This month, the Spotlight focuses on National Child Abuse Prevention Month, with articles about the latest resources for prevention, Children's Bureau-funded prevention grantees, the effects of parent training, and other successful prevention programs.
- Using Qualitative Research in Prevention Program Evaluation
Good qualitative research can greatly enhance evaluation efforts for prevention programs. While quantitative research may provide the core of an evaluation, qualitative research offers explanations about why and how the specific quantitative results were found.
A new resource from the FRIENDS National Resource Center (NRC) for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention offers guidance to prevention programs in using qualitative research to supplement and complement standard quantitative evaluations. Using Qualitative Data in Program Evaluation: Telling the Story of a Prevention Program describes the characteristics and benefits of using qualitative data, offers guidance on implementing a qualitative research effort, and illustrates the use of such research with a fictional, community-based, prevention program.
The report shows how the fictional prevention program draws on qualitative research to answer such questions as:
- How does the program fit with the demands of daily life experienced by participating families?
- How do families feel about the home visits and parenting classes?
- Are families getting the right services in the right ways?
- How do staff feel about their roles as home visitors, and what training or resources do they need?
Focusing on answering these questions, the report illustrates ways to collect, analyze, share, and report qualitative data.
To read the full report, visit the FRIENDS NRC website:
- April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
"Strengthening Families and Communities" is this year's theme for National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The theme encourages service providers and concerned individuals to recognize and build on existing strengths within families and communities in order to support all families in providing a safe, loving environment for their children.
In keeping with this theme, a new, free resource is available to support service providers who work with parents, other caregivers, and their children. Strengthening Families and Communities: 2009 Resource Guide highlights strategies to strengthen families by promoting five key protective factors that prevent child abuse and neglect:
- Nurturing and attachment
- Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete supports for parents
The guide includes resources in English and Spanish for workers to share with caregivers, as well as sample talking points, press releases, and other outreach materials for increasing community involvement in supporting families. The guide was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, and numerous national organizations and parents.
View or order the Resource Guide on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: [Editor's note: this link no longer exists]
Child Welfare Information Gateway has also improved the selection of child abuse prevention resources offered on its website to support child welfare and related professionals this month and throughout the year. Enhancements to the website include:
- Updated resources throughout the Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect section, including new webpages on early childhood and home visitation programs
- A new look for the National Child Abuse Prevention Month website
- A 30-second multimedia animation for marketing outreach that will launch in April to promote online prevention resources
Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website to find these resources and more:
- An Evidence-Based Approach to Prevent Child Neglect
While neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment, much of the child maltreatment research has focused on interventions for physical abuse rather than neglect. A recent article in APSAC Advisor describes the SafeCare model as an evidence-based program for preventing child neglect. With SafeCare, home-based services are delivered by paraprofessional staff trained to work with multiproblem families involved in the child welfare system or at high risk for entering the system. SafeCare's goal is to reduce maltreatment by focusing on behaviors that directly contribute to child neglect, particularly neglect of young children.
The article describes the SafeCare model as rooted in the behavior analysis field, focusing on neglectful behaviors directly, instead of on presumed underlying factors. The components of SafeCare are home safety and organizational skills, child health and nutrition management, and child behavior management skills. Home visitors conduct observations of parents' knowledge and skills for each component, and parents are trained to develop their skills across time, behaviors, and settings.
SafeCare has been used and evaluated in a number of trials across the country. As described by the article's authors, field trials in Oklahoma have yielded some valuable lessons in implementing the model.
- Strong organizational leadership and commitment are necessary to adopt evidence-based practice, both financially and structurally.
- Traditional training approaches tend to be ineffective and need to be reformulated.
- The introduction of a new evidence-based model is likely to be met with mixed responses from frontline providers.
"Project SafeCare: An Evidence-Based Approach to Prevent Child Neglect,—by Debra Hecht, Jane Silovsky, Mark Chaffin, and John Lutzker, is featured in the winter 2008 issue of APSAC Advisor and may be ordered through the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) website:
- Promoting Culturally Competent Parenting Practices
A new research brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers insights into the differences and similarities in parenting values and practices across different cultural groups. Promoting Healthy Parenting Practices Across Cultural Groups: A CDC Research Brief presents the results of a study examining cultural issues around parenting strategies in five cultural groups: African-Americans, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and non-Hispanic Whites.
Eight focus groups were conducted with each of the groups for a total of 40 focus groups held in six U.S. cities. Mothers and fathers participated in separate discussions regarding parents' responses to children's behavior and views of desirable and undesirable parenting practices. The study revealed that parents from all cultural backgrounds held many similar views regarding good child behaviors (i.e., respectfulness, obedience, and politeness) as well as acceptable disciplinary tactics (i.e., signaling disapproval, explaining, and setting limits). However, there were differences in parents' comfort levels with certain strategies for addressing misbehavior, such as time-out, emotional control, ignoring, and physical punishment.
The results of the study can help guide the development and delivery of healthy parenting messages and programs that more accurately reflect the cultural diversity of today's society. Parenting programs can be effective with a multicultural audience by emphasizing the basic parenting practices accepted across cultural groups while maintaining sensitivity to cultural norms. The report suggests that programs should discuss ways to reframe effective parenting strategies to "fit" with parents' cultural beliefs and to help parents solve problems that are relevant to them.
Promoting Healthy Parenting Practices Across Cultural Groups: A CDC Research Brief, by Keri M. Lubell, Teresa Lofton, and Helen Harber Singer, is available on the CDC website:
- Positive Parenting for Prevention
A recent evaluation points to the success of a public health approach to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. A study published in the January 2009 issue of Prevention Science found that use of the Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) combined with Triple P workforce training and universal media and communication strategies promoted the prevention of child maltreatment.
The Triple P program was implemented in nine randomly selected South Carolina counties over 2 years. Results were compared with nine other counties in South Carolina providing usual services. The Triple P counties showed significant reductions in all three population indicators: substantiated child maltreatment, child out-of-home placements within the foster care system, and child maltreatment injuries recorded by hospitals.
The Triple P program is based on the following five core principles of positive parenting:
- Ensuring a safe, engaging environment
- Promoting a positive learning environment
- Using assertive discipline
- Maintaining reasonable expectations
- Taking care of oneself as a parent
Parents learn to apply specific, individually tailored strategies that facilitate goal setting and self-regulation. Some of these techniques include:
- Enhancing the parent-child relationship
- Encouraging desirable behavior
- Acquiring new skills
- Managing misbehaviors
- Preventing problems in a high-risk situation
A multimedia campaign (radio, newspapers, newsletters, mass mailings, and web information) also was launched to reach out to families, promote access to services, and encourage help seeking. Randomly surveyed households in the Triple P counties showed significant increases in awareness of these issues.
The article provides encouraging evidence of the preventive impact of a communication strategy and the use of parenting interventions in a large geographical area.
"Population-Based Prevention of Child Maltreatment: The U.S. Triple P System Population Trial," by Ronald J. Prinz et al., was published in Prevention Science, 10(1), and is available online:
- Replicating Effective Prevention: Children's Bureau Grantees
In fiscal year 2003, the Children's Bureau issued a funding announcement for the Replications of Demonstrated Effective Programs in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Program Announcement CB-2003-01.D1). The Children's Bureau awarded 5-year cooperative agreements to eight organizations, all of which proposed to replicate the critical components of Family Connections (FC), a community-based, comprehensive child neglect prevention program that aims to promote the safety, well-being, and stability of children, families, and communities. The following are the eight Replication sites and their target populations:
- Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Center: At-risk Cambodian and Korean immigrant families living in Los Angeles, CA
- Black Family Development Inc.: Families in high-risk neighborhoods of Detroit and Highland Park, MI
- Child and Family Tennessee: At-risk families in the Empowerment Zone in Knoxville, TN
- Children's Institute Inc.: At-risk families with 0- to 3-year-old children living in South Los Angeles, CA
- DePelchin Children's Center: Families with 5- to 14-year-old children attending schools in Dickinson, TX
- Respite Care of San Antonio: Families with children with disabilities living in San Antonio, TX
- University of Maryland, Baltimore: At-risk intergenerational families living in Baltimore, MD
- Youth Health Service, Inc.: Rural families living in Barbour and Randolph Counties, WV
The Children's Bureau funded James Bell Associates to conduct a cross-site evaluation of the Prevention Replications projects. The evaluation consists of process, cost, and outcome components. The interim findings were recently documented in a report, National Cross-Site Evaluation of the Replication of Demonstrated Effective Prevention Programs (Family Connections): Interim Evaluation Report (Interim Report). In general, Replication sites implemented the FC program with moderate to high levels of fidelity and with high program quality. The sites adhered closely to the nine philosophical principles of FC in the delivery of services. The Replication sites also adhered closely to the fidelity criteria related to program structure, administrative activities, professional development activities, and research activities. However, some sites experienced challenges related to the timeliness of conducting comprehensive family assessments, initiating face-to-face contact within 1 business day after intake, and providing face-to-face services at least once per week.
A major component of the cross-site evaluation design is a rigorous, two-tiered cost analysis. The first tier examined programmatic costs pertaining to direct and indirect services and administrative activities to establish an estimated average cost of implementing and operating an FC program. Analysis of aggregated program data suggests that, on average, it costs $235,000 per year to implement FC. The second tier estimates case-level costs in order to describe variations across cases within and among study sites and investigate factors that are associated with per-case cost variations. These data are forthcoming.
For the outcome component of the cross-site evaluation, sites collected data from six domains associated with child maltreatment: parental stress, caregiver depressive symptoms, parenting attitudes, social support, family functioning, and child behavior. Baseline measures indicate wide variability in the demographic profiles across the projects but consistently low levels of well-being as families entered the FC programs.
The Final Report will present additional findings regarding the degree to which the Replication sites implemented FC with fidelity; describe adaptations Replication sites made to the original FC program and examine the effect of those adaptations on family outcomes; examine the effect of FC implementation on risk and protective factors associated with child maltreatment as well as actual reports of maltreatment; and examine the programmatic and per-case costs of implementing FC in diverse communities. The Final Report will be available in 2010.
For more information on the cross-site evaluation, including the Interim Report, please contact Jill Filene at James Bell Associates: Filene@jbassoc.com
For information about the grant cluster, visit the website: www.family.umaryland.edu/ryc_best_practice_services/family_connections_replication.htm
For more information about Family Connections, visit: www.family.umaryland.edu/ryc_best_practice_services/family_connections.htm
Many thanks to Jill Filene, who provided the information for this article.
- Medically At-Risk Infants Benefit From Enhanced Home Visitation
Infants at medical risk because of preterm births or other conditions may be at increased risk for abuse or neglect. A recent article published in Developmental Psychology describes a cognitively based home visitation program that reduced the incidence of harsh parenting practices for medically at-risk infants.
In the study, researchers Daphne Blunt Bugental and Alex Schwartz used the Healthy Start home visitation model, with and without an additional cognitive component. Families were referred to the study based on how their infant's medical risk presented and then were assigned to either the standard Healthy Start program or the enhanced program. In the enhanced intervention, specially trained home visitors taught the mothers problem-solving skills to develop their sense of competence and control. After 1 year, the enhanced program was found to result in fewer incidents of corporal punishment, greater safety maintenance in the home, and fewer reported child injuries, compared to the standard program and to a control group that received no intervention.
The study, "A Cognitive Approach to Child Maltreatment Prevention Among Medically At-Risk Infants," is published in Developmental Psychology, Vol. 45(1), and is available for purchase online:
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
News From the Children's Bureau
CBX links you to the latest information from the Children's Bureau's Acting Associate Commissioner, grant announcements, site visits to Children's Bureau-funded programs, and national child maltreatment statistics.
- Site Visit: Tribal Program for Strengthening Parental Protectiveness
The Choctaw Children's Advocacy Center (CCAC) has developed a new program to prevent recurrences of child abuse by building protective behaviors in nonoffending parents and caregivers. Project Protecting Our Native Young (PONY) uses a combination of education, support, and outreach to help nonoffending parents of physically or sexually abused children strengthen their parent-child bonds and enhance parents' protectiveness of their children. A further aim of the program is to empower participants to the point that they can return as mentors for other participants. Thus, a community of parents emerges to support each other and share the responsibility of creating a path to healthy adulthood for their children.
While the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has made improvements in the Tribal response to child maltreatment on the reservation, high rates of physical and sexual child abuse and neglect remain. Some CCAC staff note that many of the perpetrators were themselves abused as children. In addition, many of the nonoffending parents who participate in Project PONY reveal that they grew up in families that experienced child abuse and domestic violence.
CCAC's Project PONY attempts to raise awareness and break the intergenerational cycle of maltreatment. The program builds on the Tribal tradition that children are valued and that children are a community responsibility.
Project PONY's core family resource and support services consist of 12 weekly, noncompulsory sessions of parent education, support group participation, outreach services, community and social service referrals, and follow-up services. Sessions are led by a therapist, and some classes are taught in Choctaw, incorporating poems, stories, and traditional cultural activities. Visiting speakers from the Tribal attorney general's office and other organizations talk about how to identify and report abuse and how to prepare for the courtroom experience. Attendance is helped by providing a meal and child care.
CCAC staff have noted a number of challenges with Project PONY, including the need to serve eight Tribal communities that are widely dispersed across the area. In addition, many parents are reluctant to admit that their children have been abused, especially by a family member. This reluctance is finally beginning to give way with programs like Project PONY that have a strong educational component regarding what constitutes abuse and the widespread nature of abuse.
Parents and caregivers who complete 8 of the 12 PONY sessions are asked to answer a survey about the experience. Project PONY staff are currently gathering these data for a later evaluation. Anecdotal evidence indicates that several parents transitioned from believing that the system did not work to appreciating the project's services and support. Many parents have been grateful for the help in understanding what their children have gone through and in learning how they can better protect their children in the future.
For more information, contact:
Project Director, Project PONY
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
P.O. Box 6010
Neshoba, MS 39350-6010
Project Protecting Our Native Young is funded under the Children's Bureau, Grant 90CA1733, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Grants to Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Migrant Programs for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.
Full-length site visit reports are posted on the Information Gateway website:
- CB Grant Update
The Children's Bureau continues to post discretionary grant announcements for National Resource Centers (NRCs) and other initiatives. Recent announcements include the following:
- Rigorous Evaluations of Existing Child Abuse Prevention Programs
- NRC for In-Home Services
- Abandoned Infants Assistance: Comprehensive Support Services for Families Affected by Substance Abuse and/or HIV/AIDS
- NRC for Tribes
- NRC for Child Welfare Legal and Judicial Issues
- NRC for Permanency and Family Connections
- NRC for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention
To read the latest grant announcements, visit the Open Funding Opportunities webpage on the Administration for Children and Families website:
- HHS Releases 2007 Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Maltreatment 2007, an annual report of data collected from the States' child protective services (CPS) agencies via the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. The report provides national and State statistics on topics that include reports of abuse and neglect, child characteristics, fatalities, perpetrators, and services provided to children and families.
According to the new report:
- An estimated 794,000 children were found to be victims of abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2007, representing a rate of 10.6 per 1,000 children in the population. This number shows a decline from 2006, when 904,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment.
- An estimated 3.2 million referrals were made to CPS agencies in 2007, involving the alleged maltreatment of approximately 5.8 million children.
- Agencies screened in 61.7 percent of the referrals for investigation or assessment; as a result, at least one child was found to be a victim of abuse or neglect in 25.2 percent of those investigations or assessments.
- Of the children who were abused or neglected in 2007, 59.0 percent experienced neglect, 10.8 percent were physically abused, 7.6 percent were sexually abused, and 4.2 percent were emotionally or psychologically maltreated. Approximately 13.1 percent were victims of multiple maltreatments.
- Children in the age group of birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization at 21.9 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population.
- An estimated 1,760 children died from abuse or neglect, reflecting a rate of 2.35 deaths per 100,000 children.
- An estimated 62.1 percent of victims and 31.2 percent of nonvictims received services, and 20.7 percent of victims and 3.8 percent of nonvictims were placed in foster care.
To download the full report on national and State statistics, visit the Children's Bureau website:
To read the Administration for Children and Families' press release, visit:
- New! On the Children's Bureau Site
The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.
Recent additions to the site include:
- A Report to Congress on Barriers and Success Factors in Adoptions from Foster Care: Perspectives of Families and Staff Supported by the Adoption Opportunities Program (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/barriers)
- Status of State Child and Family Services Review Program Improvement Plans and re-reviews (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring/general_info/pipstatus.htm)
- Child and Family Services Reviews Program Support for Child Welfare Monitoring Project Fact Sheet (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring/general_info/fact_sheets/programsupportfactsheet.htm)
Bookmark the Children's Bureau website and visit often to see what's new!
- Site Visit: A Youth-Driven Curriculum for Supervisors
To reinforce the abilities of youth in foster care about to transition to an independent life and enhance their chances of success, the University of Houston collaborated with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) and the University of Texas at Arlington to produce a training curriculum for supervisors in child protective services (CPS) across Texas. This collaborative project, Preparation for Adult Living: Supervisor Training and Empowerment Program (PAL-STEP), focused on providing CPS supervisors with:
- The skills and knowledge they would need to guide and direct adolescents in foster care
- The tools to share that knowledge with other CPS workers by imparting the four core principles of the training: positive youth development, collaboration, cultural competence, and permanent connections
PAL-STEP training included both a 1-hour web-based training and a day of live training led by PAL-STEP staff and former foster youth hired by the TDFPS. Youth trainers presented some of the curriculum content and shared their experiences about life in the foster care system. They recounted some common concerns: aging out of care, loneliness, being gay and lesbian in foster care, and separation from siblings. Subsequent evaluation results showed that the participation of these young people, who also discussed resources and answered questions, was the most highly rated aspect of the training.
PAL-STEP staff and youth trained 154 child welfare supervisors during the 3-year project. All trainees received a Participant's Handbook, a Trainer's Manual, and a CD containing a Supervisory Took Kit of teaching strategies. These materials were posted on the project website, and more were distributed through conferences and other requests. A revised curriculum was presented to foster parents and caseworkers, and a total of 233 participants were trained.
Evaluation revealed that the training was very well received, and participants experienced a significant increase in knowledge. Interviews with supervisors after they returned to their workplaces indicated that they were using both formal and informal means to share their knowledge with workers, although they were challenged by high caseloads and excessive work demands.
Changes in practice have occurred due to the PAL-STEP training. Supervisors initially had perceived youth in a negative way, asking, "How can we fix them?" They now ask, instead: "How can we do a better job for them?"
This curriculum will become a part of the State's CPS Supervisory Certification Program.
For more information, please visit the project website (www.palstep.com) or contact the co-principal investigators:
Maria Scannapieco, Ph.D.
346 Davis Hall, Box 19162
School of Social Work
The University of Texas at Arlington
Arlington, TX 76019-0145
Kelli Connell-Carrick, Ph.D.
4800 Calhoun Road
Graduate School of Social Work
The University of Houston
Houston, TX 77004
Preparation for Adult Living: Supervisor Training and Empowerment Program is funded under the Children's Bureau, Grant 90CW1132, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Training of Child Welfare Agency Supervisors in the Effective Delivery and Management of Federal Independent Living Service for Youth in Foster Care. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.
The full site visit report is available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- Updates From the T&TA Network
The members of the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network offer a variety of new resources to help States and Tribes achieve better outcomes for children and families in their child welfare systems.
- The National Quality Improvement Center (QIC) on Early Childhood, one of the newest QICs, has launched its website. Read about the goals of this QIC and follow its progress here: http://nccp.org/projects/QICEarlyChildhood.html
- Child Welfare Information Gateway has added a new logic model builder to its website. The Logic Model Builder for Postadoption Services Programs is designed to help programs identify anticipated outcomes, indicators of success, and evaluation instruments that may be appropriate for measuring success in postadoption services: http://toolkit.childwelfare.gov/toolkit
- The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare has updated two important resources:
- The Annotated Bibliography on Cross-System Issues identifies major literature in the field of cross-system issues involving child welfare, substance use disorders, and dependency courts: www.ncsacw.samhsa.gov/AnnotatedBiblio.asp
- The Methamphetamine Resource List identifies major resources related to methamphetamine prevention, intervention, and treatment: www.ncsacw.samhsa.gov/MethamphetamineList.htm
Find out more about the T&TA Network on the Children's Bureau website:
- From the Acting Associate Commissioner's Office
The following is an update from the Children's Bureau's Acting Associate Commissioner, Joe Bock, on the Fostering Connections legislation and how the Children's Bureau is providing guidance on implementing this new legislation.
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893) was signed into law on October 7, 2008, amending titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. Some of the major provisions are the option to provide title IV-E kinship guardianship assistance payments; the option to extend eligibility for title IV-E foster care, adoption assistance, and kinship guardianship payments to age 21; changes to the adoption assistance program eligibility criteria; and the option for federally recognized Indian Tribes, Indian Tribal organizations, and Tribal consortia to directly operate a title IV-E program.
The Children's Bureau has been working to implement these changes to the title IV-B and IV-E programs. Shortly after enactment, we issued a Program Instruction (PI-08-05) providing a basic overview of the law's applicable provisions and effective dates. We also provided instructions to States on applying for delayed effective dates for certain title IV-B and IV-E requirements when State legislation is necessary for compliance. On October 29, 2008, we conducted a national call for States and Tribes to provide an overview of the law and gather preliminary questions and concerns about implementation. Other implementation activities specific to the major Fostering Connections provisions include the following:
- For the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP)—We issued PI-08-07, which provided instruction for title IV-E agencies to submit a title IV-E plan amendment to opt into the GAP program. The PI also clarified eligibility requirements and other rules under the GAP.
- For Tribal Title IV-E—We have conducted a number of outreach activities, including calls, meetings, and listserv announcements, and will be supporting the award of a new National Resource Center for Tribes. In addition, we have issued the following formal guidance:
- Information Memorandum ACYF-CB-IM-08-03 was issued to notify Indian Tribes of the opportunity to directly operate title IV-E programs for foster care maintenance payments, adoption assistance, and kinship guardianship assistance and to apply for grants to develop title IV-E plans.
- ACYF-CB-PI-08-06 requests that Tribes submit letters of intent if they plan to (1) directly operate a title IV-E program and (2) apply for a one-time grant of up to $300,000 to be used to develop a title IV-E plan. Tribal Development Grants will be awarded through a competitive discretionary grant process, and we anticipate being able to award approximately five grants this fiscal year.
- For Consultation on an Interim Final Rule—We have scheduled Tribal consultation sessions on the development of an interim final rule relating to Tribal IV-E, specifically, (1) the transfer of placement and care of children from the State agency to the Tribal agency under a Tribal IV-E plan to ensure that children retain IV-E eligibility and (2) third-party in-kind match sources and percentages for Tribes operating a IV-E program.
- For Adoption Assistance and Other Title IV-E Program Changes—The revised eligibility criteria will begin to phase in on October 1. Title IV-E agencies will be required to submit a revised title IV-E plan to address the applicable children under the revised eligibility criteria. Additional guidance will be issued at a later date.
- Option to Extend Title IV-E Payments Over 18—We provided general information on the option to extend payments up to age 19, 20, or 21 in PI-08-05 and PI-08-07. This provision is not effective until October 1, 2010, and we will issue more specific guidance at a later date.
Visit www.grants.gov for the latest funding announcements. Visit the Children's Bureau website at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/index.htm to review PIs and IMs.
- Effective Contracts for Privatizing Child Welfare Services
As many public child welfare agencies rely on the private sector to help them provide the full array of services children and families need, the quality of privatized services is a critical concern. A new publication, Preparing Effective Contracts in Privatized Child Welfare Systems, provides guidance on the many steps and considerations that go into crafting effective contracts for more effective service delivery.
Studies on child welfare privatization initiatives have identified several shortcomings in service contracts, including a lack of clarity and detail about a range of direct services and activities, and the reverse—excessive detail about requirements that reduce the flexibility and creativity often expected from privatization initiatives.
In this paper, authors Charlotte McCullough, Nancy Pindus, and Elizabeth Lee place current contracting issues in a historical context and describe the many important decisions that must be made during the procurement or contract renewal process. They include examples of some of the decisions that must be made before procurement planning to determine basic program components, and they describe lessons learned about preparing solicitations, selecting bidders, and executing contracts. Also included are descriptions of steps that public agencies can take to write contracts that more clearly define expectations regarding the services to be provided, the target population to be served, the expected results, and the means by which the services will be funded.
This is the fifth of six papers in a technical assistance series funded in 2006 by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The series is designed to provide information to State and local child welfare administrators who are considering or implementing privatization reforms.
Preparing Effective Contracts in Privatized Child Welfare Systems is available on the ASPE website:
- Court Improvement Program Community of Practice
The Court Improvement Program (CIP) has launched a new online community for all who are concerned with child welfare and the court system. The CIP Community of Practice is an open exchange of information, experience, initiatives, and ideas on court improvement. Features include What's New and a calendar of upcoming events. Users can join or initiate a discussion under Group Topics, comment on a work in progress, or access reference documents and links. There is also a list of CIP directors and contact information.
The CIP is an initiative that provides Federal funds to States to support systemic changes and improvements in the court system for children and families involved with child welfare. For more information, visit the CIP Community of Practice website:
- Early Deadline for Adoption Excellence Awards Nominations
Each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) presents Adoption Excellence Awards to recognize individuals, families, and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to providing safe, permanent, and loving homes for children in foster care. Winners are those who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, and dedication in helping children from foster care rebuild their lives and achieve permanency.
Nominations are now open for the 2009 Adoption Excellence Awards, and completed nomination packets are due by May 22, 2009. Nominees may be individuals and organizations, including States, public agencies, universities, Tribes, courts, families, faith-based organizations, businesses, and more. Awards will be made in nine categories:
- Decreased lengths of time that children in foster care wait for adoption
- Increased adoptions of older children
- Interjurisdictional adoptions
- Support for adoptive families
- Individual and/or family contributions
- Philanthropy and/or business contributions
- Judicial or child welfare system improvement
- Adoption of minority children from foster care
- Media/public awareness of adoption from foster care
Nomination packets will be reviewed by a national panel of recognized adoption experts, including members of State and Federal agencies. The review panel will make recommendations for awards to the ACF Assistant Secretary. Winners will be selected on the basis of 10 criteria, including collaboration, innovation, and community involvement. Awards will be presented at the Agencies and Courts Meeting in August in Washington, DC.
Everyone interested in making nominations, including self-nominations, is invited to visit the Children's Bureau website for more information:
CBX looks at the role of hospitals in child abuse treatment, how agencies can use experimentation to adapt programs, and a training program on interviewing skills.
- Interviewing Skills for Child Welfare and Domestic Violence
Training child welfare workers to be more effective in conducting interviews with adult clients is the focus of a new report released by the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC). The report, Helping Child Welfare Workers Learn Interviewing Skills: A Research Report, addresses concerns that poorly developed interviewing skills can lead workers to make either a false negative or false positive assessment on safety issues.
In the report, author Colleen Friend describes a pilot training program that involved a small sample of public child welfare employees who interviewed client proxies representing parents referred for coexisting problems of possible child abuse and domestic violence. The interviews were scored by researchers who observed both the live interview and a videotape of the interview. After a short training on interviewing skills, the workers then interviewed different client proxies and were scored using the same instrument.
The author reports that, because of the small sample size, the results were not conclusive, but most of the participants did show an improvement in their interviewing skills. The report also describes in detail the process used by researchers to develop and establish the validity of the Child Welfare Domestic Violence Interview Skill Set, the instrument used to measure the effectiveness of the participants' interview skills.
The report is available on the Internet:
- Promoting Agency Performance Through Experimentation
A recent article contrasts the increasing emphasis in child welfare on evidence-based practice with experiment-driven approaches. The authors suggest that the idea of experimentation in child welfare management has been overlooked, even though trial-and-error methods may help tailor evidence-based practice to a particular organization or program.
The article describes three models of experimentation: scientific management, continuous quality improvement, and learning organization. The models differ in the roles and responsibilities of child welfare managers and staff, but all allow managers to refine or even discontinue programs in response to client outcomes and changing conditions. For instance, experimentation may have benefits for adapting programs for different cultural groups by individualizing services for diverse clients.
The authors suggest that experimentation may help child welfare managers make reasonable adaptations to their service systems for the delivery of evidence-based programs.
"The Role of Child Welfare Managers in Promoting Agency Performance Through Experimentation," by Bowen McBeath, Harold Briggs, and Eugene Aisenberg, was published in Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 31(1). It can be accessed through the Elsevier website:
- Children's Hospitals Serving Maltreated Children
Children's hospitals provide valuable prevention and treatment services for maltreated children and those at risk of abuse. National surveys of children's hospitals conducted in 2005 and 2008 illustrate trends in child abuse care and patient services and document the extent and costs of these services.
Conducted by the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI), the 2005 survey was the first to measure children's hospital services for child abuse and neglect. Release of the survey results was accompanied by a companion document, Defining the Children's Hospital Role in Child Maltreatment, which provided guidelines about services and resources for the prevention and treatment that children's hospitals could be expected to provide.
Three years later, the 2008 survey allowed NACHRI to compare results with the 2005 survey and identify some trends in these services and resources. In all, 140 children's hospitals in 41 States, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico responded to the 2008 survey. Key findings and trends included the following:
- Sixty-seven percent reported an increase in child abuse caseloads by 2008, much of which was attributed to growing awareness in the community and higher visibility of the specialized services available.
- Seventy percent reported an increase in staffing for child abuse services.
- The majority of institutions reported that they underwrite the costs of child abuse services and receive partial or no reimbursement.
- Sixty-three percent provide training to clinicians and community partners (in pediatrics, social work, law enforcement, child care, and other fields).
- The number of institutions conducting research in child abuse and neglect increased from 2005 to 2008.
NACHRI plans to continue conducting surveys every 3 years to provide benchmark data, identify new trends, and develop case studies and profiles of programs.
To read NACHRI's full survey and report, visit the NACHRI website:
Learn about creating university-agency partnerships for child welfare research, and find out about a new guide for kinship caregivers.
- New Help for Kinship Caregivers
Grandparents and other relatives who provide care and foster homes for grandchildren or other family members are now eligible for an array of additional services and supports with the passage of new Federal legislation, P.L. 110-351, signed into law on October 7, 2008. A recent publication, New Help for Children Raised by Grandparents and Other Relatives: Questions and Answers About the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, presents an analysis, in question-and-answer format, of the many provisions that may benefit relative caregivers.
Chapters provide information on an array of topic areas, including:
- An overview of the Act
- Identification of and notice to grandparents and other relatives
- The Kinship Navigator Program and Family Connection Grants
- Subsidized guardianship and kinship guardianship assistance
- Maintaining sibling connections
- Educational stability for children
- Eligibility for Chafee Independent Living Services and Training
- Licensing caregivers' homes
- Training for caregivers and those working with children in the child welfare system
Primary authors of the publication are Beth Davis-Pratt of the Children's Defense Fund and Tiffany Conway of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). The answers given represent the consensus of an array of supporting organizations in consultation with congressional staff. Where applicable, the answers also track guidance from the Program Instruction on the Guardianship Assistance Program issued by the Children's Bureau on February 18, 2010.
The publication is available on the CLASP website:
- Building Research Partnerships to Improve Outcomes for Children
The child welfare field and university research programs have much to offer each other, and partnerships between these two groups may advance child welfare research and improve child welfare outcomes. To promote this type of collaboration, the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR), with support from Casey Family Programs, has developed a report and toolkit, Strengthening University/Agency Partnerships to Enhance Child Welfare Outcomes: A Toolkit for Building Research Partnerships. The report draws on the literature, focus groups, interviews, and survey data to identify strategies for building child welfare research capacity.
Designed as a toolkit for enhancing child welfare research partnerships, this guide provides practical guidance on:
- Establishing a funding stream for child welfare research
- Setting up a child welfare research agenda
- Promoting research career development
- Implementing action steps at the university, State, and national levels
These activities are illustrated by examples from partnerships around the country. In addition, the toolkit lists tips for successful university/agency research partnerships:
- Develop and sustain ongoing working relationships.
- Learn from and understand each other's cultures and contexts.
- Plan for leadership transitions and garner support and involvement of leaders while establishing peer-to-peer relationships.
- Establish clear parameters for project timeframes.
- Understand the processes for data access, data sharing, data retention, and confidentiality.
- Develop procedures for review of publications and presentations from the research.
- Achieve institutional review board approvals in a timely manner.
Appendices offer a variety of resources, including examples of university-based child welfare research centers, programs, and initiatives.
Strengthening University/Agency Partnerships to Enhance Child Welfare Outcomes: A Toolkit for Building Research Partnerships can be found on the IASWR website:
- Tax Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents
The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) has posted its annual tax guide for foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers for tax year 2008. The guide explains basic rules and offers tips on ways that foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers can claim the deductions and credits available to them. The guide lists changes in the 2008 tax law, including increases in the Adoption Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit, and Education Credit.
NFPA suggests that users give a copy of the guide to their tax advisors.
Access the guide on the NFPA website:
- Lessons From Promising Teen Fatherhood Programs
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse recently released a report that identifies the 10 characteristics of effective teen fatherhood programs. To identify these characteristics, 18 fatherhood programs were assessed, including 1 that qualified as a model program and 3 that qualified as promising programs.
The successful programs:
- Partnered with community organizations
- Developed one-on-one relationships with young fathers
- Offered comprehensive services to fathers
- Used effective theories of change or logic in their program model
- Delivered services in interactive ways
- Used needs assessments or participant feedback
- Hired experienced, enthusiastic, well-connected professionals
- Incorporated materials appropriate for teen fathers and their culture
- Used incentives
- Provided mentoring services
To read Promising Teen Fatherhood Programs: Initial Evidence Lessons From Evidence-Based Research, by Jacinta Bronte-Tinkew, Mary Burkhauser, and Allison Metz, go to:
- International Social Services
Families and professionals who have child welfare needs that straddle national borders may find help through International Social Service (ISS). ISS is a nonprofit social service agency whose mission is to improve the lives of children, families, and adults who are affected by migration and international crises. ISS is composed of a cooperative, international network of more than 150 branches, affiliated bureaus, and correspondents; its General Secretariat is in Geneva, Switzerland.
ISS services include:
- Child welfare checks
- Home studies
- Mediation assistance (available mid-2009)
- Protective service alerts
- Searches, including background checks and birth and death certificates
- Tracings to find relatives or birth families
ISS recently launched a new online newsletter, ISS-USA Today! Access the first issue here:
For more information, visit the ISS-USA website:
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.
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through July 2009 include:
- NFPA 39th Annual Education Conference
Focus on the Future . . . Love a Child
National Foster Parent Association
May 4–8, Reno, NV
- 16th Annual National Foster Care Conference
Footsteps to the Future
Daniel Memorial Institute
May 6–8, Daytona Beach, FL
- Annual National Citizen Review Panel Conference
May 20–22, Jackson Hole, WY
- 2009 Adoption Exchange Association Conference
Flourishing in a Downturn
May 27–30, Chicago, IL
- National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau
May 27–29, Washington, DC
- The National Summit on the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Child Welfare
From Inspiration to Innovation: Leadership, Partnerships, and Change The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Family Violence Prevention Fund
June 2–4, Jackson Hole, WY
- 2009 Conference on Family Group Decision Making
Family: The Keystone for Systems Change
American Humane Association
June 2–5, Pittsburgh, PA
- Pathways to Adulthood 2009
National Independent Living/Transitional Living Conference
The University of Oklahoma OUTREACH National Resource Center for Youth Services
June 3–5, San Diego, CA
- The 12th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference
Making IT Work for Children: Improving Data for Agencies, Tribes and Courts
June 23–24, Washington, DC
- Generations United 15th International Conference
Because We're Stronger Together
July 27–31, Washington, DC
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- NFPA 39th Annual Education Conference
- Adoption Institute Webinar Trainings
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute offers research-based online trainings and materials in a variety of formats to help adoption educators and professionals improve the preparation of prospective adoptive parents. An upcoming webinar, "Adoptive Parent Preparation—Understanding the Psychological, Developmental, and Medical Challenges That Adopted Children May Experience," is scheduled for April 7, 2009, and June 9, 2009. A web briefing on transracial adoption also is available and can be viewed anytime.
Additional information, including registration information, fees, course descriptions, and learning objectives, are available on the Institute's website: