News From the Children's Bureau
- Native American Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program
More than 150,000 Native Americans, representing 150 different tribes, live in Los Angeles County. Scattered throughout the county, these families are in many cases separated from their extended families, cultures, and traditional tribal support systems. Many live in poverty, facing substandard housing or homelessness, inadequate transportation, and drug and alcohol addiction. Their children come to the attention of the child welfare system at an alarming rate. The Southern California Indian Center in Los Angeles, CA, has developed the Native American Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS) Program to serve the unique needs of these urban Indian families.
The Native American CBFRS Program seeks to expand and enhance the culturally competent family support services offered to this population by providing individual and family therapy, in-home family support services, parent training, assessments, and information and referral services. The goal of these services is to preserve, strengthen, and stabilize families; safely prevent out-of-home placements of children; reunify children with their families when out-of-home placement can not be prevented; and ensure appropriate permanency plans, in compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), for children who cannot be reunified.
The project has developed a service delivery model designed to meet the unique needs of the population they are serving. Strengths of the model include:
- Culturally competent staff. The project has a uniquely dedicated staff who are Native American or have extensive training and experience in working with the Native community. All are trained to work at the client's pace, to allow time for trust to develop. Visits with families take place in their homes, as often as necessary, and at times that are most convenient for the family.
- Concrete support. Staff assist the family with whatever immediate concrete needs confront it. Those needs may include health or safety issues, school-related issues, housing issues, lack of appropriate food and/or clothing, lack of job training, or lack of adequate transportation.
- Skill building. Project staff are committed to teaching clients the skills they will need to access community, State, and Federal agencies and resources in order to become more self-sufficient, competent, and stable.
- Access to other culturally competent services. The Southern California Indian Center is a tribal organization of long standing and excellent reputation for its cultural awareness and sensitivity. CBFRS clients have access to all the programs and services offered by the Center, including programs to strengthen families and to provide substance abuse treatment, emergency assistance, job training, educational services for youth, cultural enrichment activities, and medical assessments.
- Collaboration. The project also works closely with clients' tribes, the American Indian units of the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Mental Health, attorneys from the children's court, and with drug and alcohol programs. Through its relationships with these and other community service providers throughout the county, the program is able to facilitate clients' access to additional services such as legal services, psychiatric services, medical services, and county social services.
Native American CBFRS Program staff also provide consultation and technical assistance to the California State CBFRS (now called Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, or CBCAP) grantee, the State Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention. These services center around promoting staff members' ability to serve Native American families effectively, to make culturally appropriate placements in compliance with ICWA, to recruit and employ Native American staff, to deliver culturally relevant support services, and to develop strategies to improve outcomes for Native American families and children.
For more information about the Native American Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program, contact Kathleen Bridgeland, Project Director at (213) 387-5772.
Note: This program was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant #90-KCA-1708. This article is part of a series highlighting Children's Bureau Discretionary Grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from official Children's Bureau site visits.
- Overrepresentation of Minority Children: How the Child Welfare System Is Responding
A recently released report by the Children's Bureau suggests that children of color, especially African American children, are overrepresented in the child welfare system for a variety of reasons, including poverty and racial bias. Children of Color in the Child Welfare System: Perspectives from the Child Welfare Community is one of the first studies to explore the attitudes and perceptions of the child welfare community regarding racial disproportionality. The report emphasizes the need for stronger administrative support, increased staff training in both general child welfare issues and cultural competency, and more internal and external resources to better serve families.
The qualitative study involved site visits to nine child welfare agencies across the country that were implementing a strategy, practice, or initiative to address the issue of disproportionality or to better meet the needs of families of color. Interviews were conducted with agency administrators, supervisors, and caseworkers. Child welfare staff proposed a variety of reasons why children of color are overrepresented in the child welfare system, including:
- Poverty. Poverty and poverty-related circumstances are major contributors to the overrepresentation of minority children.
- Visibility. Poor families are more likely to use public services such as public health clinics and receive TANF, making any problems they may be experiencing more visible to the community.
- Overreporting. Some felt that disproportionality is the result of discriminatory practices within society; specifically, school and hospital personnel report minority parents for child abuse and neglect more frequently than nonminority parents.
- Lack of experience with other cultures. Many of those interviewed felt that lack of understanding of the cultural norms of minority populations, along with racial bias, often interfered with good decision-making on the part of the case workers.
Those interviewed also noted the impact of Federal policies on the ways that agencies serve children and families. For example, some felt that transracial placements allowed through the Multi-ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) can be detrimental to African-American children's racial and ethnic identity, but others felt that this legislation has helped their agencies broaden the role of extended families in placement decisions. (MEPA, passed by Congress is 1994, is intended to remove barriers to permanency for children in the child protective system by facilitating the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents who can meet the distinctive needs of children awaiting placement and eliminating discrimination on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the child or the prospective parent.)
Study participants also described policies and practices that may help agencies better serve families of color, as well as programs and initiatives currently in place to address racial disproportionality, such as:
- Emphasizing prevention. This includes providing more "front end" services to families to prevent child maltreatment. Some agencies have implemented alternative response systems that identify and engage at-risk families before they become involved in the child welfare system.
- Engaging in partnerships. Partnerships with private, community-based, and ethnic-oriented agencies can provide public child welfare agencies with resources to better meet the needs of families of color. Many of the agencies interviewed have formal contracts with outside service providers or ethnic-based agencies to provide foster care, adoption, and support services.
- Hiring culturally diverse and culturally competent staff. Agency staff should better reflect the population being served and, regardless of race, should understand cultural differences. Some agencies are making efforts to hire more ethnically and culturally diverse staff.
The report is available https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/otherpubs/children/.
Read more about racial disproportionality in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Addressing Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" (November 2003)
- "Seeking Causes: Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" (August 2003)
- Independent Living Grantees Post Curriculums
The Children's Bureau funded 12 grantees between 2000 and 2003 to develop curriculums for training adults who work with youth transitioning out of foster care to independent living. The National Resource Center for Youth Development recently posted information about the resulting curriculums of the Independent Living Training grantees on their website. The postings include brief descriptions of each program, contact information, and, in many cases, links to the actual training manuals and other materials.
While all the curriculums are competency-based training programs that reflect a youth perspective in making the transition to independent living, some programs also address such topics as:
- Native American youth
- High-risk youth
- Coping with substance abuse and mental disorders
- Sexuality issues.
To view the training program information for all of the grantees, visit the National Resource Center for Youth Development website at www.nrcys.ou.edu/NRCYD/ilgrantees.htm (Editors note: Link no longer active).
Children's Bureau Express featured two of these programs in earlier issues:
- "Transitioning Y.O.U.T.H." (May 2004)
- "Foster Youth Help Develop Curriculum and Provide Training for Child Welfare Workers" (February 2004)
- Reassessing Court Performance in Child Protection Cases
The National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law has recently published a user's manual for conducting court reassessment in child protection cases. The manual is designed to help States update earlier assessments of their courts' performance in child abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption cases. Such reassessment will be necessary for States to maintain eligibility for Federal Court Improvement Program funds.
The manual outlines 15 general issues that fall under the categories of quality of proceedings, organizational characteristics, and State laws and procedures. For each issue, specific indicators are listed, and data sources that could be reviewed as part of the assessment are identified. General information is provided on organizing the assessment, use of questionnaires and focus groups, intensive site evaluations, court observations, and analysis of data. Appendixes provide sample documents.
The full text of Improving State Courts' Performance in Child Protection Cases: User's Manual for Conducting Your Court Reassessment can be downloaded at
For more on assessing court performance, see "Guide and Toolkit Help Courts Improve Performance for Children and Families" in this issue.
- States Work to Strengthen Marriages
The increased interest by the Federal Government in strengthening marriages and supporting two-parent families has led to a wide variety of policy changes and activities at the State level since 2001. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) recently compiled these State activities into a report, Beyond Marriage Licenses: Efforts in States to Strengthen Marriage and Two-Parent Families. This report provides an overview of these efforts, as well as State-by-State snapshots of specific programs and policies.
The State activities fall under four categories:
- Policy initiatives, commissions, and campaigns (e.g., media campaigns to promote marriage or discourage divorce)
- Changes in marriage or divorce laws (e.g., marriage license fee reduction for couples who participate in marriage preparation)
- Programs, activities, and services (e.g., marriage education for adults and for high school students)
- Policy changes related to marriage and two-parent families in TANF and child support (e.g., elimination of stricter eligibility requirements for families with two parents).
Overall results show that every State has made at least one policy change or introduced at least one activity to strengthen marriage or two-parent families or to reduce divorce. Some of the more notable findings include:
- Thirty-six States have revised their TANF eligibility rules to treat one- and two-parent households the same.
- Public officials or legislatures in nine States have declared that strengthening marriage is a public goal.
- Forty States have government-funded programs that provide couples- or marriage-related services in limited areas.
- Eight States have made significant changes to their marriage and divorce laws.
Specific State activities are described in the State-by-State Profiles in Part Two of this report. Appendixes provide a summary of State activities in a chart format and key contacts in the seven States with highest marriage promotion activity (Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia).
The full report, which was supported in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, can be downloaded from the CLASP website at www.clasp.org/publications/beyond_marr.pdf.
Children's Bureau Express explored the topic of strengthening marriages in the following articles:
- "New Studies Show Marriage Improves Living Standards for Children" (December 2002/January 2003)
- "Strengthening Couples, Marriages in Low-Income Communities" (May 2002)
- "Study Shows Changing Welfare Can Strengthen Families" (July 2000)
- KIDS COUNT Documents Trends in Child Well-Being
U.S. children show improved well-being on a majority of indicators used to assess child welfare, according to the newly released KIDS COUNT Data Book. A product of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual report on the state of children's well-being, as measured by 10 indicators. This newest release reports data for the period 1996 to 2001 and shows that, during this period, children's well-being increased in terms of:
- Infant mortality rate
- Child death rate
- Rate of teen deaths by accident, homicide, and suicide
- Teen birth rate
- Percent of teens who are high school dropouts
- Percent of teens not attending school and not working
- Percent of children in families in which no parent has full-time employment
- Percent of children in poverty.
During this same period, two indicators showed a decrease in child well-being: percent of low birthweight babies and percent of families with children headed by a single parent.
Included in this year's KIDS COUNT is an essay written by Douglas E. Nelson, President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, titled "Moving Youth from Risk to Opportunity." This essay focuses on the growing problem of disconnected young adults, providing a bleak picture of this particularly vulnerable group and noting that 15 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24 years) fall into this category--they are not working, they are not in school, and they are facing adulthood unprepared and unsupported. Particularly at risk are teens in foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, teen parents, and those who never finish high school. Examples of programs from around the country that have been successful in connecting these youth to needed support systems are also included in the essay.
The 2004 KIDS COUNT Data Book is available online at the Annie E. Casey Foundation website at http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/PublicationsSeries/KCDatabookProds.aspx. The online version allows the viewer to access profiles, maps, graphs, rankings, and raw data, as well as to download the entire book or selected sections.
- Adopted Adolescents Generally Satisfied With Birth Parent Contact
A study published in the April 2004 issue of Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal found adopted adolescents who have contact with their birth parents are generally more satisfied with the degree of adoption openness than are adolescents who do not have contact with birth parents. The study was the first to seek the perspective of adolescents themselves regarding their sense of satisfaction with contact in adoption.
Using data collected from the Minnesota-Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP), the study included 137 adopted adolescents (67 boys and 70 girls). The adolescents' ages ranged from 11 to 21 years during the data collection. A majority of adolescents interviewed (59 percent) maintained some type of contact with their birth mothers, while only 15 percent had contact with birth fathers.
Results indicated that, overall, most respondents who maintained contact with birth parents were neutral to satisfied with their contact, and were more satisfied than those without contact. Neither gender nor age was found to have a significant impact on satisfaction with contact with birth mothers. Satisfaction regarding contact with birth fathers was found to increase with age, although gender was not found to be significant.
Findings from this study are similar to findings of other research emphasizing the benefits of open adoption. However, the authors noted that while contact is associated with greater satisfaction with the amount of openness, it cannot be assumed that all adopted people want this contact. Given their results, the authors note that it may be desirable to facilitate contact in adoptive arrangements if participating members are comfortable doing so.
MTARP is a longitudinal research project that includes a nationwide sample of adoptive families and birth mothers recruited through 35 agencies in 23 different States in all regions of the country. Although a voluntary sample, families were not recruited on the basis of a successful adoption. More information on the MTARP study can be found at http://fsos.che.umn.edu/mtarp/default.html.
An abstract of this article, "Adolescents' Satisfaction with Contact in Adoption," and ordering information can be found at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FB%3ACASW.0000022730.89093.b7.
More articles about openness in adoption can be found in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Open Adoption Increasingly Common Among Private U.S. Adoption Agencies" (December 2003/January 2004)
- "New Findings From Longitudinal Study Show Adoption Openness Results in Greater Birth Mother Satisfaction" (February 2003)
Child Welfare Information Gateway offers both a factsheet for families (https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_openadopt.cfm) and a bulletin for professionals (https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_openadoptbulletin.cfm) on openness in adoption.
- Study Finds Supervised Visitation Beneficial for Young Children in Foster Care
Young children in foster care who have frequent contact with their biological parents and fewer placements are more likely to have secure attachments, according to a study published in the April 2004 issue of Family Relations. In addition, those with secure attachments have fewer behavioral and emotional problems than children with less secure attachments.
The study examined the quality of attachment of 123 children under the age of 6 who were in foster care. All children had reunification as the primary case goal. Children were found to be more likely to have stronger levels of parent-child attachment if they:
- Had more completed supervised visits with their biological parents
- Had more consistent supervised visits with their biological parents
- Had been in foster care for a shorter period of time.
Quality of attachment was also examined in relationship to indicators of children's adjustments. Findings indicate that children with higher levels of attachment:
- Were less likely to be classified as developmentally delayed
- Were less likely to take medication for behavioral issues
- Had fewer behavioral problems.
The authors suggest these results point to the need for caseworkers to support parents in participating in supervised visitation. This could include assisting with transportation or scheduling visits that do not conflict with parents' work schedules. In addition, the authors indicate research such as this can assist caseworkers in emphasizing to parents the importance of visits, helping parents understand that attending visitation is not just a task that must be completed in order to comply with the case plan but is important for the child's overall well-being.
The article, "Improving the Lives of Children in Foster Care: The Impact of Supervised Visitation," is available in Family Relations, 53(3), published by the National Council on Family Relations. Journal and subscription information are available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291741-3729.
- Parenting Program Successes
Innovative parenting education programs have the potential to change the lives of both parents and their children. An article in the May/June 2004 issue of Children's Voice highlights three promising parenting programs, noting their successes with different populations of parents and children.
Parents as Teachers (PAT) is a program for parents of young children based on brain research and child development. Thus, certain activities are emphasized at certain points in a child's development, and parents learn what to expect at each stage, from pregnancy to kindergarten. PAT educators, who generally have degrees in child development and significant experience, have been shown to be particularly helpful with teen mothers. Studies also have shown that PAT children have significantly better school readiness scores, compared to other comparable groups of children.
Another parenting education program that addresses the needs of young children is Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY). Parents in the community are trained as educators who then visit the homes of the families enrolled in HIPPY. During their weekly visits, the educators bring books and other materials and help the parents work with their 3- to 5-year-old children on school readiness skills. Educators also are trained to help parents navigate other services that might be helpful for them and their children.
The Parent Project has a different target audience: the parents of school-aged children and teenagers. This program has been adopted by the San Clemente, CA, Sheriff's Department as an option for parents with difficult teenagers. Parents attend the 10-week course to learn about the dangers that teens face and to learn skills to supervise their own teenagers. This program has become popular throughout the nation and is now the largest court-mandated or juvenile diversion program in the country.
The full text of this article, "Teach Your Parents Well," can be downloaded from the Child Welfare League of America website at www.cwla.org/articles/cv0405teach.htm.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, recently released a report on using parenting programs to prevent child abuse. Using Evidence-Based Parenting Programs to Advance CDC Efforts in Child Maltreatment Prevention describes a number of initiatives that the CDC has begun to research, including the effectiveness of a universal parenting program, maintaining parent participation in programs, and the efficacy of an ecobehavioral model that uses in-home protocols to prevent and treat child abuse. This research brief can be downloaded at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED486259.pdf (PDF - 114 KB).
Children's Bureau Express looked at a parenting program for abusive fathers in "Treating Fathers Who Maltreat" (May 2004).
- Guide and Toolkit Help Courts Improve Performance for Children and Families
Of the nearly 1 million substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect in the United States each year, 150,000 require court action. This action includes determining whether children will be removed from their homes, how long they will remain in foster care, and where they will permanently reside. A new guide and toolkit funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is designed to help courts handling child abuse and neglect cases assess their performance to improve the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families.
Building a Better Court: Measuring and Improving Court Performance and Judicial Workload in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases and its companion toolkit provide a reliable baseline measure of performance and workload, and a process with which to continue assessment efforts beyond initial evaluations. Together, the guide and toolkit strive to help courts to measure:
- Their success in helping achieve child safety
- Their success in helping attain permanency for abused and neglected children
- Their procedural fairness toward children, families, and agencies
- The timeliness of their hearings and decisions
- (Eventually) their role in achieving well-being for the children they serve.
The guide and toolkit are the result of a 4-year combined effort of the American Bar Association Center for Children and the Law, the National Center for State Courts, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. The court performance measures reinforce and compliment Federal initiatives and standards including the Child and Family Services Reviews. The guide is available at http://www.ncjfcj.org/resource-library/publications/building-better-court-measuring-and-improving-court-performance-and.
For more on assessing court performance, see "Reassessing Court Performance in Child Protection Cases" in this issue.
- Uncommon Disorders in Children Who Have Been Severely Maltreated
Children who have experienced severe maltreatment are at greater risk for developing a number of uncommon behavioral and emotional disorders. Clinicians in a position to diagnose and treat these children must be aware of the symptoms of these uncommon disorders and of the increased vulnerability of these children. To provide information on some of these disorders, the May 2004 issue of Child Maltreatment focuses on recognizing and treating uncommon disorders in children and adolescents who have been severely maltreated.
Individual articles address six specific disorders, including descriptions, theories of etiology, associated behaviors, comorbid disorders, obstacles to diagnosis, and guidelines for mental health services. The six disorders are:
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Dissociative disorders
- Reactive attachment disorder
- Somatization and other somatoform disorders (physical complaints triggered by emotional distress).
The articles note that treatment may be more complex for these children due to their experience of severe abuse. Factors to consider in designing a treatment plan should include medical issues caused by the abuse, individual strengths of the child or family, the child's ability to form an attachment to an adult, possible developmental delays, and determining the full consequences of the maltreatment.
Child Maltreatment is the Journal of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. Information about subscribing to this journal can be found at http://www.sagepub.com/journalsProdDesc.nav?ct_p=societies&prodId=Journal200758.
Children's Bureau Express covered this topic in "Abused Children Susceptible to Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Problems as Adults" (January/February 2001).
- Online Fundraising Handbook
Nonprofits looking to raise money through the Internet may find the Online Fundraising Handbook useful. Published by Groundspring.org (www.groundspring.org), an organization that helps nonprofits improve their effectiveness through fundraising, this free publication offers guidance on how to make the most of the World Wide Web and email to raise money.
Topics include acquiring new donors online, building email lists, and developing a website to engage visitors. Case studies are used to illustrate the concepts discussed, and "idea hot sheets" provide practical tips. An appendix provides links to other online fundraising resources and tools.
A free copy of the handbook may be obtained from http://www.fundraising123.org/files/groundspring-handbook.pdf.
- Media Handbook on Child Abuse and Neglect
A resource for journalists who cover stories on child abuse, neglect, and child welfare has just been published by Child Trends. The Child Abuse and Neglect Media Handbook is a 24-page guide designed to help reporters by providing background information and context for their stories on child maltreatment, as well as resources to consult for more information. The handbook includes:
- Background information and current statistics on child abuse and neglect
- Resources on abuse and neglect
- Resources on foster care
- A roadmap to the child welfare process
- Advocacy organizations
- Information on legal issues, including which States allow reporters to be present in court for hearings on abuse and neglect
- National and State information
- Websites with general information on children's issues
- Sources for enhancing stories
- List of media-friendly experts.
The handbook is designed not only to provide background information for specific stories but also to promote thoughtful reporting of child maltreatment on an ongoing basis. Placing stories of child abuse and neglect in the broader contexts of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and substance abuse may help to inform readers about the issues associated with child maltreatment.
The Child Abuse and Neglect Media Handbook was prepared by Child Trends in collaboration with contributors from two Media Roundtables organized in 2003, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The handbook can be downloaded at http://www.issuelab.org/resource/media_handbook_child_abuse_and_neglect.
- Child Welfare Collaborations: Lessons Learned
Two recent publications document the challenges and successes of child welfare collaborations in the State of North Carolina and in Los Angeles County. While the details are specific to the local areas, the lessons learned may be helpful to people undertaking similar efforts in other communities.
North Carolina: Child Welfare and TANF. In May 2003, the Children's Services Section of the North Carolina Division of Social Services merged with the Family Support Services Section to become "Family Support and Child Welfare Services." The April 2004 issue of Children's Services Practice Notes discusses resulting county-level collaborations between Work First (TANF) and child welfare programs. Included are benefits of collaboration, strategies for overcoming some of the most common barriers, and what child welfare workers need to know about Work First workers to build stronger relationships. The issue is available online at http://www.practicenotes.org/vol9_no3.htm.
Los Angeles County: Children's Planning Council. In 1991, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors created the Children's Planning Council to serve as its principal planning body to improve conditions for children and families by integrating and coordinating health and human services. This paper discusses 10 lessons learned by the author and her colleagues who have tried to "walk the talk" of public/private cross-sector collaboration in Los Angeles. It concludes with some of the key challenges facing the Council as it enters its second decade. The paper is available on the Children's Planning Council website at www.childrensplanningcouncil.org/resource-files/tenlessons.pdf (Editor's note: Link is no longer active).
The March 2004 issue of Children and Youth Services Review includes an article titled, "Teaming Up: Collaboration Between Welfare and Child Welfare Agencies Since Welfare Reform." Using data from a survey of State welfare directors and in-depth case studies in 12 States, the authors found that 1996 welfare reforms provided a fertile environment to improve collaborative efforts between welfare and child welfare agencies. The issue can be accessed at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740904000027.
Other articles about innovative child welfare collaborations can be found in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Collaboration with Law Enforcement Found to Enhance Abuse Investigations" (October 2003)
- "Building Successful Collaborations Between Child Welfare and Substance Abuse Treatment" (August 2003)
- Swett Foundation
Assistance for orphaned children (including promotion of their adoption) and intervention in the lives of troubled youth are two areas of interest for the Ralph and Eileen Swett Foundation. In 2003, the foundation made grants in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 in the areas of adoption, child maltreatment, health care, and education.
The foundation seeks to fund 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations that directly impact the lives of individuals. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, and grant decisions are made in April, September, and December. More information about the foundation and its application process is available at https://sites.google.com/site/ralphandeileenswettfoundation/.
- Special Issue: Court Appointed Special Advocates
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), also know as guardians ad litem (GALs), are volunteers who advocate for the best interests of children in foster care. Across 45 States, there are more than 52,000 volunteers in more than 900 CASA/GAL programs. The May/June 2004 issue of Fostering Families Today offers a special section on Court Appointed Special Advocates. Topics include:
- Overview of the National CASA Association
- Description of the role of a CASA/GAL, and how foster parents can benefit from having a CASA/GAL volunteer
- Synopsis of how to improve understanding and cooperation between CASA/GAL volunteers and resource families
- Reflections from a CASA/GAL trainer.
Fostering Families Today can be obtained by subscription at http://www.adoptinfo.net/catalog_c55347.html.
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.
- Raising Awareness and Improving Practice for Siblings in Foster Care
The National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPP) at the Hunter College School of Social Work has developed a new curriculum on issues related to siblings in out-of-home care.
The objectives of this curriculum are to:
- Enhance understanding of issues concerning siblings in out-of-home care
- Expand knowledge and skills in making appropriate placement decisions for sibling groups
- Enhance knowledge and skills in the recruitment and retention of resource families willing and able to parent sibling groups
- Enhance ability to present appropriate information to the court to support sibling groups
- Increase knowledge of policy and legislation affecting sibling placements in participants' jurisdictions.
The curriculum is split into two modules, each requiring approximately 3 1/2 hours to present. The first module, "The Issues," is designed for varied audiences including resource parents, caseworkers, child welfare supervisors, guardians ad litem, attorneys, judges, and the general public. Module 2 focuses on practice issues and is intended for caseworkers and supervisors.
The curriculum was begun as a project stemming from the National Leadership Symposium on Siblings in Out-of-Home Care, sponsored by Casey Family Programs and the Neighbor to Family agency. It can be downloaded free of charge from the NRCFCPP website at www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/siblings.html.
Children's Bureau Express covered the "National Leadership Symposium on Siblings in Out-of-Home Care" in its February 2003 issue.
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through October 2004 include:
- National Symposium on Child Fatalities: A Decade of Experience--A Future of Promise (Missouri State Technical Assistance Team and the National MCH Center for Child Death Review; August 1 through 3, St. Louis, MO)
- APSAC's 12th Annual Colloquium (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; August 4 through 7, Hollywood, CA)
- Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse: Equal Justice for Children (American Prosecutors Research Institute's National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse; August 30 through September 3, New Orleans, LA)
- Fifth National Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome (National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome; September 12 through 15, Montreal, Canada)
- Ninth International Conference on Family Violence: Working Together To End Abuse (Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute; September 17 through 22, San Diego, CA)
- 15th International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect (International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect; September 19 through 22, Brisbane, Australia)
- Raising Kin: The Psychosocial Well-being of Substance-affected Children in Relative Care (National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center; September 27 through 28; Chicago, IL)
- "Growing Pains" National Independent Living Conference (Daniel Memorial Institute; September 29 through October 2; San Antonio, TX)
- 16th Annual ATTACh Conference on Attachment and Bonding (The Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children; October 3 through 6, Richmond, VA)
- 2004 Child Welfare League of America Biennial Leadership Summit: "Is the System Broken? Creating the Will, Wisdom and Ways to Meet the Needs of America's Children" (October 20 through 22, Hilton Head, SC)
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found in the Conference Calendar on Child Welfare Information Gateway: www.childwelfare.gov/calendar