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March 2016Vol. 17, No. 1Spotlight on Racial Disproportionality

This month's CBX highlights an analysis of contributors to racial inequalities in a county child welfare system; a report on how racial bias in the child welfare, education, and mental health systems affects racial disparity in the juvenile justice system; and other resources examining the issue of racial disproportionality in the child welfare field.

Young people of color together



Issue Spotlight

  • Resources on the Overrepresentation of Children of Color

    Resources on the Overrepresentation of Children of Color

    The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has collected an array of resources that examine the overrepresentation of African-American and Native American children in the child welfare system. The resources include reports that provide an overview of the problem, statistics, and reviews of State and Federal policy from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, the Alliance for Racial Equality in Child Welfare, and Child Welfare Information Gateway.

    In addition, NCSL presents a survey of State laws that address the issue of disproportionality. Current through April 2014, the survey indicates that 10 States enacted legislation addressing disproportionate representation of children of color in foster care, and 11 States enacted legislation addressing State compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 USC §§1901-1963 (1978)).

    The resources can be found on NCSL's webpage Disproportionality and Disparity in Child Welfare, available at

  • Racial Bias in Child-Serving Systems

    Racial Bias in Child-Serving Systems

    The overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system is an issue that has been well documented in literature and investigations. However, the racial disparities in other social services systems that coordinate with and "feed into" the juvenile justice system have a significant effect on disparities in this system. A report from the National Center for Youth Law seeks to shed light on how racial bias in the child welfare, education, and mental health systems affects racial disparity in the juvenile justice system.

    The report particularly focuses on how ambiguities in evaluation criteria for determining outcomes in each of these systems often allows room for professionals' personal biases to impact decision-making. In the child welfare system, for example, racial disparities exist despite the fact that research has shown families of color are no more likely to abuse or neglect their children than White families. The National Center for Youth Law report suggests that this may "reflect a distortion of reality and that the decision-makers malleably apply the definition of maltreatment." The report also discusses the following manifestations of bias in the child welfare system:

    • Referral and investigation: Black families are overreported for suspected maltreatment.
    • Substantiation: Caseworkers are more likely to substantiate abuse and remove a child in cases involving neglect (which disproportionately involve Black families) than those of physical and/or sexual violence (which disproportionately involve White families).
    • Removal and out-of-home placement: Black and Latino children are more likely than White children to be removed and placed into out-of-home care and less likely to receive treatment services. Black children are more likely to be placed into foster care, while Black caregivers receive less-than-equitable economic and social resources to help support the child. White youth in foster care are more often referred to mental health treatment. Upon referral, they are also more likely to be diagnosed and treated for a mental health disorder.

    The report includes a chapter discussing strategies to help systems and professionals become more culturally competent, and its appendices feature decision-making maps for child protective, education, and mental health services.

    Access Implicit Bias in the Child Welfare, Education and Mental Health Systems, prepared by Jina Lee, Zenobia Bell, and Mae Ackerman-Brimberg, and edited by Michael Harris and Hannah Benton, on the National Center for Youth Law website at


  • Report Compares Disproportionality Rates Across the States

    Report Compares Disproportionality Rates Across the States

    Many data sources indicate that children of color are disproportionately represented in foster care systems. Disproportionality occurs when groups of children are present in the child welfare system at higher or lower percentages than in the general population. A new technical assistance bulletin from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) presents disproportionality rates for all 50 States.

    The report indicates that, in general, African-American and American Indian / Alaska Native (AI/AN) children are overrepresented in the foster care population, but rates of disproportionality vary from State to State. Nearly every State has a disproportionate number of African-American children in foster care, with most rates of foster care between 2 and 4 times the proportion of African-American children in the population. Nationally, AI/AN children are overrepresented in foster care at a rate of 2.4 times their rate in the general population. Twelve States have AI/AN children in their systems at 4 times or more their proportion of the State's child population.  In some States, AI/AN children are in the child welfare system at a rate nearly 20 times their proportion in the population.

    In addition, the report analyzes changes over time by comparing AFCARS and Census data from 2000 and 2012. Over the 12-year period, some States, such as Indiana, have significantly reduced the overrepresentation of African-American children, so that the national index of African-American disproportionality has dropped from 2.5 to 2.0. Some States have shown increases in the overrepresentation of American Indian children in foster care. The nationwide index of American Indian disproportionality has increased over the last 12 years from 1.5 to 2.4. Hispanic/Latino children are overrepresented in five States with rates varying from 1.1 to 7.1. 

    Access the report, Disproportionality Rates for Children of Color in Foster Care (Fiscal Year 2013), published by the NCJFCJ Juvenile Law Program with support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at (2 MB).

  • Addressing Racial Inequalities in Fresno County, CA

    Addressing Racial Inequalities in Fresno County, CA

    As part of its institutional analysis initiative, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) examined the Fresno County, CA, Department of Social Services (DSS) to determine the contributors to racial inequalities in its child welfare system. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, CSSP collected data and assessed the effectiveness of strategies DSS used to address racial disproportionality and disparities. The subsequent report, Fresno County Department of Social Services: Confronting Racial Inequities and Disproportionality to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes for Children & Families, presents the findings from the institutional analysis, which include the following:

    • DSS did not act with a sense of urgency to safely return African-American children to their families or to find other safe, permanent, and loving options.
    • DSS did not have the tools and protocols in place to support workers in understanding the unique strengths and problems faced by African-American families.
    • Families' unique strengths and needs were not assessed, so service plans were created with similar requirements for all families.
    • Services tended to be centrally located in Fresno rather than in the communities where African-American parents lived, and the operating hours of service providers were inconvenient for working parents.

    The report also describes several short- and long-term strategies DSS implemented to address the findings, including focusing on practice model implementation, community involvement, system alignment, and continuous quality improvement.

    To view the report, visit

    (475 KB). For more information about the CSSP institutional analysis initiative, visit


  • Transracial Parenting: Challenges and Tips

    Transracial Parenting: Challenges and Tips

    Every child deserves a loving family who will cherish them. Of the 415,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, 108,000 children under the age of 18 are currently waiting for adoptive families, according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). African-American children continue to be overrepresented in foster care when compared to their numbers in the general population. In 2014, African-American children made up approximately 15 percent of all the children in the United States but 24 percent of the children in foster care. Given this disparity, transracial foster and adoptive placements are common.  

    The November 2015 issue of Fostering Perspectives provides tips for foster and adoptive parents caring for children facing the challenges that present in transracial placements. Children and youth placed in homes with caregivers of different races and cultures may struggle with feeling different and excluded by family and peers, identity confusion/developing a positive identity, and racial discrimination and learning how to cope with prejudice and racism.

    Fostering Perspectives suggestions for parents include:

    • Acknowledge and discuss differences
    • Prepare yourself (parent/caregiver) for prejudice and racism
    • Prepare your child for prejudice and racism
    • Celebrate your child's race and culture
    • Think about where you live and where your child goes to school

    To read more about each tip and for additional related information and resources, access the November issue of Fostering Perspectives, sponsored by the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program, at


    Related Item

    When fostering or adopting American Indian or Alaska Native children who have been removed from their home and placed in the care of the State, families must be aware of laws governing the placement and adoption of Native American / Alaska Native children and understand the importance of maintaining children's cultural heritage and unique legal status. AdoptUSKids identifies the relevant legal and cultural considerations. Visit the AdoptUSKids website to learn more at  

  • Geographic Differences in Racial Disparities

    Geographic Differences in Racial Disparities

    There are substantial data describing the existence of racial disparities in child welfare. A 2015 article in Child Abuse & Neglect considers whether there are geographical differences in racial disparities for child maltreatment and whether there is any overlap with disparities in poverty rates. The findings indicated that child maltreatment disparity is positively associated with poverty disparity. Additionally, the most densely populated metropolitan counties as well as the most sparsely populated counties had the highest rates of maltreatment disparities for Black and Hispanic children. 

    To view the article abstract or purchase the article "Geographic variation in racial disparities in child maltreatment: The influence of county poverty and population density," by K. Maguire-Jack, P. Lanier, M. Johnson-Motoyama, H. Welch, and M. Dineen, 2015, in Child Abuse & Neglect, 47, visit

  • Conceptual Framework: African-American Disproportionality in Child Welfare

    Conceptual Framework: African-American Disproportionality in Child Welfare

    Research demonstrates that children of color continue to be overrepresented in every level of child welfare. Nationally, African American children are overrepresented in foster care at a rate of two times their rate in the general population (see a report by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in this month's CBX). African American children are overrepresented in incident reports, investigations, and foster care entries. They also have disparate experiences in foster care, including longer stays in out-of-home care and lower reunification rates with their birth parents. While racial disproportionality and disparities in child welfare have been studied for decades, the field has done little to comprehensively define, explain, and understand why African-American children experience disproportionality and disparities in the child welfare system.

    Increased precision and refining existing theoretical frameworks are needed to explain disproportionality and disparities. An article from the February 2014 issue of Children and Youth Services Review examines timely literature on racial disproportionality in child welfare systems. The article includes a review of the operational definitions and explanatory factors of and current conceptual frameworks for disproportionality and disparity for African-American children and families. The article also proposes an alternate conceptual framework aimed at strengthening the theoretical foundation needed for future research, analysis, and understanding.

    The proposed framework builds on existing frameworks and knowledge, but focuses on the distinction between disproportionality and disparity—these terms are not interchangeable as the field has sometimes used them in the past—with explanatory factors organized into the following five pathways:

    • Disproportionate need
    • Human decision-making
    • Agency-systemic factors
    • Placement dynamics
    • Policy impact

    The article thoroughly reviews each pathway and presents the associated explanatory factors, followed by a brief discussion section reiterating the need for more research in this area.

    "African American Disproportionality and Disparity in Child Welfare: Toward a Comprehensive Conceptual Framework," by Reiko Boyd, Children and Youth Services Review, 37, 2014, is available at


    Related Item

    Native American and Alaska Native children are also disproportionally represented in child welfare. The October 2014 issue of Children's Bureau Express spotlights "Tribal Child Welfare," highlighting cultural adaptations of trauma treatments, research on the use of social services by urban American Indian families, and a guide to help CASAs advocate for Native children.

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News From the Children's Bureau

The Children's Bureau released Child Maltreatment 2014, the 25th report in a series of annual reports designed to provide State-level data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. We also highlight a new mobile application for Child Welfare Information Gateway's National Foster Care and Adoption Directory.

  • Child Maltreatment 2014 Report Released

    Child Maltreatment 2014 Report Released

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the 25th report in a series of annual reports designed to provide State-level data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Child Maltreatment 2014 includes information on reports of abuse and neglect made to child protective services (CPS) agencies, the children involved, types of maltreatment, CPS responses, child and caregiver risk factors, services, and perpetrators.

    Highlights of the 2014 report include the following:

    • During Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2014, CPS agencies received roughly 3.6 million referrals.
    • The national estimate of unique victims for FFY 2014 was 702,000. Children from birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization. Boys accounted for 48.9 percent of victims, compared to girls, who accounted for 50.7 percent of victims.
    • The majority of victims consisted of three ethnicities: (1) White, 44 percent; (2) Hispanic, 22.7 percent; and (3) African-American, 21.4 percent.
    • The most common type of maltreatment was neglect (75 percent), followed by physical abuse (17 percent), and sexual abuse (8.3 percent).

    The full report is available on the Children's Bureau website at


  • Selecting Evidence-Based Practices

    Selecting Evidence-Based Practices

    The following is the monthly research highlight from the Children's Bureau's Capacity Building Center for States, which forms part of the Bureau's Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative. Each article focuses on current and emerging topics in child welfare research.

    By Liz Quinn, Research Lead, Capacity Building Center for States

    Child welfare research is growing the evidence base for effective interventions and improving practice. As emphasized in a 2012 Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Information Memorandum (PDF - 145 KB), selecting services with evidence of effectiveness can help child welfare agencies improve child, family, and system outcomes. There is more research available about promising and effective interventions than ever before.

    Selecting the right evidence-based practice (EBP) can be challenging for child welfare professionals. This article identifies resources that can assist agencies with selecting an EBP.

    What is meant by "EBP"?

    The term EPB is used in different ways by different organizations. Many identify an EBP as an intervention that has been scientifically tested and shown to be more effective, on average, than an alternative practice or current services. While some definitions are based only on research evidence, other definitions include evaluation findings and the practitioners' clinical (or practice) experience and responsiveness client values.

    Where can agencies find information about programs and practices that have been found to be promising or effective?

    Numerous clearinghouses and directories can help:

    What can help agencies to successfully select the right EBP?

    In addition to learning more about interventions that are supported by research, an agency may be more successful identifying and implementing EBP if it includes the following steps:

    • Form a team to lead efforts to gather information from clearinghouses, available literature, program developers, and other experts who have experience with potential interventions.
    • Examine whether specific EBPs have led to outcomes for populations similar to those desired and targeted by the agency.
    • Decide whether EBPs are likely to fit with the agency's existing structure, culture, and the expertise of its workforce.
    • Make sure that the agency has the capacity to consistently implement and sustain the intervention.

    What resources are available to guide agencies through this selection process?

    Children's Bureau-supported publications such as A Framework to Develop, Test, Spread, and Sustain Effective Practice in Child Welfare (PDF - 807 KB) provide important guidance and context for EBP selection. Websites such as the one hosted by the CEBC offer additional resources to support child welfare professionals with identifying possible EBPs, making decisions about which ones to use, and planning for implementation. Selecting and Implementing Evidence-Based Practices: A Guide for Child and Family Serving Systems (PDF - 5 MB) provides background on EBPs and guidance on implementation. The CEBC Selection Guide for EBPs in Child Welfare (PDF - 24 KB) and the Selection Guide Worksheet (PDF - 333 KB) help identify potential solutions and guide discussion during the selection process.

    The Children's Bureau's Capacity Building Center for States offers customized consultation to public child welfare agencies in States and territories on a wide range of topics, including assessing and selecting EBPs. The Children's Bureau's Capacity Building Center for Tribes offers customized support for title IV-B funded Tribal child welfare agencies interested in establishing or adapting EBPs. Interested in getting help to select an intervention in your State? Contact your Capacity Building Center for States' Liaison. To find contact information for your Liaison, see the map here. Interested in accessing services from the Capacity Building Center for Tribes? Contact Elizabeth Deserly at


  • National Foster Care and Adoption Directory App

    National Foster Care and Adoption Directory App

    Child Welfare Information Gateway launched a new mobile application for its National Foster Care and Adoption Directory (NFCAD). The NFCAD mobile app provides the same search information, including location and key contacts, for organizations, groups, agencies, and experts across the child welfare field. Users can easily find, filter, and save information on direct service providers, support groups, and related foster care and adoption organizations.

    Key features of the NFCAD app include:

    • Search by location or State
    • Filter by foster care and adoption organizations, support groups, or State resources
    • View agency and organization locations in map view
    • Save favorite contacts in a convenient location and share with others

    The NFCAD mobile app is free and available for IOS devices at the App Store and for Android at GooglePlay.


  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

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

    Recent additions to the site include:

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

  • Commissioner's Page

    Commissioner's Page

    The following is the monthly message from Rafael López, the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Each message focuses on the current Children's Bureau Express Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

    Racial disproportionality continues to be a challenge in child welfare. A recent bulletin (PDF - 2 MB) from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) examining U.S. disproportionality rates during fiscal year 2013 indicates that African-American and American Indian / Alaska Native (AI/AN) children are overrepresented in the foster care population. While African-American and AI/AN children represented approximately 14 percent and 1.3 percent of the national child population, respectively, they accounted for almost 25 percent and 2 percent of children in care.

    What's more, there is a disproportionately higher rate of homelessness among families of color. According to a Child Trends report (PDF - 282 KB) examining indicators of homeless children and youth, while Black families with children comprised roughly 14 percent of U.S. families, they accounted for approximately 48 percent of sheltered homeless families with children. By comparison, White families with children represented only 23 percent of sheltered homeless families. These homeless children and families often come into contact with child welfare, and they have their own particular service needs and challenges.

    The Administration on Children, Youth and Families is committed to ensuring that all children receive the targeted and culturally informed services they need to work toward positive life outcomes. One way the Children's Bureau is doing this is by funding programs and projects that are designed to reduce racial disproportionality and improve outcomes for children and families of color.

    A program working to reduce racial disproportionality and achieve positive outcomes for children and families is California Partners for Permanency (CAPP), part of the Federal Permanency Innovations Initiative. The project aims to reduce the number of children in long-term foster care, focusing on the overrepresented populations of African-American and AI/AN children in child welfare systems. The program created a Child and Family Practice Model that seeks to addresses institutional racism and trauma in public child welfare systems and builds on the strengths, needs, and traditions of the communities served. The practice model honors the history and culture of families and rests on a foundation of honest and humble partnerships with communities and Tribes. For more information, visit

    The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) Step Up! Diligent Recruitment project is designed to better meet the needs of children of color in the State child welfare system. CYFD recently completed activities funded by a 5-year Children's Bureau Diligent Recruitment grant. The project featured a grass-roots strategy for finding racially and ethnically diverse resource families and communities of support that reflect their population of children in care. For more information, visit the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment website at

    All children, youth, and families deserve supports and services that address their particular needs and build on their strengths. Child welfare systems and services that respectfully respond to people of all cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds are best equipped to help protect children and preserve families.

  • Endorsing Appropriate Therapeutic Practices for LGBTQ Youth

    Endorsing Appropriate Therapeutic Practices for LGBTQ Youth

    A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) delivers a research-based, expert-endorsed overview of health community efforts to provide supportive, encouraging, positive environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and questioning youth. Its findings focus on the harms of conversion therapy—the practice of attempting to change someone's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The report's recommendations are based on specific consensus statements by experts in the field.

    Three key findings from the group's consensus statements are highlighted in the report summary:

    • Same-gender sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are within the normal range of sexuality expression—they are not classified as a mental disorder.
    • Existing research does not support mental or behavioral health interventions aimed at changing gender identity or sexual orientation.
    • Behavioral health interventions to modify gender identity or expression, or to ensure conformity to heterosexual orientation, can harm, not help; therefore, they should not be practiced.

    Clinical issues in childhood are also addressed in the report. Distress over nonconformity of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression can contribute to gender dysphoria, which is defined as significant distress experienced by gender nonconforming children. This distress is characterized by increased risk of behavioral health issues and internalizing disorders, including depression and anxiety, compared to children in the general population. Research findings confirm that the parental and peer relationships of gender minority children, on average, are poorer than those of the general population; their peers are more likely to mistreat them or to physically or sexually abuse them.

    Researchers and clinical experts provide the following guidance and resources to families and others working with LGBTQ children and adolescents:

    • Support of diverse family, caregiver, and kinship systems within families, cultures, and faith communities
    • Access to accurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity
    • Application of a family support model of assistance to diverse families, including conservative ones, to support their LGBTQ children while accounting for their values and beliefs
    • Building of safe and supportive school environments
    • Understanding of appropriate therapeutic approaches by pediatricians working with LGBTQ children and their families.

    The authors of this report conclude that it is not just important to end potentially harmful practices such as conversion therapy, but that it is also imperative that the communities surrounding LGBTQ youth construct supportive environments and work to eradicate negative social attitudes toward them.

    Access Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth on the SAMHSA website at (11 MB).

    Related Items

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently published a guide highlighting best policies that juvenile justice facilities can implement to advance the safety and well-being of LGBT youth. Access Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in the Juvenile Justice System at

Child Welfare Research

We feature a study examining how U.S. refugee resettlement programs are serving the unique needs of child trafficking victims, a report on how youth in foster care are faring in California community colleges and universities, and more.

  • Stronger Educational Support for California Youth in Foster Care

    Stronger Educational Support for California Youth in Foster Care

    Youth in foster care who are enrolled in California community colleges and universities are not being adequately served by Federal or State programs, including access to financial aid, according to a new report by RTI International, the John Burton Foundation, and the Stuart Foundation. Charting the Course: Using Data to Support Foster Youth College Success was released in October 2015 by the California College Pathways (CCP) initiative, a public-private partnership formed to help youth in foster care succeed in postsecondary education. The report looks at data across the 31 CCP member campuses to illustrate how youth in care are faring comparatively in the community colleges and universities. It is the first in a series of reports designed to help policymakers and social workers improve educational outcomes for youth in care.

    The report originated from a 2012 California Community Colleges initiative requiring individual campus data systems to track youth in foster care. The report finds that youth in foster care fare worse academically and are more likely than youth not in care to need remedial courses in basic math and English. Emphasizing California’s strong commitment to making postsecondary education more accessible for youth in care, the report argues for enhanced practices for identifying youth in foster care and outreach efforts, in addition to improved communication among K-12 and postsecondary educators, child welfare experts, and youth-serving organizations.

    Access the report on the CCP website at (1 MB).


  • Youth Refugee Resettlement Programs for Trafficking Victims

    Youth Refugee Resettlement Programs for Trafficking Victims

    A recent study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops examines how U.S. refugee resettlement programs are serving the unique needs of child trafficking victims, and concludes that—with specific accommodations—such programs can serve as a model for the care and integration of child victims of human-trafficking and sexual exploitation. The study is premised on the many shared characteristics of refugees and foreign-born victims of human trafficking and looks at the U.S. Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) programs over the past 35 years to determine which aspects of the URM model best serve the specialized needs of trafficking victims.

    The authors note that since 1980, the URM program has helped unaccompanied children transition to life in the Unites States, embracing the principles of safety, permanency, well-being, integration, and cultural competency. They explain further that recent legal and legislative developments have resulted in an increasing number of child victims of human trafficking requiring specialized care in the United States, and that insufficient research exists on the provision of services and outcomes of this special-needs population in community-based settings.

    The authors point out that URM data provide substantial information for assessing the outcomes and policies with regard to victims of child trafficking, and they examine three data sets:

    • Individual services and the outcomes of child trafficking victims placed in the URM program
    • Policies and practices of the URM programs under the purview of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) network
    • Foster parent and program staff experiences of those who have taken child trafficking victims into their homes/URM programs

    The study looks at how URM programs have adapted their services over time to respond to the often intense needs of this unique population, including the identification of foster families who are well-equipped and attuned to the special needs of trafficking victims; reinforced supervisor support with trafficking cases; and clear-cut expectations for trafficked youth upon initial placement in a foster home.

    The authors were surprised by the strikingly low incidence of law enforcement, and advocate for guidance that will help programs enlist law enforcement agencies in the investigation of trafficking cases. They also contend that potential care providers should be offered advanced training to best serve this population.

    Child Victims of Human Trafficking: Outcomes and Service Adaptation Within the U.S. Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Programs, by Hilary Chester, Ph.D.; Natalie Lummert, M.S.W.; and Anne Mullooly, M.S.S.W. is available on the USCCB website at (1 MB).

  • Comparing Evidence-Based Treatment Training Models

    Comparing Evidence-Based Treatment Training Models

    Evidence-based treatment research often remains within university and educational settings; therefore, information is limited for professionals in the field. Child welfare professionals working with children facing behavioral health issues may be interested in a recent article in the Implementation Science journal sharing a study conducted across 50 licensed psychiatric clinics in Pennsylvania. The study compares the three most common evidence-based treatment training models: Learning Collaborative (LC), Cascading Model (CM), and Distance Education (DE). The article includes background on the models, how the study was conducted, and discussion of the best way to implement evidence-based treatments and measure outcomes. Discussion questions include:

    • What are the effects of the training condition and training outputs on evidence-based treatment?
    • What are the implementation outcomes, including acceptability, feasibility, sustainability, and cost across systems?
    • How can evaluation improve parent-child interactions for those families treated by clinicians?

    Access the article, "Protocol for a Statewide Randomized Control Trial to Compare Three Training Models for Implementing an Evidence-Based Treatment," by Amy D. Herschell, David J. Kolko, Ashley T. Scudder, Sarah Taber-Thomas, Kristen F. Schaffner, Shelley A. Hiegel, Satish Iyengar et al., Implementation Science, 10, 2015, at

  • Maltreatment During Deployment in Military Families

    Maltreatment During Deployment in Military Families

    A summary of recent research prepared by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges shows that, while substantiated cases of child maltreatment occur less frequently in military families than in civilian families, the highest incidence of maltreatment occurs during periods of operational deployment.

    Key findings include the following:

    • Child neglect rates increased among Army soldiers during 1991 and again from 2000 to 2004—two periods of lengthy deployments.
    • In families with one substantiated child maltreatment report, the rate of child maltreatment was 42 percent greater during periods of deployment versus nondeployment.
    • Rates of child maltreatment by civilian female spouses were three times higher during periods of deployment, with child neglect rates (85.1 percent) more substantial by far than reports of physical (9.3 percent) and/or emotional (1.9 percent) abuse.
    • Thirteen percent of child maltreatment offenders used alcohol or illicit drugs at the time of the abuse, and the odds of substance abuse nearly tripled in incidents where there was co-occurring spousal abuse.
    • Children were most likely to be removed from their home in cases not involving substance or spousal abuse (13.6 percent), whereas offenders were likely to be removed from the home when the maltreatment incident involved concurrent substance and spousal abuse (49.7 percent).
    • Support services are needed for military families returning from deployment.

    The research summary is available at


Strategies and Tools for Practice

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

  • Strategies for Finding and Keeping Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Homes

    Strategies for Finding and Keeping Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Homes

    As part of the Innovations in Family Recruitment program, funded by a diligent recruitment grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services released a best practice guide. The guide helps professionals navigate the challenges of finding foster and adoptive families equipped to meet the needs of children and youth entering foster care. The guide contains seven chapters that explore different focus areas: recruitment, data collection and analysis, and targeted recruitment. The guide also provides information about using effective customer service and social media for recruitment. The guide includes a "Put It Into Practice" feature that provides related resources complimenting a practice described in each section, evidence-based practice models throughout certain chapters, and an appendix of related resources and factsheets.

    Revitalizing Recruitment: Practical Strategies for Finding and Keeping Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Homes is available through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services at (10 MB).

  • A Guide to Child Protection Proceedings in Michigan

    A Guide to Child Protection Proceedings in Michigan

    The Michigan Judicial Institute released its 4th edition of the Child Protective Proceedings Benchbook: A Guide to Abuse & Neglect. The main purpose of the document is to support judges and referees to manage child protective proceedings. It also provides material to all those participating in the child welfare system who are committed to improving the quality of life for children living in Michigan.

    The benchbook outlines the required components of child protective proceedings, including:

    • A general overview of child protection law
    • Details on the reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect
    • Investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect
    • Procedures for acquiring physical custody of a child
    • Establishing paternity for child protective proceedings

    The tool will help those connected to the child welfare system learn how to prioritize the safety of children while considering and protecting the interests of parents.

    Access the report via the Michigan Judicial Institute at (5 MB).

  • Special Focus: African-American History

    Special Focus: African-American History

    Last month was African-American History Month. From the first celebration of Negro History Week in 1926, the sacrifices, struggles, and accomplishments of African-Americans have been honored annually. By the middle of the 20th century, Negro History Week had become a central part of African-American life. The civil rights movement of the 1960s propelled Black history forward, leading to national African-American History Month in 1976. In this month's CBX, we bring attention to the strengths African-American children, youth, and families have and the challenges they can face when receiving child welfare services.

    African-Americans are disproportionally represented in child welfare systems. African-American families have many strengths that can be built upon to reduce disproportionality, including strong kinship relationships, flexibility and adaptability of family roles, and a strong orientation toward achievement for not only themselves and their families, but the collective advancement of African-Americans.

    In addition to drawing on these strengths, child welfare professionals can use diligent recruitment practices to help locate homes for African-American children in the child welfare system. Diligent recruitment is more than just the practice of recruiting a diverse resource family population. It is also recruiting and developing homes, including relative homes, which could accommodate siblings and allow children and youth to stay in their schools.2 

    Child welfare professionals can leverage these strengths, coupled with cultural competency and diligent recruitment practices, to create positive outcomes for the African-American children, youth, and families who come into contact with child welfare. For more information on disproportionality, cultural competence, and tips for working with African-American families, see the following resources:

    1 AdoptUSKids. (2012). Working With African-American Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Families. Retrieved from (5 MB).
    2 National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment. (2014). What is diligent recruitment? Retrieved from (92 KB).



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

  • Assessment for Prospective Adoptive Parents, Foster Caregivers

    Assessment for Prospective Adoptive Parents, Foster Caregivers

    Family Interview Guide: A Guide for Foster Care Workers and Adoption Assessors is a comprehensive resource for professionals working with prospective adoptive parents and foster caregivers. Developed for the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program by the Institute for Human Services, the guide is intended to provide assessors with guidance in their interviews with families, including kinship care families, who are in the foster care and adoption application process in Ohio.

    Assessors must be adequately prepared to determine the appropriateness and readiness of a family for foster care or adoption and also be able to meet the needs of the families and children they serve. The interview guide serves as a starting point to improve service delivery and competency in order to address and meet these needs. Primarily, the guide focuses on intentionally gathering data from individualized family assessments, which allows assessors to consider placing a child with the respective home. While the family assessment, or home study, is primarily composed of interviews, the guide identifies a range of additional assessment opportunities including applicant/family observations, background and reference check, assessor's experience with the family, and Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System database searches.

    This interview guide discusses important steps and strategies in family assessment that can support effective outcomes. The guide also addresses the following 12 assessment categories and includes definitions, sample questions, and indicators of family functioning for each:

    1. Attitudes and beliefs regarding foster care and adoption issues
    2. Motivation to foster or adopt
    3. Personal and emotional maturity
    4. Stability and quality of interpersonal relationships
    5. Coping skills and history of stress management
    6. Level of openness in family relationships
    7. Parenting skills and abilities
    8. Ability to empathize with others
    9. Understanding of entitlement issues
    10. Ability and willingness to take a hands-on parenting approach
    11. Ability to make and honor commitments
    12. Religious affiliation and/or spiritual beliefs

    The Institute for Human Services emphasizes that assessors should use this guide solely for the purpose of guidance and building competency, as all assessments should be tailored to the specific family.

    The Family Interview Guide: A Guide for Foster Care Workers and Adoption Assessors (second edition) is available at (1 MB).


  • Child Maltreatment as a Public Health Problem

    Child Maltreatment as a Public Health Problem

    A factsheet developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides an overview of child maltreatment as a public health concern. The factsheet reports the number of deaths that occur as a result of child maltreatment and defines the four common types of child maltreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Also addressed are factors that contribute to child maltreatment, ways to prevent child maltreatment, and the approach CDC uses to address child abuse prevention.

    Understanding Child Maltreatment is available on the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention website at (193 KB).   

    Related Item

    The Children's Bureau recently released Child Maltreatment 2014, the latest in its series of annual reports featuring data provided by the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems. Access the report at

  • Mobile Application Permits Foster Parents Access to Health Records

    Mobile Application Permits Foster Parents Access to Health Records

    Foster parents are responsible for attending to the health needs of the children in their care, but they often do not have access to important information, such as allergy and immunization records or previous illnesses or hospitalizations. Sometimes, the information caregivers have is incomplete. In Ventura County, CA, a new website and mobile application, Foster Health Link, provides access to complete health history of a child in foster care as soon as the foster parent takes custody and until the child leaves that foster home. In order to protect the personal information of the children, both the website and the mobile application use the same type of security as online banking.

    Right now, Foster Health Link contains information on medical history, dental records, Medi-Cal insurance, and a child's school, grade level, and special education plan. In addition, Foster Health Link provides access to a multitude of resources, such as medical definitions, articles on various health conditions or concerns, and contact information for local service providers.

    To learn more, visit the FosterVCKids website at


  • Parental Heroin Use and the Foster Care System

    Parental Heroin Use and the Foster Care System

    Parent substance use is one of the root causes of the rising number of younger children entering foster care. Stateline, the daily news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts, recently published an article about the opioid epidemic in several States and its impact on child welfare cases.

    Although it is not clear how many child welfare cases can be positively linked to parental substance or alcohol abuse in the United States, Dr. Nancy Young, director of the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, believes that the many child welfare cases are driven by parental addiction to drugs, as reported by caseworkers and judges across the country. Numbers emerging from different States indicate that heroin use is straining child protective systems. Here are some key findings:

    • In Ohio, 23 percent of child welfare cases investigated in 2013 involved heroin or cocaine.
    • In Indiana, the spike in children coming into State custody was associated with drug use, especially heroin.
    • In Vermont, substance use prompted more than a third of phone calls to the State's child protection hotline.

    Reunification with substance abusing parents may be marked by uncertainty and stress due to restricted time frames for treatment and recovery. The article notes that long waiting times to enter treatment and the likelihood of relapses may also limit a parent's ability to regain custody. Several States are addressing these challenges by developing family drug courts to monitor parents' progress towards recovery and by testing and implementing new addiction services to improve outcomes for families. Examples of State programs that are making a difference include:

    • Ohio: Launched the Maternal Opiate Medical Support Project, which engages expecting mothers in a combination of counseling, Medication-Assisted Treatment, and case management
    • Illinois: Adopted a "Recovery Coach" program that assists parents in navigating addiction treatment and accessing additional support, such as parenting classes and finding jobs and housing
    • Vermont: Expanded a program that wraps more support around parents, ensuring that parents start treatment

    In many innovative programs, caseworkers and judges collaborate in overseeing cases. Key approaches to effective family services include creating extra accountability in court, securing access to treatment services, and helping a parent stay clean and/or sober.

    "How Heroin is Hitting the Foster Care System" is available on the Pew Charitable Trust website at

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.