News From the Children's Bureau
- NRCCPS Website Redesign
The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) has a new and improved website. The user-friendly site features sections on technical assistance, training, consultation, and State liaison support services. It also provides resources on staff development, prevention in disaster emergency shelters, safety intervention policy standards, logic models, reports, and work plans. A new section also encourages jurisdictions to interact with NRCCPS staff for help with CPS issues in all 50 States and Puerto Rico.
- Weighing the Evidence From Waiver Demonstrations
Since 1996, 23 States have developed innovative child welfare demonstration projects as the result of a waiver provision offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The scope, costs, and outcomes (where available) of these projects have been compiled in a new report prepared for the Children's Bureau by James Bell Associates.
Waivers allow States more flexibility in their title IV-E and title IV-B funding in order to create and implement the projects. Among the requirements, States must show that the projects are cost-neutral to the Federal Government, and they must agree to submit the projects to rigorous evaluations. The waivers generally have a 5-year time limit, although some have been extended, and 15 States have active waivers.
States have shown great creativity in the range of their projects, with some focusing on administrative issues in child welfare and others targeting the needs of certain groups of children or families. The demonstration projects fall into eight categories:
- Assisted guardianship or kinship care
- Flexible funding and capped IV-E allocations
- Managed care payment systems
- Services for parents or caregivers with substance use disorders
- Intensive service options
- Enhanced workforce training
- Postadoption services
- Tribal administration of IV-E funds
Some of the positive findings that emerged indicate that assisted guardianship increased permanency rates for children (in Illinois, New Mexico, and Minnesota); flexible funding allowed more children to remain in their homes to receive services rather than enter foster care (in Indiana, North Carolina, and Oregon); and enhanced substance abuse treatment for substance-abusing parents decreased child maltreatment recurrence rates in these families (in Illinois and Delaware).
As States continue to report their evaluation findings, more evidence may emerge regarding promising and cost-effective practices that promote better outcomes for children and families.
To read Profiles of the Child Welfare Demonstration Projects, visit the Children's Bureau website:
- NCSACW SAFERR Model
To help child welfare professionals working with families affected by substance abuse disorders, the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) published the Screening and Assessment for Family Engagement, Retention, and Recovery (SAFERR) guidebook. The SAFERR model includes a variety of tools for screening and assessing children and families impacted by substance abuse. SAFERR aims to integrate the work of the child welfare system, alcohol and drug abuse professionals, and the courts to achieve better outcomes for families and at-risk children.
- New! On the Children's Bureau Site
The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.
Recent additions to the site include the following:
- New Preliminary Assessments and Statewide Assessments for the second round of the CFSR process are available for the District of Columbia, Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
- Factsheets provide information about the CFSRs for specific groups, including Governors, legislatures, courts, tribes, and mental health professionals.
- PI-07-09, issued June 4, 2007, covers Instructions for States Applying for Court Improvement Program Funds (the basic grant) for Fiscal Years 2007-2011.
- Technical Bulletin #14, Disability Information, provides States with information regarding the data elements related to a child's diagnosed disability (foster care data elements #10-15 and adoption data elements #11-15) in AFCARS.
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- The Importance of Family Involvement in Case Planning
A new information packet by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP) emphasizes the importance of family involvement in the case planning process. The Child, Youth and Family Involvement in Case Planning packet includes a factsheet enumerating the advantages of partnering with children and families, a quick review of the legislation that marked a shift away from little or no family involvement in the planning process, and a list of model programs that engage families successfully.
- AdoptUsKids' Resources for Emergency Planning and Interjurisdictional Placement
A Case Planning Desk Reference for Emergency Situations is now available from AdoptUsKids. The reference guide is an effort to help social workers lessen the impact of extreme situations or natural disasters on child welfare programs across the country. Put together at the behest of the State of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the guide emphasizes child safety and permanency planning in disaster scenarios. A case planning checklist is included to help the caseworker make recommendations to the court of jurisdiction.
http://www.adoptuskids.org/images/professionalResourceCenter/documents/Case_Planning_Desk_Reference_FINAL.pdf (87.6 - KB)
The AdoptUsKids website now features a section on interjurisdictional resources to help child welfare professionals and families sort out the practices, policies, and procedures related to the placement of foster children across county, State, tribal, or national boundaries. The section includes checklists provided by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) to ensure safe and suitable placements and guarantee proper care. A report describing the barriers to interjurisdictional placement and a list of recommendations for improving the process are also included.
- Fatherhood.gov Website Debuts
Just in time for Father's Day, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced the June 14 launch of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) website. The website offers resources for a broad audience, including Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage program grantees, fathers and families, community partners, policymakers, and researchers. Visitors to the website can access electronic publications, statistics, media materials, and other resources on the topic of fatherhood and improving the lives of children and families. They can also search the online library's extensive collection and sign up to receive email updates of the site.
The NRFC supports the Federal commitment to advance responsible fatherhood, as it:
- Promotes responsible, caring, and effective parenting
- Enhances the abilities and commitment of unemployed or low-income fathers to provide material support for their families
- Improves fathers' ability to effectively manage family business affairs
- Encourages and supports responsible fatherhood in the context of marriage
Visit the website to learn more!
- Updated CFSR Composites Syntax, Data Indicators, and Composite Weights
The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) released updated data tools provided by Children's Bureau for its online State Data Profile Toolkit. The new tools include a new version of the "ComputeComposites" syntax and a computational spreadsheet enhanced for readability and printing. Tables with data indicators and composite weights are also included.
- Report Rates Legal Representation for Children
A new publication presents an assessment of State laws that govern legal representation for children involved in the child welfare system. The report, A Child's Right to Counsel: First Star's National Report Card on Legal Representation for Children, analyzed State statutes and court rules in all 50 States and the District of Columbia to determine how the States are meeting the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act requirement to provide trained counsel to all children involved in the child welfare system. The States were graded by specific criteria, including:
- Is counsel required for all children?
- Is counsel required to advocate for the expressed wishes of the child?
- Are attorneys trained in child law and advocacy?
- Does the child have legal status as a party, with the right to be present at all hearings?
The grades are based on the language in the statutes and court rules, not on the implementation of the laws. The report also provides State-by-State analyses of the findings and recommendations for legislative actions to improve representation for children. Recommendations for Federal legislative action and a model State law for a child's right to counsel are also presented.
A Child's Right to Counsel: First Star's National Report Card on Legal Representation for Children is published by First Star, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Federal, State, and local laws that improve the lives of abused and neglected children. The publication is available online:
www.firststar.org/documents/FIRSTSTARReportCard07.pdf (PDF - 11.9 MB)
- New Regulations May Impact Intercountry Adoptions
Approximately 20,000 infants and children are adopted each year by U.S. citizens through intercountry adoptions. In recent years, the greatest numbers of these children have come from three countries: China, Russia, and Guatemala. Last year, the U.S. Department of State issued immigrant visas to 6,493 Chinese children, 3,706 Russian children, and 4,135 Guatemalan children to allow them to enter the United States with their new parents. However, recent developments in each of these countries may delay or restrict future adoptions by U.S. parents.
- China has now placed greater restrictions on the families who adopt. According to the Department of State website, new requirements regarding prospective parents' age, marital status, medical conditions, and more were announced by the Chinese government in December 2006 and went into effect on May 1 of this year. One of these restrictions prohibits single-parent adoption.
- Russia is now withholding approvals on adoptions, pending its own accreditation of U.S. adoption agencies. According to the U.S. Department of State, no U.S. adoption agency is currently accredited in Russia, and a new law in that country requires that five governmental ministries review and approve American agencies before U.S. families can bring home Russian children through those agencies.
- Guatemala's situation is somewhat different. Because of concerns about the safety and best interests of the children involved, the United States has imposed the recent restrictions that limit adoptions from that country. In March, the Department of State cited serious problems with the oversight of adoption practices in Guatemala and said that U.S. officials would carefully scrutinize adoptions from that country on a case-by-case basis. The Department noted that it could not recommend adoptions from Guatemala at that time and that such adoptions would not be possible once the United States implemented the Hague Convention. A June 13 statement by the Department reiterated these cautions.
The United States will fully implement the Hague Convention in early 2008, which will further regulate the intercountry adoption process to better safeguard the safety and well-being of the children involved. While the Hague Convention will not resolve the continued demand for intercountry adoptions, it will set minimum standards for those children, birth families, and adoptive parents involved in adoptions between Convention countries. This may provide American families with greater assurance about the safety and regulation of the intercountry adoption process.
For the most up-to-date information about the Hague Convention and intercountry adoption news, visit the Department of State website:
- Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System
Immigrant families in Texas involved with the child welfare system are the subject of three recent issue briefs published by the Urban Institute. The briefs examine the role of placement settings and case goals, reasons for removal, and title IV-E eligibility to determine why child welfare services for immigrant children differ from or lag behind those provided to other populations.
Although Latin American immigrant children made up 7 percent of all children in the State in 2005, they constituted only 1 percent of children in care. Similarly, second-generation Latin American children made up nearly 20 percent of all Texan children in 2005 but only 8 percent of children in care. These percentages stand in contrast to the overrepresentation of third-generation Hispanic children (those with U.S.-born parents), who made up 22 percent of the children in Texas but 33 percent of those in care.
Beyond the statistics, the issue briefs shed some light on the reasons for placement decisions and removals, as well as the role of title IV-E eligibility in providing services to these groups of children:
- According to one of the briefs, the absence of a "relative network" and the immigration status of one or both parents might help account for the difference in placement options and case goals among immigrant children and children of immigrants. In March 2006, only 8 percent of immigrant children in child welfare were living with relatives, while 20 percent of children of immigrants and 28 percent of all U.S.-born children were living with kin.
- A high percentage of immigrant children enter care for sexual abuse. This might be explained by the profiles of these children, including their runaway or "alien" status, the lack of family supports, and the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors in the face of commercial sexual exploitation.
- A third issue brief shows that immigrant children are also less likely to be eligible for title IV-E assistance than other children—most often because of the undocumented status of the immigrant children. Compared to more than 50 percent of U.S.-born children, only 5 percent of Latin American immigrant children were title IV-E eligible in 2005. In cases where children are ineligible for title IV-E funding, the State bears the total cost for care.
To read the first three briefs in the Identifying Immigrant Families Involved With Child Welfare Systems series, visit the Urban Institute website:
For related information on this topic, see the following article in this issue's Resources section:
"The Effects of Immigration on Child Welfare"
- Deployment Linked to Increased Child Maltreatment
A study that compared rates of child maltreatment over time in military and nonmilitary families in Texas found that maltreatment rates in military families increased in relation to the deployment of soldiers. Analyzing data on approximately 150,000 children from 2000 to 2003, researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health found that the child maltreatment rates increased 30 percent for every 1 percent increase in the number of active-duty personnel who departed or returned from operational deployment.
Early in the study period, which corresponded to the time before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, military families had a lower rate of child maltreatment than nonmilitary families in this study group. However, by the latter part of 2002, when many Texas service personnel were assigned to operational deployments, the rate in military families began to rise. Nonmilitary parents in those families (i.e., military spouses) comprised the largest group of perpetrators and accounted for the largest increase in perpetrators during this time, suggesting that deployment causes significant stress for families left behind and those adjusting to the return of their soldiers. It may also cause increases in maltreatment rates among families in which soldiers are at risk of being deployed.
Interventions suggested by the study's authors include providing additional support and education for families. Increased monitoring during times of deployment when stress is high may also be appropriate.
"Effects of Deployment on the Occurrence of Child Maltreatment in Military and Nonmilitary Families," by E. Danielle Rentz, Stephen W. Marshall, Dana Loomis, Carri Casteel, Sandra L. Martin, and Deborah A. Gibbs, was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 165(10). It is available for purchase online:
- Implementing Differential Response in Child Welfare Practice
A new publication from Casey Family Programs, Implementing Differential Response in California: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned, reports on efforts to improve child welfare practice in California by developing a broader range of responses for vulnerable families. Differential response allows child welfare agencies to individualize their responses to families based on the families' specific needs.
In response to two major legislative initiatives, the California Department of Social Services, in collaboration with Casey Family Programs and other partners, began implementing differential response practice changes at the local level. The 2-year effort applied a method for testing and implementing system change known as the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC). The BSC method facilitates the rapid spread of information, as teams test and learn about new practices.
A number of promising practice changes emerged from this BSC with strong potential to support the implementation of differential response systems that may improve outcomes for children and families. These responses include strengths-based interventions, shared responsibility with communities, and broader family involvement.
Implementing Differential Response in California: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned is available online from Casey Family Programs:
American Humane and the Child Welfare League of America report on the results of a survey of the different types of differential response systems in use in 15 States. The survey looks at the types of noninvestigative assessments used and the types of cases that may be referred for an alternative response. Profiles of the States with differential response initiatives are also presented.
The report, National Study on Differential Response in Child Welfare, by Lisa Merkel-Holguin, Caren Kaplan, and Alina Kwak, is available on the American Humane website:
- Mental Illness Prevention in Child Welfare
Children involved with the child welfare system are at increased risk of developing behavioral and mental health problems throughout their lives. A recent article in the Child Welfare League of America's The Link describes how child welfare programs can adapt a mental health model (the Early Risers "Skills for Success" program) that incorporates both prevention and treatment to reduce the negative mental health outcomes of maltreatment.
The new Early Risers Community Integration Model uses a comprehensive family assessment to determine the level of mental health services needed. As part of the prevention approach, children who have experienced abuse, neglect, domestic violence, adoption, and homelessness may receive services—even if they have not shown symptoms of problem behaviors. Based on the needs of the family, three levels of services (basic, tailored, or specialized) are offered, with a focus on preventive components that improve the child's emotional and interpersonal skills, increase parenting skills, and expand the family's social support system.
The program includes 2 years of intensive intervention and stresses the importance of continuous health maintenance after the intervention to ensure that new problems are addressed throughout the child and family's lifetime. A family advocate may serve as the liaison for mental health services by collaborating with the child welfare case manager to determine the level of services and to coordinate service delivery.
According to the authors, the incorporation of the model into child welfare systems is best accomplished if:
- Services are voluntary.
- A comprehensive risk and strength assessment is used.
- Services are tailored to individual child and family needs.
- Families' preferences are part of the decision-making process.
To read the full article, "Early-Age Targeted Prevention of Mental Health Problems and Juvenile Delinquency for Maltreated Children: The Early Risers Skills for Success Community Integration Program," by Gerald J. August, George M. Realmuto, and Abigail Gewirtz, published in The Link, Volume 5(4), visit the Child Welfare League of America website:
For more information on family assessment, the Children's Bureau website provides Comprehensive Family Assessment Guidelines for Child Welfare:
- Program for Teen Mothers Shows Broad Benefits
What began as a partnership between an emergency shelter program and a San Antonio school district has blossomed into a successful program for pregnant teens, showing widespread benefits for the teens, their children, and the schools. As described in a recent article in Alliance for Children and Families Magazine, Project MAS (mothers and schools) uses a wraparound approach to provide the State-mandated tutoring that schools struggled to give to pregnant teens and new mothers in the past. It also ensures that the girls receive parenting education and other necessary referrals and services.
An important feature of Project MAS is the Nurturing Program—a parenting curriculum designed for teen parents that begins when the girls are pregnant and continues after the birth. Before Project MAS, workers at the organization's emergency shelter noted an increase in abuse and neglect by very young parents. Outcomes for the girls who completed the program show that 100 percent demonstrated improvement in parenting skills and knowledge, and 98 percent had not been referred to child protective services.
The administrators of Project MAS have made a concerted effort to track and report their outcomes. Other program successes include the fact that 98 percent of the girls have returned to school following maternity leave, and 97 percent have not had repeat pregnancies.
These achievements have led to a significant expansion of the program into other schools. Project MAS administrators hope that the program will continue to grow, transitioning away from providing emergency care and toward providing community-centered and in-home care.
To read the original article, "Program Opens Door to New Role: Partnership With School District Benefits Many," in the spring 2007 issue of Alliance for Children and Families Magazine, visit the website:
www.alliance1.org/Magazine/spring2007/spr07-projectmas.pdf (PDF - 3.79 KB)
- Forensic Interviewing of Children With Disabilities
Two new resources are available to professionals who conduct forensic interviews with children with disabilities.
The National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse (NCPCA) newsletter, Update, published a two-part article on this topic. Part 1 discusses the need to gather specific information about the child's abilities and needs prior to the interview. Part 2 discusses issues to consider during and after the interview, including developmental screening, suggestibility, corroboration, and preparing for court.
www.ndaa.org/publications/newsletters/update_vol_19_number_1_2006.pdf (PDF - 156 KB)
www.ndaa.org/publications/newsletters/update_vol_19_number_2_2006.pdf (PDF - 156 KB)
The Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice released a new video, Victims with Disabilities: The Forensic Interview—Techniques for Interviewing Victims With Communication and/or Cognitive Disabilities. The 57-minute DVD provides a specific set of guidelines for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, victim advocates, forensic interviewers, and others for interviewing adults and children with communication and/or cognitive disabilities. An interactive discussion guide including a complete transcript of the DVD and a glossary of terms and concepts used in the film is also available.
- The Effects of Immigration on Child Welfare
American Humane Association and Loyola University Chicago convened a roundtable in July 2006 to discuss the impact of the fast-growing population of immigrant children and families on the delivery of child welfare services. Participants included approximately 70 representatives from 10 States and Mexico who had academic, government, advocacy, child welfare, and immigration backgrounds. For part of the 3-day meeting, participants met in small workgroups that focused on four topics:
- Workforce and training
- Cross-systems collaboration
- Policy and advocacy
Results of these workgroup discussions were published in Migration: A Critical Issue for Child Welfare: 2006 Transnational Research and Policy Forum Report, a report that includes action steps to encourage research and policy development on this issue.
For information about Latin American immigrant children in Texas, see the related article in this issue in the Child Welfare News section:
"Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System"
- Training for Grant Writers
Grant Writing USA offers training, seminars, and workshops around the country for grant writers in nonprofit and government agencies at all levels of expertise. The focus is on writing and reviewing successful grant applications; training also covers identifying and tracking relevant grant opportunities, developing a budget for the grant proposal, and measuring impact. To find out more about attending or hosting a grant-writing workshop, visit the website:
- GE Healthcare Grants for Youth Education
GE Healthcare awards grants of up to $50,000 to nonprofit charitable organizations with a focus on youth education. Grants are made in the following areas:
- Underserved communities with low graduation rates
- Youth from birth to age 18
- Support for core competencies (such as math, science, reading, and writing)
- Programs that focus on developing student life skills or core competencies to increase testing scores and graduation rates
- Early childhood development programs that integrate life skills into everyday learning
Applications are reviewed quarterly. The next deadline is August 1.
- Improving Foster Care
As part of its Kids Are Waiting campaign, Pew Charitable Trusts has released timely publications that provide background information about children in the foster care system and the benefits of relative foster care.
Time for Reform: Too Many Birthdays in Foster Care presents an overview of the foster care system, with a particular focus on children who remain in care for a period of years. The report suggests that children would benefit from financing reforms that would give States more flexibility to use funds for preventive services or to subsidize guardianships when reunification or adoption is not possible.
kidsarewaiting.org/tools/reports/files/0005.pdf (PDF - 832 KB)
Time for Reform: Support Relatives in Providing Foster Care and Permanent Families for Children examines the benefits of relative foster care. These include increased stability, a greater likelihood of placement with siblings, and increased maintenance of community connections, compared to nonrelative foster care. The report discusses how financing reforms that provide for subsidized guardianships would allow more of these placements to become permanent.
kidsarewaiting.org/tools/reports/files/0004.pdf (PDF - 1.00 MB)
Sponsored by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, MethResources.gov is a comprehensive source of news and information on methamphetamine, providing publications and research on programs, policies and legislation, funding, and training and technical assistance related to this critical topic. A conference calendar lists upcoming events, and the "Meth In Your State" section provides State-specific publications. The website is designed for policymakers, law enforcement officials, treatment and prevention professionals, businesses and retailers, and concerned citizens.
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.
- Building Collaborative Leadership in Communities
The Leadership in Action Program provides hands-on training for people in a wide range of fields and positions who are already working to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and families. Sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), the Leadership in Action Program works to strengthen leadership and management skills and help leaders learn to collaborate more effectively, move quickly toward common goals, and use data to develop action plans and measure progress.
In collaboration with AECF, a local partner, such as a city task force or citizens' group, first agrees to sponsor an initiative focused on a particular need. The local partner then invites up to 40 participants, including State and local government employees, managers of public agencies, nonprofit directors, child advocates, business people, and community leaders. Guided by Leadership in Action Program faculty, the group participates in nine 2-day sessions over 14 months. The program provides the tools, framework, and skills to develop action plans, identify low- and no-cost solutions, and enlist new partners.
A full description of the program and contact information can be found in an online brochure:
www.aecf.org/upload/PublicationFiles/LAP.pdf (PDF - 433 KB)
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through October 2007 include:
- Attachment Disorder Network 2007 Conference
Parenting Traumatized Children
August 2–4, Excelsior Springs, MO
http://www.radzebra.org/conference.htm(link no longer available)
- NACC 30th National Juvenile and Family Law Conference
National Association of Counsel for Children
August 15–18, Keystone Mountain Resort, CO
http://www.naccchildlaw.org/training/conference.html (link no longer available)
- NAPCWA Fall Meeting
National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators
September 7–10, Arlington, VA
http://www.aphsa.org/Conference/calendar.asp(link no longer available)
- 12th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma
Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma
September 15–20, San Diego, CA
http://www.ivatcenters.org/conference/index.html(link no longer available)
- 20th Annual National Independent Living Conference
Growing Pains 2007
Daniel Memorial Institute
September 19–22, Denver, CO
http://www.danielkids.org/sites/web/content.cfm?id=276(link no longer available)
- 2007 National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children
October 10–12, Kansas City, MO
http://www.nationaldec.org/Conference/conference07.htm#2007Conf (link no longer available)
- 19th Annual ATTACh Conference
Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children
October 10–13, Providence, RI
http://www.attach.org/2007conference.htm (link no longer available)
- 2007 Alliance for Children & Families National Conference
October 17–19, Anaheim, CA
http://www.alliance1.org/(link no longer available)
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the "Conference Calendar Search" feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm(link no longer available)
- Attachment Disorder Network 2007 Conference