incarcerated parents.
  • Involving Fathers and Their Families Through Family Group Decision Making

    Involving Fathers and Their Families Through Family Group Decision Making

    Historically, non-custodial fathers have been disengaged from the child welfare system. The advent of ASFA and recent Federal initiatives focused on fatherhood, however, have resulted in new efforts on the part of the child welfare system to encourage the involvement of fathers and other paternal relatives. American Humane focuses on fathers and their families in a recent issue of Child Protection Leader (

    The article highlights family group decision making (FGDM) as one avenue for encouraging paternal involvement. FGDM is relatively new, but research suggests that it results in increased involvement of non-custodial fathers and their families. The article suggests that by utilizing a framework that acknowledges both the importance of fatherhood and the barriers that prevent paternal involvement, professionals can work to maximize father and paternal family involvement to best serve the needs of children.

    Related Items

    American Humane is home to the National Center on Family Group Decision Making (, which provides training, information, and resources related to FGDM.

    Read more about FGDM and fatherhood in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Positive Results for Family Group Decision Making" (September 2003)
    • "Literature Review Explores Non-Custodial Fathers' Involvement in Child Welfare" (April 2003)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Best Practice Guidelines for Service Planning

    Best Practice Guidelines for Service Planning

    A new publication from the Casey Outcomes and Decision-Making Project, Tough Problems, Tough Choices: Guidelines for Needs-Based Service Planning in Child Welfare, recognizes the need both for consistency in service planning based on best practices and for flexibility to meet the specific needs of individual families.

    Designed to be used after safety and risk assessments have been completed and a case has been opened, these guidelines assist caseworkers in service planning for 13 specific case types (such as medical neglect, sexual abuse, or physical abuse). An additional guideline assists workers in selecting the most appropriate placement when a child needs to be removed from the home.

    Each guideline provides:

    • An introduction to the case type, including research findings, best practices, and the issues and factors often encountered in this type of case.
    • A decision tree that takes the worker step-by-step through the actions that should be taken during the service planning process (e.g., assess relevant cultural or family issues; identify goals and services; achieve permanency).

    By providing a formal protocol, these guidelines can help ensure consistency of decisions and improve decision-making results. As the authors note, however, these guidelines cannot replace caseworker training, nor should they preclude a team approach to child welfare services.

    The development of these guidelines was originally funded by both the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs. They can be downloaded free of charge from American Humane's website [Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]

    There are two earlier publications in the same series, Improving the Quality of Children's Services: A Working Paper on Outcome-Based Models of Service Delivery and Managed Care and Assessing Outcomes in Child Welfare Services: Principles, Concepts, and a Framework of Core Indicators.

  • Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Foster Children: The Children's Psychotherapy Project

    Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Foster Children: The Children's Psychotherapy Project

    The Children's Psychotherapy Project for Foster Children is an innovative program that offers children in foster care a stable relationship with a caring adult by providing long-term individual psychotherapy. Through this program, experienced therapists commit to donating one psychotherapy hour (pro bono) each week and to maintaining a therapeutic relationship with one foster child, for as long as that child needs treatment, no matter where the child is placed. In return for providing this service, the therapists receive weekly group consultations with senior clinicians.

    Clinical experience and anecdotal evidence indicate the first wave of 50 children treated in the program is doing well, having remained in school and in placements, rather than on the streets. A protocol is now in place to collect more detailed outcome data on every child in every program, focusing on the areas of child behavior, mood, cognitive functioning, relationships, and placement stability. Data will include interviews with therapists at intake, annually thereafter, and at treatment termination.

    The Children's Psychotherapy Project is the primary clinical program of A Home Within, a nonprofit organization created to support mental health programs for foster children, youth, and families. The first project was organized in San Francisco in 1993. Since that time, similar programs have been developed in 10 other cities or counties, with approximately 160 clinicians serving approximately 100 foster children. A Home Within hopes eventually to expand services to 2,500 children in 50 communities.

    Information about the national organization and local chapters can be found on A Home Within's website at Therapists or program managers interested in forming a local chapter should contact Dr. Toni Heineman, Executive Director, at


  • Funds for Transition from Foster Care to Independence

    Funds for Transition from Foster Care to Independence

    The Andrus Family Fund (AFF) supports projects and programs that promote positive social change through transition. One of the foundation's primary focuses is supporting successful transitions for youth from foster care to independence, especially through programs that go beyond job placement to career track planning, and beyond high school diploma equivalency to achieving postsecondary education goals.

    Grantees must be willing to explore and incorporate William Bridges’ transition model as it applies to the transition from foster care to independence. Interested applicants should submit an AFF application form that includes a two- to three-page letter of inquiry. Applications are accepted year round and reviewed quarterly.

    Recent grants (for up to $300,000) have been made to a number of programs that promote the transition to independence, including the Black Ensemble Theater (Chicago), the Buckeye Ranch (Grove, Ohio), the Independent Living Resource Center (New York), and the Oregon Social Learning Center. AFF does not fund provide funds to individuals, nor does it fund endowments, capital improvements, scholarships, or loans.

    For more information, visit

    Related Items

    For more on the needs of foster youth, see "White House Task Force Report Targets Foster Youth," "Casey Foster Alumni Achieve Success in High School Graduation, Employment," and "Foster Youth Help Develop Curriculum and Provide Training for Child Welfare Workers" in this issue.

  • Enhancing State Child Welfare Systems

    Enhancing State Child Welfare Systems

    Two States have recently released publications on their efforts to enhance child protection and permanency, in compliance with Federal regulations. These reports may be of interest to communities grappling with similar challenges.

    Michigan: Addressing Barriers to Adoption in the Court System

    In April 2003, Michigan's Supreme Court initiated a work group to address obstacles to adoption in child protection proceedings as discovered in the State's Child and Family Services Review ( In its final report issued in September 2003, the work group made a number of recommendations, including:

    • Encouraging faster filing of termination petitions after permanency planning hearings.
    • Encouraging shortened intervals between permanency planning hearings.
    • Giving highest priority to termination of parental rights cases.
    • Requiring early identification of fathers, relatives, and other interested parties.
    • Controlling substitution of attorneys for children.
    • Developing educational and training programs aimed at judges and court staff regarding adoption and lawyer-guardian ad litem issues.
    • Fostering interagency cooperation.
    • Conducting outreach to promote adoption.

    The final report can be found at (Editor's note: Link no longer active).

    Minnesota: Guide for Long-Term Foster Care

    The Federal government requires that long-term foster care only be used when other options (reunification, permanent legal and physical custody, or adoption) are not in the child's best interest. To ensure agencies comply with this requirement, Minnesota's Department of Human Services has issued a guide for using long-term foster care. This guide describes:

    • The process for making a placement decision
    • The process for selecting an appropriate placement
    • How and when long-term foster care fits into this process

    Corresponding State statutes are referenced, showing the reader how practice is linked to legislation. Guidelines for discussing long-term foster care with both children and foster parents are also included. Additionally, a matrix provides an easy-to-read description of Federal and State requirements for placement and permanency decisions, as well as how failure to comply with each Federal requirement impacts Title IV-E reimbursements.

    A copy of the guide can be obtained on the State's website at (Editor's note: Link no longer active).

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 adoption and child welfare through May 2004 include:

    March 2004

    • 20th National Symposium on Child Abuse (National Children's Advocacy Center; March 16 through 19, Huntsville, AL)
    • Center for Child and Family Well-being Conference: "The Effects of Violence on Children, Families, and Communities" (Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research; March 25 through 26, Bryn Mawr, PA)

    April 2004

    • 22nd Annual "Protecting Our Children" Conference: "Putting Our Minds Together to Leave No Indian Child Behind" (National Indian Child Welfare Association; April 4 through 7, Denver, CO)
    • 2004 Pathways to Adulthood National Independent Living/Transitional Living Conference (Children's Bureau and Family and Youth Services Bureau; April 13 through 15, Washington, DC)
    • Putting it Together Seminar (Independent Living Resources, Inc.; April 20 through 24, Raleigh Durham, NC)
    • 7th National Child Welfare Data Conference: "Making IT Work: Systems, Data, Policy and Practice" (National Resource Center for Information Technology in Child Welfare; April 21 through 23, Arlington, VA)
    • Joint Council on International Children's Services Annual Medical Institute and Conference (April 28 through May 1, Washington, DC)

    May 2004

    • Finding Better Ways 2004: "Responding to the Changing Faces of Residential Services" (Child Welfare League of America; May 3 through 5, Atlanta, GA)
    • 34th Annual Education Conference (National Foster Parent Association; May 10 through 15, Orlando, FL)
    • Family Support America's 10th Biennial National Conference (May 12 through 15, Chicago, IL)
    • Teleconference: Implementing a Program-Wide Anger Management Intervention (Walker Trieschman Center-CWLA; May 13)
    • "Spreading the Magic of Prevention" (Prevent Child Abuse America; May 16 through 19, Disney World Resort, FL)

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