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News From the Children's Bureau

  • HHS Responds to September 11 Tragedy

    HHS Responds to September 11 Tragedy

    "Helping America Heal" is the message on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website.

    Medical and family assistance personnel, portable morgues, veterinarian assistance to rescue dogs, and emergency medical supplies are among the resources HHS has sent to New York City, Washington, DC, and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in response to the tragedy of September 11. Besides assisting local authorities in identifying victims and treating survivors, HHS is helping rescue workers and all Americans deal with the trauma.

    The HHS website,, offers resources for grief counseling and mental health services. An initial $1 million grant will support community mental health centers in the New York City area. Additionally, a toll-free hotline maintained by HHS's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has been established at 1-800-789-2647 (TDD: 301-443-9006). Three HHS public service announcements related to talking with children after a disaster, coping with the September 11 events, and accessing Medicare and other senior services in New York are also available to members of the media.

    Other support provided to the public includes information on public health risks of asbestos, dust, and debris stemming from the terrorist attacks. A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting the New York City Health Department to conduct tests and protect the population from water- and airborne health risks. The CDC's occupational health specialists are also assessing rescue worker safety needs in New York City.

    A $1 million HHS grant provides emergency child care for relief workers and victims in New York City. In addition, it will help provide immediate social and community services in New York City, including temporary shelter, food, and clothing. Another $500,000 provides immediate support services to senior New Yorkers, including emergency meals, transportation, and other support services.

    HHS grants released to New York City are in addition to the $40 billion in funds appropriated by Congress. HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson emphasized that the Federal government will be available for long-term assistance as local communities recover from the tragic events of September 11. "From the physical clean-up in the impacted areas to the grief that victims' families and the nation are feeling, the recovery process from these events will take a great deal of time," said Thompson. "HHS, like the rest of the Federal, State, and local agencies responding during this time of need, is committed to the long-term process of healing and rebuilding."

    Additional information on HHS assistance efforts is available at

    Related Items

    For U.S. Government information and resources in response to the September 11 terrorist attack, visit:

    Read the President's statement about the "American Liberty Partnership," an online American relief and response effort created by America's high-tech leaders to encourage donations of money, blood, food, clothes, and time to non-profit organizations, at:

    Visit the Administration for Children and Families website for a guide on helping all children (including those with cognitive disabilities) cope with disaster at:

    Visit the Children's Bureau website for information about helping children handle anxiety related to September 11 events at:

    A special issue of Connect for Kids Weekly compiles resources to help families and communities cope with kids' fears, expressions of hatred, and our own feelings at:

  • Dual Licensure Emerging as Promising Practice for Foster and Adoptive Families

    Dual Licensure Emerging as Promising Practice for Foster and Adoptive Families

    A new survey suggests that dual licensing of foster parents and adoptive parents may emerge as "the next addition to the toolbox of 'best practices' for the child welfare system."

    So suggests the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPP) in reporting on the survey's findings. NRCFCPP developed and conducted the telephone survey for the Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support.

    Dual licensing refers to the practice of recruiting and preparing families simultaneously as foster families and adoptive families through common home studies, training, background checks, and other procedures.

    Historically, child welfare practices have discouraged foster families from adopting, but new legislation, research, and demographics have fostered a trend in the other direction. During the past few decades, most children adopted from the child welfare system are adopted by their foster families. Dual licensing is one way that States are trying to encourage foster family adoptions as a way to ensure permanency and safety for children in custody.

    The National Resource Center study looked at four States in particular—Missouri, Utah, Oregon, and Texas—to explore this trend. State foster care and adoption managers and several foster and adoptive families were contacted for their views.

    Among the challenges and experiences discussed were:

    • Missouri: Spent six years refining their training and home study model emphasizing the family-centered nature of dual licensing.
    • Utah: Is currently working through the complex realities of having the licensing arm of the State in an entirely different division.
    • Oregon: Completed 10-year planning process for dual licensure and implemented a common home study in the fall of 2000.
    • Texas: Initiated a consolidated home study in 1991 in one region, which expanded to a successful statewide model of dual licensure.

    The survey revealed the following practice and policy implications:

    Practice Implications

    • Child and family matching becomes an earlier concern.
    • Family-centered practice and reunification continue to be a critically important focus.
    • Systems reorganization supports dual licensure and enhances continuity of relationships for children with families and staff.
    • Resource families' understanding and support of the permanency planning process is critical.
    • Ongoing recruitment is urgently needed.

    Policy Implications

    • Foster and pre-adoptive families need to have similar rights and equal protection.
    • Adoption subsidy rates need to be equivalent to foster care rates.
    • Examining whether dual licensure process encourages or deters relatives who are willing to care for a member of their family.

    Access a copy of Dual Licensure of Foster and Adoptive Families: Evolving Best Practices online at: (PDF 231 KB)

    Related Items

    See this related article in the November 2000 issue of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "States Streamline Foster and Adoptive Home Approval Process"
  • Children's Bureau Debuts New Web-based Policy Manual

    Children's Bureau Debuts New Web-based Policy Manual

    For State child welfare officials, locating the latest Federal policy statements just got easier. On Sept. 24, the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) launched a new online Child Welfare Policy Manual. The Manual conveys policies formulated by the Children's Bureau in response to Federal law or program regulations. The Web-based format makes it faster and easier for States to get the most current policy information.

    The virtual manual replaces the Children's Bureau's former policy issuance system, which relied on postal mailings of printed copies of policy issuances. The electronic Manual updates and reformats all of the existing relevant policy issuances into an easy-to-use question and answer format. Future policy guidance will be disseminated in this format and announced as "Updates!" to the manual. As changes are made, email broadcasts will alert the regional offices of the Administration for Child and Families and the State child welfare offices. Federal locations without email access will continue to receive updates through postal mail.

    The Manual is organized in the following nine main policy areas, each of which contains detailed subsections:

    • AFCARS—Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System
    • CAPTA—Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
    • Independent Living
    • MEPA/IEAP—Multiethnic Placement Act/Interethnic Adoption Provisions
    • Monitoring
    • SACWIS—Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System.
    • Title IV-B
    • Title IV-E
    • Tribes/Indian Tribal Organizations

    A handy user's guide explains how to use, print, and cite the manual. It also explains the history of the development of the online Manual and how to access the old system. The Manual can be downloaded in HTML or PDF versions and printed in its entirety or by section or subsection. Users without printer access can purchase a copy of the manual from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (888-251-0075).

    Access the new Child Welfare Policy Manual online at:

Child Welfare Research

  • Mentoring Program Targets Foster Care Children

    Mentoring Program Targets Foster Care Children

    Experts agree that consistent, caring adult mentors can make a difference in the lives of "at risk" children. Mentoring USA (MUSA), provides structured one-to-one mentoring to this population, which includes foster care children.

    According to MUSA's website, carefully structured mentoring programs have the following benefits:

    • School attendance will improve.
    • School drop-out rates will decline.
    • Child's self-esteem and self-confidence will improve.
    • Child's ability to resolve conflicts will improve and aggressive behavior will decline.
    • Child will develop new aspirations, skills, and interests.
    • Child's sense of community and connectedness will increase.
    • Child is less likely to be a victim or perpetrator of a crime or to be involved in teen pregnancy or substance abuse.

    Originally founded in 1987 by New York's former First Lady, Matilda Raffa Cuomo, MUSA expanded from a government-sponsored New York State mentoring program, which matched children in need with volunteer mentors, to a non-profit corporation operating in more than 60 locations in New York City. MUSA also operates programs in Newark, New Jersey; Boston; and Pawtucket, Rhode Island. MUSA's materials are used in mentoring programs throughout New York State and the U.S.

    In 2000, a new initiative to provide mentors to children in foster care was launched. With funding from the United Way of New York City and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the program targets youth ages 10 through 18. The program runs in every borough of New York City except Staten Island, which is slated to begin in the Fall of 2001. To date, MUSA's Foster Care Initiative has matched 75 mentors and youth. "The reactions from both mentors and mentees have been positive," said Jessica Fabian, co-director of the Foster Care Initiative. "One obstacle has been to identify children for the program and recruiting male mentors."

    The program's mentors are recruited from a variety of sources, such as police departments, court personnel, fraternal organizations, educational institutions, community boards, and interest groups. After receiving special training, mentors commit to a minimum of 4 hours each month for at least one full academic year at one of MUSA's foster care sites, which currently include 10 foster care agencies and one public school. They work with foster youth on life skills development that prepares them for independent living, such as education and career planning, job searching, and basic finances.

    "I have learned so much from my mentor," said one mentee. "She doesn't look at me like a kid in need because I'm in foster care, but as a struggling teen, with issues lots of kids go through. She has shown me that with hard work you can accomplish even the hardest things."

    Contact information:

    Jessica Fabian, CSW
    Co-Director of Foster Care Initiative
    Phone: 212-253-1194 ext. 450

    Nakeisha Vernon, MSW
    Co-Director of Foster Care Initiative
    Phone: 212-253-1194 ext. 462

    Mentoring USA
    113 E. 13th St.
    New York, NY 10003

    Related Items

    Read President's Bush's remarks about a new 5-year-campaign led by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America with the cooperation of 4 leading service organizations—Kiwanis, Lions, Optimist, and Rotary—to recruit 1 million mentors for at-risk children (

    Save the Children's "Do Good: Mentor a Child" public service advertising campaign, co-sponsored by the Ad Council, features a toll-free hotline (1-877-BE-A-MENTOR), which connects interested volunteers with more than 1,700 organizations registered with the National Mentoring Database. For more information, visit:

  • Funds Available to Study Problems of Children of Incarcerated Parents

    Funds Available to Study Problems of Children of Incarcerated Parents

    The U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Corrections (NIC) has announced that it will make $4 million available for projects focusing on children of parents who are, or were, incarcerated.

    There are currently about 1.5 million children of incarcerated parents in the United States. These children are more likely than the general population to be involved with gangs, drug abuse, truancy, dropping out of school, early pregnancies, delinquency, and other problems. For these reasons, Congress provided funds for NIC to "fund private sector or not-for-profit groups that have effective, tested programs to help children of prisoners."

    Funding will be directed in five different ways:

    • Creation of a resource center for children of prisoners.
    • Grants for development of comprehensive plans for delivery of services to children of prisoners.
    • Demonstration programs in areas with high crime and incarceration rates.
    • Grants to agencies that work with children of parents incarcerated in State or Federal prisons.
    • Grants to agencies that work with children of parents incarcerated in local jails.

    Download the funding announcements and application forms at (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)

    Related Items

    See the following related articles in past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Bureau of Justice Statistics Report Reveals Increase in Incarcerated Parents" (March/April 2001)
    • "Working With Children and Families Separated by Incarceration: A Handbook for Child Welfare Agencies" (November 2000)
  • New Data Set Available to Researchers on Mothers Sexually Abused in Childhood

    New Data Set Available to Researchers on Mothers Sexually Abused in Childhood

    The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) has released a new data set entitled "Parenting Among Women Sexually Abused in Childhood," which is available to researchers for secondary analysis.

    The original study, conducted by Mary I. Benedict, Ph.D., examined the direct and indirect impacts of childhood sexual abuse on maternal attitudes, perceptions, and behavior. The data file contains 265 cases of new mothers who were initially interviewed during their third trimesters between the fall of 1990 and early 1992. Follow-up interviews were conducted when their children were between 2- and 4-years-old. In the first round of interviews, 40 percent reported having been sexually abused before the age of 18.

    Variables measuring parenting outcomes in the follow-up study included:

    • Child-rearing competence, satisfaction, and efficacy
    • Parenting stress
    • Discipline practices
    • Family functioning.

    Variables measuring possible mediating factors between a history of sexual abuse and parenting practices included:

    • Education, occupation, income, family structure
    • Current physical and mental health, particularly symptoms of depression
    • Perceived current stresses unrelated to parenting
    • Current family violence or sexual victimization
    • Parental sense of mastery.

    Information about the data set and ordering instructions are available online at:

    Contact information:

    National Data Archive on Child Abuse & Neglect
    Family Life Development Center
    Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY 14853
    Phone: 607-255-7799

  • National Foundations Fund New Initiative for Foster Care Youth

    National Foundations Fund New Initiative for Foster Care Youth

    What's in store for the approximately 100,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 21 who are leaving or have left the foster care system in the United States? According to studies, the answer has traditionally been higher rates of incarceration, homelessness, leaving school, unemployment, unwanted pregnancies, and lower access to good health care. The new Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Inc., based in St. Louis, Missouri, plans to help change that trend.

    Created jointly by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs, the $18 million initiative will not provide direct services to foster care youth, but will support successful State and community-based efforts through grants, technical assistance, and coalition building. Beginning in October of 2001, grants will be authorized on an unsolicited basis, eventually reaching 15 to 20 States in the next three years. Non-profit groups in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Nashville will be among the first recipients.

    Grants will help non-profit groups assist foster care youth in the areas of education, employment, health care, and housing. The initiative will disseminate best practices among policy makers and practitioners for helping foster youth transition to independent living. It will also create a new electronic network to connect foster youth to resources and to each other.

    "Every State has some independent services that are limited in scope and the number of kids they reach," said Gary Stangler, former head of the Missouri Department of Social Services who will serve as director of the initiative. "I think people know that kids can't walk out at 18 and make it on their own. We want to offer second chances to kids who have exited from foster care."

    Additional information about the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative can be found at:

    Related Items

    Search the archives of the Children's Bureau Express for articles related to independent living (

    Visit the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information for a copy of Title IV-E Independent Living Programs: A Decade in Review. (Note: this is no longer available.)

  • Network Brings Violence Prevention Practitioners Together

    Network Brings Violence Prevention Practitioners Together

    Practitioners involved in violence prevention efforts no longer need to feel isolated from their counterparts in different parts of the country or the world, thanks to a membership organization called the Network of Violence Prevention Practitioners.

    The Network was designed nearly a decade ago to facilitate exchange between members and to link members to resources and information on best practices in the field. This exchange is facilitated through periodic mailings, a semi-annual bulletin, summits, study tours, and a technical assistance phone consultation service. The three themes that will guide the Network's future work are:

    • Supporting research-based practice
    • Fostering global exchange
    • Actively involving youth as prevention partners

    The Network's website provides access to research, member spotlights, and an overview of violence prevention. A new Spanish section on the website lists resources in Spanish, including publications and links to violence prevention and other related sites. The history of the Network and introduction to violence prevention have also been translated into Spanish.

    Health and Human Development Programs, a division of Education Development Center, Inc., administers the Network. The California Wellness Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank support special projects. For a list of organizations that represent the Network membership, visit

    Contact information:

    The Network of Violence Prevention Practitioners
    Education Development Center
    55 Chapel St.
    Newton, MA 02458-1060
    Phone: 617-618-2380
    Fax: 617-527-4096

  • Study Probes Outcomes of Reunification

    Study Probes Outcomes of Reunification

    A new study finds that children returned to their biological families after foster care fare less well than counterparts who do not return to their biological families.

    The study, published in the July 2001 issue of Pediatrics, was conducted by the Kempe Children's Center at the University of Colorado and the School of Social Work at San Diego State University. The researchers compared children who have been reunified with their biological families after foster care with children who have not been reunified. The study represents the first attempt to systematically compare the behavioral and emotional functioning of the two groups, controlling for symptoms at entry to foster care.

    The 6-year study involved a total of 149 children in San Diego, California. Researchers found less favorable outcomes for reunified children in a number of areas: self-destructive behavior, substance use, legal difficulties, school dropout rate, low grades, internalizing behaviors, and overall behavior problems. There were no statistically significant differences between the groups on delinquency, sexual behaviors, pregnancy, suspensions, or externalizing behaviors.

    The results of the study raises questions about the benefits of reunification and the aftereffects of foster care. The authors do not refute the value of reunification but call for additional research. "The study's findings strongly caution us against presuming that children who return to live with their birth parents have achieved positive outcomes," write the researchers. "Although the current study has its limitations, the effects are consistent across different domains, and should give pause to those pressing for prompt reunification."

    The researchers also urge child welfare professionals to listen to the "voice of youth" in determining what is in their best interest. Previous studies have reported that current and former foster children have reported positive feelings about being placed in foster care, even though many missed their biological families and had suggestions for improvement of the foster care system.

    Access a copy of the Pediatrics article (Vol. 108, No. 1, July 2001) online at:

  • October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

    October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

    Domestic violence not only affects the battered spouse, but also harms children and pets in the besieged household. Its prevention is a community responsibility. Showing that domestic violence is linked to other forms of violence and that it is everyone's business are some of the messages that the Domestic Violence Awareness Project hopes to disseminate this October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

    The Project is coordinated by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and represents a coalition of national, State, and local domestic violence programs. Every year since 1989, Congress has passed legislation commemorating October as Domestic Violence Awareness month. Domestic violence prevention and victim service organizations plan recognition ceremonies, memorial activities, public education campaigns, news conferences, and other events to raise awareness.

    The members of the Domestic Violence Awareness Project provide ideas for commemorating the month in their Domestic Violence Awareness packet, such as:

    • A manual, Domestic Violence Awareness: Tips, Tactics, & Resources
    • Factsheets on popular awareness events
    • Camera-ready logo and National Domestic Violence Hotline slicks in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese to produce bookmarks, buttons, and stickers
    • Brochures on ending domestic violence in Jewish families and Asian/Pacific Islander communities
    • Sample bulletin insert for church communities
    • Order forms for posters, PSAs, magnets, purple ribbon pins, and other materials being sold by Project members

    Access Domestic Violence Awareness Month materials online at:

    To order a printed packet of materials, contact:

    National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
    6400 Flank Dr., Suite 1300
    Harrisburg, PA 17112
    Phone: 800-537-2238 (800-553-2508 TTY)
    Fax: 717-545-9456

    Related Items

    The new End Violence Against Women website from Johns Hopkins University provides policy makers, researchers, health communication specialists, and others with the latest information from hundreds of organizations (

    ABA's Division for Public Education and the Commission on Domestic Violence has assembled information for State and local bars, governors, attorneys general, and the public, on the needs of victims and how to assist (

  • Preparing Kids for Court

    Preparing Kids for Court

    When preparing a child victim for court, child abuse professionals need to be aware of the "Judge Judy effect" and other misconceptions about court that children learn from television.

    Besides teaching kids that all judges are not mean like Judge Judy on T.V., child abuse professionals need to be aware of stressors caused by the court process and to educate the child witness about what to expect in court. In addition, caregivers and prosecutors need to be prepared for dealing with child witnesses. These issues were presented by Laura Rogers, J.D., and Martha Finnegan, M.S.W., of the American Prosecutors Research Institute's National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse at the 9th Annual Colloquium of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC), held June 20-23, 2001, in Washington, D.C. Rogers, a former Deputy District Attorney in San Diego, and Finnegan, a former Kids in Court Coordinator and forensic interview specialist at Children's Hospital Center for Child Protection in San Diego, used their experience in the field to explain how to prepare children and child abuse professionals for court.

    In explaining a child's view of court, Rogers and Finnegan presented survey results from a class of third graders, which produced funny, but highly inaccurate definitions of terms such as bailiff, jury, defendant, and prosecutor. This lack of understanding of the process can create court-related stress in young victims. Other contributing stressors to the child include fear of public exposure, multiple interviews, testifying multiple times, facing a defendant, potentially harsh cross-examination, sequestration of supportive witnesses, and concurrent out-of-home placement. The goals of court preparation are:

    • To reduce the stress level in the child witness
    • To help the child understand the nature and seriousness of the proceedings
    • To minimize the likelihood that the child will suffer negative court-related harm
    • To improve the child's ability to answer questions in court in the most accurate, complete, and truthful manner
    • To maximize the child's ability to be perceived as a credible witness.

    Besides being familiar with the players, terminology, and court process, the child needs to know his rights in court. Depending on the particular State's statutes, these include the right to a support person and comfort item. They should also be made aware that their "job" in court is tell the truth, rather than "guess" the right answer. The child and non-offending caregiver needs to be kept apprised of court appointments, what to wear, where to wait prior to testifying, where the defendant will sit, and where to look for a "friendly" face, i.e., support person, prosecutor.

    In addressing the issue of educating child abuse professionals, Rogers and Finnegan noted that caregivers need to have the child physically and emotionally ready for trial. The victim advocate should help provide the necessary support and serve as liaison between the family and prosecutor's office. The child and family should be given assistance in preparing and reading a victim impact statement, if requested. Prosecutors need to become familiar with literature on child witnesses, cognitive development, linguistic development, and background information on the case.

    Rogers and Finnegan explained the different stages of cognitive and linguistic development in children from ages 3 to 18, giving pointers for effectively communicating with the child in court and age appropriate interview questions. They also discussed establishing a conducive courtroom environment, the requirements for closed circuit and video testimony, the role of competency hearings, and the use of interpreters.

    Contact information:

    Martha Finnegan, M.S.W.
    Victim Witness Specialist
    Phone: 703-518-4385

    Laura Rogers, J.D.
    Senior Attorney
    Phone: 703-518-4388

    APRI's National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse
    99 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 510
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    Phone: 703-518-4385
    FAX: 703-549-6259

    Related Items

    See the following related articles in these issues of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Former Prosecutor Produces Educational Video for Child Witnesses" (September/October 2001)
    • "California Courts Produce Activity Book for Kids" (July 2000)

    Visit the website of APRI's National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse ( for the following related items:

    • Creating and Administering a Kids Court Program
    • Child Development: A Primer for Child Abuse Professionals
    • Facilitating Children's Testimony
  • New CDC Center Brings National Attention to Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

    New CDC Center Brings National Attention to Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

    A new Federal website serves as a one-stop shopping destination for health professionals, parents, teachers, and others searching for information online about birth defects and developmental disabilities.

    As mandated by the Children's Health Act of 2000, the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities was established at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 12, 2001. Its mission is three-fold:

    • Promote optimal fetal, infant, and child development
    • Prevent birth defects and childhood developmental disabilities
    • Enhance the quality of life and prevent secondary conditions among children, adolescents, and adults who are living with a disability.

    The Center's website reflects its mission with sections that address birth defects, developmental disabilities, disability and health, and fetal alcohol syndrome. A Spanish section gives an overview of the Center's work in each of these areas and offers links to fact sheets in English and Spanish. A page about the importance of folic acid during pregnancy to prevent defects has also been translated into Spanish.

    Professionals can learn about training, employment, and funding opportunities through the Center's website. A publications page lists journal articles and fact sheets organized by topic area. A rotating "Center News" box displays new findings and emerging issues in the field, such as kernicterus—a preventable debilitating developmental disability caused in the neonatal period by untreated jaundice. A "Kids' Quest" area is designed for students at the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade levels to get them to think about people with disabilities and some of the issues related to participation in daily activities, health, and accessibility.

    Visit the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities website at:

    The Center's Spanish site is located at:

    Contact information:

    National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    4770 Buford Hwy, NE, MS F-34
    Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
    Phone: 770-488-7150
    Fax: 770-488-7156

  • Two Studies Find Prevalence of Online Child Solicitation

    Two Studies Find Prevalence of Online Child Solicitation

    Parents may think that Internet filters and monitoring Internet use protects their children from online solicitations, but two new studies find this is not the case.

    Nearly 20 percent of young people who use the Internet regularly received unwanted sexual solicitations, according to a recent survey of 1,501 young people by researchers at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. Of those approached online, 3 percent reported an aggressive encounter. Risk was higher among girls, older teens, troubled youth, and frequent Internet users. Chat room and instant message participation also made children more vulnerable to predators.

    Another new survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project gives a broader look at teenage life online and its impact on friendships and family relationships. Of the 754 young Internet users surveyed, 60 percent reported that they had received email or instant messages from strangers, and the majority of those recipients had responded. A larger percentage of boys and older youth emailed or instant messaged a stranger than girls and younger teens. Most instant message users either ignore or enable blocking features when they don't want to hear from someone. Many teens recognized the danger of chat rooms. In the report, the teens noted that one of the most common questions a new chat room arrival will be asked is "ASL?" or "Age, Sex, Location?"

    The age-old struggle between youthful independence and parental control applies to the Internet. "Even though they think that the Internet can in some instances lead to harmful behavior, online teens generally are less worried than their parents," write the Pew researchers. "And they do not want limits placed on the information that can be accessed."

    In both surveys, online solicitation did not cause concern for the majority of youth surveyed. The minority of users who reported being distressed by an unwanted encounter in the New Hampshire study, were pre-teens (10-13 years) who accessed the Internet from a computer outside the home and were the targets of an aggressive solicitation.

    Although child solicitation, both online and offline, is illegal in all States, only a small percentage of cases are reported to the police. In the New Hampshire survey, only 10 percent of sexual solicitations were reported, and most parents and youth did not know where they could report.

    "This study provides enough concerning facts for public health officials, educators, law enforcement officers, and child protection workers to add Internet solicitation to the list of childhood perils about which they should be knowledgeable and able to provide counsel to families," conclude the New Hampshire researchers. "At the same time, the concerns are not so alarming that they should by themselves encourage parents to bar children from accessing the Internet."

    Access the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 285, No. 23) online at:

    Access the Pew Internet and American Life Project report online at:

    Related Items

    The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children operates the CyberTipline for reporting incidents of online solicitation (

    Visit the website of the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse for information on its SAFETY NET training and to access its Update article on the golden rules for investigating online child sexual exploitation (

    See these related articles in past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Megan's Law" May Apply in Cyberspace, College Campuses" (July 2000)
    • "Would Megan's Law Work Online?" (July 2000)
    • "Study Examines Online Victimization of Youth" (July 2000)
    • "Courts Issue Rulings on State Versions of 'Megan's Law'" (May 2000)
    • "Pros and Cons of Online Sex Offender Registries" (April 2000)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Article Highlights Foster Programs That Keeps Siblings Together

    Article Highlights Foster Programs That Keeps Siblings Together

    In Connect for Kids, an electronic newsletter and website sponsored by the Benton Foundation, Julee Newberger writes about a program that helps siblings in foster care stay together.

    Older children and children with developmental disabilities are more likely to be separated from siblings as are members of larger sibling groups and members of sibling groups who enter the foster care system at different times, the article notes. Separated siblings also tend to have multiple placements. This separation can be traumatic, especially for children who have learned to rely on each other in a dysfunctional family.

    Newberger interviewed a foster mother in Florida who was able to reunite her 5-year-old foster son with his 3 siblings through the Neighbor to Family program. The local foster care agency specializes in keeping siblings together. Newberger also spoke to staff at the Jane Addams Hull House Association in Chicago that created the Neighbor to Neighbor program in 1994. This Illinois State-funded program that places sibling groups together with foster parents served as a model for Neighbor to Family. In both programs, foster parents become professionally paid employees that help manage decisions about the children as part of a team.

    Newberger shows how the support team provided by Neighbor to Family helps to address problems related to sibling rivalry. She also discusses a new federally funded Neighbor to Neighbor Training Program, which provides technical assistance to States interested in replicating the program.

    Read the article online at:

  • Foster Parent Recruitment Aimed at Latino Families in Utah

    Foster Parent Recruitment Aimed at Latino Families in Utah

    "Amor eterno" or "eternal love" is the message being broadcast on televisions throughout Utah in an effort to recruit more Latino foster families.

    In the past decade, Utah's Latino population has increased by more than 138 percent, accounting for more than 16 percent of the children in Utah's foster care system. At the same time, only 5 percent of the State's licensed foster families are Latino. To increase the numbers of Latino foster parents, the Utah Foster Care Foundation launched a statewide recruitment campaign in May 2001.

    The Foundation's initiative is in keeping with the mandate of the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994 to find potential foster and adoptive families that reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of the State's children. At the same time, the Foundation complies with MEPA's requirement that a child's placement not be delayed or denied based on race, color, or national origin. The Foundation was established by legislative mandate in 1998 as a separate, private, non-profit agency responsible for recruiting and training foster/adoptive families. It operates with both public and private funds.

    Television commercials taped in Spanish with English subtitles feature Emilio and Julia Moreno, who have fostered 27 children over the past 2 decades in Utah. One commercial focuses on their decision to foster a child after the death of their own 10-year-old daughter and another discusses the goal of reunification. Produced by Musa Communications, a Latino-owned and operated company in Utah, the commercial has been favorably received. According to Kelsey Lewis, Director of Foster/Adoptive Family Recruitment for the Utah Foster Care Foundation, having the commercial in Spanish was a first for a television campaign in Utah. "It has helped Latino families take our plea more seriously," said Lewis in an interview with the Children's Bureau Express.

    To further connect with Latino families, the Foundation translated training materials into Spanish. The Foundation's Institute of Human Services training curriculum—used for both foster and adoptive parents—was the first in the United States to be translated into Spanish. An initial Spanish training session, held in January 2001, attracted 5 families. A second training in Spanish that began in July enrolled 20 families.

    "The news coverage from the campaign has primarily increased our response," explained Lewis. "In the 2 months prior to the launch [March and April], we had four inquiries from Latino families. In May and June, the number increased to 63 inquiries." The Foundation continues to focus on grassroots recruitment efforts by disseminating Spanish-language material to civic organizations, churches, community calendars, and other local venues. The Foundation also holds monthly open houses in targeted areas.

    Since the release of the Spanish recruitment ad on television, the Foundation continues to receive media attention. "We've gotten a lot of support from community leaders and local politicians who talk about the campaign on news programs," said Lewis. "We plan to follow up on their support by involving them in the grassroots efforts in their communities. We feel a two-tiered system [of combining mass media and grassroots campaigns] is most effective in recruitment."

    Contact information:

    Kelsey Lewis
    Director of Foster/Adoptive Family Recruitment
    136 E. South Temple
    Suite 960
    Salt Lake City, UT 84111
    Phone: 801-303-4068 ext. 230
    Toll-free: 877-505-KIDS
    Fax: 801-994-5206

    Related Items

    See the following related articles in these past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Attracting and Supporting Foster Families" (May/June 2001)
    • "Growing Latino Population Spurs Efforts to Recruit Latino Foster and Adoptive Familiea" (January/February 2001)
    • "States Streamline Foster and Adoptive Home Approval Process" (November 2000)
    • "Recruiting Families for Special Needs Children" (May 2000)

    For information about the Federal Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 (PL 103-382), visit the website of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (

  • Toolbox No. 2: Expanding the Role of Foster Parents in Achieving Permanency

    Toolbox No. 2: Expanding the Role of Foster Parents in Achieving Permanency

    //Toolboxes for Permanency//. Dougherty, S. Child Welfare League of America, Inc., Washington, DC. 2001. 132 pp. $14.95. Paperback.

    Successful foster care practices are currently understood to be family-focused, child-centered, community-based, developmentally appropriate, and culturally competent. While experienced foster parents are gaining more respect for their expertise, and exerting more influence with public social services agencies, lack of agency staff is resulting in undefined and vaguely understood roles for these paraprofessionals. The author suggests practical ways to incorporate professional child welfare practice into the recruitment, training, and support of foster parents, and ways that agencies can adapt the role of foster parents in the changing child welfare system. In addition to the traditional tasks of foster parents as caregivers and disciplinarians, the author recommends expanded roles as trainers and mentors to birth parents and new foster parents, and recognition as official members of agency permanency planning teams.

    To purchase a copy, contact:

    Child Welfare League of America, Inc.
    PO Box 2019
    Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-2019
    Phone: 800-407-6273
    Fax: 301-206-9789

  • Mentors Share Homes, Teach Life Skills to At-Risk Families

    Mentors Share Homes, Teach Life Skills to At-Risk Families

    An innovative twist on out-of-home care places not only children but also their parents in the household of a "host" family trained to provide mentoring and support.

    "Shared Family Care," modeled after Scandinavian child welfare services, debuted in Minnesota and Philadelphia more than a decade ago. Shared Family Care programs also operate in several counties in California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center (AIA) currently is evaluating the programs in California and Colorado.

    The model aims to preserve, empower, and reunify families. In some cases, parents ultimately decide to release their children for adoption.

    Shared Family Care can be court mandated, but most clients volunteer to participate. They are often referred by family reunification/preservation services, community based organizations, or drug treatment programs. AIA has found that successful clients typically are motivated to make changes, admit their mistakes, and show concern about and enjoy their children.

    So far, client families have primarily been single mothers with young children, but two-parent families and single fathers with children also have participated.

    Participating parents retain primary responsibility for their children, including arranging for child care and purchasing and preparing food. Besides housing a family, mentors teach and model effective parenting and living skills. A family support team (including the mentor, a social worker, counselors, and others) provides case management and helps the client develop a plan to live independently.

    AIA has found that many mentors are single women who have raised families of their own. A matching process allows the mentors to meet families a few times before making a commitment to take them in for a period of 6-12 months. Mentors come from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. AIA reports that successful mentors

    • Like living with others
    • Demonstrate a commitment to their community
    • Are straightforward
    • Are flexible but able to set boundaries
    • Like children
    • Are willing to accept training.

    AIA's recent evaluation of the demonstration sites in Northern California and Colorado found that to date:

    • Approximately 150 families were referred to 4 programs
    • 69 families were placed with mentors
    • 37 graduated successfully (completed placement goals and/or voluntarily relinquished parental rights), equaling a 63 percent "success" rate
    • 22 terminated
    • 10 are currently in placement
    • The average length of stay was 8 months.

    Also, participating families achieved gains in income that enabled them to live independently.

    Costs for Shared Family Care compare favorably with foster care. AIA reports that in the California counties, the approximate costs for a family of three for an average 9.5 month placement is $16,000 (excluding administrative overhead and start-up costs). Basic foster care for a California family of three for an average 15 month placement is approximately $34,000.

    For technical assistance, research, and evaluation information regarding Shared Family Care, contact:

    Amy Price, MPA
    Associate Director
    National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center
    University of California, Berkeley
    School of Social Welfare
    1950 Addison St., Suite 104
    Berkeley, CA 94704
    Phone: 510-643-8390
    Fax: 510-643-7019

  • Vermont Prevents Child Sexual Abuse by Targeting Adults

    Vermont Prevents Child Sexual Abuse by Targeting Adults

    Following a model pioneered by public health, a program in Vermont called Stop It Now! aims to prevent child sexual abuse by targeting its message to adults, including sexual abusers themselves.

    Stop It Now! applies principles of social marketing and public education campaigns in ways similar to programs designed to prevent drinking and driving, smoking, and HIV transmission. Stop It Now! campaigns offer information about preventing the sexual abuse of children and steps that an abuser can take to get treatment and help.

    The campaign was founded in 1992 by Fran Henry, a child sexual abuse survivor. Henry sought an alternative to prevention programs focused primarily on teaching children to protect themselves and to report abuse. According to the campaign's website, Stop It Now! is the first program that has "directly asked abusers to step forward or asked adults to confront abusers."

    Stop It Now!'s national office is based in Haydenville, MA. The privately funded, pilot program in Vermont was launched with the assistance of the Safer Society Foundation, Inc. in Brandon, VT, in 1995 with three major components: Media, Systems Change, and Community Action.

    Focus groups were used to plan an awareness-raising media campaign. Joan Tabachnick, Program Director for Stop It Now!, explained that one of the major thrusts was to get people to start talking about child sexual abuse. "We found that people were aware that child sexual abuse is a problem, but they didn't know what to do about it. What was even more clear was they didn't know how to talk about it," Tabachnick told the Children's Bureau Express. In Vermont's media campaign, which consists of public service announcements, posters, billboards, a website, and media events, Stop It Now! tried to be as explicit as possible. "When child sexual abuse is known, most people know they should report," explained Tabachnick. "When it is suspected, the action you should take is less clear. So in our media messages we try to name a specific [child] behavior that indicates abuse and name a specific action to take."

    The campaign promotes an anonymous toll-free helpline, available to abusers and people who may know abusers. Offenders are assigned a confidential identification number that they can take to a clinician for psycho-sexual evaluation. If the clinician feels the caller would benefit from treatment, the offender can take the evaluation to a lawyer who will, in turn, report the crime to a prosecutor. Since reporting to the police may be too big a step for someone who only suspects child sexual abuse, the helpline was established as a systems change component.

    The community action component of Stop It Now! Vermont consists of collaborating with other organizations providing services to families to reach adults at risk of child sexual abuse and people who know them. Since there is only one Stop It Now! coordinator for the entire State, these joint training and dialogue programs have been instrumental to the program's statewide outreach. A guidebook developed for the program on taking responsibility to stop child sexual abuse has received positive feedback from both treatment providers and from those affected by sexual abuse. It quotes focus group members, gives information on setting and respecting family boundaries, and recommends how adults can become more comfortable talking about this topic and taking action.

    Stop It Now! adapted the prevention model used in Vermont for the urban and culturally diverse environment in Philadelphia. Launched in September 2000, Stop It Now! analyzed focus groups conducted at Philadelphia Health Services in the Latino community and by a communications firm, MEE Productions, among the African American community. The knowledge and ideas about child sexual abuse that arose from the discussions were used to develop culturally competent sexual abuse prevention programming. This included a brochure, posters, and billboards in Spanish. "When we looked around three years ago, we couldn't find any materials in Spanish focusing on child sexual abuse that addressed the abuser and people who knew the abuser," remarked Tabachnick. A series of posters in English and Spanish use the theme of games children play--such as Simon Says, Peek-A-Boo, and Hide & Seek--to convey the message that sexual abuse is no game.

    Since Stop It Now! has not been able to find a partner to train and collaborate with in the African American community, that component of the project is on hold. Tabachnick is hopeful that recent outreach efforts to churches will help in this effort. She also noted that Stop It Now! is in the process of planning a child sexual abuse prevention program in Minnesota.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention became involved in violence as a public health problem when a National Center for Injury Prevention and Control ( was established a decade ago. It covered the broad spectrum of violence and recently began to address child sexual abuse. It received a congressional appropriation to evaluate the Stop It Now! Vermont program from 1995 to 1997 and has recently begun an evaluation of the pilot program in Philadelphia. Tabachnick also noted that the CDC has been helpful in providing technical assistance and advice to Stop It Now! "It's really appropriate for government to see if innovative programs work from a scientific point of view," commented Tabachnick.

    Another evaluation of Stop It Now! Vermont from September 1995 to December 1999, conducted by an independent research firm, revealed the program's success. The study found abusers will call for help and can stop the abuse, an increased number of adults are knowledgeable about child sexual abuse, and adults need better skills to stop abuse.

    The results suggest adults need:

    • A clear and familiar vocabulary to be able to talk openly about child sexual abuse
    • A sense of what to do if they suspect a child is being sexually abused
    • Information and action path for someone who reports child sexual abuse, but lacks evidence or information to officially take the report.

    Media efforts need to:

    • target men more than women
    • emphasize that treatment works
    • provide the warning signs of potential abuse.

    For a detailed discussion of the findings from the Stop It Now! focus groups about child sexual abuse views among African Americans and Latinos in Philadelphia, see Child Maltreatment, Vol. 6, No. 2, May 2001.

    Contact information:

    Joan Tabachnick
    Program Director
    Stop It Now!
    PO Box 495
    Haydenville, MA 01039
    Phone: 413-268-3096
    Toll-free Helpline: 888-PREVENT (773-8368) (available M-F, 1-5pm, EST)
    Fax: 413-268-3098

    Related Items

    Access these past issues of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports ( for articles related to Stop It Now!:

    • Evaluation of a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program--Vermont, 1995-1997, 2/9/01, 50(05); 77-8, 87.
    • Perceptions of Child Sexual Abuse as a Public Health Problem--Vermont, September 1995, 8/29/97, 46(34); 801-803.


  • WebGuide Evaluates Child-Related Websites

    WebGuide Evaluates Child-Related Websites

    A new website for parents, child care professionals, students, and the general public has been created by Tufts University's Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development. The Child & Family WebGuide identifies, describes and evaluates many websites that provide research-based information on family, education, health, typical development, child care, and activities.

    Developed with department faculty, librarians and the Society for Research in Child Development, additional input was also obtained from other experts such as Fred Rogers ("Mr. Rogers") and Edward Zigler (founder of Head Start).

    Sites are evaluated by Tufts child development graduate students, who are trained in the use of WebGuide's evaluation methods and under faculty supervision. Evaluated sites are ranked with stars—one star (poor) to five stars (excellent). Evaluation criteria include:

    • Content—level of documentation provided for presented information (citations of sources for research and statistics, etc.)
    • Authority—redentials such as education status of authors, quantity and quality of research publications, affiliations and professional experience of sponsor organizations and individual authors of presented information
    • Stability—the presence (or absence) of a creation or copyright date, evidence of site maintenance and updates, and consistent dating of interior pages
    • Ease of use—accessibility of the site's material, ease of navigation, consistent page layout, working links and acceptable loading time.

    Two sponsoring organizations of the Children's Bureau Express were listed on the WebGuide. The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information ( received a five-star rating, and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse ( received a four-star rating.

    Access the WebGuide at:

  • Former Prosecutor Produces Educational Video for Child Witnesses

    Former Prosecutor Produces Educational Video for Child Witnesses

    Give children a child's eye view of court with a video developed for use by professionals and volunteers. Former prosecutor, Christine Downs, produced "Kids Go To Court" by combining live action and animation.

    "As a former prosecutor of child abuse cases, I saw plenty of witnesses show up for court with little or no preparation for this very scary experience. Further, I've seen plenty of divorcing couples tell their kids that they're 'going to court.' This sounds very ominous if you don't know what happens there," said Downs. "So, I invented 'Kids Go To Court' as an easy, fun way to prepare child witnesses, or simply to educate kids about court."

    The video features child and adult actors that stage a mock trial, showing the comparison with a game on a basketball court (e.g., lawyers are like coaches, judges are like referees). Footage from old movies, such as Laurel and Hardy, provides comedic reinforcement of court terminology. A real bailiff and judge also explain their roles. Child witnesses are encouraged to tell the truth, to ask for clarification if they don't understand a question, and to not worry about being punished.

    "Going to court doesn't mean you've done something wrong, it just means telling the truth about what you know," states the video's narrator. "Trials are important to help people get along."

    Order a copy of "Kids Go To Court" online at or contact producer Christine Downs by email at (Editor's note: this link is no longer available.)

    Related Items

    See the following related articles in these issues of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Preparing Kids for Court" (this issue)
    • "California Courts Produce Activity Book for Kids" (July 2000)
  • The Market Forces in Adoption

    The Market Forces in Adoption

    //Adoption and Ethics//. Freundlich, M. Volume 2. Child Welfare League of America, Inc., Washington, DC. 2000. 147 pp. $18.95. Paperback.

    Shifting demographics in adoption are raising questions about money and power in the adoption business, as well as the responsibility and accountability of adoption placement professionals. The author addresses concerns about the commodification of parentless children, increasing costs that are affecting who can afford to adopt, power issues in the adoption triad, and the effects of these market forces on ethical adoption practice. These issues are discussed in the contexts of infant adoption, international adoption, and special needs adoption. Finally, the author explores ethical issues in adoption marketing practices in the contexts of advertising for infants by prospective parents; advertising of children in need of adoption; and advertising by adoption service providers to attract business.

    To purchase a copy, contact:

    Child Welfare League of America, Inc.
    PO Box 2019
    Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-2019
    Phone: 800-407-6273
    Fax: 301-206-9789

  • The Abuse of Men: Trauma Begets Trauma

    The Abuse of Men: Trauma Begets Trauma

    Brothers, B. J. (Editor). Haworth Press, Inc., Binghamton, NY. 2001. 132 pp. $17.95. Paperback.

    A history of childhood physical or emotional abuse may cause men to experience difficulty with intimacy in adult long term relationships. The lingering impact of childhood trauma may lead to repetition of the generational cycle of abuse, with 30% of those abused as children growing up to abuse their own families. Men also may be affected by the abuse of their intimate partners. Because up to 60% of female sexual abuse survivors meet the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder, their male partners may begin to experience vicarious trauma during long term relationships.

    Haworth Press published this title simultaneously as the Journal of Couples Therapy, volume 10, number 1.

    To purchase a copy, contact:

    Haworth Press, Inc.
    Document Delivery Service
    10 Alice St.
    Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
    Phone: 800-429-6784
    Fax: 800-895-0582

  • Mental Health Guidelines Updated for Child Victims of Intrafamilial Abuse

    Mental Health Guidelines Updated for Child Victims of Intrafamilial Abuse

    Significantly expanded from last year, the Guidelines for the Psychosocial Treatment of Intrafamilial Child Physical and Sexual Abuse, Draft Report 4-6-01 provides guidelines regarding assessments and using standardized measures, 22 principles of treatment, and 24 treatment protocols. Practitioners are encouraged to review the draft and provide comments to assist with finalizing the document.

    The guidelines are intended for use by a large audience including:

    • Mental health professionals
    • Mental health treatment programs
    • Victim/witness advocates
    • Family/juvenile court judges
    • Prosecutors
    • Criminal court judges
    • Child protective services personnel
    • State and Federal victims compensation programs
    • Policy makers
    • Government mental health benefit programs (e.g., Medicaid and Medicare)
    • Private insurance companies
    • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
    • Child abuse professionals
    • Professional organizations
    • Others concerned with the treatment of abused children.

    The guidelines are designed to inform practitioners about the characteristics of certain treatment protocols, including risks and benefits, in order to make the best selection for their patients. Treatment protocols are grouped by:

    • Child-focused interventions
    • Parent, parent/child, and family-focused interventions
    • Offender-focused interventions.

    The guidelines were developed under a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime of the U.S. Department of Justice by the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center of the Medical University of South Carolina, and the Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

    The draft and instructions for submitting feedback can be found on the Crime Victims Center website at the Medical University of South Carolina:

    Related Item

    See the following related article in the July 2000 issue of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "New Mental Health Guidelines Drafted for Child Victims of Intrafamilial Abuse"
  • The Orphan Trains: The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed

    The Orphan Trains: The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed

    O'Conner, S. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY. 2001. 380 pp. $27.00. Hardcover.

    The orphan trains sent West from New York City between 1853 and 1929 by the Children's Aid Society carried over 100,000 children to the other States for distribution to new families or employers. In this examination of the life and work of Charles Loring Brace, the author combines biography with accounts of selected orphans' lives, including those still living. The concluding chapter contains a discussion of foster care and adoption placement today, and how it began, and is still influenced by Brace's vision and ideals.

    To purchase a copy, contact:

    Houghton Mifflin Co.
    215 Park Ave. S.
    New York, NY 10003
    Phone: 212-420-5800
    Fax: 212-420-5850

  • National Child Care Initiative Advises Educators about Adoption Issues

    National Child Care Initiative Advises Educators about Adoption Issues

    Early childhood educators get advice on addressing adoption issues in the Winter 2001 issues of the Healthy Child Care America (HCCA) quarterly newsletter. HCCA is a joint campaign by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Federal Child Care Bureau, and the Federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

    Citing statistics that show an increasing number of children joining families through adoption, Deborah A. Borchers, MD, writes that child care providers and educators are more likely to encounter adopted children these days. She explains how adopted children view themselves and how they are viewed by their peers, especially if the adoption is transracial. The article mentions behavior problems to be aware of that might be triggered by events such as Mother's Day or birthdays, such as:

    • Acting out
    • Withdrawal
    • Unusual sensitivity to criticism
    • Difficulty fitting in with peers.

    Borchers cautions educators to be sensitive when assigning family-related school projects. For example, adopted children may not have baby pictures to share with the class. Tracing genetic traits and drawing a family tree may also be difficult assignments for adopted children.

    Additionally, Borchers advocates the modeling of "positive adoption language" to reflect respect and permanency about children and their families. Suggestions include:

    • Adoptive families are "real" families.
    • Siblings who joined a family through adoption "are real siblings."
    • Birth parents do not "give up a child for adoption," rather they "make an adoption plan for a child."
    • A birth mother is not a "natural parent."

    Not only can educators play a vital role in building the self-esteem of adopted children, but they also can raise awareness to all their students about the different ways in which families are made, the article concludes.

    Access "Adoption: Positive Strategies for Early Childhood Educators" online at:

    Related Items

    See the following related article in the September 2000 issue of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Adoption Guide Aimed at Educators"

    Visit the website of the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse for the following related items (

    • Adoption and School Issues
    • Answers to Children's Questions About Adoption (Note: this link is no longer active. Please see Explaining Adoption to Your Children, Family, and Friends)
    • Adoption-Related Books for Children from Preschool to Age 8 (this link is no longer available; similar reading lists can be found at Adoptive Families Magazine at
    • Adoption-Related Books for Children Ages 9-12 (this link is no longer available; similar reading lists can be found at Adoptive Families Magazine at
    • Adoption-Related Books for Teenagers (this link is no longer available; similar reading lists can be found at Adoptive Families Magazine at
  • From Mundane to Magical: A Campaign to Connect Parents and Kids

    From Mundane to Magical: A Campaign to Connect Parents and Kids

    Busy parents may think that daily child caring activities, such as feeding and bathing, detract from quality time with their babies, but a new campaign by Zero to Three attempts to change that mindset. Developed in partnership with the Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, "The Magic of Everyday Moments" Campaign is designed to help parents and other caregivers understand and gain ideas on how to use simple, everyday moments to promote a child's social, emotional, and intellectual development.

    The campaign debuted with five booklets which address interactions with a child at different stages of development, from age 0 to 15 months. For example, the booklet covering the first 4 months of a baby's life describes what a newborn is learning and what a parent can do to encourage development, such as responding to his babbles with grown-up conversation and playing tracking games with a slowly moving object.

    The everyday moments featured in the booklets are promoted as rich opportunities to encourage a child's development by building the child's:

    • Self-confidence
    • Curiosity
    • Social skills
    • Self-control
    • Communication skills.

    Download the Magic of Everyday Moments booklets at:

    To order free copies of the booklets, contact the Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute's toll-free number: 877-565-5465 (calling from outside the U.S.: 314-216-3560)

    Related Items

    See these related articles in past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:

    • "Bilingual Guide Teaches Parents About Brain Development" (September 2000)
    • "Video Reaches Out to New Parents" (May/June 2001)
  • Guidelines for Family Support Practice

    Guidelines for Family Support Practice

    Family Support America, Chicago, IL. Revised Second Edition. Family Support America, Chicago, IL. 2001. 300 pp. $45.00. Paperback.

    This reference work, based on a review of best practices currently used in family support programs, has been revised and updated to reflect current legislation, public policy, and practice. Family support programs share the goal of building on the strengths of families to empower parents to care for their children. The programs provide comprehensive collaborative services, build on school successes, enhance parenting skills, connect other family services, and encourage statewide planning. General principles for family support practice recognize that specific services need to be adapted to the needs of each family. Recommendations are provided for building relationships; enhancing family capacity; affirming diversity; structuring community programs; and planning and operating the program. Practice examples illustrate the application of key concepts.

    To purchase a copy, contact:

    Family Support America
    20 N. Wacker Dr., Suite 1100
    Chicago, IL 60606
    Phone: 312-338-0900
    Fax: 312-338-1522

  • Family Policy: Constructed Solutions to Family Problems

    Family Policy: Constructed Solutions to Family Problems

    Zimmerman, S. Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA. 2001. 431 pp. $49.95. Hardcover.

    The goal of family policy is to address the problems of families in relation to society, and improve family well-being. The author provides an historical overview of family policy in the United States; presents the paramount themes in family policy discourse; and discusses "family values" and the changing meanings of the word family. Written as a textbook, each chapter includes a summary and conclusions section, and offers questions for reflection and discussion.

    To purchase a copy, contact:

    Sage Publications, Inc.
    2455 Teller Rd.
    Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
    Phone: 805-499-9774
    Fax: 805-375-1700

  • Gay Men and Childhood Sexual Trauma: Integrating the Shattered Self

    Gay Men and Childhood Sexual Trauma: Integrating the Shattered Self

    Cassese, J. (Editor). Haworth Press, Inc., Binghamton, NY. 2000. 225 pp. $22.95. Paperback.

    Clinical treatment of adult gay male survivors of childhood sexual trauma requires specialized knowledge and understanding of the complex interplay of forces within the context of their experiences. The authors of this text discuss gender socialization, imprinted arousal patterns, the abuse of gender atypical boys, and the effects of childhood sexual trauma on the adult intimate relationships of gay men. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and mixed sexual orientation survivor groups are two forms of treatment explored. There has been a dearth of research on the sexual trauma histories of gay men, but one study is presented, and directions for further research are suggested.

    Haworth Press published this title simultaneously as the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, volume 12, numbers 1 and 2.

    To purchase a copy, contact:

    Haworth Press, Inc.
    Document Delivery Service
    10 Alice St.
    Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
    Phone: 800-429-6784
    Fax: 800-895-0582

  • Online Community Aids Abuse Victims

    Online Community Aids Abuse Victims

    Current and past victims of child abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence can find support online through the new Broken Spirits Network website, run entirely by volunteers.

    Launched in April of 2001, the site offers a comprehensive list of shelters, hotlines, and organizations that can help victims. Its abuse resources are cataloged by Gold, Silver, and Bronze Site awards, according to their usefulness. One of the sponsoring organizations of the Children's Bureau Express, the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, is listed as a "Gold Site Award" in the child abuse information category. According to the site, "To achieve the gold medal, a site must include a wide variety of information, contacts, links, and also provide some form of community involvement."

    A discussion forum allows users to create their own virtual identity and discuss personal issues without compromising their confidentiality. Besides an open chat, known as "The Gathering," there are discussions dedicated to specific forms of abuse and geared to different groups working to combat abuse.

    An information section contains several reference items. Two new items are an "Abuse Victim Checklist," to help people determine if they are being abused, and an "Abuse Victim Emergency Escape Kit," to help victims make preparations to escape the abuser. Other resources include:

    • Information and statistics regarding many different forms of abuse
    • List of common warning signs to look for if you suspect abuse taking place
    • A profile of abuser traits and common identifying features
    • Information on the importance of family and friends
    • Information on the feelings and emotional problems that accompany abuse recovery
    • Frequently asked questions
    • Suggested reading.

    Access the Broken Spirits Network at:

  • ABA Center Clarifies Management Program for Children's Social Security Benefits

    ABA Center Clarifies Management Program for Children's Social Security Benefits

    The American Bar Association's (ABA's) Center on Children and the Law, in conjunction with the ABA's Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly, has produced a pamphlet on the Social Security Administration's Representative Payment Program as it affects children who are in the juvenile/family court system.

    Early in the history of the Social Security Program, a system was created under which "representative payees" are appointed to receive and disburse Social Security benefits on behalf of beneficiaries who were not able to manage their own financial affairs, due to mental or physical incapacity or young age. There are currently 3.7 million children under RP management, comprising the single biggest category of beneficiaries in the program (approximately 57 percent).

    Intended as an aid to judicial personnel and judges and attorneys, the publication contains an overview of the Representative Payment Program, information on case law and legal issues, and "best practice" concepts. As stated in the Foreward, the purpose of the pamphlet is to "explore and enhance coordination, communication, and mutual assistance between State court systems and the Social Security Administration's Representative Payment Program."

    Access Federal Representative Payment and Kids online at:

  • Assessment of Sexual Offenders Against Children. The APSAC Study Guides 1

    Assessment of Sexual Offenders Against Children. The APSAC Study Guides 1

    Quinsey, V.; Lalumiere, M. Second Edition. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA. 2001. 96 pp. $49.95. Paperback.

    An outline of critical knowledge in the assessment of child sex offenders, this study guide offers child welfare professionals an opportunity to brush up on current information and best ideas about practice. Chapters cover:

    • Sex offender characteristics
    • Situational and dynamic factors involved in child sexual offences
    • Implications for practice
    • Recommended assessment instruments.

    Knowledge testing and continuing professional education (CE) credits based on this guide are available for a fee from Sage Publications, in collaboration with approved providers of continuing education and testing.

    To purchase a copy, contact:

    Sage Publications, Inc.
    2455 Teller Rd.
    Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
    Phone: 805-499-9774
    Fax: 805-375-1700

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.

  • Interviewing Immigrant Children About Maltreatment

    Interviewing Immigrant Children About Maltreatment

    Professionals who interview children about child abuse and neglect serve children from myriad cultures. A new resource aims to help professionals develop their cultural competency.

    A new audiotape, which is part of Sage Publications' Trauma Therapy Series, helps professionals conduct interviews with children of different cultural groups. Dr. Lisa Aronson Fontes offers suggestions based on her own clinical experience and research on cultural issues in sexual abuse in both Latin America and the United States. In her discussion, Fontes directs her comments at professionals that work with Native Americans, children who are immigrants themselves, and children and grandchildren of immigrants.

    The tape is designed for training professionals in a variety of contexts, such as:

    • Criminal and child protection investigations
    • Custody hearings
    • Medical forensic settings
    • Psychotherapy.

    As a first step, interviewers should gather information about the child's culture to determine how much the child has assimilated from the dominate American culture and how much is retained from the culture of origin. She defines culture as a set of beliefs, attitudes, and practices shared by a group of people. "Culture is complex and multi-faceted. People who seem to be from the same culture may differ widely," notes Fontes.

    She explains that police stations and schools, where interviews often take place, may be threatening to immigrant children who may have negative associations with law enforcement officials or educators. She asks professionals to consider other more neutral environments, such as Community Advocacy Centers, hospitals, mental health centers, or Head Start centers. The location should also be child friendly and inviting to people of different cultures by having paperwork available in different languages, employing a multicultural staff, and displaying diverse artwork and magazines.

    Fontes warns that the presence of a parent or a child's ingrained custom to defend his family may inhibit the child's testimony. It is important to enlist the non-offending parent, other relatives, or community members to persuade the child to tell the truth. She also discusses the difficulty professionals may face in gathering basic demographic information as immigrant families often do not fit the traditional nuclear household model.

    In discussing language issues, Fontes advocates for the use of a bilingual interviewer who can follow the child's lead in switching languages, understands cultural issues and nuances, and can more effectively communicate with accompanying adults. She offers guidelines for using interpreters and warns that informal, untrained interpreters could be detrimental to obtaining accurate testimony. Suggestions for assessing non-verbal communication, arranging seating, pace-setting, and using interview aids are also included.

    Fontes takes listeners through the following four stages of the interview process with immigrant children:

    • Rapport building
    • Assessment
    • Information gathering
    • Closure.

    Although she does not delve into general interviewing techniques, she encourages interviewers to ask short, open-ended questions that will encourage a child to speak in his own words. Fontes also advises professionals to be aware of their own biases for or against a specific group, as well as a child's prejudices toward the interviewer. "A good match between an interviewer and a child does not depend on their being from the same cultural group... Interviewers and children from different groups can work well together if they speak the same language, if the interviewer understands the child's culture, and if the interviewer demonstrates competence, caring, and trust."

    To purchase a copy of the audiotape, Interviewing Immigrant Children and Families About Child Maltreatment, contact:

    Sage Publications
    2455 Teller Rd.
    Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
    Phone: 805-499-9774
    Fax: 805-499-0871

  • Course on Medical Evaluation of Suspected Child Sexual Abuse Available on CD ROM

    Course on Medical Evaluation of Suspected Child Sexual Abuse Available on CD ROM

    Improve your medical evaluation skills and obtain continuing education credit through a course sponsored by the University of California, San Diego, entitled "Medical Evaluation of Suspected Child Sexual Abuse: An Introductory Course," available in a CD-ROM format.

    The course was created by Joyce A. Adams, MD, and Nancy Kellogg, MD, and was designed for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurses who perform genital and anal examinations of children who may have been sexually abused. It covers, in a detailed fashion, specific physical characteristics of children who have been sexually abused.

    People considering taking the course can get more information at a website, including biographical information on the course's authors. There they can also take a "pretest" to assess their current understanding of the subject, find other information about the course, and can register to receive the CD-ROM, which contains the course.

    Visit the course's website at:

  • Grantwriting for Children's Advocacy Centers

    Grantwriting for Children's Advocacy Centers

    "Get back to basics"—that was the main message at a workshop on writing successful grants for Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs). Presenters Jenna Mehnert and Benjamin Murray, grant reviewers of the National Children's Alliance advised participants to focus on determining their primary goals and objectives for the grants they pursue.

    The workshop took place in Washington, DC, in June at the ninth annual colloquium of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC). Mehnert and Murray said that to find funding, CACs should explore all avenues with foundations, corporations, local associations, and government. They also recommended the website of the Foundation Center ( as a resource and suggested that participants subscribe to mailing lists of organizations that fund programs for children.

    Mehnert and Murray also offered the following tips:

    • Budget like it's your own money. Research real costs, explain in detail, and be realistic about equipment. If you don't need it or will not be able to spend it, don't ask for it.
    • Follow directions. Understand the application and what services the funder will fund. Follow the given format--reviewers will receive many proposals and they don't want to hunt for information.
    • Words matter. If you want money to solve a problem, you need to effectively articulate the circumstances. Demonstrate your knowledge of the facts, and connect the solution to the problem. Your tone should be positive and proactive, exhibiting excitement and commitment.
    • Planning pays. Include the process by which tasks will be accomplished for your project goals, and demonstrate your knowledge of the effort required.
    • Get to the point. Identify the problem, strongly state your commitment, and be realistic and concrete in what you propose to do with funds.
    • Remember that "no" is not always negative. Ask for constructive criticism, keep your agency on their radar for newsletters and event invitations, and ask for suggestions or guidance with other funders.

    For more information on the National Children's Alliance, including grants and proposals, contact:

    Jenna Mehnert, MSW
    Director, Program Management
    National Children's Alliance
    1319 F St., NW
    Suite 1001
    Washington, DC 20004-1106
    Phone: 202-639-0597
    Fax: 202-639-0511

    To purchase a copy of the audiotaped presentation from the 9th Annual APSAC Colloquium, "Grant Writing Fundamentals" (program #210620, session #240), contact:

    Audio Archives International, Inc.
    3043 Foothill Blvd., Suite 2
    La Crescenta, CA 91214
    Phone: 800-747-8069
    Fax: 818-957-0876

    Related Items

    Visit the funding information area on the website of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information for information about Federal funding sources for projects that address the problems of child abuse and neglect (

    A special issue of the Connect for Kids Weekly compiles funding resources to help you plan a project, write a proposal, and get funded at: