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September 2014Vol. 15, No. 8Spotlight on Back to School

This month, CBX looks at the barriers to academic success faced by children and youth in foster care and some promising practices for enhancing their educational stability. Research shows that many children and youth in foster care are less likely to graduate from high school and attend college than their peers.

Issue Spotlight

  • Federal Collaboration to Support Educational Stability

    Federal Collaboration to Support Educational Stability

    By Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), U.S. Department of Education

    For many students, the beginning of a new school year is a time of anticipation and excitement for the year that lies ahead. Unfortunately, for too many of the nearly one-quarter of a million  students experiencing foster care, this is may not be the case. For many children in care, a new school year can represent a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. Research clearly shows students in foster care face enormous barriers to academic success, including frequent placement and school changes, delayed enrollment, and credits that don't transfer from school to school. Fortunately, many of the barriers these vulnerable students face can be eliminated through coordinated and collaborative efforts by State and local child welfare and education agencies as they implement the provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.

    To assist States and localities in their efforts, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have partnered to develop resources and guidance to support educators, child welfare professionals, and others in their work to improve the education and well-being outcomes for students in foster care. A dedicated webpage, Students in Foster Care, has been launched on the Department of Education's website. This new webpage provides information on relevant laws, guidance, and technical assistance materials on topics ranging from the roles and responsibilities of child welfare and education agencies in ensuring the school stability of students in foster care to postsecondary education supports.

    Through developing school stability policies and procedures, sharing outcomes and other relevant data between agencies, and coordinating planning, States and localities can develop a more collaborative approach to providing education services and supports to students in child welfare. The educational success or failure of students experiencing foster care is largely dependent on the collaborative efforts we undertake across our child welfare and education systems. Together, we can ensure our most vulnerable students have the opportunity to experience academic success and realize their full potential.

  • Kinship Caregivers as Teachers

    Kinship Caregivers as Teachers

    The placement of children with kinship caregivers has increased in recent years, and the emphasis of child welfare agencies' support for kinship caregivers has generally focused on safety, permanency, and well-being. A recent study with 83 kin caring for 188 children explored the benefits of also providing early childhood education support and services for kinship caregivers.

    The Kin as Teachers (KAT) program, a modified version of the Parents as Teachers program, uses four types of interventions: home visits, developmental screening, case management, and support group meetings. KAT addresses parenting knowledge and practices, the recognition of developmental delays, and child abuse and neglect prevention. It also assists with school readiness and ensuring that the educational needs of children are met. In the current study, participants were enrolled for 24 months in KAT, and caregivers completed pretest and posttest measures. Findings indicated that KAT participation improved the age-appropriate family environment and resulted in an increase in caregivers' knowledge of child development.

    "Kin as Teachers: An Early Childhood Education and Support Intervention for Kinship Families," by Kerry Littlewood, Anne Strozier, and Danielle Whittington, Child and Youth Services Review, 38, 2014, is available for purchase via the publisher's website:

  • Education Needs of Children in Congregate Care

    Education Needs of Children in Congregate Care

    There are approximately 58,000 children in the United States that live in residential placements such as group homes and treatment facilities. In the question-and-answer factsheet, How Can We Ensure Educational Success for Dependent Youth in Congregate Care?, the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education provides information on the educational barriers faced by children who reside in residential placements, as well as what the facilities, caseworkers, and the courts can do to ensure educational success for these children. In addition, the factsheet provides information on Federal laws, including the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act and the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act, that provide child welfare and school officials with guidance on addressing the education placement and needs of dependent children.

    According to the Legal Center, although not appropriate for all children, attending school outside the residential facility is generally in the best interest of the child. The factsheet also addresses how the facility and the local school system can work together to meet the education needs of children.

    The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education is a collaboration of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, the Juvenile Law Center, and the Education Law Center. How Can We Ensure Educational Success for Dependent Youth in Congregate Care? is available on the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education website: (PDF - 244 KB)

  • Q&A on Educational Training Vouchers

    Q&A on Educational Training Vouchers

    Educational Training Vouchers (ETVs) are funded by the Federal Government and administered by States to help youth currently and formerly in foster care pay for college or career training programs. A new question-and-answer flier available on the website for Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, provides important information about ETV eligibility and application. The flier also highlights additional resources available to help students in or formerly in foster care.

    The flier, Educational and Training Vouchers for Current and Former Foster Care Youth, is available here: (176 KB)

    The website for Federal Student Aid provides additional information and resources of interest to students in foster care and the professionals with whom they work, including materials on other types of financial aid such as grants, work-study programs, and low-interest loans. Checklists for academic and financial preparation, guidance on choosing a college or university, and information on the Free Application for Student Aid (FASFA) also are available.

    For these resources and more, visit the Federal Student Aid website:

  • Fostering Independence by Supporting College Success

    Fostering Independence by Supporting College Success

    Researchers in New York State estimate that youth who have been in foster care are far less likely to be enrolled in college than youth who have not been in care, raising their chances of higher rates of unemployment and lower earnings over their lifetime. A new report from the Community Service Society of New York (CSSNY) examines the many challenges facing youth in New York State—including college enrollment—as they leave foster care and transition to independence.

    Arranging for jobs, housing, transportation, health insurance, and learning to live independently can be challenging enough for these youth; adding the possibility of going to college can seem overwhelming and beyond their reach. The report cites some specific barriers to college attendance:

    • The rising cost of college attendance
    • Financial aid programs that can be difficult to access and offer inadequate assistance
    • Lack of support from parents or caseworkers in the application and decision-making processes
    • Lack of housing during school breaks
    • Lack of emotional support from parents or others after enrollment

    The authors review current State programs that support youth, noting the lack of a centralized system by which youth in care are made aware of available resources or offered assistance in finding the services that would be most beneficial. The authors go on to advocate for a more comprehensive and integrated system that could lead to more youth successfully completing college degrees. The report also describes programs in other States that offer tuition grants and other financial aid to cover the majority of expenses, mentoring and counseling, academic tutoring, and help with finding housing during school breaks. Two appendices, one on the number of youth in foster care who are in college and the other on sources of college funding for foster youth, also are included.

    Fostering Independence: The Need for a Statewide Foster College Success Initiative, by Apurva Mehrotra and Lazar Treschan, is available from the CSSNY website:

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News From the Children's Bureau

This month we highlight a new commission charged with developing a national strategy for reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect. We also feature an upcoming funding opportunity to improve outcomes for disconnected youth.

  • Associate Commissioner's Page

    Associate Commissioner's Page

    The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current CBX Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

    As children and youth across the country begin another school year, the Children's Bureau is continuing our work to help children and youth involved with child welfare overcome barriers to academic success. Children and youth in foster care are as gifted and able to succeed in school as their friends and neighbors not in care but they may have emotional, behavioral, developmental, and cognitive issues that hinder their ability to perform well in school. To help promote the educational stability and success of this vulnerable population, the Children's Bureau funded two clusters of discretionary grants in 2011.

    The Child Welfare - Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children With Child Welfare Involvement grants support collaboration between child welfare and early childhood systems to maximize enrollment, attendance, and supports of infants and young children in foster care into high-quality early care and education programs. One such project, the Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Education Partners Infrastructure Project, worked to increase referrals to and enrollment in early childhood education services for children involved with child welfare through increased data sharing across systems. An electronic referral system now notifies Department of Children and Family Services workers of Head Start eligibility for children on their caseloads and allows them to easily refer children. More information on this project is available on the website for the Bureau's information clearinghouse, Child Welfare Information Gateway:

    The Child Welfare - Education System Collaborations to Increase Educational Stability grants support collaborative initiatives between State, local, or Tribal child welfare agencies and education systems to improve educational stability and permanency outcomes for youth ages 10–17 who are in or at-risk of entering out-of-home care. Site visit reports from projects within this discretionary grant cluster are available here:

    Congress has taken action to improve the educational stability of children and youth in foster care. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, among other provisions, requires child welfare agencies to coordinate efforts with education agencies to keep children enrolled in their current school while in foster care. This ensures children in care stay connected with family, teachers, and friends. In May of this year, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services sent a joint letter to States about the ongoing collaboration and cross-system coordination between the two agencies that will improve the educational outcomes and well-being of these students. The letter outlines specific obligations for State educational agencies (SEAs), State child welfare agencies (SCWAs), and local educational agencies (LEAs) in implementing the educational provisions of the Fostering Connections Act. Read the letter here:

    Another Federal effort to enhance the educational success of children and youth in care is the Uninterrupted Scholars Act of 2013, which amends the General Education Provisions Act (commonly known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)). The Uninterrupted Scholars Act allows educational agencies and institutions to disclose personally identifiable information from the education records of students in foster care, without parental consent, to caseworkers or other representatives of State, local, or Tribal child welfare agency "when such agency or organization is legally responsible, in accordance with State or Tribal law, for the care and protection of the student." This important amendment mirrors work done through the Los Angeles Child Welfare-Early Education Partners Infrastructure Project and other Bureau-funded projects to increase collaboration and communication among child welfare and educational agencies.

    My colleague, Johan Uvin, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, authored a guest article in this issue of CBX that highlights his department's efforts and resources to help bolster the educational success of children in foster care. 

    Another article in this issue of CBX highlights Federal funding to help youth currently and formerly in foster care pay for college and career training programs.

    Every child deserves the right to a quality education and a chance to succeed—from preschool through college. It's important that the Federal Government collaborate with State and local agencies to improve educational outcomes and enhance the educational stability of students in foster care, thereby enhancing their overall well-being.

  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more.

    Recent additions to the site include:

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

  • Performance Partnership Pilots

    Performance Partnership Pilots

    An upcoming opportunity to improve outcomes for disconnected youth aims to help this vulnerable population make successful transitions to adulthood. The Performance Partnership Pilots (P3) will allow jurisdictions to pool portions of formula and competitive grants. This will provide more flexibility for improving outcomes in educational, employment, and other key domains for disconnected youth—defined as low-income youth ages 14–24 who are homeless, in foster care, involved in the justice system, and not working or not enrolled in an educational institution.

    The opportunity is made possible through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, which authorized the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, and related agencies to establish up to 10 P3 programs.

    More information, including a P3 factsheet and other resources, is available on the Federal Government website

  • Tribal Evaluation Workgroup

    Tribal Evaluation Workgroup

    American Indian and Alaska Native communities face unique challenges when participating in program evaluation. Historically, Tribes have experienced intrusive research and judgmental evaluations that have caused great harm. With the support of the Children's Bureau (CB), a group of national experts created a shared vision for the future of evaluation in Tribal communities and developed a guide (or roadmap) for building capacity and developing culturally and scientifically rigorous evaluation.

    CB recently released the publication A Roadmap for Collaborative and Effective Evaluation in Tribal Communities and completed a pair of companion videos as part of its Child Welfare Evaluation Virtual Summit Series. The videos provide a brief overview of the roadmap and highlight the roles of key stakeholders in this new vision for collaborative and effective evaluation. CB also released a video of workgroup members presenting the roadmap at the 2013 Tribal Early Childhood Research Center Summer Institute. For more information, please visit the CB website or click on the links below.

    Publication: A Roadmap for Collaborative and Effective Evaluation in Tribal Communities

    Companion videos:

  • Framework for Effective Practice

    Framework for Effective Practice

    Because child welfare programs and services often miss opportunities to help identify, determine, and communicate which interventions work and how they can be consistently implemented, the Children's Bureau (CB) convened a workgroup to design a framework for building evidence and implementing evidence-based practice in child welfare. The framework is intended to encourage the thoughtful use of evaluation and the application of evaluation findings to promote sound decision-making.

    In June 2014, CB announced the release of a five-part video series that accompanies the publication A Framework to Design, Test, Spread, and Sustain Effective Practice in Child Welfare. The brief videos introduce major concepts and guide viewers through the framework's five phases using concrete examples from child welfare. The publication and videos describe how agencies can complete a series of key steps when attempting to design and implement interventions to achieve better outcomes for children and families and contribute to a growing evidence base in child welfare. For more information, please visit the CB website or click on the links below.

    Publication: A Framework to Design, Test, Spread, and Sustain Effective Practice in Child Welfare

    Companion videos:

  • Regional Partnership Grants Cross-Site Evaluation

    Regional Partnership Grants Cross-Site Evaluation

    The Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006 authorized 5-year partnership grants to support collaboration among child welfare and substance abuse treatment agencies. The goal of these regional partnership grants (RPGs) was to improve the well-being, permanency, and safety outcomes for children in or at risk of entering foster care due to a parent or caregiver's substance abuse. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 funded a second round of partnership grants through 2016. The Children's Bureau funded 17 RPG grants in 2012, in addition to a 5-year cross-site evaluation of the grantees' projects. An RPG evaluation design report by the evaluator, Mathematica, is now available.

    The report outlines the conceptual framework for the RPG cross-site evaluation and the four evaluation components: (1) an implementation study, (2) a partnership study, (3) an outcomes study, and (4) an impact study. Results will be released throughout the evaluation period, including annual reports to Congress.

    The Regional Partnership Grant Program Cross-Site Evaluation Design Report, published by Mathematica Policy Research, is available on the Mathematica website:

    The Regional Partnership Grant Program Cross-Site Evaluation Design Report: Executive Summary, by Debra Strong, Diane Paulsell, Russell Cole, Sarah Avellar, Angela D'Angelo, Juliette Henke, and Rosalind Keith, also is available on the Mathematica website: (505 KB)

  • Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

    Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

    The Protect Our Kids Act of 2012, signed by President Barack Obama on January 14, 2013, established the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF). The Commission is composed of 12 members, 6 appointed by the President and 6 appointed by party leaders from both sides of the U.S. House and Senate. Its mission is to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities across the country resulting from child abuse and neglect.

    Commission Chairman, Dr. David Sanders, said:

    "Congress and the President charged the Commission with leading an important initiative. My fellow commissioners and I are committed to fulfilling our mandate to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect. This work is critical and we cannot do it alone."
    The Protect Our Kids Act charges the Commission with:

    • Raising visibility and building awareness about the problem
    • Reviewing data and best practices to determine what is and is not working
    • Helping to identify solutions
    • Reporting on findings and making recommendations to drive future policy

    The Commission is holding public meetings across the country during which testimony is heard from stakeholders from multiple child-serving systems. When asked about the importance of tackling this issue from such a broad angle, by gathering such a variety of perspectives across several systems, Commissioner David Rubin said:

    "The first assumption many people make when they hear about child abuse fatalities is that this issue is largely one borne by the child welfare system in this country. The truth is that the majority of children who die from abuse and neglect are never known to child protective services. However, they are often known to their pediatricians or to a home visiting program or to other social services providers. It is our job to think about these multiple touch points and how we can leverage them to ensure that children are not slipping through the cracks."

    Given the broad nature of the Commission's work to review best practices and identify solutions, the Honorable Patricia Martin, also a Commissioner, said:

    "In developing a national strategy, it is important that the Commission explore successes and failures so that solutions can be tailored to the needs of different communities. For example, an intervention that works in an urban environment may not work in a rural environment. We need to identify areas of agreement, as well as explore areas that are not yet settled."

    Commissioner Rubin added that the public meetings have been a great opportunity to apply a blend of national and local perspectives to the challenges of actually reducing child abuse fatalities. 

    "We've already had terrific discussions about challenges to measuring child abuse fatalities consistently, how data can help us identify families at highest risk for a child abuse fatality, and how resolving confidentiality challenges with regard to sharing of data might help us be more proactive in prevention efforts," said Rubin. "Perhaps the best moments in those hearings have been the opportunity for local organizations and community members to provide their perspective; as you do so, you often find that the most concrete recommendations come from those folks who are working on the ground to address this issue every day."

    The next public meeting is scheduled for September 22–23 in Denver, CO. For more information on the Commissioners, including biographies, upcoming public meetings and meeting transcripts, and the Commissioner's blog, visit:

  • New Spotlight Report on Well-Being

    New Spotlight Report on Well-Being

    The Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) released a new research brief on child well-being highlighting data collected from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. The Spotlight on Child Well-Being focuses on the decline in the number of mothers of children with reports of maltreatment who also self-report physical domestic violence.

    The brief notes that more than 87 percent of children who are the subject of a report of child abuse or neglect remain in the home following an investigation, and many of these children also are exposed to domestic violence. A comparison of the NSCAW I (1999–2000) and NSCAW II (2008–2009) cohorts showed a decrease in the number of mothers whose children remained at home following a maltreatment report and who also experienced physical domestic violence in the past year (28.9 percent in NSCAW I, versus 24.7 percent in NSCAW II). However, despite the decrease in reports of domestic violence, there was no change in the number of mothers receiving services—only 15 percent of mothers in both cohorts received domestic violence services.

    Mothers of Children Reported for Maltreatment Show Small Decline in Domestic Violence, but No Improvement in Service Access is available here: (216 KB)

    Related Item

    In its February 2013 issue, Children's Bureau Express featured another, related Spotlight from OPRE, Caregivers of Children Who Remain In-Home After a Maltreatment Investigation Need Services:

  • Building Capacity to Improve Program Evaluation in Child Welfare

    Building Capacity to Improve Program Evaluation in Child Welfare

    Program evaluation plays a critical role in strengthening child welfare practice. In recent years, the Children's Bureau (CB) has supported several efforts to improve evaluation in child welfare, including the production of a practical video series and convening three workgroups to develop useful evaluation tools for child welfare administrators, evaluators, caseworkers, and other stakeholders.

    Last February, the Children's Bureau announced the Child Welfare Evaluation Virtual Summit Series, a group of 17 videos that combine illustration, animation, motion graphics, and content from national experts on a variety of evaluation topics. The final videos in the series were completed and released in June 2014. Videos covering the following topics are available on the CB website:

    • Cost analysis in child welfare
    • Constructing comparison groups
    • Evaluation and direct practice
    • Measuring child well-being
    • Sharing data across service systems
    • Strengthening partnerships between research and practice
    • Using workforce data
    • Effective evaluation with Tribal communities
    • Building evidence and spreading effective child welfare practice

    This summer, CB also partnered with the members of three Child Welfare Research and Evaluation Workgroups to actively disseminate their finished products. New publications on calculating costs in program evaluation, performing evaluation with Tribal communities, and using evaluation to strengthen and spread effective child welfare practice have been presented at meetings and conferences across the country. Each publication and its accompanying videos can be found on the CB website. For more information about final products of the Tribal Evaluation Workgroup and Framework Workgroup, see the articles "Tribal Evaluation Workgroup" and "Framework for Effective Practice" in this issue of CBX.

    These resources and many others can be found on the Building Capacity to Improve Program Evaluation in Child Welfare section of the CB website:

Training and Technical Assistance Update

Among other updates from the T&TA Network, read about the findings from a needs assessment that examined Tribal child welfare practices and evaluated challenges, issues, and gaps in practice.

Child Welfare Research

This month, CBX points to a study examining the potential role of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships in preventing the intergenerational continuity of child maltreatment.

  • Effectiveness of Parenting Programs via Podcasts

    Effectiveness of Parenting Programs via Podcasts

    Parenting programs based on cognitive behavioral and social learning principles can be an effective means of improving a variety of parental outcomes and thereby reducing disruptive behavior problems in children. Many parenting programs are conducted face-to-face, which can limit participation due to a variety of issues, such as child care and transportation scarcity or a fear of being judged by others. To address these issues, researchers associated with the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program—an evidence-based parenting program used in 25 countries around the world, including in the United States—tested the effectiveness of parents watching a 12-episode television series based on that program. They found significant reported improvements in child behavior and parenting competence. A recent article in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics describes the efforts of another research team to assess the effectiveness of a different broadcast method: podcasts.

    The study included 139 parents in Australia who were randomly split into intervention and control groups. The intervention group was asked to watch seven podcast episodes that had previously been recorded for a public radio program. Each podcast was 9–14 minutes in duration and focused on topics such as positive reinforcement, managing disobedience, dealing with aggression, and others. The intervention was free, required no practitioner contact, and gave flexible access to the content. Parents were asked to take preintervention, postintervention, and follow-up questionnaires. The results indicated that parents in the intervention group had reductions in the frequency and number of child behavior problems, reductions in the use of dysfunctional parenting styles, and improvements in parental self-efficacy and confidence in managing emotional and behavioral problems.

    "An Evaluation of the Efficacy of a Triple P-Postive Parenting Program Podcast Series," by Alina Morawska, Helen Tometzki, and Matthew Sanders, Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 35, 2014, is available for purchase through the publisher's website:

  • Breaking the Cycle of Maltreatment

    Breaking the Cycle of Maltreatment

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined an overall public health strategy for child maltreatment prevention that involves the promotion of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships (SSNRs) between children and their caregivers. Researchers recently conducted a study examining the potential role of SSNRs in preventing the intergenerational continuity of child maltreatment. The study attempts to establish a stronger evidence base for previous findings indicating that child maltreatment victimization increases the likelihood of maltreatment perpetration during adulthood. To further understand the operating mechanisms driving these associations, the researchers also tested whether the presence of SSNRs in early adulthood decreases the likelihood of perpetration among maltreated individuals and offsets or buffers the negative effect of maltreatment.

    Researchers examined these relationships using data from 1,000 participants who were first surveyed while attending middle school in 1988 in the Rochester, NY, area. Data on participants' experienced maltreatment, maltreatment perpetration, and a series of SSNR variables, including relationship satisfaction, parental satisfaction, attachment to their children, attachment to parental figures, and perceived support from parental figures, were measured.

    Results indicated that a history of child maltreatment significantly increased the odds of maltreatment perpetration later in life, when participants were between the ages of 21 and 30. Researchers also found that three of the five SSNRs, including relationship satisfaction, parental satisfaction, and attachment to their children, were protective factors, meaning that they significantly reduced the odds of maltreatment intergenerational continuity.

    This study is one of several articles that were published in a special issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health that focused on examining the role of SSNRs in the intergenerational continuity of child maltreatment. Other articles within the special issue cover the following:

    • Targeting contextual and interpersonal factors associated with breaking the cycle of intergenerational abuse
    • The importance of nurturing relationships with romantic partners in disrupting intergenerational continuity of child abuse
    • Mitigating effects of caring and supportive relationships in abusive disciplining
    • A meta-analysis of the moderating role of SSNRs in intergenerational continuity of child maltreatment
    • The complex etiology and lasting effects of child maltreatment
    • Advances in the understanding of intergenerational transmission parenting practices and the role of SSNRs

    "Breaking the Cycle of Maltreatment: The Role of Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships," by Terence Thornberry, Kimberly Henry, Carolyn Smith, Timothy Ireland, Sarah Greenman, and Rosalyn Lee, Journal of Adolescent Health: Interrupting Child Maltreatment Across Generations Through Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships, 53(4), 2013, is available here:

  • The Physical, Mental Effects of Child Abuse

    The Physical, Mental Effects of Child Abuse

    A new report and accompanying two-page brief from the Society for Research and Child Development provide an overview of research on the physical and mental effects of child maltreatment on children's biological systems and brain development. The effects of abuse on children's health into adulthood and the importance delivering comprehensive, integrated intervention and treatment services also is discussed. In addition to outlining facts about the occurrence and recurrence of child abuse and neglect in the United States, the report and brief also provide policy and practice implications.

    The report notes that research has provided a better understanding of the effects of maltreatment on a child's psychobiological functioning. The authors classify maltreatment as a toxic stressor, "chronic and uncontrollable events that result in sustained activation of the body's stress management system." When the body is exposed to toxic stressors during critical times, such as early childhood development, there is a negative impact on the functioning of three important systems: (1) the immune system, (2) the neuroendocrine system, and (3) the central nervous system. Because the effects of maltreatment can become biologically embedded, the authors suggest treatment practices include universal mental health screening and evidence-based behavioral therapies specific to those who have experienced trauma.

    The full report, The Biological Embedding of Child Abuse and Neglect: Implications for Policy and Practice, is available here: (761 KB)

    The two-page brief, Social Policy Report Brief: How Abuse and Neglect Affect Children's Minds and Bodies, is available here: (551 KB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other instruments that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.

  • Foster Care, Delinquent Behavior, and Juvenile Justice

    Foster Care, Delinquent Behavior, and Juvenile Justice

    Research indicates that children and youth in out-of-home care settings are more likely to be arrested as juveniles than youth in the general population. The May 2014 issue of Fostering Perspectives focuses on this intersection of foster care, delinquent behavior, and juvenile justice. Articles written specifically for foster parents and kinship caregivers seek to answer two questions:

    1. How can I prevent youth in my care from getting involved with juvenile justice?
    2. What do I do if a child in my home is charged with a delinquent act?

    While most articles are written by child welfare professionals or veteran resource parents, the Kids' Page section presents youth voices. In this issue, several youth answered the question, "How can foster parents, social workers, and others support youth in foster care when they get in trouble with the law?"

    Other articles in this issue discuss:

    • Tips for foster parents and kinship caregivers on preventing delinquent behavior
    • Adolescent brain development, impulsive and risk-taking behaviors, and implications for parents
    • Suggestions for foster parents on handling visits from law enforcement, including tips on advocating for the children in their care
    • An overview of the North Carolina juvenile justice system, including an interview with a juvenile defender (a special attorney assigned to youth that advocates for and serves as the youth's voice to the court)
    • The use of Child and Family Teams as a tool for effectively working with crossover youth—youth involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems
    • Preventing and responding to runaways from foster care
    • Human trafficking and what foster parents should know

    Fostering Perspectives, 18(2), sponsored by the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program, is available on the Fostering Perspectives website:

  • Helping Youth Establish, Maintain Good Credit

    Helping Youth Establish, Maintain Good Credit

    Because youth who have been in foster care often lack a permanent address, and their personal information is frequently shared by numerous service providers and agencies. This makes youth in care susceptible to identity theft that often results in fraudulent entries on their credit reports. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) created a website that provides guidance and resources for child welfare agencies, youth organizations, and community and financial institution partners to help youth in foster care start their adult lives with good credit and sound financial management skills.

    Some steps that will help youth in foster care start out with healthy credit include:

    • Request yearly credit reports for youth in foster care starting at age 16
    • Request that credit reporting agencies correct any errors found in the report
    • Educate youth in foster care on the importance of establishing and maintaining good credit

    CFPB notes that it's more effective to correct credit reporting errors before a young person turns 18 because his or her birthdate may make it easier to demonstrate that the credit report is incorrect. Sample letters for contacting credit bureaus and creditors are provided. Additional resources to help workers and parents teach young people how to establish and protect their credit histories and to make good financial choices also are provided.

    The packet of resources can be found on the CFPB website:

  • Medicaid Coverage for Youth in Care

    Medicaid Coverage for Youth in Care

    Effective January 1, 2014, the Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires States to extend Medicaid health insurance coverage to age 26 for youth who were in foster care at age 18. This federally supported provision will provide much-needed health and behavioral health services, but States face many challenges to getting and keeping youth enrolled in the program. A new publication from the State Policy and Advocacy Reform Center (SPARC) provides guidance for State and Federal child welfare advocates, policy experts, and practitioners on the effective implementation of the law.

    The publication begins with a review of the requirements of the law and a description of the types of health services that can be accessed by the youth, including mental health services and substance abuse treatment. The authors then highlight strategies for State agencies to ensure youth stay enrolled in the program, including reaching out to young people under age 26 who transitioned out of foster care in recent years (and are still eligible for coverage); streamlining the enrollment process for youth who are about to age out; and considering alternative, integrated approaches to delivering health services in addition to health insurance coverage.

    The SPARC initiative is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. The Affordable Care Act and Youth Aging Out of Foster Care: New Opportunities and Strategies for Action is available here: (226 KB)


This CBX section provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.

  • Protecting Parental Rights in Immigration Enforcement

    Protecting Parental Rights in Immigration Enforcement

    The Women's Refugee Commission released a new toolkit designed to assist families who are in immigration detention or facing deportation. The toolkit provides practical tips on how to protect parental rights while interacting with the immigration and child welfare systems. Refugee parents are likely to experience a number of challenges that may impact their ability to access essential services and programs at the time of apprehension, detention, and/or deportation, this guide aims to promote an understanding of the various stages and possible outcomes of child welfare proceedings.

    Particular attention is given to the family court process, the role of the various professionals involved in a case, the requirements of a case plan, and the legal steps parents can take toward reunification. Chapters highlight key areas of concern for families, such as:

    • Arranging for the care and custody of children
    • Obtaining legal assistance
    • Participating in child welfare cases and court proceedings
    • Dealing with child support issues
    • Complying with a case plan
    • Regaining custody

    Appendices offer contact information for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement helpline, State and Federal Offices, State-specific handbooks for parents with child welfare cases, links to agencies in Central America, State Bar Associations, and more. A glossary of immigration terms, sample court forms, and copies of passport applications are also included. 

    Parental Rights: Toolkit & Educational Resources is available on the Women's Refugee Commission website:

  • Addressing the Sexual Exploitation of Minors

    Addressing the Sexual Exploitation of Minors

    All too often, minors who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking are treated as criminals instead as victims. A new publication from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council provides guidance on understanding the nature and scope of the problem and recommendations for improved policy and practice.

    The guide is tailored to the needs of providers of victim and support services for children and adolescents who have experienced or are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. In this case, the term victim services providers includes policymakers and practitioners, as well as child welfare and child protective services agencies and programs.

    The overarching concern of the guide is that service providers understand that minors who are sexually exploited or trafficked for sexual purposes should not be considered criminals, and such exploitation should be understood as acts of abuse and violence against children and adolescents. The scope of the guide includes definitions of relevant terms; a set of guiding principles; a summary of the extent of the problem; an overview of risk factors and consequences; strategies for identifying, preventing, and responding to these crimes; and approaches to providing services for victims and survivors.

    Information on ordering print copies or downloading an electronic copy of Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States: A Guide for Providers of Victim and Support Services can be found the website of the National Academies Press:

    The content of the guide was derived from a larger, more comprehensive report, Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States, which was published in 2013. The original report details the efforts to study the extent of the sexual exploitation of minors in the United States, increase awareness and understanding of the problem, examine emerging strategies for preventing and identifying these crimes, and provide guidance on assisting and supporting victims and survivors.

    The study and both publications were funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The 2013 report is available from the Institute of Medicine website:

  • Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers

    Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a free, online resource for parents of 2 to 4 year olds that addresses many parenting challenges, including tantrums and whining. Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers provides research-based information intended to help parents build positive, healthy relationships and handle children's challenging behaviors.

    Positive parenting skills, tips, and techniques are presented in a variety of articles; frequently asked questions are answered by parenting experts; and videos, interactive activities, and free print resources and are available in each of the following areas:

    • Overview of Essentials
    • Communicating With Your Child
    • Creating Structure and Rules
    • Giving Directions
    • Using Consequences
    • Using Time-Out

    View Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers on the CDC website:

  • Webinar Series on Girls' Behavioral Health

    Webinar Series on Girls' Behavioral Health

    A six-part webinar series from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration tackles the issues and challenges—and best practices for addressing them—facing adolescent girls. Because so many of the children and youth involved with child welfare experience a range of behavioral health issues, this series and its resources may be of interest to child welfare and related professionals.

    The series specifically focuses on issues affecting girls ages 12–18, with individual webinars centered on youth development, substance use, juvenile justice system involvement, homelessness, violence, and more. The series titles include the following:

    • "Growing Up Girl: Adolescent Development and the Unique Issues Facing Girls"
    • "Girl in the Mirror: Behavioral Health Challenges of Adolescent Girls"
    • "Girls and Substance Use: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities"
    • "Digital Girls: Confession, Connection, and Disconnection"
    • "Sanctuary and Supports for Girls in Crisis"
    • "Youth Development and Recovery Supports for Girls"

    While the webinars took place between February and July 2014, PowerPoints and presenter bios from Girls Matter! A Webinar Series Addressing Adolescent Girls' Behavioral Health are available online:

  • Serving Transgender Victims of Sexual Assault

    Serving Transgender Victims of Sexual Assault

    It is estimated that 5 to 10 percent of the children and youth in foster care identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). Many children and youth who enter out-of-home care do so because of a traumatic experience, such as sexual abuse. A new guide for service providers—including those in health care, law enforcement, sexual assault advocacy, or child welfare—offers information and tips on providing sensitive care and assistance to transgender victims of sexual assault. 

    The guide offers a list of common transgender-related terms, covers the basics of what it means to be transgender, outlines the rates of sexual assault within the transgender community and its ramifications, and offers tips for service providers on how to serve transgender victims of sexual assault.

    Responding to Transgender Victims of Sexual Assault is available on the website for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime:

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.