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November 2010Vol. 11, No. 9Spotlight on National Adoption Month

This month, CBX spotlights National Adoption Month, with a special focus on the adoption of siblings from foster care. We've included an article on how one grantee was able to help older youth find adoptive families. Read about National Adoption Month resources and more.

Issue Spotlight

  • And the Adoption Excellence Award Goes to...

    And the Adoption Excellence Award Goes to...

    Every year since 1997, the Children's Bureau has presented Adoption Excellence Awards to individuals, families, jurisdictions, and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to achieving permanency for children and youth in foster care awaiting families. By conferring these awards, the Children's Bureau acknowledges its commitment to the 424,000 children in foster care across the country, including the 115,000 children awaiting adoption.

    On October 4, 2010, the 2010 Adoption Excellence Awards were presented to 10 recipients in five categories at a luncheon that was part of the Children's Bureau's Policy to Practice Dialogue meeting in Arlington, VA. The winners represented a broad range of backgrounds, projects, and accomplishments. What they all had in common was an extraordinary commitment to helping vulnerable children find their forever families.

    The winners:

    • In the category of Support for Adoptive Families:
      • Three Rivers Adoption Council
      • Adoption Support for Kentucky
      • Family Focus Adoption Services
      • Children's Home + Aid of Illinois, Northern Region
    • In the category of Individual Contributions:
      • Janice Goldwater
      • Linda Coffin
      • Eileen Mullen
    • In the category of Family Contributions:
      • Jerome & Adrienne Welenc
    • In the category of Adoption of Minority Children From Foster Care:
      • Children's Home Society of Florida
    • In the category of Media/Public Awareness of Adoption From Foster Care:
      • Gia Tutalo-Mote

    Congratulations to the 2010 winners!

    Read more details about the winners and their projects on the Children's Bureau website:

  • Top Adoption-Friendly Workplaces

    Top Adoption-Friendly Workplaces

    The Dave Thomas Foundation recently released its 2010 list of top adoption-friendly employers—that is, those that offer some of the best benefits for their employees who adopt. Benefits include financial reimbursement and paid leave. The list is based on the results of a survey that employers submit on their behalf.

    The 2010 list includes many different kinds of corporations, specifically:

    1. Wendy's/Arby's Group, Inc.
    2. Citizens Financial Group, Inc./RBS Americas
    3. Liquidnet (tie)
    4. LSI Corporation (tie)
    5. Putnam Investments
    6. Vanguard Group
    7. Subaru of America, Inc.
    8. BHP Billiton
    9. The Timberland Company
    10. Barilla America, Inc.

    The Dave Thomas Foundation also offers a toolkit for employers interested in establishing or enhancing adoption benefits for their employees. Visit the website for more information on the list of top adoption-friendly workplaces and the employer toolkit:

  • Adoption for Older Youth

    Adoption for Older Youth

    Recognizing that older youth in foster care often refuse to consider adoption because they fear losing connections with their birth family, the Children's Bureau funded nine grantees in 2005 for projects that would promote adoption while maintaining birth family connections. The Adoption Opportunities grant "Improving Permanency Outcomes by Developing Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact With Family Members" provided grantees with both funding and a mutual support group as they implemented and evaluated their projects over the subsequent 5 years.

    You Gotta Believe!, based in New York City, used its grant to work with youth in foster care in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. County social workers referred teens who were resistant to adoption to the Long Island Opening Adoption's Door to Teens Project. Instead of accepting the teens' resistance, project staff used one-on-one counseling sessions with each teen to identify why the teen objected to the idea of adoption. In counseling, the teens were able to discuss their fears about losing connections with siblings, parents, and other important people in their lives, and they received assurance that adoption would not end those ties. Over the course of six to eight counseling sessions, the teens' reluctance was addressed, the benefits of open adoption were discussed, and staff were able to proceed to help the teens find families.

    In addition to helping the teens accept and welcome the idea of adoption, the project had four other components:

    • Making foster parents of teens aware of the urgency of permanency so that they would either adopt the teens or help them find an adoptive family
    • Training all staff who work with teens in any capacity about the urgency of permanency
    • Training prospective adoptive parents about the importance of helping the teens maintain their ties to their birth families and other important people
    • Providing many opportunities for teens to connect with prospective families, for instance, having teens serve as training consultants, work in the agency office, attend events, and serve on panels

    As part of the overall grant process, You Gotta Believe! and the other grantees participated in quarterly phone calls and annual meetings at which they shared their ideas, findings, and resources. According to Pat O'Brien, Executive Director of You Gotta Believe!, one of the ideas that arose again and again turned out to be particularly useful: Several of the programs recruited adults as mentors or weekend parents or just friends for the teens. These were adults who were willing to have a long-term relationship with a teen but were not willing or able to adopt. Hearing that idea, You Gotta Believe! staff decided to implement it and take it one step further. Adults are starting to be recruited and "deputized" to establish relationships with the teens and then go out and find permanent families for them. The adults will take teens to family reunions, escort them to meet and greets, and involve themselves in other events in teens’ lives where they might meet prospective permanent families. In this way, the project will enlarge its recruitment staff by using volunteers, and the teens will establish ongoing relationships with other adults who care about them and want to help them find their lifetime permanent families. 

    You Gotta Believe! is wrapping up its Long Island project and expects the evaluation to show that approximately half of the teens referred to the project found families who gave the teens permanency while helping them stay connected with their birth families. Looking ahead, You Gotta Believe! is hoping to incorporate lessons learned from this grant into its future projects for youth. For instance, family-finding techniques and social media (such as Facebook) will be added to the repertoire of tools that staff will use on a regular basis to help older youth in foster care find permanent families. Capitalizing on the networks that teens already have will give teens a greater chance of finding the person or family who can be their "forever family."

    For more information on You Gotta Believe!, visit the website:

    For more information on the "Improving Permanency Outcomes by Developing Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact With Family Members" grantees, visit the National Resource Center for Adoption website:

    [Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]

    Many thanks to Pat O'Brien, Executive Director of You Gotta Believe! for providing the information for this article.

  • Siblings on the AdoptUsKids Website

    Siblings on the AdoptUsKids Website

    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 includes a number of provisions to help children and youth maintain family connections, which offer them increased opportunities for adoption and permanency. For instance, Fostering Connections provides States with the option to use title IV-E funds for guardianship assistance; however, the legislation requires relative guardians to meet State foster care licensing requirements, although States may waive nonsafety standards on a case-by-case basis.

    As part of this year’s national campaign to promote adoption of sibling groups from foster care, AdoptUsKids recently released a report by its Evaluation Team that analyzed data on the sibling groups that have been listed on the AdoptUsKids national photolisting. Special Report: Characteristics of Sibling Groups Registered on the AdoptUsKids Website looks at data on children who were adopted, children awaiting adoption, and families awaiting a child or children. Data were current as of August 1, 2010.

    Among the 13,396 children from the AdoptUsKids photolisting who have been placed with families, 6,529 were siblings (49 percent), and they included 2,747 sibling groups. The average size of these sibling groups was 2.5 children, but they were as large as 8 siblings!

    The report includes data about the gender, age, race, and geographic location of these children, as well as the children currently awaiting families. Of the 4,542 children currently listed on the website and awaiting families, 25 percent are part of sibling groups who need to be placed together.

    The good news is that the majority of families (83 percent of the 4,636 families waiting to adopt) are willing to adopt more than one child. While most prefer to adopt 2 or 3 children, there are families who are willing to adopt up to 12 children.

    The report was prepared for AdoptUsKids by Sunju Sohn, Jina Jun, and Lauren Alper and submitted by Ruth McRoy, who is the Principal Evaluator for the AdoptUsKids Evaluation Team. Read the report on the AdoptUsKids website: (240 KB)

    Factsheets on Sibling Adoption

    AdoptUsKids has developed the following two new factsheets on sibling adoption. The easy-to-use factsheets provide quick information for adoption workers and parents.

  • The Diligent Recruitment Grantees

    The Diligent Recruitment Grantees

    The Children's Bureau's Adoption Opportunities program provides discretionary funds to projects designed to eliminate barriers to adoption and help find permanent families for children. In October 2008, eight grantees were selected to address the diligent recruitment of families for children in the foster care system. Each grantee is currently developing and implementing a comprehensive, multifaceted diligent recruitment program for kinship, foster, concurrent, and adoptive families, with the ultimate goal of improving permanency outcomes for children and youth.

    The eight grantees are:

    • Oklahoma Department of Human Services – Oklahoma City, OK
    • Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services – Cleveland, OH
    • County of Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz, CA
    • City and County of Denver – Denver, CO
    • New York State Office of Children and Family Services – Rensselaer, NY
    • Missouri Department of Social Services – Jefferson City, MO
    • Kentucky Department for Community Based Services – Frankfurt, KY
    • Ramsey County Community Human Services Department – St. Paul, MN

    The AdoptUsKids website summarizes each grantee project and provides access to materials produced by the grantees. Highlighted below are some of the strategies the grantees plan to implement as part of their efforts to enhance the diligent recruitment of families for children and youth:

    • Organize a community event (e.g., resource fair, panel discussion, fundraiser) to raise awareness of the need for resource families and increase community support
    • Ensure recruitment efforts reflect the demographics of children and youth in the community
    • Streamline and improve the application and approval process for resource families
    • Develop a customer service model that uses a call center or web portal to support resource parents and prospective parents
    • Offer multiformat training for both staff and resource families in high-need topic areas
    • Increase the number of dually licensed homes that can provide permanency if family reunification fails
    • Use "extreme recruitment," an intensive 12-20 week individualized recruitment effort for children and youth in foster care
    • Involve neighborhood partners (e.g., a paraprofessional navigator or youth specialist) in the process of identifying connections for youth aging out of foster care
    • Establish a mechanism for receiving continuous input from stakeholders (i.e., current and former foster youth, resource parents, community leaders, and staff) to guide program development and evaluation

    Visit the AdoptUsKids website for more information on the diligent recruitment grantees:

  • Honoring National Adoption Month All Year

    Honoring National Adoption Month All Year

    November is National Adoption Month, but this year's campaign reminds us to celebrate adoption and adoptive families all year long. Aimed at adoption professionals, the National Adoption Month initiative focuses on five themes that can help adoption professionals recruit, retain, and support adoptive families for the 115,000 children in foster care awaiting adoption:

    • Supporting Families recognizes the importance of preplacement and postplacement services to help children and families make adoption work.
    • Diligent Recruitment focuses on recruiting prospective parents who reflect the race and ethnicity of children in foster care.
    • Diverse Populations expands this mandate, encouraging adoption workers to reach out to communities and organizations—including single parents and the gay and lesbian community—that bring diversity to the pool of available families.
    • Proactive Family Finding refers to the steps that adoption professionals can take to locate all possible family members, including paternal relatives, and other connections who might offer permanency to a child or youth.
    • Interjurisdictional Placements points to the potential of out-of-State placements for children, whether with relatives, friends, or unrelated families who have been matched with children from online photolistings.

    The National Adoption Month website promotes these five themes and offers related tools, resources, and examples to help adoption workers in their recruitment and retention of families. The website also provides a variety of other resources for celebrating National Adoption Month, including the following:

    National Adoption Month is a coordinated effort by the Children's Bureau, Child Welfare Information Gateway, and AdoptUsKids. Visit the website to learn more:

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News From the Children's Bureau

Find links to the latest Federal child welfare news, including the announcement of CB discretionary grant awards, the latest from the T&TA Network, reports from other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies, and more.

  • Children and Disasters Report and Resources

    Children and Disasters Report and Resources

    On October 6, the National Commission on Children and Disasters (NCCD) delivered to the President and Congress its comprehensive report on the nation’s state of readiness for helping children in times of disaster. The 2010 Report to Congress cites a number of persistent gaps in the nation’s response systems, and the report calls for the development of a national strategy for children in disasters to ensure that children are protected before, during, and after an emergency. The report makes a series of recommendations to Federal, State, and local governments and nongovernmental organizations to close the gaps in the response systems and improve preparedness to better protect children.

    The NCCD was established by Congress and the President in 2007 as an independent, bipartisan body to identify gaps in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery for children and make recommendations to close the gaps.

    Find the report on the NCCD website:

    Children and Disasters Resource Webpage       

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has compiled a webpage of resources on children and disasters. The Children and Disasters webpage is part of DHS’s Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS) website and is the result of a partnership among LLIS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and NCCD. The resource page provides links to guidance documents, training programs, and lessons learned from emergency exercises and real-world incidents involving children.

    The webpage is available to those who deal with emergencies and disasters, and potential viewers must register to view the webpage. Visit the LLIS website to find information about registering to view the Children and Disasters webpage:

  • Updates From the T&TA Network

    Updates From the T&TA Network

    The Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:

    • Child Welfare Information Gateway is offering an adoption information listserv for adoption professionals. On the third Tuesday of each month, the Adoption Triad email will inform subscribers with brief adoption resource information. Subscribe on Information Gateway:
    • The National Abandoned Infants Assistance (AIA) Resource Center has published the Fall 2010 issue of its biannual magazine, The Source. This issue's theme is "Intervening With Pregnant and Postpartum Women With Substance Use Disorders," and articles address such topics as service provision, screening, and holistic approaches. Download the issue from the AIA website: (3.39 MB)
    • The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) is accepting applications for its Summer Research Institute, to be held June 13-17, 2011, at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Find application information on the NDACAN website:
    • The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC-NRF) has posted four videos from Judge Len Edwards (ret.) that provide practical guidance to judges on locating and involving fathers:
    • The National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services has posted materials from its September 2010 summit. Find videos and handouts on public-private partnerships, performance-based contracting, and projects in Kansas, Florida, Illinois, and Missouri:
    • The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRCCWDT) and the National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) continue to add to their Technical Assistance Brief series on the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) webpage. The most recent is Technical Assistance Brief No. 7: Calculating Sample Size for the NYTD Follow-Up Population:
    • The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections has developed Concurrent Planning: A Web-Based Practice Toolkit, which can serve as an online resource for States and Tribes. The toolkit includes sections on organizational self-study, an overview of concurrent planning, core components, State stories, and a glossary and bibliography. Access the tool on the NRC's website:
  • Office of Child Care Debuts

    Office of Child Care Debuts

    The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reorganized to establish the Office of Child Care (OCC). The new OCC replaces the Child Care Bureau and will administer the Child Care and Development Fund, which provides child care subsidies to low-income families. The OCC will focus on improving the quality of child care and early childhood programs, as well as increasing child care options for parents.

    Read the press release on the ACF website:

    Visit the new OCC website:

  • Award of CB Discretionary Grants

    Award of CB Discretionary Grants

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Children's Bureau announced the award of a number of discretionary grants for research and program development. Awards include:

    • The Initiative to Reduce Long-term Foster Care: HHS-2010-ACF-ACYF-CT-0022 (up to $2,500,000 per year for up to 5 years). Six awards were made to fund partnerships between State and local public child welfare agencies, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education for the development of innovative intervention strategies to help move children into permanent homes.
    • Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants: HHS-2010-ACF-ACYF-CS-0048 (up to $300,000 total for 2 years). Four awards were made.
    • The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect: HHS-2010-ACF-ACYFCA-0024 (up to $675,000 per year for up to 5 years). The award was made to Cornell University, Family Life Development Center, Ithaca, NY.
    • National Resource Center for Programs Serving Abandoned Infants, Infants at Risk of Abandonment and Infants at Risk of Maltreatment and their Families: HHS-2010-ACF-ACYF-CB-0026 (up to $1,100,000 per year for up to 4 years). The award was made to the Regents of the University of California, Berkeley, CA.
    • Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System: HHS-2010-ACF-ACYF-CO-0012 (up to $400,000 per year for up to 5 years). Seven awards were made.

    To read the full list of grantees, visit the Children's Bureau website:

    Several other agencies within HHS also announced awards in recent weeks. These include:

    • The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration, awarded 13 grants totaling $3 million for the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant Program. An additional $24 million was awarded to 17 States and Tribes through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, created by the Affordable Care Act. Find more information here:
    • The Office of Adolescent Health within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health awarded $100 million for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program, including $75 million for 75 grantees to replicate evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs and $25 million for 27 grantees to test innovative strategies. An additional $55 million was awarded from the Personal Responsibility Education Program, funded under the Affordable Care Act and administered by ACF. Find more information here:
  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    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:

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

  • Site Visit: Supporting Nonresident Fathers in Texas

    Site Visit: Supporting Nonresident Fathers in Texas

    The National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF) made grants in 2008 to projects in four States to support peer groups for nonresident fathers whose children are in foster care. One of the grant projects is the Fatherhood Coalition of Tarrant County, Texas, operated by a partnership between 21 father-focused organizations and the State's Child Protective Services (CPS) division. The project has four main components:

    • Identifying and locating nonresident fathers whose children are in foster care
    • Providing curriculum-driven peer support groups for these fathers
    • Providing training to child welfare workers on father engagement
    • Establishing a Fathers Advisory Council

    Peer support groups met for 20 weeks, using a curriculum developed by the QIC-NRF for the first 12 weeks. The goal of the groups was to support fathers in their engagement with their children. The curriculum covered such topics as parenting, the child welfare system, the juvenile court system, and workforce issues.

    Between August 2008 and March 2010, the Tarrant County Fatherhood Coalition held peer support groups for seven cohorts of fathers. An average of 2.4 fathers completed the sessions. Project staff conducted baseline interviews with 47 fathers, covering such topics as employment, education, health, transportation, prior contact with CPS, child support obligations, relationship with their children's mother, and information about the children. Interviews were also conducted with some of the fathers at Weeks 8 and 16. Project staff offered the following observations about fathers' experiences with the support group:

    • The fathers who consented to participate tended to be fathers who were engaged with their children.
    • Those who participated in the groups gained valuable support, although the small size of the groups had a negative impact on the project's implementation.
    • Fathers noted that persistent phone calls were the best way to encourage their participation in a group.
    • The males-only group dynamic was very beneficial for the fathers and for group success.

    Project staff felt that the project's biggest impact actually occurred with CPS staff and the child welfare system. Several trainings were conducted on father engagement, including one for 350 workers in 19 counties. The majority of workers surveyed after this large training indicated that they had increased their knowledge about the importance of father involvement and the barriers fathers face with the child welfare system. Other trainings focused on topics such as pulling historical paternal information from case files and locating fathers. Some trainings included a panel of fathers who discussed their experiences with the child welfare system.

    While funding for the Fatherhood Coalition project ended in September 2010, the project continues to work on ways to disseminate the information they collected and sustain the useful components of the project such as family finding, support for fathers, the Fathers Advisory Council (which may be formed statewide), and changes to the data collection system to focus more on paternal information.

    For more information on this project, visit the Fatherhood Coalition website:

    Or visit the QIC NRF website:

    Or contact Karen Bird, QIC NRF Project Coordinator for Tarrant County, at

Child Welfare Research

This section includes reports and articles on ways some jurisdictions and agencies are learning to assess families for their strengths and then help them build on their strengths to prevent child maltreatment.

  • Strengthening Families to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

    Strengthening Families to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

    Strengthening Families is an innovative approach to child abuse and neglect prevention designed to reach millions of children and their families before any maltreatment occurs. A new publication, Allied for Better Outcomes: Child Welfare and Early Childhood, presents an overview of the research and application of this approach for very young children.

    In this publication, authors Kate Stapleton, Jean McIntosh, and Beth Corrington, emphasize the promotion of protective factors—as well as the reduction of risk factors—to guide caseworkers and their partners in child welfare in ensuring the healthy development of young children. These protective factors allow families to create healthy, nurturing environments that promote the positive development of children. These factors include:

    • Parental resilience
    • Social connections
    • Knowledge of parenting and child development
    • Concrete support in times of need
    • Social and emotional competence of children

    The core of the Strengthening Families approach is the Guiding Principles for Strengthening Families in Child Welfare. When child welfare systems and their partners address the developmental needs of young children and strengthen their families, these principles provide the foundation for their efforts:

    • Families, as first teachers and primary protectors, are fundamental to children's optimal development.
    • Building Protective Factors as well as reducing risk factors strengthens a family's ability to promote optimal development for their children.
    • Relationships—within families and communities, between families and providers, and across systems—are essential as vehicles for change.
    • Systematic and intentional coordination promotes healthy cross-system relationships and maximizes the ability of systems and services to support families and children.
    • Shared accountability for optimal development and strengthened family functioning across broad networks of services and opportunities is essential a t all levels.

    The authors present a series of five broad goals for developing a web of effective services. Profiles of pilot programs in three States and the lessons learned also are presented. 

    Strengthening Families is an initiative of the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) with the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The report is available on the CSSP website: (985 KB)

  • Using Video Feedback to Promote Better Parenting

    Using Video Feedback to Promote Better Parenting

    Child welfare and related professionals often struggle to find parent education programs and modalities that can help at-risk parents make long-lasting changes in their parenting practices. An evidence-based, strengths-based program that relies on video feedback has shown promising results for parents and others.

    The Video Home Training® (VHT) and Video Interaction Guidance® (VIG) are programs of SPIN (a Dutch acronym for the Association for the Promotion of Intensive Home Training in the Netherlands) that have been used successfully in the Netherlands and elsewhere to train parents, families, teachers, and others, particularly in working with vulnerable children. Research documents the success of these programs in such areas as parent-child attachment, child welfare supervision, professional development for teachers/caregivers in early childhood, and leadership development. VIG also is used in this country to strengthen staff practice and improve model fidelity and program implementation.

    Central to all of these programs is the use of video feedback in which the participants have opportunities to view video clips of themselves in successful interactions. Aided by trained guides who facilitate the positive interactions and then choose clips to reinforce the participants' desirable behavior, participants are able to actively master the appropriate behaviors.

    The SPIN VHT Parenting/Family Support Program Model helps child welfare staff assess parents' strengths and use those strengths to improve family functioning and parent nurturing behaviors. The program has been used with professionals who work with teenage parents, at-risk parents of infants and toddlers, vulnerable families, and fathers.

    For more information on SPIN programs and the research behind the programs, visit the SPIN USA website:

  • Achieving Safety Through Collaboration

    Achieving Safety Through Collaboration

    In 2008, the New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors (NEACWCD) partnered with Casey Family Programs to launch a regional Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) on Safety and Risk Assessments with 22 teams from six New England States. The BSC is a quality improvement methodology that uses existing knowledge to test multiple ideas, measure results, and then implement new strategies and tools on a very small scale. The participating teams simultaneously share lessons learned and new initiatives with other teams so that successes can be quickly expanded.

    Common Ground, the NEACWCD newsletter for New England child welfare professionals, provides a snapshot of the team experiences in its July 2010 issue. The selected teams were composed of staff at a variety of levels, youth, parents, and community partners from each participating jurisdiction. They all shared a common history of innovation and risk taking as well as previous participation in the Breakthrough Series.   

    Common Ground
    articles present highlights from the teams, such as:

    • The Malden Area Office of Massachusetts Department of Children and Families moved towards the implementation of an Integrated Case Practice Model (ICPM) as the framework to support the spread of the promising practices. The goals of improving safety and risk assessments and keeping families safe were set in motion through a process of "Plan Do Study Act," commonly known as PDSAs.
    • In Meriden, CT, the BSC allowed practitioners to explore new and creative ways to engage and deliver services to their families, while acquiring a better understanding of their strengths. Staff have particularly appreciated having a Parent Advocate as an equal partner. 
    • In Augusta, ME, the goal of the BSC was to improve the assessment of safety and risk throughout the life of a case and, as a result, increase the timeliness of reunifications. Through the collaboration with community partners, teams were able to identify an immediate unmet need and find a way to fill the gap.
    • Nashua, NH's BSC provided teams with a tool to review their practice and change it by creating and testing PDSAs. The fact that everyone could create or test a change in practice has made staff members feel empowered and able to better serve children and families.
    • As Vermont moved to a differential response system last year, the BSC was instrumental in providing the structure for change in St. Albans. This new process has enhanced staff's ability to assess their strengths and explore new areas for growth as individual social workers and as members of a team and their community.
    • In East-West Bay, RI, participation in the BSC has encouraged the collaboration between the child welfare agency, community providers, and families, while giving everyone equal input. Through communications with other States, staff have had the opportunity to gain insight into their agency's strengths and look at new ways to improve their practices.

    The articles note that the BSC program effectively mobilized child welfare agencies to explore new ideas and enhance learning skills. Key recommendations focus on the importance of institutionalizing youth and parent engagement through policy and practice. 

    Common Ground
    , Volume XXV, Number 2, is available on the Judge Baker Children Center, Harvard University, website: (4.68 MB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

CBX links you to information on sharing data, funding, making active efforts to reunify Indian children and families, and assessing your agency for cultural competence.

  • Making Active Efforts for Indian Children in Out-of-Home Care

    Making Active Efforts for Indian Children in Out-of-Home Care

    A new publication from Oregon, Active Efforts: Principles and Expectations, offers guidelines for evaluating whether "active efforts" have been made in Indian child welfare cases in accordance with requirements in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The document directly applies to the active efforts requirement to provide services to allow a child to safely return home after he or she has been placed in out-of-home care.

    The guide is designed to be used as a training tool and a guideline for agency staff, courts, and review board members to use in making active efforts findings. Some of the elements of making active efforts include:

    • Identifying and contacting the child's parents, Indian custodians, or other household members that may be caregivers for the child
    • Following all Tribal or ICWA placement preferences unless documented good cause to the contrary exists
    • Providing assessments and services in the client's primary language
    • Consulting with the child's Tribe in developing service and visitation plans
    • Providing services that are culturally appropriate
    • Maintaining intensive engagement with Indian children and their parents through more frequent contacts
    • Documenting all assessments, offers of services, and contacts

    This document was developed in consultation with the federally recognized Tribes of Oregon by the Department of Human Services and the Citizen Review Board. The publication received support from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and Casey Family Programs. It is available on the NCJFCJ website: (1,639 KB)

  • Kinship Toolkit for GAP Funding

    Kinship Toolkit for GAP Funding

    The Fostering Connections Kinship Toolkit was designed to assist States considering applying for Guardian Assistance Program (GAP) funding. The toolkit was developed by the Resource Center's Kinship Network, which is led by the Children’s Defense Fund and Child Focus, and features tools to help assess any impact of the GAP, common myths and facts, as well as sample State legislation to help implement the program. Identification and notice tools, such as a sample letter for notice to relatives, also are included.

    To view the toolkit, visit the Fostering Connections website:

    Related Item

    A new report from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law presents an overview of how States are handling the waivers of foster care licensing standards, and it includes recommendations to help States make the best use of the new legislation. Relative Foster Care Licensing Waivers in the States: Policies and Possibilities provides background information on waivers, eligibility for title IV-E funds, and Fostering Connections licensing requirements.

    Find the report on the CLASP website: (175 KB)

  • Assessing for Cultural Competence

    Assessing for Cultural Competence

    The National Center for Cultural Competence recently published A Guide for Using the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Family Organization Assessment Instrument. The CLCFOA was developed as a self-assessment tool for family organizations dealing with children and youth who have mental, emotional, and/or behavioral health disorders or special health-care needs or disabilities, and it was designed to help these organizations do the following:

    • Plan for and incorporate culturally and linguistically competent policies, structures, and practices in all aspects
    • Enhance the quality of services and supports they deliver within culturally diverse and underserved communities
    • Promote cultural and linguistic competence as an essential approach in the elimination of disparities and the promotion of equality

    The recently published guide gives detailed instructions to help organizations use the CLCFOA in a self-assessment that can help them gauge how well they are meeting the needs of diverse populations. The guide recommends using a four-phase approach to the self-assessment process, including:

    1. Establish a structure to guide the work
    2. Create a shared vision and shared ownership
    3. Collect, analyze, and disseminate data
    4. Develop and implement a plan of action

    For each phase, the guide gives more detailed instructions and tips on how to best go about conducting each stage of the assessment.

    Link to the guide on the National Center for Cultural Competence website: (169 KB)

  • Sharing Data Across Youth-Serving Agencies

    Sharing Data Across Youth-Serving Agencies

    A new promising practice profile from the Finance Project describes the development and implementation of Philadelphia's Policy Analysis Center (PAC), an initiative that began in 2010 to increase data sharing across all human service agencies in the city. Jointly run by the city's school district and the deputy mayor for health and opportunity, PAC strives to increase the quality and availability of data that organizations and decision-makers can use to enhance service coordination and ultimately improve youth outcomes.

    Because data from Philadelphia's human service agencies previously existed in separate case management systems, PAC will combine those databases into one integrated system. The Finance Project describes the challenges faced by the initiative but also summarizes the benefits the city has already experienced. In particular, PAC has used the data to research the effects of early childhood education on school readiness, coordination between homeless shelters and child welfare agencies, and factors related to school dropout. The staff at PAC encourage the city's human service agencies to reap the benefits of the integrated data system by seeking cross-system research that evaluates program effectiveness and assesses the impact of various city programs on youth.

    The report concludes with recommendations for successfully creating a shared data system across youth-serving agencies:

    • Identify organizations and databases that contain pertinent information
    • Obtain access to data-sharing initiatives and receive training on interpreting the data
    • Develop clear processes and procedures for collecting, analyzing, and using data, including data-sharing agreements, and ensure the database is financially sustained
    • Collect complete data to improve the quality and accuracy of data available
    • Find innovative and affordable ways to share the data with other organizations

    Read the full profile, Sharing Data Across Youth-Serving Agencies: Philadelphia's Policy and Analysis Center (PAC), on the Finance Project website: (64 KB)


  • Advocating for an End to Corporal Punishment

    Advocating for an End to Corporal Punishment

    Eliminating spanking as a means of disciplining children is the focus of Plain Talk About Spanking, a factsheet from Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE). Author Jordan Riak describes both the short-term physical and emotional damage that can be inflicted by spanking and the long-term consequences of physical punishment, including delinquency, truancy, drug abuse, domestic violence, and adult criminal behavior.

    The factsheet, which is written in easy-to-understand language, also includes a section of frequently asked questions about spanking, advice from child experts on the topic, and suggestions for advocacy.

    Originally published in 1992, the factsheet has recently been updated and made available online.
    (801 KB)

  • Adoptees Have Answers Program in Minnesota

    Adoptees Have Answers Program in Minnesota

    Adoptees Have Answers (AHA), based in Minnesota, is an all-adoptee staffed and led initiative and a live and virtual community designed to be a safe environment for the exchange of adoption-related knowledge and communication between adoptees. This new program is the first of its kind in the country. AHA's foundation is based in current research and reflects the belief that adoptees are experts on their own needs and benefit greatly from sharing their experiences with their peers – other adoptees.

    As an online forum, AHA provides individual profile pages, discussion boards, blogs, and a monthly e-newsletter. AHA also offers education from an adoptee perspective, which includes adoption and foster care factsheets, webinars on such topics as how to start an adoptee support group for adults and youth, CDs, and videotapes. A number of live events and Minnesota-based support groups also are hosted by AHA staff and listed on the website.

    This program was launched in April 2010 and is funded by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. For more information, visit the website:

  • Increasing Access to Higher Education for Unaccompanied Youth

    Increasing Access to Higher Education for Unaccompanied Youth

    For unaccompanied homeless youth who lack the support and guidance of an adult, the hope of attending college presents many struggles, such as how they will pay tuition and where will they reside when campus housing is closed. The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) has developed an issue brief to inform postsecondary educators and education administrators about the struggles of homeless youth and possible solutions that can help these youth achieve a college education.

    This NCHE brief provides:

    • A better understanding of this population of young people and the educational and other challenges they face
    • A summary of Federal education legislation that gives unaccompanied homeless youth access to important educational supports
    • Samples of promising practices implemented by high schools, colleges, and universities to assist them in succeeding in college
    • Links to resources

    NCHE is funded by U.S. Department of Education Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs. The brief, Increasing Access to Higher Education for Unaccompanied Youth: Information for Colleges and Universities, is available on the NCHE website: (620 KB)

  • Doris Duke Prevention Fellowship

    Doris Duke Prevention Fellowship

    The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago are offering the Doris Duke Fellowship for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Doctoral students interested in careers in child maltreatment prevention are encouraged to apply for the fellowship program, which will provide $25,000 annually for up to 2 years. The application deadline is December 1, 2010. For more information, visit the Chapin Hall website:

  • Making Classroom Assignments More Adoption-Friendly

    Making Classroom Assignments More Adoption-Friendly

    The September 2010 issue of Adoption Advocate, a publication of the National Council For Adoption, discusses how the classroom can be more adoption-friendly for foster and adopted children. "Back to School: A Guide to Making Schools and School Assignments More Adoption-Friendly," by Christine Mitchell, is designed to help educators become more aware of and sensitive to the needs of children in foster care and children who have been adopted and to help foster and adoptive parents advocate for their school-age children.

    The article explains how typical school assignments can turn into a source of distress and discomfort for foster or adopted children and offers alternative assignments that are more inclusive and have a broader scope. Alternatives are suggested for such assignments as "bring a baby picture to class," "complete your family tree," "tell your family history," and "create a timeline of your life." The importance of positive adoption language in the classroom also is emphasized.

    Download the full article from the National Council For Adoption website: (663 KB)


    Related Item

    The Adoptive Families website offers a number of adoption-related resources for the classroom that can help parents, teachers, and students better understand adoption:


Training and Conferences

Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through February 2011 include:

    December 2010

    January 2011

    February 2011


    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:

  • Leadership Academy for Middle Managers

    Leadership Academy for Middle Managers

    Nominations are being accepted for the Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM), a national leadership development program of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, a service of the Children's Bureau. The goal of the LAMM is to enhance the leadership skills of child welfare middle managers who are developing and implementing a sustainable systems change initiative to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families in their State, region, Tribe, or metropolitan area.

    Participants in the LAMM program will complete several pretraining assignments, attend a 5-day residential training program, and participate in posttraining peer networking activities. The training addresses topics such as:

    • Learning the skills to lead and manage effectively
    • Assessing an organization's readiness for change
    • Developing an implementation framework
    • Using data to guide change
    • Engaging partners and families

    States and Tribes are encouraged to nominate middle managers in significant leadership roles from public and Tribal child welfare systems and from private agencies contracting with the State to provide case management services. LAMM participants will be selected from all 10 Federal Regions, and the trainings will occur several times in locations across the country over the next 3 years.

    Find more program and nomination information on the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute website:

    [Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]