March/April 2001Vol. 2, No. 2Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month
- Prevent Child Abuse America Releases Child Abuse Prevention Packet 2001
Prevent Child Abuse America Releases Child Abuse Prevention Packet 2001
Get help planning for Child Abuse Prevention Month--celebrated annually in April--with materials from Prevent Child Abuse America. This year's packet was made possible through funding by Target Stores.
Using the Spring theme of "growth and nurturing," the materials focus on the nurturing of our children and "positive parenting" as an effective tool to prevent child abuse. A flower graphic appears throughout the handouts and is reflected in the activities for kids, including making a scarecrow, planting an avocado, growing pizza ingredients, and coloring a flower garden.
The packet contains the following items:
- General information: a letter from the President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, an evaluation form, chapter directory, and publications catalog
- Family resources: fact sheets on developing your baby's intelligence, handling toddlers, phone numbers for kids to call, fun activities for kids, and stickers
- Community resources: advocacy guidelines, facts about child abuse and neglect, sample child abuse prevention month proclamation, resource directory, and poster
- Media resources: sample letter to the editor, current national statistics, sample press release.
Prevent Child Abuse America offers the following suggestions for using these resources:
- Distribute the activities for kids to local schools and daycare facilities
- Use the information in the media section to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month
- Assemble packets for parents using the information from the Family Resources and Activities section
- Print a variety of brochures on heavier paper, and use the handouts at health fairs, libraries, schools, and hospitals.
Most of the materials--except the poster, publications catalog, and stickers--are available online. Materials from Prevention Month 2000 also are also available. Call 800-CHILDREN to order a packet or download the materials at: http://www.preventchildabuse.org/learn_more/cap_index.html
- American Southwest Setting for 13th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
American Southwest Setting for 13th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
Head to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the 13th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, sponsored by the Children's Bureau, April 23-28. Many other government agencies and national organizations are serving as national co-sponsors. All Faiths Receiving Home, the local host agency, is central New Mexico's preeminent non-profit organization providing an array of services for children and families affected by childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma.
The conference will offer a mix of interactive educational sessions on such topics as prevention, intervention, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Sessions will reflect the conference theme, Faces of Change: Embracing Diverse Cultures and Alternative Approaches.
The Exhibit Hall will feature numerous displays including one from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, a co-producer of the Children's Bureau Express.
Plenary sessions will feature the following speakers:
- April 24, CNN and NPR journalist Maria Hinojosa
- April 25, Larry EchoHawk, "Breaking the Cycle of Violence in Indian Country for Future Generations"
- April 26, James Garbarino, "Lost Boys: Pathways from Childhood Sadness to Adolescent Violence"
- April 27, Shane Salter, "'Trouble Don't Last Always': A Study of Survival in the Child Welfare System"
- April 28 (closing luncheon), Erylene Piper Mandy, "Thursday's Children: Directions in Reframing the Protection of Childhood in the New Millennium."
Conference participants can gain knowledge and insight into local history, culture, and practice issues--for American Indian and Hispanic cultures, in particular--by taking advantage of special tours and events offered at additional cost.
For further information or to obtain a registration packet, contact:
1901 N. Fort Myer Dr.
Arlington, VA 22209
- April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month
April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month
"You Have the Power to Prevent Child Abuse"—that's the message promoted by the Children's Bureau in commemoration of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation since 1983.
The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, sponsored by the Children's Bureau, is among the many entities observing Child Abuse Prevention Month. Visit the Clearinghouse's revised and updated "Prevention 2001" Web page, scheduled for launch on April 1. (Reach the prevention page through the Clearinghouse's home page at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov). The 2001 page highlights new prevention resources focused on cultural diversity, as well as contacts, statistics, background information, and a "hotlinked" compilation of online resources.
The Clearinghouse has prepared a print packet containing many of the materials available on the website as well as a four-color poster. To obtain a free packet, call the Clearinghouse at 800-FYI-3366 or send an email request to email@example.com.
Many public and private agencies, community organizations, volunteers, and concerned citizens will sponsor events and conduct outreach during Child Abuse Prevention Month. Organizations that partner with the Clearinghouse to commemorate Prevention Month include the following:
- FRIENDS Technical Assistance Resource Center for Community-Based Family Resource and Support Programs (http://www.friendsnrc.org)
- Federal Agencies represented on the Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect (http://www.calib.com/nccanch/prevmnth/general/interag.cfm) (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)
- Prevent Child Abuse America (http://www.preventchildabuse.org)
- National Indian Child Welfare Association (http://www.nicwa.org)
- National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds (http://www.msu.edu/user/millsda/)
- Parents Anonymous, Inc. (http://www.parentsanonymous.org)
Many States have plans for commemorating Child Abuse Prevention Month. Visit the FRIENDS Technical Assistance Resource Center website for information and ideas.
Also, Childhelp USA will sponsor the third annual National Day of Hope on April 4. For more information about this special Prevention Month activity, see the article "April 4 Is National Day of Hope" in this issue of CB Express.
- April 4 Is National Day of Hope
April 4 Is National Day of Hope
As part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Childhelp USA is sponsoring the third annual National Day of Hope, held each year on the first Wednesday of April. This year it falls on April 4.
The U.S. Congress showed its support of Childhelp USA's National Day of Hope by introducing a Concurrent Resolution (S. CON. RES. 14) on February 14, 2001 (available through Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress at http://thomas.loc.gov). The resolution calls for:
- All Americans to keep victimized children in their thoughts and prayers;
- All Americans to seek to break the cycle of abuse and neglect and give these children hope for the future;
- The faith community, non-profit organizations, and volunteers across America to recommit themselves and mobilize their resources to assist abused and neglected children.
The activities planned for April 4 vary by State and community. Many observances incorporate three-wick candles to symbolize the three children who die each day from abuse and the millions more who suffer. For example:
- Many national and State legislators will light three-wick candles at the opening of legislative sessions.
- Religious leaders will light three-wick candles during services the weekend prior to the National Day of Hope and lead their congregations in prayer for abused and neglected children.
- TV stations in selected U.S. cities will display a National Day of Hope candle on their news anchors' desks and air stories on the subject of child abuse.
- Participating restaurants across the country will display three-wick candles and tent cards on designated tables on April 4. Find the State-by-State list of participating restaurants at: http://www.childhelpusa.org/child/ndoh_restaurants.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer active.)
Harley-Davidson motorcycle clubs throughout the U.S. are supporting the National Day of Hope by participating in the "Cycle of Hope." This cross-country motorcycle ride focusing national attention on the tragedy of child abuse will begin on March 24 in Cabazon, California (near Palm Springs), and end on April 4 in Washington, DC. For the scheduled route and events, visit: http://www.childhelpusa.org/child/harley_event.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer active.)
Childhelp USA is one of the oldest and largest national non-profits dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse. It has chapters across the country staffed by volunteers and operates the National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD).
For more information about how to get involved in Childhelp USA's National Day of Hope, visit the Childhelp USA website at: http://www.childhelpusa.org/child/Day_of_Hope.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer active.) For information on participating as a restaurant or motorcycle rider in the National Day of Hope activities described above, contact Sylvia Hopkins at Childhelp USA's national headquarters: 480-922-8212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Governors Association Reports on States' Efforts to Prevent Family Violence
Governors Association Reports on States' Efforts to Prevent Family Violence
A new Issue Brief produced by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices deals with family violence and how States are combating it. Since family violence affects adults and children alike, prevention strategies that take a collaborative and cross-system approach are the most effective, the report states.
The report begins with an overview of family violence in America today, providing data on its monetary and non-monetary costs. It breaks down family violence into three categories--domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse--and gives more detailed information on the incidence and consequences of the first two categories (elder abuse is not covered in depth in the report).
The report also explores three levels of governmental responses to family violence--the legal system, human services, and health services. Some recent trends and current efforts in these areas are described, including activities in four States: Arizona, Connecticut, New York, and Vermont.
Topics relating to the legal system include cross-agency training; dedicated and specialized courts; batterer interventions; automated databases; the full faith and credit provision of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act; protective orders; risk and danger assessments; and animal control officers.
Topics under human services include collocation of specialists and/or cross-agency training; screening and assessment; employment leave and unemployment insurance laws; emergency payments and address confidentiality; and child support enforcement protections.
Health-related topics include developing protocols for victims and perpetrators of violence; educating families and women about violence-related issues; addressing domestic violence as part of teen pregnancy prevention and parenting programs; maintaining medical records for use as evidence of assault in legal proceedings; and providing special advocacy and mental health services for mothers and their children who are victims of family violence.
Included are a list of Federal funding sources relating to family violence, and lists of related publications and organizations.
To obtain a copy of report, entitled Building Bridges Across Systems: State Innovations to Address and Prevent Family Violence, contact Thomas MacLellan at 202-624-5427 or download a copy of the 23-page report online at: http://www.nga.org/cda/files/001017FAMVIOLENCE.PDF.
"Nebraska Group Addresses Needs of Children Subjected to Domestic Violence" (March/April 2001)
Search for more CB Express articles on domestic violence by typing "domestic violence" in the CBX Search box at http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/.
Spotlight on Incorporating Youth Engagement and Lived Experience Into Child Welfare Practice
Spotlight on the Title IV-E Prevention Program and the Family First Prevention Services Act
News From the Children's Bureau
- Child and Family Services Reviews Focus of Teleconference Series
Child and Family Services Reviews Focus of Teleconference Series
Join the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement in its teleconference series on the new Federal child and family service reviews. The series features Children's Bureau officials, representatives of States with experience in the review process, and Resource Center technical assistance providers who will discuss each stage of the review process.
The schedule of the series, offered at 2:30 pm EST is as follows:
- February 8, Child and Family Services--An Overview
- February 27, Conducting Statewide Assessments
- March 6, Managing Onsite Reviews
- March 20, Implementing Program Improvements
- March 29, Strengthening Adoptive Families: What Works?
- April 26, Community-based Recruitment of Foster and Adoptive Families
- May 8, Building Federal Review Features into Ongoing Quality Assurance Systems
- June 14, Using Data to Support the Federal Review Process
- Sept. 11, Innovative Approaches to Outcomes Training for Supervisors and Managers
- Oct. 4, Creating Innovative Partnerships to Drive Resource Development: Hale County's Story
- Oct. 18, Court/Agency Collaboration
- Oct. 23, Required Case Reviews: A Tool to Achieve Outcomes
- Oct. 25, Agency Responsiveness to the Community
The National Child Welfare Teleconference Line brings programs to your office over the telephone. No special equipment is needed, although a speakerphone allows any number of people at the same location to participate for a single registration fee. Costs are 75 percent reimbursable as a training expense under Title IV-E.
The Resource Center's Winter 2001 newsletter, Managing Care, also focuses on the new reviews with a general overview of the process, an interview with Children's Bureau official Jerry Milner, lessons learned from Rhode Island in the pilot review process, and a list of resources to help prepare for the reviews. Access the newsletter online at: http://www.muskie.usm.maine.edu/helpkids/mc.html.
In addition, a new information package on the child and family service reviews is available from the Resource Center. This package provides copies of material used in State/regional office trainings, official documents on the review produced by ACF, and other material on the review process from the Children's Bureau website. It also contains a Handbook on the review process produced by the last pilot review site. Download it at: http://www.muskie.usm.maine.edu/helpkids/rcnews.html.
To register for the teleconference and to order audiotapes of past sessions, the newsletter, or the information package, contact:
National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement
One Post Office Square
PO Box 15010
Portland, ME 04112-5010
Toll-free: 1-800-HELP KID
- Resources from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information on State Laws
Resources from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information on State Laws
The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information provides professionals with an array of products and services related to State laws pertaining to child abuse and neglect:
- Definitions of child abuse and neglect
- Requirements and procedures for reporting child abuse, including reporter immunity and penalties for failure to report
- Central registry expungement and confidentiality legislation
- Laws providing criminal penalties for child abuse and neglect and special courtroom procedures used during trial
- Analyses of civil and criminal laws through statewide comparisons
- Additional resources related to statutory issues.
For more information or for assistance with statute questions, visit http://www.calib.com/nccanch/statutes/index.cfm or email email@example.com or call (800) FYI-3366.
The Clearinghouse also provides a list of State toll-free child abuse reporting numbers at: http://www.calib.com/nccanch/pubs/reslist/tollfree.cfm
- New Children's Bureau Website Debuts
New Children's Bureau Website Debuts
Visit the new Children's Bureau website, which has been completely redesigned and updated to meet the needs of agency staff and the general public. Its new organization and expanded content make finding the information you need easier than ever. The site also features interactive headers on each page to make navigation through the site fast and easy.
Special features include:
- Updated information on programs
- Links to resource centers and clearinghouses
- State and Federal legislation
- Hot Issues section.
Access the new and improved Children's Bureau website at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb.
- Former Wisconsin Governor Thompson Takes Helm at HHS
Former Wisconsin Governor Thompson Takes Helm at HHS
Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, was unanimously confirmed on Jan. 24 by the U.S. Senate to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services in President George W. Bush's Cabinet.
Thompson, the nation's longest-serving governor, was in his fourth term and 14th year in that post. A hallmark of his administration was the use of HHS waivers to pursue innovations in Federal social programs. In 1990, Wisconsin became the first state to request a waiver allowing the State to place time limits on public assistance and to require welfare recipients to work. In tandem, he increased State subsidies for child care, health insurance, and job training low-income families.
In an address to HHS employees on February 2, Thompson mentioned several priorities for the Department under President Bush's administration, including improving foster care and adoption programs, helping people move from welfare to economic success, and providing access to health insurance for uninsured Americans.
Secretary Thompson's address is available on the HHS website at http://www.hhs.gov/news/speech/2001/010202.html.
An HHS press release about Secretary Thompson is available at: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2001pres/20010202.html.
His confirmation hearing address to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on January 17, 2001 is available at: http://www.hhs.gov/news/speech/2001/010117.html.
- Children's Bureau Unveils New Outcomes-Oriented State Program Reviews
Children's Bureau Unveils New Outcomes-Oriented State Program Reviews
New Federal reviews of State child and family service programs, now under way in 17 States, focus on improving outcomes for children and families.
The 1994 Amendments to the Social Security Act (SSA) authorize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to review State child and family service programs to ensure conformance with the requirements in Titles IV-B and IV-E of the SSA.
Traditionally, reviews have focused primarily on assessing State agencies' compliance with procedural requirements, as evidenced by case file documentation, rather than on the results of services and States' capacity to create positive outcomes for children and families. In addition, reviews have not provided States with opportunities for making improvements before penalties have been imposed.
On January 25, 2000, DHHS published a final rule in the Federal Register to establish a new approach to monitoring State child welfare programs. Under the rule, which became effective March 25, 2000, States will be assessed for substantial conformity with certain Federal requirements for child protective, foster care, adoption, family preservation and family support, and independent living services. The Children's Bureau, part of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within DHHS, is administering the new review system.
The new child and family services reviews are an important tool that will enable the Children's Bureau to accomplish the following:
- Ensure conformity with Federal child welfare requirements
- Determine what is actually happening to children and families as they are engaged in child welfare services
- Assist States to enhance their capacity to help children and families achieve positive outcomes.
Ultimately, the goal of the reviews is to help States to improve child welfare services and achieve the following outcomes for families and children who receive services:
- Safety: Children are, first and foremost, protected from abuse and neglect. Children are safely maintained in their homes whenever possible and appropriate.
- Permanency: Children have permanency and stability in their living situations. The continuity of family relationships and connections is preserved for families.
- Family and Child Well-Being: Families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children's needs. Children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs. Children receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs.
The Federal government will conduct the reviews in partnership with State child welfare agency staff and other State representatives who are not staff of the State child welfare agency; peer consultants will round out the review teams. The reviews are structured to help States identify strengths and areas for improvement within their agencies and programs. Technical assistance will be provided to the States to help them make improvements in identified areas.
The Review Process
Each child and family services review is a two-stage process that comprises a statewide assessment and an onsite review of child and family service outcomes and program systems. For the statewide assessment, the Children's Bureau prepares and transmits to the State the data profiles that contain aggregate data on the State's foster care and child protective service populations. The data profiles allow each State to compare certain safety and permanency data indicators with national standards determined by the Children's Bureau.
After the statewide assessment, an onsite review of the State child welfare program is conducted by a joint Federal-State team. The onsite portion of the review includes the following:
- Case record reviews
- Interviews with children and families engaged in services
- Interviews with community stakeholders, such as the courts and community agencies, foster families, and caseworkers and service providers.
At the end of the onsite review, States determined not to have achieved substantial conformity in any of the areas assessed will be required to develop and implement program improvement plans addressing the areas of nonconformity. The Children's Bureau will support the States with technical assistance and monitor implementation of their plans. States that do not achieve their required improvements successfully will sustain penalties as prescribed in the Federal regulations.
The guiding principles of the new child and family service reviews include:
- Accountability with the opportunity to make program improvements before having Federal funds withheld due to non-compliance
- Collaboration between State and Federal governments with review teams composed of staff from both agencies
- Use of information from multiple sources in making decisions about a State's performance
- Review of outcomes of services provided to children and families and systemic factors that affect the agency's ability to produce positive outcomes
- Identification of both the strengths and the needs of State programs, using reviews to drive program improvements
- Promotion of practice principles that support improved outcomes for children and families.
Jerry Milner, Supervisory Children and Family Program Specialist at the Children's Bureau, observes that the new system "underscores the real commitment to program improvement."
Since 1995, 14 pilot reviews have taken place. With the final regulation becoming effective in March 2000, the Children's Bureau received the green light to go ahead with formal reviews, which have already begun in 17 States. In the first phase, staff of the Children's Bureau, ACF Regional Offices, and State child welfare agencies have been reviewing State data reported to Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/dis/afcars/) and the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) (http://www.ndacan.cornell.edu) or other approved source for the statewide assessments. The first onsite reviews began in March 2001, with Delaware being the first stop. A tentative schedule of reviews for FY2001-FY2004 is available online at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/hotissues/staterev.htm.
Look for these new products related the Children and Family Services Reviews on the Children's Bureau website (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb):
- Detailed Procedures Manual with instruments used to evaluate cases
- National Standards on six statewide data indicators that will be used in the reviews to determine, in part, whether or not States are operating in substantial conformity (Information Memorandum ACYF-CB-IM-00-11).
The Child Welfare Review Project is disseminating information on the reviews on behalf of the Children's Bureau. Visit the Project's website at http://www.childwelfarereview.com for documents on the review process or call 301-495-1080, ext. 3249, for a print copy of the Procedures Manual and the Review Instruments and Instructions. (Editor's note: the Project's website link is no longer available. Go to the Child Welfare Reviews page of the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring/index.htm#cfsr.)
See related article about a teleconference series on the child and family service reviews under Spotlight on the National Resource Centers in this issue of the Children's Bureau Express (http://www.calib.com/cbexpress).
Child Welfare Research
- Options for Children in Long-Term Out-of-Home Placements
Options for Children in Long-Term Out-of-Home Placements
A September 2000 policy brief produced as a part of the Brookings Institution's "Children's Roundtable" examines the problem of the growing number of children who are languishing in foster care for extended periods of time, with little likelihood of any eventual reunion with their biological parents or adoption.
The brief's author, Joyce A. Ladner, argues that traditional foster care has worked reasonably well when it has been short-term, with the idea that the child will either be reunited with his family or adopted fairly quickly. Foster care has been less effective in situations where reunification with parents or adoption are not realistic options, either because the parents are not likely to be rehabilitated, or the child is unlikely to be adopted due to age or handicap or some other reason.
Compounding these difficulties, as Ladner shows, are a shortage of trained social workers and a growing caseload nationwide. Ladner suggests that some new approaches are in order: "The question is what to do with children who are unlikely either to be reunited with their parents or adopted. The option of congregate (institutional) care bears examination."
She briefly describes several modern-day examples of successful congregate care institutions: SOS Children's Villages, which are now operating in several foreign countries; The Villages, founded by Dr. Karl Menninger and located in Kansas; and Girard College in Philadelphia.
Ms. Ladner acknowledges that the popularity of congregate care in the U.S. has declined over the last century, but she argues that it deserves to play a role, particularly in cases where there are no better options available. "Although congregate care is not appropriate for every child, it can help alleviate both overcrowding and inappropriate foster care placements," writes Ladner. "The fact is that fewer and fewer Americans are living in the traditional nuclear family, and that ideal family setting is virtually unattainable for many children now in public care. Care in congregate homes is certainly preferable to the care of biological parents who are neglectful or abusive. It is also preferable to the revolving door experience of too many children in foster care. Children who have been damaged in their biological families and from multiple foster care placements can find in congregate care skills to cope effectively and make a successful transition to adulthood."
A copy of the Children in Out-of-Home Placements Children's Roundtable Report is available online at: http://www.brookings.edu/comm/childrensroundtable/issue4.htm.
To order a print copy or to send questions/comments about this policy brief, contact:
The Brookings Institution
1775 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20036
- Nebraska Group Addresses Needs of Children Subjected to Domestic Violence
Nebraska Group Addresses Needs of Children Subjected to Domestic Violence
The Nebraska Health and Human Services System has been working with two other agencies--Voices for Children and the Nebraska Domestic Violence Coalition--to collaborate and improve the system for children and victims. The working group has agreed on the following four principles to guide interventions:
- To protect children.
- To increase the safety and well-being of children by increasing the safety of their mothers.
- To support the autonomy of adult victims so they can be in control of protecting their children as much as possible.
- To hold the batterer responsible for abusive behavior and for stopping it.
Chris Hanus, with the Protection and Safety Division of the Nebraska HHS said it is not up to the victim to be accountable for the abuse or for making it stop, but rather the court's decision to weigh the need for the child to retain a connection to both parents against the need for the child's safety. The group has debated such issues as redefining the witnessing of domestic violence as child abuse if the child shows serious mental or behavioral reactions that can be verified by a licensed mental health practitioner.
For more information, contact:
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
P.O. Box 95044
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-5044
- Three Recent Studies Rank Child Well-Being in the U.S.
Three Recent Studies Rank Child Well-Being in the U.S.
The Children's Defense Fund, the Urban Institute, and the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire have weighed in on the state of the nation's children.
2000 Children in the States is the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) annual compilation of data on key children's indicators in each State. (Editor's note: the original link is no longer available. More data can be found at www.childrensdefense.org/data/childreninthestates/ default.aspx). The State profiles are meant as tools for planning and action. Readers can compare how their State's data measures up to the national average, find the amount of available State funds, and get a list of quotable "moments" for their State's children, e.g. "Every 5 minutes a baby was born into poverty."
CDF's rankings measured children's health coverage, babies born to mothers who received early prenatal care, infant mortality, babies born with low birthweight, child immunizations for two-year-olds, children living in poverty, child support collected when assigned to the State, and State spending per student for public elementary and secondary pupils.
The States that appeared most often in CDF's Top 10 Best rankings were:
The States that appeared most often in CDF's Worst 10 Rankings were:
- District of Columbia
Focusing on 1999 data from 13 States, the Urban Institute's Snapshots of America's Families II, examines changes in family economic well-being; health insurance, access, and health status; and family environment and child well-being (http://newfederalism.urban.org/nsaf/snapshots_index.html). The survey compares data collected in 1997 and highlights the experiences of low-income families.
Although the study found that the income gap between black and white adults grew, as did the health insurance gap between low-income Hispanic and white adults, the strong economy contributed to the following good news:
- adult and child poverty rates fell
- more single parents became employed
- more families could afford food
- more adults received health insurance coverage from their employers
- more children were living with two parents
The University of New Hampshire's Family Research Laboratory provides an alternative way of ranking States in child well-being (http://www.unh.edu/frl/pdf2/kidscount.pdf). Their study argues that the Kids Count Data Book, published annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, compares data from one point in time (1996) and does not take into account demographics. The Family Research Laboratory adjusted the Kids Count State rankings on 10 indicators based on percent change from 1985 to 1996. It also adjusted scores based on racial composition, specifically percent of black children in each State.
These two methodologies revealed different images of child well-being in each State. When ranked according to the percent change in the indicator over an 11-year period:
- Utah ranked first, Alaska second, and Maine third.
- New Hampshire fell from first to ninth.
- Massachusetts and Connecticut fell from the top quartile in the original Kids Count ranking to the bottom quartile.
- District of Columbia remained at the bottom of the ranks.
- All Southern States, with the exception of Louisiana, moved out of the bottom quartile rankings.
When States were ranked after controlling for the percentage of black children:
- Maryland rises to the rank of number one.
- No States in the deep South remained in the bottom quartile rankings.
To order print copies of these reports, contact:
- Children's Defense Fund: 202-662-3665
- Urban Institute: 202-261-5709
- Family Research Laboratory: 603-862-1888
For Federal statistics on children and families, see these three annual publications, available through the U.S. Government Printing Office (202-512-1800) and online via the websites below:
- America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2000 (http://childstats.gov/ac2000/ac00.asp -- this link is no longer available)
- Child Health USA 2000 (http://www.mchirc.net/pdf%20docs/chusa00.pdf)
- Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children & Youth 2000 (http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/00trends/index.htm)
See these back issues of the Children's Bureau Express (http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov) for other articles on the status of U.S. children:
- "DHHS Report Takes First Close Look at Child Welfare Outcomes in States" (September 2000)
- "Casey Foundation Report Evaluates the Well-Being of U.S. Children" (July 2000)
- "Report Ranks Nations by Status of Mothers, Children" (June 2000)
- "Census Data Shows Latino Children Living in Poverty" (April 2000)
- Panel Discusses Reporting Issues in Child Abuse and Neglect
Panel Discusses Reporting Issues in Child Abuse and Neglect
A panel discussed child abuse and neglect from several perspectives during a live national teleconference January 18 sponsored by the Maryland School of Public Affairs. Panel members were David Lloyd, Director of the Pentagon's Family Advocacy Program; Dr. Mimi Kanda, pediatrician and Director of the Office of Population Affiars; and Caren Kaplan, Director of Child Welfare League of America's "Protecting America's Children" Project.
Lloyd discussed the Department of Defense's concerns regarding child abuse and neglect, and mentioned DOD's special programs for new parents, exemplary child care facilities, and public awareness prevention efforts. The DOD is responsible for reporting cases of child abuse that occur on all Federal lands, including national monuments and parks and Federal buildings. In general, the Federal child abuse reporting requirements are greater than those of the States and can include siblings. Reports are made to civilian authorities. Lloyd advised if no action is taken, the reporter should be that child's advocate and report again. In domestic violence situations, military social workers assess both the couple and children. "We can approach it more holistically than in the civilian community," said Lloyd.
Kanda noted than the Office of Population Affairs works to prevent child abuse by assisting families in deciding when to have children and supporting parents through Head Start. As a pediatrician, she encountered many children with concerns about child abuse but found it was difficult to assess those situations. She cautioned that medical personnel should not attempt to "interview" young children, which requires specialized training and could do more harm than good. However, Kaplan said "it is a great source of frustration for the physician not knowing the outcome" and noted a need to promote training and partnerships.
Kaplan explained that the Child Welfare League of America, comprising 1,100 member agencies, serves all children at risk before they come to the attention of the child welfare worker. Like Kanda, she cautioned against further inquiry and advocated "treading lightly" if not skilled. Rather, a reporter should rely on the child protective worker who has the authoritative power and the ability to offer therapeutic services. She also noted that domestic violence and animal cruelty statutes in some States dictate whether or not to report an offense to child protective services.
- Abuse Can Permanently "Rewire" Children's Brains
Abuse Can Permanently "Rewire" Children's Brains
Physical scars may heal, but abuse leaves an indelible impression upon children's developing brains, according to investigators at the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Physical, psychological, or sexual abuse can "rewire" the developing brain during childhood, and these changes eventually may cause disorders such as anxiety and depression to surface in adulthood. "The science shows that childhood maltreatment may produce changes in both brain function and structure," said lead investigator Dr. Martin Teicher. His team found that the following four types of abnormalities were more likely to be present in child abuse and neglect victims:
- Changes to the limbic system--the part of the brain that controls emotions--resulting in epileptic seizures and abnormal electroencephalograms (EEG), usually affecting the left hemisphere of the brain, which is associated with more self-destructive behavior and more aggression.
- Deficient development of the left side of the brain, which may contribute to depression and impaired memory.
- Impaired corpus callosum--the pathway integrating the two hemispheres of the brain--resulting in dramatic shifts in mood and personality, especially with boys who suffered neglect and sexually abused girls.
- Increased blood flow in the cerebellar vermis--the part of the brain involved in emotion, attention, and regulation of the limbic system--disrupting emotional balance.
In reviewing animal studies that showed that neglect and emotional trauma trigger changes in hormones and neurotransmitters in parts of the brain that regulate fear and anxiety, the research team speculated that the same process occurs in child victims. "We know that an animal exposed to stress and neglect early in life develops a brain that is wired to experience fear, anxiety and stress," Teicher said. "We think the same is true of people."
For example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of several psychiatric disorders that may be fueled by childhood trauma. Usually associated with combat veterans, PTSD victims continually relive a traumatic event in dreams and in waking life.
Teicher and his colleagues hope their findings about childhood abuse's impact on the brain will lead to new ideas for treatment and better efforts at prevention. "Childhood abuse isn't something you 'get over,'" Teicher observes.
The study is published in the Fall 2000 issue of Cerebrum (http://www.dana.org/books/press/cerebrum).
The McLean Hospital press release on this study is available online at: http://www.mcleanhospital.org/PublicAffairs/ 20001214_child_abuse.htm.
- Report to Congress Shows Alcohol Abuse Prevalent in Homes with Children
Report to Congress Shows Alcohol Abuse Prevalent in Homes with Children
Alcohol and children don't mix. Alcohol ingestion by pregnant women places babies at risk for severe developmental disabilities; alcohol abuse in families places children at risk for violence, abuse, neglect, accidental injury, and--eventually--for becoming alcohol dependent themselves.
The 10th Special Report to the U.S. Congress on Alcohol and Health details significant new scientific findings about alcohol use and alcoholism, including new information about how alcohol damages the brain and other organs, from prenatal exposure to later in life.
The report found that one in four children under the age of 18 lives in a household with one or more family members who are alcohol-dependent or abuse alcohol. Researchers are still unclear as to the role heredity plays in alcoholism.
Besides the basic relationship between alcohol use and violence, the report notes that researchers have begun to focus on the following areas:
- Role of personality and situational factors
- Youthful perpetrators
- Alcohol use by victims of violence
- Environments in which violence occurs.
In examining parenting and the family environment, researchers find that alcohol-abusing parents have poor parenting skills--lack of parental emotional support, lack of control and monitoring of child behavior--that lead to early conduct problems and early onset of alcohol use. Children in these families also may lack emotional and behavioral control and social skills.
The 492-page report is available online at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/10report/intro.pdf.
To order a print copy, contact: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Suite 409 Willco Building 6000 Executive Blvd. MSC 7003 Bethesda, MD 2089207003 Phone: (301) 443-3860
- Bureau of Justice Statistics Report Reveals Increase in Incarcerated Parents
Bureau of Justice Statistics Report Reveals Increase in Incarcerated Parents
A recent study by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics finds that 2% of American children under age 18 have an incarcerated parent, which represents an increase of a third since 1991.
The study breaks these numbers down by race/ethnicity, showing that 7% of black children and 2.6% of Hispanic children have a parent serving time, compared to less than 1% of white children with locked up parents.
Most of these incarcerated parents are fathers, but in 1999, approximately 53,000 incarcerated parents were mothers, representing a 98% increase--almost double the number in 1991. The majority of prisoners with minor children were convicted of drug charges rather than violent offenses. Most were repeat offenders and more than half had been previously incarcerated.
The care arranged for children differed markedly by gender of the parent inmate. Mothers in State prison were more likely to leave their children in the care of their children's grandparents or other relatives (79%), while most inmate fathers in State prison (90%) entrusted the care of at least one of their minor children with their mother. Although a majority of parents in both State and Federal prison reported having some contact with their children (telephone, mail, in person), about half of all parents serving time reported never having had a personal visit with their children since their admission.
Other highlights of the study include:
- In 1999, an estimated 721,500 State and Federal prisoners were parents to 1,498,800 children under age 18 or an estimated 336,300 U.S. households were affected by the imprisonment of a resident parent.
- 22% of all minor children with a parent in prison were under 5 years old.
- Prior to admission, less than half of the parents in State prison reported living with their children--44% of fathers, 64% of mothers.
- 10% of mothers and 2% of fathers in State prison reported a child now living in a foster home or agency.
The study was based on personal interviews in State and Federal correctional facilities. Inmates described aspects of their lives both before and during incarceration, including history of mental illness, substance abuse, education, employment, income, homelessness, and marital status. Tables present data on current offenses, criminal histories, and sentence lengths, among other information.
Download a copy of the special report, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children and accompanying tables at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/iptc.htm.
It is also available from:
- BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing 301-519-5550, listening to the complete menu and selecting document number.
- BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800-732-3277 or fax 410-492-4358.
Read about a new program aimed at reunifying Wisconsin foster children with their incarcerated mothers through regular prison visits at: http://www.jsonline.com/news/ state/oct00/mama30102900a.asp.
See "Working With Children and Families Separated by Incarceration: A Handbook for Child Welfare Agencies" in the November 2000 Children's Bureau Express for a summary of the Child Welfare League of America's report, which provides an overview of child welfare services needed by children when their parents are arrested and incarcerated.
- Videoconference Series on Recognizing Child Abuse Opens with Session on Legal Framework for Reportin
Videoconference Series on Recognizing Child Abuse Opens with Session on Legal Framework for Reportin
Just under 1 million children are abused or neglected in the United States each year. Proper recognition and reporting is a crucial first step in addressing this individual and social tragedy.
To educate the public and professionals about these issues, a live national teleconference series presented by the Maryland School of Public Affairs aired its first of 6 installments on January 18. Co-sponsoring the series are Parents Anonymous, Prevent Child Abuse America, Childhelp USA, and Child Welfare League of America. The trainer, Douglas S. Besharov, a professor at the Maryland School of Public Affairs, discussed the legal framework for reporting child maltreatment.
Besharov stressed the need for a balanced approach to reporting. Over the last 30 years, there has been an increase in the number of reported child abuse cases, due to deteriorating social conditions and increased awareness. Yet, studies show professionals only report about half of what they see. At the same time, there are many unfounded or unsubstantiated reports, which overburden the child protective agencies and subject children to traumatic investigations. Besharov called for clear standards and training, rather than relying on a "gut feeling" to report.
Concerning mandated/permissive reporting, Besharov noted that reporting laws vary from State to State. Every State requires most child-serving professionals to report child abuse, including physicians, nurses, emergency room personnel, coroners, dentists, mental health professionals, social workers, teachers, day care providers, and law enforcement personnel. Some States require others, such as clergy and film processors, to report. In 20 States, all people are required to report. Besharov added that anyone may report, and anonymous reports are permissible. Criminal and civil penalties only apply to mandated reporters who fail to report.
Besharov also discussed the issue of reportable child maltreatment. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act identifies a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. According to CAPTA, child abuse and neglect is, at a minimum:
- any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or
- an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
With CAPTA as a foundation, States laws vary regarding what is considered reportable child abuse and neglect and who is considered a "caretaker"--some States define caretaker broadly and others more narrowly. In all States, any suspected child abuse or neglect should be reported to local child protective services agencies.
Future training broadcasts, scheduled from 12:30-3:30 EST, include:
- Is it Physical Neglect?, April 19
- Is it Psychological Maltreatment?, May 17
- Is it Reportable Parental Disability?, June 21
To register to be a downlink site or to find a viewing site in your area, visit www.welfareacademy.org/newsite/childabu/body.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)
For information about obtaining Besharov's textbook, Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned and companion Trainer's Manual, contact:
The American Enterprise Institute Welfare Reform Project
1150 17th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
From this issue of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Panel Discusses Reporting Issues in Child Abuse and Neglect"
- "Resources from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information on State Laws"
- New Law Supports Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
New Law Supports Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
New language in the Older Americans Act (PL 106-501), reauthorized last November, makes more grandparents and other older relatives who are caring for grandchildren eligible to receive supportive services.
The intergenerational initiative, known as the National Family Caregiver Support Act, provides services to individuals under age 60 for the first time. The following five program components will be administered by a partnership between local area agencies on aging, community service providers, and consumer organizations:
- Provision of information to caregivers about available services
- Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to such services
- Individual counseling, support groups, and caregiver training
- Respite care
- Supplemental long term care services to complement the care provided by caregivers and other informal caregivers
Additionally, the legislation contains the Native American Caregiver Support Program, which makes grants available to tribal organizations to provide these multi-faceted services. The bill also funds programs that provide opportunities for older individuals to engage in multigenerational activities and to obtain computer training and enhanced Internet access. Funding also will be made available to organizations providing legal support and clinical assistance to the elderly.
For a bill summary and legislative history of the Older Americans Act, access Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:HR00782:
For more information about the National Family Caregiver Support Act, and how it affects grandparent and relative caretakers, contact:
122 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
The Administration on Aging's website includes a description and list of frequently asked questions about the Older Americans Act and the new caregiver program at: http://www.aoa.gov.
National Family Caregiver Support Program grant allocations to States are available on the HHS website at: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2001pres/20010215.html.
See related article in this issue of the Children's Bureau Express, "The Grandfamilies House: A Home for Parenting Grandparents and Their Grandchildren."
- Researchers Study Early Intervention for Preschool Foster Children
Researchers Study Early Intervention for Preschool Foster Children
Foster children under age 5 who have been abused are at high risk of developing developmental, behavioral, emotional, and medical problems, and placements of preschool children often disrupt. How can professionals help ensure positive results for this portion of the foster care population?
Researchers in Oregon report that an approach that engages foster parents as "therapeutic agents" for their young charges shows promise.
Researchers with the Oregon Social Learning Center in Eugene studied an Early Intervention Foster Care (EIFC) program. A report of their research, published in the November 2000 Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (http://www.jaacap.com), explains that the EIFC program trains foster parents to provide therapeutic intervention with preschool foster children who have been maltreated.
The EIFC program includes:
- Intensive foster parent preservice training
- Post-placement foster parent support and supervision through daily telephone contacts and weekly home visits by a foster parent consultant, a weekly support group meeting, and 24-hour on-call crisis intervention
- Services for children from a behavior specialist in both the preschool/day-care and home-based settings and a weekly playgroup program
- Parenting skills training for biological parents or alternative long-term placement resource (e.g. an adoptive family, a relative of the child, or a long-term foster home)
Researchers collected data from three groups: 10 preschoolers in EIFC foster homes, 10 preschoolers in regular foster care homes, and a community comparison group of 10 non-maltreated children living with their biological families. Researchers assessed the children 2 to 3 weeks after placement in a new foster home and again 12 weeks later. Questionnaires were used to measure parenting strategies, parent stress related to the child's behavior, and child behavior problems. Reseachers measured chemical levels in the children's saliva to evaluate stress.
The results show that EIFC foster parents adopted and maintained positive parenting strategies similar to those of the community comparison group, while the regular foster care parents did not. Positive parenting strategies included consistent discipline, positive reinforcement, and close supervision and monitoring. Children and parents in EIFC homes exhibited less stress than their counterparts in regular foster homes. Additionally, EIFC children had fewer behavior problems.
Researchers write in the article that despite the limitations of the study, such as lack of random subject assignment and small sample size, they hope the findings can be used as a "first step" in developing interventions that reduce risks for maltreated preschool children.
For more information about this study, contact:
Philip Fisher, Ph.D.
Oregon Social Learning Center
160 E. 4th Ave.
Eugene, OR 97401-2426
- First National Study on Law Enforcement's Response to Child Abuse and Neglect Cases Launched
First National Study on Law Enforcement's Response to Child Abuse and Neglect Cases Launched
The issue of whether or not to involve law enforcement officials in the reporting and investigation of child abuse will come under close scrutiny in a new national study by the American Humane Association (AHA), a national leader in child and animal protection issues since 1878.
With funding from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, AHA will provide a comparative look at different social service and law enforcement models. "Traditionally, the role of reporting on and investigating charges of child abuse has fallen on social wokers," said Paul DiLorenzo, Director of AHA's Children's Services. "If a charge is made, it is the responsibility of a local social service agency to determine whether abuse or neglect has occurred, and then what to do to ensure the safety of children. Over the past few years, we've witnessed a change where some communities are handing that responsibility directly to law enforcement agencies."
The study will solicit input from social service, law enforcement, and judicial arenas. At the end of the two-year project, a report will be produced, which outlines and assesses various policy options for communities considering the use of law enforcement agencies to handle child abuse cases.
A copy of the AHA press release is available online at http://www.americanhumane.org/pressroom/law_abuse.htm. (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)
Contact Information: Vicky Bollenbacher, Ph.D.
American Humane Association
63 Inverness Dr. E.
Englewood, CO 80112-5117
A related manual entitled The Role of Law Enforcement in the Response to Child Abuse and Neglect provides a foundation for the involvement of local, State, tribal, and military law enforcement agencies in combating the crime of child abuse and neglect. It is currently being revised, however the 1992 version is available on the website of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information:
HTML format: http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/usermanuals/law/index.cfm
PDF format: http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/usermanuals/law/law.pdf
Strategies and Tools for Practice
- Corporate Partnerships Increase Adoption of Foster Care Children
Corporate Partnerships Increase Adoption of Foster Care Children
What do hospitals, furniture retailers, and children's clothing stores have in common? Through innovative partnerships with adoption agencies, they have all helped waiting children find homes.
An estimated 110,000 foster children in the United States need permanent homes. Many of them are school-age or older, were abused or neglected, are mentally or physically challenged, or are part of a sibling group.
Two years ago, the Illinois Hospital and Health Systems Association (IHHA) joined the Illinois Department of Children and Families Services (DCFS) and the Illinois Child Care Association in establishing a model workplace recruitment program. IHAA recently was honored with an Adoption 2002 award (see "HHS Annouces Winners of Adoption 2002 Excellence Awards" in the January 2001 issue of the Children's Bureau Express). To date, 41 hospitals employing 65,000 workers have helped publicize the need for adoptive families. DCFS asked each hospital to participate in the following ways:
- Assign a hospital employee to work on the project who expresses an enthusiastic belief in, and support of, recruiting adoptive families
- Provide assistance with the development of appropriate marketing tools and strategy
- Arrange access to space within the hospital for orientation, training sessions, fingerprinting, etc.
- Review the benefits package for employees choosing to adopt.
The Illinois Child Care Association has provided guidance in the selection of private agencies to partner with IHHA members hospitals. Private agencies enter into a contractual agreement with DCFS that pays incentives for each completed application, licenses issued to a family within 75 days of the application submission, placements in an adoptive home for 30 days, and matches made within 90 days of a family being licensed. In return, the agency must agree to a customer-friendly approach to recruitment, training, licensing, and matching.
The Dave Thomas Foundation arranged for DCFS to team with marketing staff from Wendy's Restaurants (also founded by Dave Thomas) to develop marketing materials. The recruitment materials--brochures, magnets, posters, banners, table tents, and employee paycheck inserts--can be personalized with the hospital's and private agency's logo and contact information.
The project, known as the Corporate Partnership for Recruitment of Adoptive Families, has generated widespread interest among hospital employees and created new families for 11 adopted children, with more families waiting matching, placements, and finalizations. New corporate partners, particularly African American-run or owned businesses, are currently being sought to expand the pool of permanent families for Illinois' waiting children.
In Massachusetts, a corporate partnership between Jordan's Furniture stores and the nonprofit Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) has had similar success in finding adoptive families. The partnership was launched following an adoption party sponsored by Jordan's in February 1999 that attracted 2,000 prospective parents--the most successful party in the State's history. The Massachusetts Department of Social Services and MARE developed a Memorandum of Commitment which outlined changes required of agencies in order to benefit from the financial and marketing support provided by Jordan's. These changes required agencies to:
- Offer joint training
- Attend regional matching meetings
- Share home studies
- Free their families to adopt children through any agency
- Register all children on MARE's exchange.
As a result, agencies have developed uniform processes and are working more collaboratively. Jordan's has continued to lend its support, with events such as an adoption party for older boys, a button campaign during which employees wore a waiting child's picture, and displays of books featuring waiting children in their stores.
Last November, Family Builders Adoption Network (FBAN)--a national network of 15 public and private adoption agencies--launched a national interstate program to match children with families. Through a partnership with Children's Orchard, a national chain of children's clothing stores, FBAN was able to obtain funding and marketing support. Children's Orchard's 100 franchise stores promote special needs adoptions and its corporate website presents adoption success stories.
The stores also encourage in-store fundraising by asking customers to round up their purchase price, leave cash in cans, or purchase a coupon book to benefit Family Builders' agencies. Donations from Children's Orchards have funded a staff position that facilitates interactions between Family Builders agencies to place children across State lines. To date, 16 special needs children have been placed through the pilot program.
For more information, contact:
Statewide Project Coordinator
Corporate Partnership for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families
1945 S. Glenwood
Springfield, IL 62704
Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange
45 Franklin Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02110-1301
Phone: 800-882-1176 or 617-542-3678
Family Builders Adoption Network
3766 Fishcreek Road, # 276
Stow, OH 44224-5408
Website: http://www.childorch.com/fban_home.htm (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)
See these related articles in the Children's Bureau Express:
- "Guidebook Encourages Social Workers to Pursue Adoptions Across State Lines" (this issue)
- "Issue Brief Profiles States' Best Practices to Increase Adoptions, Improve Foster Care Placements" (January 2001)
- The GrandFamilies House: A Home for Parenting Grandparents and Their Grandchildren
The GrandFamilies House: A Home for Parenting Grandparents and Their Grandchildren
The first of its kind in the nation, the GrandFamilies House is a housing facility in Boston targeted at low-income grandparents who are their grandchildren's primary caregivers.
For a variety of reasons, the number of children being raised by grandparents has been rising dramatically in recent decades, yet there has been little in terms of public assistance specifically for low-income people in this situation. To address this problem, three organizations in the Boston area (Boston Aging Concerns-Young and Old United, the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development, and the YWCA) banded together.
After several years' planning and extensive renovations, an old nursing home was transformed into a 27-unit facility, designed with the needs of older people and children in mind. For example, there are grab-bars in the bathrooms and safety covers on the electrical outlets. A playground in the rear is situated within easy view of caregivers. A live-in manager is available for emergencies and other needs. A Resident Services Coordinator organizes meetings, transportation, and other services.
A number of services are offered in the basement of the building administered by the Boston YWCA, ranging from a preschool and after-school care for the children, to exercise and parenting classes for the grandparents. Microsoft donated equipment and volunteers for a computer lab. A van funded by the Mellon Trust is available for trips and errands.
A key to the successful launch was a new program of special section 8 rental vouchers created by both the State of Massachusetts and the city of Boston just for grandparents raising grandchildren. The rent subsidies also allow other parenting grandparents to live in affordable housing in the nearby community. Pro-bono attorneys helped put together other public and private financing for the project, which included low-income housing tax credits for lenders.
The GrandFamilies House has drawn media attention, and has received inquiries and visits from social organizations from various parts of the country. "Grandfamilies is definitely a model for other communities to emulate," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino when the project opened in the fall of 1998.
For more information, contact:
Janet Van Zandt
Boston Aging Concerns-Young and Old United
67 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: 617-266-2257, ext. 223
See related article in this issue of the Children's Bureau Express, "New Law Supports Grandparents Raising Grandchildren."
Visit the website of the National Adoption Information Center for a list of resources related to grandparents raising grandchildren (http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/reslist/rl_dsp.cfm?subjID=30&rate_chno=AR-0028A).
The AARP Grandparent Information Center offers a newsletter for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, entitled Raising Grandchildren, as well as several tip sheets on their website (http://www.aarp.org/life/grandparents/) about financial assistance, tax tips, support groups, and other resources. You also can contact them by phone at 202-434-2296 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For legal issues related to custody and guardianship of grandchildren, contact:
Grandparents Rights Organization
100 W. Long Lake Road, Suite 250
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
- Guidebook Encourages Social Workers to Pursue Adoptions Across State Lines
Guidebook Encourages Social Workers to Pursue Adoptions Across State Lines
Two statutes--the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA)--govern the safe placement of children across State lines and ensure that medical and other post-adoption services continue. Yet many caseworkers are still hesitant to expand their recruitment efforts for families nationally.
A new guidebook provides information to caseworkers who may have concerns about placing children across State lines. Produced by the National Adoption Center and the Adoption Exchange Association, it encourages the adoption of children who are currently in the foster care system.
The booklet explains how to use both compacts, including the sending agency and receiving agency's responsibilities. It outlines the steps involved in placing children outside the State, from the first contact to the sharing of information and arranging pre-placement visits. It also discusses money issues, including accessing subsidy programs and financing homestudies, pre-placement visits, and post-adoption services.
Helpful hints from experienced social workers include ideas on planning pre-placement visits, lining up resources, and arranging post-placement supervision. Other testimonies from the adoption coordinators in Louisiana, New Jersey, and Washington show how they have succeeded in these types of placements, with strategies such as:
- putting together a solid packet of information on a child
- being flexible
- responding quickly to inquiries from private agencies and families
- overcoming fears about paperwork
- using technology, such as videoconferencing and advertising children on Internet exchanges
- keeping lines of communication open.
The appendices provide a glossary of terms, instructions for completing an Interstate Compact Request form, steps to placing a child in another State, a suggested timetable for placement, information about volunteer pilots available for travel associated with interstate placements, and the ICPC and ICAMA contacts in each State.
To obtain a copy of Placing Children Across Geographic Boundaries: A Step-by-Step Guide for Social Workers, contact:
Adoption Exchange Association
820 South Monaco Parkway
Denver, CO 80224
- Tax Season Assistance for Foster/Adoptive Parents and Kinship Caregivers
Tax Season Assistance for Foster/Adoptive Parents and Kinship Caregivers
Gear up for tax season with new materials to share with resource families! The Casey National Center for Resource Family Support's website offers materials to help foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers claim the maximum tax benefits available to them. Since they are not considered legal advice, resource families are advised to consult with a professional tax advisor.
The items available online are:
- A 17-page booklet summarizing various tax benefits, which agencies can edit by adding State-specific information and logos
- A sample newsletter article, which can be modified and inserted in an agency's newsletter
- Sample check stuffers, that can be sent in advance of the booklet or newsletter.
The general tax information explains eligibility for the following:
- Earned Income Tax Credit, worth up to $3,888
- Charitable deductions for unreimbursed, out of pocket expenses incurred in the care and support of a foster child
- Adoption Tax Credit, worth up to $5,000 per child adopted, or $6,000 for the adoption of a "special needs" child
- Dependency exemption for foster or adoptive children
- Child Tax Credit, worth up to $500 for each dependent child under age 17
- Child and Dependent Care Credit, for work-related child care of dependents
- Education credits, worth up to $1,500 per year for college and some vocational education tuition.
Foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers should be aware that newly discovered tax benefits may be claimed retroactively for up to three years. Additionally, these resource families can obtain free assistance for tax preparation and disputes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs and the Low Income Taxpayer Clinices (LITC).
Access Casey National Center's tax benefits material online at: http://www.casey.org/cnc/support_retention/federal_tax_benefits.htm. (This link is no longer available.)
Visit the AARP Grandparent Information Center website for a fact sheet on tax tips for grandparents raising grandchildren (http://www.aarp.org/life/grandparents/helpraising/Articles/a2004-09-07-grandparents-taxtips.html).
The Secretary of the Treasury conducted a study of the effect the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 (PL 104-188) had on adoptions, which included tax provisions to assist families who adopt children--the Adoption Tax Credit and the exclusion of certain employer-paid or employer-reimbursed adoption expenses. Find the October 2000 Report to the Congress on Tax Benefits for Adoption online at: http://www.treas.gov/taxpolicy/library/adoption.pdf.
Order free IRS publications on tax benefits for adoption and foster care by calling 1-800-829-3676 or download from the IRS website at: http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html.
The American Bar Association Section of Taxation maintains a website with a page that lists over 100 links to tax-related websites, including Federal and State agencies, and private organizations at: http://www.abanet.org/tax/sites/html.
- The Child Welfare Challenge: Policy, Practice, and Research
The Child Welfare Challenge: Policy, Practice, and ResearchModern Applications of Social Work Series. Second Edition. Pecora, P. J.; Whittaker, J. K.; Maluccio, A. N.; Barth, R. P.; Plotnick, R. D. Aldine de Gruyter, New York, NY. 2000. 612 pp. $30.95. Paperback.
Policy, practice, and research issues intertwine to shape today's child welfare practices, as well as tomorrow's new directions. The authors examine these issues in an historical context, describing current problems in the field, and reviewing recent innovations that could be used to solve these problems. The focus is on areas of service to children who are served by publicly funded agencies:
- Foster care and adoption
- In-home, family-centered services
- Child-protective services
- Residential services.
In each chapter, the authors highlight historical milestones, show how practice has changed in response to response to research findings and public policy, and describe how policy initiatives and research data can or should influence program design and implementation.
To purchase a copy, contact:
Aldine de Gruyter
200 Saw Mill River Rd.
Hawthorne, NY 10532
- Global Views on Child, Family Policy and Child Abuse
Global Views on Child, Family Policy and Child Abuse
Gain a global perspective on issues affecting children, youth, and family through a new website sponsored by Columbia University and a new book on child abuse by Greenwood Publishing Group.
The Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth, and Family Policies provides cross-national, comparative information about the policies, programs, benefits, and services available to address child, youth, and family needs. While currently focusing on the advanced industrialized countries, including the U.S., coverage of other countries is planned. The Clearinghouse also plans to expand its reporting to include policies and programs related to child welfare, abuse, and neglect; substitute care; and lone mothers.
Users can research a particular country's policies and programs or access multi-country tables for comparative data. The following benefits and services are profiled:
- family leave policies
- early childhood education and care
- family allowances
- tax benefits
- child support
- other income transfers
- child & adolescent health
- school-age children: policies and programs
- youth policies
- work and family life
In addition, the site contains comparative country background data, reference publications, and statistics on health, poverty, educational attainment, and youth. Links to international sites; international conventions, treaties, and resolutions; a currency converter and glossary are also useful research tools. A bulletin board provides an opportunity to post questions to Clearinghouse staff and other professionals.
Visit the Clearinghouse site at: http://www.childpolicyintl.org
A new book, Child Abuse: A Global View, delves into the way child abuse and neglect is defined, prevented, and treated worldwide. Sixteen countries, including the U.S., were chosen to represent all the regions of the world. Scholars explore each country's approach to the problem, including:
- history of child abuse
- how child abuse is defined
- prevalence of abuse
- child protection and legal actions taken when abuse is suspected
- remedial services available for families and abused children
- legal innovations available for child witnesses/victims of abuse
- legislative reforms
- legal ramifications for offenders
- preventative measures
Order a copy of the 296-page book for $49.95 from:
Greenwood Publishing Group
88 Post Road West
Westport, CT 06881
- Two Florida websites Provide Leadership on Solving Problems of Children and Families
Two Florida websites Provide Leadership on Solving Problems of Children and Families
Floridians and child welfare staff from other States can access the TEAM Florida Partnership website as a gateway to information and resources for children and families. Supervised visitation providers can also network through the Clearinghouse on Supervised Visitation.
The TEAM Florida Partnership consists of representatives from child serving agencies, organizations and programs, advocates, consumers, legislative staff, Governor's staff and community facilitators. It serves as a State level planning, technical assistance, and policy support workgroup.
The website has a calendar of local and national events, many annotated resource links, and a directory of directories. It includes an online Initiatives Mapping Database for users to find information on publicly funded programs. Names, keywords, lead entity, and geographic location can be searched. The site also has a link to Florida Starting Points, an initiative to coordinate public and private efforts to meet the needs of children, ages 0 to 3.
Access the TEAM Florida Partnership website at: http://www.teamfla.org.
Like the Partnership site, the Clearinghouse on Supervised Visitation, based at Florida State University's School of Social Work, is funded by the State of Florida. Its website contains a message board, chat room, directory of supervised visitation providers, law enforcement guide, and other publications. Links to other supervised visitation sites are also included.
In addition these online resources, the Clearinghouse provides a competency-based training manual for supervised visitation providers, two newsletters, video for parents, and technical assistance to existing and emerging programs.
Log on to http://familyvio.ssw.fsu.edu, then click on the Clearinghouse logo. You can access the site after registering for a password, which you will receive via email.
Karen Oehme, J.D.
Clearinghouse on Supervised Visitation
Institute for Family Violence Studies
School of Social Work
Florida State University
C3405 University Center
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2570
- Directory II-Legislative Leadership, Committees &Staff 2000
Directory II-Legislative Leadership, Committees &Staff 2000
The Council of State Governments, Lexington, KY 40578. 469 pp. $49.00. Paperback.
This easy-to-use State legislative directory will assist you in locating legislative organizations, selected officers, selected committees, and selected legislative functions. Contact names, titles, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, website addresses, email addresses and office hours are provided. Organized alphabetically by State and jurisdiction, all 50 States are included in addition to the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To purchase a copy, contact:
The Council of State Governments
P.O. Box 11910
Lexington, KY 40578-1910
- Evaluation of the Sexually Abused Child: A Medical Textbook and Photographic Atlas
Evaluation of the Sexually Abused Child: A Medical Textbook and Photographic Atlas
Second Edition. Heger, A.; Emans, S. J.; Muran, D. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 2000. 351 pp. $79.50. Hardbound, with CD-ROM.
Physicians examining children for suspected sexual abuse often do not have the training they need to make a skilled diagnosis. This comprehensive resource provides step-by-step guidance on interviewing and clinically evaluating possible child sexual abuse cases, and includes sixty-three pages of color photographs that document sexual abuse injuries, and offer comparisons to accidental injuries as well as normal anatomical variations. Also covered:
- Sensitive and practical guidance on the psychological aspects of sexual abuse
- Conducting medical interviews
- Performing physical examinations
- Establishing the diagnosis
- Recognizing sexually transmitted diseases
- The role of the physician in the court room
- Updated laboratory techniques
- Revised protocols for intervention programs
- New data on the lifetime sequelae of sexual abuse.
A CD-ROM offers interactive case studies, an electronic photographic atlas, and additional readings. Appendixes include several State sexual abuse protocols. An annotated bibliography and a glossary are also included.
To purchase a copy, contact:
Oxford University Press, Inc.
2001 Evans Rd.
Cary, NC 27513
Phone: 800-451-7556 or 919-677-5202
- Language and Parenting Guide Smoothes Russian Adoptions
Language and Parenting Guide Smoothes Russian Adoptions
After all the other obstacles are overcome, and prospective parents finally meet the child they are adopting from another country, they still have to cope with communication problems.
Adopting From Russia: A Language and Parenting Guide smoothes the process by helping parents prepare for adopting and parenting a child who speaks Russian. The guide illustrates words and phrases, which are vocalized on the follow-along audiocassette, that will help them talk to their child and comfort her in her own language.
Besides teaching hundreds of "adoption-specific" Russian phrases and vocabulary, the guide gives practical ideas for waiting, travel, enhancing bonding, and decreasing frustration. It also familiarizes the reader with Russian culture and customs. Similar guides will soon be available for parents who are planning adoptions from China, Korea, and Latin America.
To order the 45 minute English/Russian cassette tape and 65-page handbook ($39.95 plus $3.00 S/H; discounts for bulk orders; AZ residents add 5% sales tax), contact:
Tender Loving Communications
PO Box 90
Taylor, AZ 85939-0090
See these factsheets related to Russian adoptions on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website (http://naic.acf.hhs.gov):
- Agencies Working in Russia (this resource is no longer available; however, you may search for information at http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/country_resource_lists.cfm)
- Russian and Eastern European Resources (this resource is no longer available)
- Agencies that Handle Donations to Russian Orphanages (this resource is no longer available)
Direct prospective adoptive parents to the "parents" section of the NAIC site for more information related to domestic and international adoptions at: http://www.calib.com/naic/parents/index.cfm. (Note: this link is no longer available, but relevant information can be found at http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/parents/prospective/adopttype/index.cfm.)
Search the NAIC documents database for other consumer titles related to adoption at: http://basis1.calib.com/BASIS/chdocs/docs/naicweb/SF
- Family Matters: Interfaces Between Child and Adult Mental Health
Family Matters: Interfaces Between Child and Adult Mental Health
Reder, P.; McClure, M.; Jolley, A. (Editors). Taylor & Francis, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. 2000. 359 pp. $32.95. Paperback.
Rather than focusing on either child or adult mental health, the authors focus on the complex interactions between parents with mental illness and their children, and how the parents' mental health affects their children's lives. Topics include:
- The long-term effects of childhood trauma on adults
- How parental mental health problems affect children
- How family interaction affects the mental health of all family members.
Based on research and practical experience, the authors recommend changes, including the development of new services for the treatment of adolescents, parenting breakdown, and perinatal psychiatric illness, and liaison initiatives to facilitate treatment planning between child and adult mental health services.
To purchase a copy, contact:
Taylor & Francis, Inc.
325 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
- Permanency Planning Barriers and Training Tools
Permanency Planning Barriers and Training Tools
Children with developmental disabilities and adolescents face greater hurdles in finding permanent families, in part due to policies and practices that work against them.
A new policy research brief by the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota explains the barriers that interfere with permanency planning for children with developmental disabilities. A tool kit developed for child welfare supervisors makes the case for permanency of adolescents and offers materials to train staff in planning for permanency, regardless of what program, track, or system the youth is in.
- Do We Really Mean Families for All Children? Permanency Planning for Children with Developmental Disabilities
- Adolescents & Families for Life: A Toolkit for Supervisors
In Do We Really Mean Families for All Children? Permanency Planning for Children with Developmental Disabilities, author Nancy Rosenau points out that children with developmental disabilities living in residential facilities are not afforded the same protections as children in the child welfare system. The following were identified as threats to permanency:
- Faulty assumptions that children with disabilities do not need family life and that their parents should not be questioned about their unwillingness to raise them.
- Treatment needs that overshadow permanency needs.
- Family support programs that focus on placement rather than permanency.
- Conflicting family member needs and parental choice of non-family placement.
- Mismatched resources and needs.
- Placement decisions based on crisis management rather than alternate family recruitment.
Citing statistics and studies, Rosenau attempts to dispel misconceptions that some children with disabilities cannot live with families, alternate families cannot be found, and birth parents refuse to accept another family. She calls for improved data collecting about out-of-home placements for children with disabilities and a renewed commitment to permanency by States, local governments, and service providers.
A copy of Do We Really Mean Families for All Children? Permanency Planning for Children with Developmental Disabilities is available online at http://ici.umn.edu/products/prb/112/default.html or in print for $2 by contacting:
Institute on Community Integration
University of Minnesota
109 Pattee Hall
150 Pillsbury Dr., SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Another publication, Adolescents & Families for Life: A Toolkit for Supervisors, provides practical training ideas to promote permanency for adolescents. Authors Robert G. Lewis and Maureen S. Heffernan provide exercises and information to convince workers that teens need, want, and are able to achieve permanent family connections. The 27 mini workshops focus on the following topics:
- importance of permanency for adolescents
- adolescent development
- helping teens accept permanent family relationships
- system barriers
- identifying established connections
- supporting the permanent placement
- introductory information about adoption and kinship
The toolkit provides training tips, overviews of key objectives for each section, suggested group exercises, handouts, and a CD-ROM of PowerPoint slides.
To purchase a copy of the toolkit ($59.95 + $7.50 postage & handling/each; add 5% sales tax in Massachusetts), send check payable to:
Robert G. Lewis
High Popples Press
4 Mayflower Lane
Gloucester, MA 01930-4321
For articles examining other permanency planning issues, see "Spotlight on the National Resource Centers" in the September issue of the Children's Bureau Express (http://www.calib.com/cbexpress):
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.
- Using Information Management to Support the Goals of Safety, Permanency and Well Being: Trainer's Gu
Using Information Management to Support the Goals of Safety, Permanency and Well Being: Trainer's GuUniversity of Southern Maine, Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, Institute for Child and Family Service, Portland, ME. 2000. 249 pp. Free to download from website. Binder.
Information management skills are critical for child welfare supervisors if they are to be able to access and utilize Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS). The purpose of this trainer's guide is to give supervisors a chance to learn, practice, and enhance these skills, using experiential, active learning methods, in a competency-based curriculum. The curriculum is designed to complement and integrate with a State's existing SACWIS and supervisory training, and is organized into eleven modules, which can be customized to fit the needs of any public child welfare agency. Topics include:
- The child welfare supervisor's evolving responsibilities
- How to reduce resistance and build commitment to change
- Identifying, locating, and using key data for informed casework supervision
- Data analysis tips, tools, and techniques
- Using information management to achieve agency goals.
After completing this training, participants should be able to apply what they have learned to their daily supervisory work, and use information from the SACWIS system to improve accountability in child welfare practice.
A Supervisory Seminar Trainer's Guide and a final report for the project are also available at the website.
To purchase a copy, contact:
Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service
96 Falmouth Street
P.O. Box 9300
Portland, Maine 04104-9300
Full text online: http://www.muskie.usm.maine.edu/sacwis