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May 2011Vol. 12, No. 4Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

CBX spotlights National Foster Care Month with a number of original articles, including three on Family Connection grantees (look for "Family Finding" in the title), and articles on a recent Breakthrough Series Collaborative and Camp To Belong. You'll also find links to other useful resources for Foster Care Month.

Issue Spotlight

  • Where Family Finding Comes First

    Where Family Finding Comes First

    This is one of three articles in this issue about agencies that received a Children's Bureau Family Connection grant in 2009 to help children in foster care reconnect with family members.

    Kids Central, Inc., based in Ocala, FL, is passionate about family finding. The agency believes that identifying and engaging all the family members of children in foster care is critical to providing these children with permanent families and connections. As early as 2007, Director Irene Rickus was working with family finding trainer Kevin Campbell to provide intensive training and case consultation to workers in the five counties that Kids Central serves. When the opportunity to apply for a Family Connection grant came along in 2009, they lost no time in translating that passion into a winning grant application.

    Using the Federal grant funds, Kids Central is conducting a comparison of two types of family finding training for caseworkers: standard training and training that includes intensive coaching. Workers in the coaching condition receive the added benefits of working with an experienced family finder who can demonstrate the technique, work alongside the caseworker, provide feedback, and consult as the caseworker perfects his or her family finding skills.

    How does family finding work? Kids Central uses family finding with all children at all ages in the foster care system. They even may use the technique with families receiving in-home services when a parent needs support from family members. Typically, there are several steps:

    • "Mining" the child's case file to identify every family member, foster family member, caseworker, teacher, and other potential contact, with a goal of identifying 40 contacts
    • If the child is verbal, performing a mobility mapping exercise in which the child uses a marker and paper to draw contacts, starting with his or her earliest memories (Who lived next door? What was the name of the school or church?)
    • For the verbal child, asking the child to identify the people he or she would like on the team and asking the child to identify his or her top five unmet needs (usually "love" and "family")
    • Inviting all contacts to a blended perspective family team meeting at which the family discusses the child's unmet needs
    • Following up with a family group decision-making meeting at which the family decides how the child's needs will be met and who will do what

    The coach or independent facilitator leads the meeting, keeping in mind the importance of safety for the child. But the goal is to help the family take responsibility for making the decisions about the child, including where the child will live, who will be responsible, who will provide backup care, and how the child's needs will be met. Families are also encouraged to use these types of meetings to resolve any issues that arise later. Caseworkers follow up to ensure that the plan is sustainable.

    As part of the grant, Kids Central is writing a curriculum for intensive family finding. The curriculum will be used to train new caseworkers and ensure that family finding is part of their practice from Day 1.

    Director Irene Rickus is an unabashed promoter of family finding. She has seen firsthand how family finding can result in permanent homes for children and increased support for families. She also notes that, "Family finding is part of a whole family-centered approach that shifts responsibility for decision-making away from professionals and to the child's family. It can lead to a restoration of family dignity. It can also lead to greater client satisfaction and greater worker satisfaction."

    To read some of Kids Central's family finding success stories, visit the National Foster Care Month webpage on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    To find out more about Kids Central's family finding program and curriculum, contact Director Irene Rickus at

    To find out more about the Children's Bureau Family Connection grant program, visit:

    Many thanks to Irene Rickus, who provided the information for this article.

  • Using Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice to Improve Foster Care Placement Stability: A Breakthro

    Using Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice to Improve Foster Care Placement Stability: A Breakthro

    In July 2010, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), launched the Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice Breakthrough Series Collaborative (TICWP BSC), which focuses on using trauma-informed practices to improve foster care placement stability. The BSC model was created by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and has been adapted for use within the child welfare system; it is a fast-paced model designed to help individuals within the system to improve it. This BSC is focused on using knowledge of child trauma to shape decisions, actions, policies, procedures, staffing, and supports for children, their families, and their caregivers, resulting in more successful adjustments and fewer disruptions in care.

    The TICWP BSC includes nine teams from around the country: Los Angeles, San Diego, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Texas. Each team is a partnership between a county- or State-level public child welfare agency and an organization that provides evidence-based interventions for child trauma. Team members include child welfare and mental health administrators, child welfare line workers and supervisors, managers, trauma therapists, birth parents, foster parents, and, in many cases, youth participants.

    Participating teams initially tested changes at the practice level through a process called Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, or PDSAs. Some PDSAs already underway include:

    • Using a trauma-informed screening tool to identify children who may benefit from trauma-focused therapy
    • Better connecting birth and foster parents to mitigate additional trauma for the child
    • Scheduling meetings that include all caregivers who support children in foster care (foster parents, birth parents, social workers)
    • Providing trauma-informed information to caregivers
    • Developing trainings on child trauma for child welfare staff and foster parents

    Each team is learning from those tests and then implementing the small changes that have an impact on foster care placement stability at a target site. In aggregate, these small changes will result in systemic changes that can be replicated, spread, and ultimately formalized in policy, training, and practice. 

    The final meeting for the TICWP BSC will be held in June 2011. After this meeting, teams will continue to focus on spreading tested practices across their jurisdictions. While the official BSC concludes in September 2011, teams will be encouraged to continue spreading identified changes across their jurisdictions. A final report detailing the work of the teams, highlighting the specific practices that were successfully tested and implemented, will be available on the NCTSN website later this year:

    Contributed by Lisa Conradi, Chadwick Center Children and Families & National Center for Child Traumatic Stress – UCLA; Susan Ko, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress – UCLA; Erika Tullberg, ACS-NYU Children’s Trauma Center; Jen Agosti, Consultant; Heather Langan, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress – Duke University; and Charles Wilson, Chadwick Center for Children and Families

  • May Is National Foster Care Month

    May Is National Foster Care Month

    This month is the time to raise awareness about the nearly 424,000 children and youth in foster care, including the almost 115,000 children awaiting adoption across the country. National Foster Care Month also serves to honor the dedicated adults—foster parents, caseworkers, teachers, mentors, and many others—who make a difference in these children's lives and to encourage more families and individuals to step up and become involved in their local communities.

    "Building Connections Through Meaningful Family Engagement" is the National Foster Care Month theme on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. The 2011 site includes new information and resources on five main topics aimed at building connections with families, youth, siblings, schools, and communities. The website also features personal stories of youth who have achieved permanency and digital stories that link users to the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections website.

    The National Foster Care Month website, an initiative led by Casey Family Programs and its partners, offers resources and tools to inform people about foster care and encourage them to get involved. The "Change a Lifetime Menu" demonstrates that no matter how much time someone may have, whether it is a few minutes, hours, weeks, or more, everyone can make a difference in the life of a foster child. The website also offers an events calendar featuring National Foster Care Month activities and promotions across the country.

  • International Family Finding

    International Family Finding

    This is one of three articles in this issue about agencies that received a Children's Bureau Family Connection grant in 2009 to help children in foster care reconnect with family members.

    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 mandated that agencies engage in intensive efforts to locate children's grandparents and other adult relatives when a child enters foster care. It didn't limit these efforts to the child's State of residence or even to the United States. However, few agencies are prepared to conduct searches in other countries for relatives of children in foster care. International family finding requires a reliable network of social work connections around the world—the kind of network that the Baltimore-based International Social Service-United States branch (ISS-USA) has.

    ISS has been engaged in international family finding for over 85 years. In 2009, ISS-USA teamed with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Rutgers University to win a Family Connection grant. Their project involves training social workers in seven New Jersey counties in intensive international family finding efforts. The knowledge and outcomes of these social workers will be compared with those in seven other counties where workers have not received the specialized training. Findings from the project evaluation will be used to build knowledge in the field about what works in family finding to improve outcomes for children.

    The project staff estimated that approximately 1,500 children in the New Jersey foster care system have relatives in other countries. However, when the project got underway, project staff discovered that caseworkers were sometimes reluctant to refer cases to ISS or not sure about how international family finding worked. During the first year of the project, staff conducted a needs assessment survey of workers to which approximately 1,000 caseworkers responded. The results showed a number of reasons for the low referral rate:

    • Some workers didn't understand that making connections with a child's relatives abroad did not necessarily imply placement abroad. It could also mean connecting with a relative who would send birthday cards or provide links to family or cultural identity. It could even mean termination of parental rights so that the child could be adopted.
    • Many workers didn't know how to do international family finding or how to start.
    • Workers didn't know if there would be support in their office for international family finding or resources for communicating with foreign family members. (In fact, New Jersey offers a "language phone line" with real-time translation.)
    • Some workers had a difficult time believing that it could ever be in the best interests of U.S. children to place them in a foreign country.

    The project staff set out to address this combination of institutional and personal issues that kept caseworkers from using international family finding. Workers in counties that received intensive training learned how to work with children and their families early in the process to identify all relatives—domestic and international. Workers also learned to connect with a family's neighbors and place of worship to find out if a child had family abroad. After learning of a possible family connection, the worker would refer the case to ISS, so they could continue the search through ISS social workers in the foreign country. If the decision was eventually made to consider placing the child with the relative abroad, the ISS worker in the other country would arrange for a home study and all services a child might need.

    Project staff wrote a curriculum for international family finding and conducted all-day trainings with DCF-DYFS staff, which were completed at the end of 2010. Since then, the number of cases referred for international family finding has shown a remarkable increase—while there were only 82 inquiries about referrals in all of 2010, there were 139 inquiries in just the first quarter of 2011. Another recent boon for the project has been the addition of an International Liaison position at DCF-DYFS. The liaison answers caseworker questions about referrals, helps caseworkers complete forms, and makes the appropriate referrals to ISS.

    Project staff members realize that the courts play a big part in whether children can establish connections with relatives in other countries. Staff are currently working on a 2-3 hour training for judicial and legal professionals that will be used in a pilot program in September 2011. The goal is to train the courts to look outside the jurisdiction, including outside the United States for family connections.

    According to Project Director Felicity Sackville Northcott, Ph.D., "We want the courts and the caseworkers to treat international family finding like any other family finding that involves another jurisdiction. The decision to connect a child to family in another country may well be in the best interests of that child, and we work to make that a viable option."

    The project recently posted a list of Frequently Asked Questions that caseworkers may have about family finding. View the questions and answers here:

    For more information about ISS-USA and the international family finding project, contact Project Director Felicity Sackville Northcott at

    To find out more about the Children's Bureau Family Connection grant program, visit:

    Many thanks to Felicity Sackville Northcott, Ph.D., for providing the information for this article.

  • Combining Family Finding and Kinship Support Services

    Combining Family Finding and Kinship Support Services

    This is one of three articles in this issue about agencies that received a Children's Bureau Family Connection grant in 2009 to help children in foster care reconnect with family members.

    Lilliput Children's Services was supporting kinship caregivers long before 2007 when the agency received a California State grant to provide these services in Sacramento and two other counties. When the Children's Bureau Family Connection grant program offered the opportunity to add family finding services, the agency enthusiastically submitted its application. Lilliput staff had already noticed that over half of the families they were certifying for adoption were kinship caregivers, so the Family Connection program seemed like a natural fit for their community. After being awarded the grant in 2009, Lilliput's Kinnections Initiative was launched, offering families in Sacramento County a unique blend of family finding and intensive kinship support services.

    Building on an existing project that focuses on disproportionality in the county's child welfare system, the Kinnections Initiative targets African-American children from birth to age 17 entering the system for the first time. The initiative uses an "upstream" approach that begins services as soon as the child enters the system. The county child welfare agency automatically refers all children that meet the criteria for intensive services; Lilliput then supplements the county's initial relative search with an additional 3-6 months of family finding efforts. The agency uses a number of strategies, including case mining, Internet searches, family trees, and interviews with children and family members.

    Once a relative placement is identified, Lilliput immediately begins providing intensive case management services throughout the sometimes lengthy assessment process, as well as both before and after the child is placed. These intensive services include:

    • Preplacement household preparation, i.e., child proofing, budgeting, emergency funding
    • In-home visitation and ongoing caseworker availability to the family
    • Identification of affordable child care arrangements
    • Connection to formal community resources
    • Informal family team decision-making meetings to bring together the extended family and establish ongoing support systems

    The Kinnections Initiative staffs two family finding facilitators and two case management social workers; a kinship caregiver also serves as a parent partner who offers supplemental support services, facilitates support groups, and organizes a kinship advisory board for the initiative. The clinical director of Lilliput Children's Services provides individual and team supervision and coordinates ongoing staff training. Staff have been trained on family finding by Catholic Community Services of Western Washington and on kinship case management by Joseph Crumbley, who is also a consultant for the initiative.

    The Stanford Home for Children will oversee the Kinnections Initiative's formal evaluation, but so far the early results are promising. The initiative has located relatives for over 90 percent of the children served, and 35-40 children have been placed in permanent homes. In addition, Lilliput's kinship support services received an "Inspire Giving" award from Sacramento's local business chamber. Results from the project evaluation will be disseminated to help build knowledge in the field about what works in family finding and kinship support to improve outcomes for children.

    What Program Director Beverly Johnson finds most exciting is the way the initiative has improved cross-system collaboration and brought the community together around the common goal of permanency for children. "The more chances we have to describe our initiative to members of the community, the more they want to be involved," she says. "It seems like everyone can agree on the benefits that come from finding relatives early and helping the child and family make lasting connections." Encouraged by the initiative's results, Ms. Johnson and her colleagues have started forming a broad-based coalition of community partners to ensure the program's sustainability in the years to come.

    To learn more about the Kinnections Initiative at Lilliput Children's Services:

    Many thanks to Beverly Johnson, who provided the information for this article.

  • How Policymakers Can Help Youth Transitioning From Foster Care

    How Policymakers Can Help Youth Transitioning From Foster Care

    Youth transitioning out of foster care face a number of challenges on their path to adulthood. A new web-based tool, Support Youth Transitioning From Foster Care, is designed to help policymakers identify the best approaches to help these youth make successful transitions. The tabbed format offers information and resources under five headings:

    • What results do you want? discusses the key elements youth need to succeed in life in terms of priorities and indicators.
    • How are your kids? provides access to State-level data on youth in foster care and discusses trends, root causes, projections, and targets.
    • What works? links to different strategies for success, as well as research supporting specific strategies and a success story in Iowa.
    • How can you ensure success? discusses implementation and accountability and links to a checklist and video.
    • How can you sustain success? talks about financing and investing in results and how to pay for them.

    Leadership and vision are important to the success of the project. The goal is to invest in policies and practices that lead to better outcomes for youth while pursuing creative financing strategies that draw from local, State, Federal, and private resources.

    Support Youth Transitioning From Foster Care is available on the website, which is a project of the Center for the Study of Social Policy:

  • Resource Guide for Treatment Foster Care Practice

    Resource Guide for Treatment Foster Care Practice

    The Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA) has developed the FFTA Resource Guide on Practice Approaches in Treatment Foster Care, an online guide that includes nearly 40 intervention methods and practices that are achieving results in treatment foster care programs and other family-based services. Treatment foster care refers to the combination of a nurturing and therapeutic family environment with the active and structured treatment associated with residential care.

    Each submission in the new resource guide includes such program descriptors as target population, focus of intervention, text describing the program, outcomes, reference materials, website, and more. The FFTA intends to continue to add to the guide as it learns of more programs.

    The guide can be viewed two ways:

  • Camp To Belong

    Camp To Belong

    On the last night of Washington's Camp To Belong sibling reunification gathering in August 2010, one young camper stood up to say what camp meant to her and how difficult it would be to separate from her brother the next day. Tears flowed, not words. She couldn't speak the emotion she felt. For the other 140 campers and counselors in the room, she didn't have to. They were crying with her. "The right to reunite" that is both the heart and motto of Camp To Belong was captured movingly as her brother came to her and they hugged for many long seconds.

    This was the second year Washington State held its own Camp To Belong—one of nine in the United States and Australia to reunite siblings separated by foster care, adoption, or other out-of-home living situations. Before 2009, a few Washington children attended a camp in Oregon. By the time the 97 separated siblings attended the Miracle Ranch in Port Orchard (WA) in 2010, 260 Washington State brothers and sisters aged 8 to 18 had been reunited over 5 years through their camp experiences.

    "I want to come and help for the rest of my life," said 18-year-old Andrew, a camper in 2009 who was a counselor in training in 2010 and attended camp both years with his brother.

    Like other campers, Andrew was able to spend quality time with his brother, creating positive memories and building on what will likely be the longest life connection either of them will have. Andrew could see that his story, his journey, was not unique. He told other campers that at camp they are not judged or labeled. Everyone's story is similar.

    Camp To Belong was started in 1995 by Lynn Price, who didn’t even know she had a sister until she was 8 years old. Vowing that experience should never happen to any young person separated from siblings because of out-of-home care, she began the camp experience.

    Camp To Belong Washington is a partnership between Foster Family Connections, a private, nonprofit organization in Port Orchard, and Washington State's Children's Administration. Children's Administration provides substantial financial backing to supplement the fundraising done by Foster Family Connections, which runs the camp. 

    Deb Kennedy and April Van Gesen are camp co-directors and foster moms who have adopted sibling groups among their large families. They make camp the great experience it is. The campers dress up in tie-dye shirts and other costumes for Rock 'N Roll Night. They enjoy a birthday party on Wednesday night with cakes provided by Free Cakes For Kids (this year featuring a 140-person conga line through the dining hall) and Carnival/Rodeo Night. Around the campfire, campers and counselors share their experiences and hopes for the future.

    All campers leave with a Creative Memories book they've created from pictures they took and with a professional portrait taken of them individually and their siblings as a group. They also leave with a "sibling pillow" on which they've written messages for their siblings to hold onto when they are not together. They take with them the message that their past does not define their future, that together with their brothers and sisters they can write the story of the rest of their lives, no matter who has written the first few chapters.

    On the shores of Horseshoe Lake, at the appropriately named Miracle Ranch, Andrew said it best: "Camp has been a life-changing experience for me. Miracles happen here."

    For more information about Washington's Camp To Belong, contact Bob Patlow at or view a short video about the camp (scroll down to link to the video):

    Contributed by Bob Patlow, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

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News From the Children's Bureau

This month we launch the first article in our Centennial Series with a look at changing views of childhood. This issue also links you to recent funding announcements, a call for comments on child welfare monitoring, and a recent collaboration between HHS and the Department of Justice on children's exposure to violence.

  • Soliciting Comments on Federal Monitoring

    Soliciting Comments on Federal Monitoring

    The Children's Bureau is requesting public comments on how the Federal Government monitors child welfare agency compliance with the plan requirements under titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. The current process for reviewing plan requirements is through the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). States, Tribes, and other stakeholders are invited to send written comments or attend consultation sessions in Regional Offices or via conference calls. The deadline for written comments is May 20, 2011.

    For more information, see the Federal Register Notice:

  • Responding to Children Exposed to Violence

    Responding to Children Exposed to Violence

    Evidence-Based Practices for Children Exposed to Violence: A Selection From Federal Databases is a new report that summarizes Federal reviews of research studies and program evaluations to help localities address childhood exposure to violence and improve outcomes for children, families, and communities.

    Subject matter experts at the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services collaborated in preparing this information, which is based on reviews of Federal databases of evidence-based programs. Data were drawn from the following databases maintained by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

    • SAMHSA's National Registry of Effective Prevention Programs
    • SAMHSA's National Child Traumatic Stress Network
    • OJJDP's Model Programs Guide
    • OJJDP's Children Exposed to Violence Evidence-Based Guide

    From this review, researchers created a matrix of 42 effective programs and 13 promising programs. The description of each program in the matrix includes a rating; the age range for the children served; outcome indicators; and whether the program increased resilience, reduced trauma symptoms, or reduced incidence. Other elements of the package include a glossary of terms, a discussion of service characteristics for program components, and a section on guidance and information for replication of programs.

    Evidence-Based Practices for Children Exposed to Violence: A Selection from Federal Databases is available for download on OJJDP's Safe Start Center website: (335 KB)

  • Centennial Series: An Evolving View of Childhood

    Centennial Series: An Evolving View of Childhood

    This is the first article in our Centennial Series, as we count down to the Children's Bureau's 100th anniversary next year. These articles address some of the social issues, practices, and policies at the turn of the last century that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau.

    By the time the Children's Bureau was created in 1912, America's idea of childhood had undergone a fundamental change. In fact, the idea of "childhood" as a time for children to play, learn, and develop was a relatively new concept in the early 1900s—and far removed from the views and practices of America's early colonists and settlers.

    In the pre-industrial United States, children were often an economic necessity. The home was also the family farm or small business, and the children were expected to contribute to the economic well-being of their family through their chores and labor. Everyone worked, and if life was hard for children, it was also hard for adults. In many ways, children were viewed as miniature adults, and the hardships of life were just part of the human condition.

    Family structure reflected this reality. Children were considered the property of their fathers, and children without fathers were often treated as orphans (Fass & Mason, 2000). Fathers were responsible for both the economic well-being of their family and the moral development of their children. In a society where most families lived and worked together, fathers were readily available to oversee their children's upbringing.

    The Industrial Revolution brought about enormous changes to the family. By the late 1800s, many families had moved to cities, the average family size had shrunk, and a large middle class had grown up. As fathers found work outside the home, mothers took full responsibility for childrearing (Fass & Mason, 2000). Children in middle- and upper-class families—freed from working—were viewed less as miniature adults and more as innocent human beings who could be molded by the proper experiences and education. The concept of "childhood" as a time for play and learning became popular, and children's clothes and toys, as well as books on childrearing for mothers, were produced by the factories for consumption by the middle class (Reef, 2002).

    Yet childhood as an idyllic time of play and innocence was predominantly a privilege of the middle class (Sanchez-Eppler, 2003). For children in poor families and many immigrant families, the Industrial Revolution had a different impact. By the late 1800s, many of these children were working in factories or doing piecework or other types of labor outside the home and family. They received lower wages than adults and often had little time or opportunity for education. While the 1900 U.S. Census showed that one in six youth between the ages of 10 and 15 was employed, researchers have suggested this was a vast undercount that omitted the many children under 10 who worked and those who worked with their parents in sweatshops and on farms (Zelizer, 1985/2000).

    A number of social movements gained momentum around the turn of the century, including a movement toward mandatory education and a complementary one restricting child labor. The photographs of Lewis Hine, hired by the National Child Labor Committee to take pictures of working children between 1910 and 1914, fueled these movements (Lowry, 2003). The contrast between society's new vision of "childhood" as a carefree time and Hine's photographs of ragged children standing in front of cotton mills and factory machinery made the impact all the more poignant.

    This evolving view of childhood in America, with its contradictions and inequalities, was fertile ground for the establishment of a government agency that would work to protect children. With the creation of the Children's Bureau in 1912, the United States took an official stance on the importance of children and childhood.


    Fass, P. S., & Mason, M. A. (Eds.). (2000). Childhood in America. New York, NY: New York University Press.

    Lowry, R. S. (2003). Lewis Hine's family romance. In C. F. Levander & C. J. Singley (Eds.), The American child: A cultural studies reader (pp. 184-207). Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

    Reef, C. (2002). Childhood in America: An eyewitness history. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc.

    Sanchez-Eppler, K. (2003). Playing at class. In C. F. Levander & C. J. Singley (Eds.), The American child: A cultural studies reader (pp. 40-62). Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

    Zelizer, V. A. (2000). The changing social value of children. In P. S. Fass & M. A. Mason (Eds.), Childhood in America (pp. 260-262). New York, NY: New York University Press. (Reprinted from Pricing the priceless child: The changing social value of children, pp. 56-60, by V. A. Zelizer, 1985, New York, NY: Basic Books).

    Related Item

    Access all of the Centennial Series articles here:

  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    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:

    • ACYF-CB-IM-11-03—This Information Memorandum is designed to encourage child welfare agencies, foster and adoptive parents, and others who work with young people in foster care to ensure that the physical and emotional well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth in foster care is protected and supported (
    • ACYF-CB-PI-11-04—This Program Instruction for Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, and Tribal Consortia concerns the June 30, 2011, submission of the Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR) (

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

  • Funding Opportunity Announcements

    Funding Opportunity Announcements

    On April 5, 2011, the Children's Bureau made the first discretionary funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) of FY 2011, namely:

    The application deadline for both FOAs is July 5, 2011.

    Information about planned FY 2011 FOAs is now available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Grants Forecast website (select "Advanced Search," then select "Administration on Children and Families"):

    For general information about Children's Bureau discretionary grants, visit the Programs and Funding Section of the Children's Bureau website:

    For information on specific grants, visit the following websites:

    • ( Search for Children's Bureau grant opportunities under the Agency Category "Department of Health and Human Services" or under the Funding Activity Category "Social Services and Income Security or Income Security and Social Services." Users also can apply for Children's Bureau discretionary grants online, only through
    • ACF Grant Opportunities ( Children's Bureau and other Administration for Children and Families (ACF) funding announcements are posted here.

Training and Technical Assistance Update

The T&TA Network section shares news about new resources from the T&TA members, including those for addressing transgender issues with youth and ideas for diligent recruitment.

  • Talking to Teens About Transgender Topics

    Talking to Teens About Transgender Topics

    Facilitating Discussion of Transgender Issues: A Primer is a PowerPoint presentation by Gerald P. Mallon, D.S.W., director of the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC). The presentation describes useful strategies for creating an environment in which an adolescent can feel willing to discuss transgender issues with a child welfare practitioner, and it includes the following topics as they apply to adolescents:

    • Promoting awareness of transgender issues
    • Demonstrating transgender awareness and sensitivity
    • Routine screening for gender concerns
    • Addressing dilemmas in diagnosing gender concerns
    • Conducting detailed transinclusive psychosocial evaluations

    The primer is available on the NRCPFC website: (2.16 MB)

  • More Updates From the T&TA Network

    More Updates From the T&TA Network

    The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network continues to produce resources that can help States and Tribes in their work with children and families. Some recent resources are listed below:

  • Diligent Recruitment Projects on AdoptUSKids Site

    Diligent Recruitment Projects on AdoptUSKids Site

    The Children’s Bureau awarded cooperative agreements in 2008 and 2010 for the Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System. The 2008 grantees have begun to develop materials and presentations, and these are available on the AdoptUSKids website. Even in the early stages of implementation, the programs have yielded lessons learned and new ideas that child welfare agencies can use, for example, to improve Child and Family Services Reviews outcomes and enhance recruitment efforts.

    One project, Kentucky's Project MATCH (Making Appropriate and Timely Connections for Children), has garnered attention through its successful use of outreach tools, community intervention, press coverage, and other strategies in its diligent recruitment efforts. Many of the projects' materials and products illustrate those processes and strategies clearly.

    The Kentucky Project MATCH webpage lists samples of outreach tools, newsletters, press releases, and press coverage. Outreach tools include photos of a billboard, a tray liner for a local restaurant, a packet of flower seeds, and a blurb on State employees' pay stubs. Trifold brochures include first-person stories of Kentucky foster families. For child welfare professionals, there are several leaflets and presentations describing recruitment and retention strategies, as well as a project model document, project evaluation, information, and two presentations of grantees meetings. The March 2010 issue of the project's newsletter, Connections, describes how regions were selected for intervention and how to use market segmentation as a targeted recruitment tool.

    Access all of the grantees' materials from the AdoptUSKids' diligent recruitment webpage:

Child Welfare Research

Child Welfare News reports on new web-based resources for home visiting, an extension of National Reunification Day, and CIP success stories.

  • New Web-Based Inventory of Home Visiting Services

    New Web-Based Inventory of Home Visiting Services

    The Pew Charitable Trust recently launched a new web-based inventory of State home visiting services. The inventory includes results from a survey of State agency officials on their home visiting programs, models, and funding during FY 2009–2010. Specifically, the survey asked questions about the amount that States were spending on home visiting, how evidence of effectiveness impacted funding allocation, and how States held local programs accountable.

    Using that information, Pew developed the web-based inventory, which is an innovative tool that provides State leaders, agency administrators, and program directors with State-by-State and national pictures of home visiting programs. Users can evaluate current home visiting approaches, compare systems across States, and make informed decisions to ensure the best results for families and strongest returns to taxpayers. States can use the inventory to evaluate the science behind their existing home visiting programs and make the necessary adjustments to maximize the likelihood of receiving funds.

    Link to the inventory:

  • Receive Daily Child Welfare News

    Receive Daily Child Welfare News

    For a daily feed of child welfare news stories from across the country, sign up for a free subscription to Child Welfare in the News from Child Welfare Information Gateway:

  • Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE)

    Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE)

    In the fall of 2009, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funded Mathematica Policy Research to assess the effectiveness of home visiting program models that serve families with pregnant women and children from birth to age 5. The Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) website ( describes the research study and provides information on the 11 programs reviewed, 7 of which met the study's criteria for an evidence-based early childhood home visiting service delivery model:

    • Early Head Start-Home Visiting
    • Family Check-Up
    • Healthy Families America
    • Healthy Steps
    • Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY)
    • Nurse-Family Partnership
    • Parents as Teachers

    The website details each program and its impact on outcomes, describes implementation guidelines, and references all 487 studies used in the research. States are encouraged to use the website to inform their home visiting services for pregnant women and families with young children. In particular, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that 75 percent of the funds States receive must be used for evidence-based home visiting models identified by HomVEE.

    HomVEE is guided by a Federal interagency working group that includes representatives from the Children's Bureau and four other HHS agencies. Mathematica is currently performing a second review of research in order to update the existing research and assess the effectiveness of additional home visiting program models as necessary.

    Visit the HomVEE website for more information:

    Individuals interested in home visiting programs in Tribal communities may download the supplemental report, Assessing the Evidence of Effectiveness of Home Visiting Program Models Implemented in Tribal Communities: (949 KB)

  • Court Improvement Programs Impact Dependency Courts

    Court Improvement Programs Impact Dependency Courts

    Court Improvement Programs (CIPs) have been in place since 1993 when Federal legislation was passed to fund State programs to assess and improve the dependency court process. Since that time, and especially since the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997, State CIPs have implemented a number of reforms, many of which have improved judicial decision-making timeliness and the court experience for children and families.

    The March 2011 issue of The Judges’ Page Newsletter presents 14 articles that discuss the impact of CIPs on dependency courts, illustrating innovative programs from around the country. Articles include:

    • "Court Improvement in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: A Historical Perspective"
    • "CIP Funds Instrumental in Building a Brighter Future for California’s Foster Children"
    • "Sustaining Energy for Permanency Planning for Children: Virginia’s Best Practice Courts"
    • "Developing Guidelines for Delivering Age-Appropriate Information to Children"
    • "CIP Funds Expand CASA Programs, Quality of Advocacy"
    • "Examples of Model Court-CIP Collaboration Systems Change Goal Alignment"
    • "Web Resources: Court Improvement Programs Issues and Resources"

    The Judges’ Page Newsletter is a publication of the National CASA Association in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Find the newsletter on the National CASA Association website:

  • National Reunification Day Expands

    National Reunification Day Expands

    National Reunification Day made its debut last summer and has been building momentum ever since. Promoted as a time to celebrate the many families whose children return home to live with their parents after time in foster care, National Reunification Day is expanding this year. Rather than designating one day, National Reunification Day will be celebrated around the country on different days between Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day (May 8 through June 19).

    The American Bar Association's (ABA's) Center on Children and the Law has expanded its webpage and resources on National Reunification Day to help jurisdictions plan events and offer services related to reunification. The website also lists State celebrations, noting that some agencies have been celebrating Reunification Day for many years. The website offers a place for jurisdictions to register their own Reunification Day events.

    Visit the ABA website to learn more:

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Extracurricular Activities Benefit Foster Youth

    Extracurricular Activities Benefit Foster Youth

    A recent article in Youth Law News makes a strong case for the importance of extracurricular activities in the lives of youth in foster care. "Beyond the Basics: How Extracurricular Activities Can Benefit Foster Youth" highlights examples of how structured, voluntary afterschool activities can help youth in foster care improve in the areas of academic achievement, behavior, and identity development. Some of the cited benefits include:

    • Formation of strong bonds with teachers, staff, and peers
    • Motivation to do well in school when minimum grade point average is required
    • Increased likelihood of college enrollment
    • Reduced rates in number of dropouts and delinquent behavior
    • Building of interpersonal and leadership skills

    Author Stephanie Klitsch notes that only a few States have laws supporting these kinds of activities for youth in foster care. California is presented as an example of a State that passed legislation to remove barriers to extracurricular activities and now offers expanded opportunities for youth. Foster youth also need practical and emotional support from foster parents, caseworkers, and school officials in order to participate in afterschool activities. Some recommendations for increasing that kind of support are offered.

    Read the full article in the October-December 2010 issue of Youth Law News and learn how jurisdictions and individuals can get involved to increase youth participation in extracurricular activities:

  • Mobile Child Advocacy Centers Serve Rural Populations

    Mobile Child Advocacy Centers Serve Rural Populations

    Taking Services Beyond Boundaries: How the Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center Is Using Mobile CACs to Improve Care for Underserved Children and Their Families is a manual that explores the use of mobile child advocacy centers (CACs) and how they can bring services and resources to previously underserved victims of sexual abuse, including children and families. Written by Kelly Robbins and David Fyler of the Western Kansas CAC, the manual offers guidance and information to other communities that may be considering starting their own mobile CACs. Using Western Kansas experience as an example, the manual shares tips on how to:

    • Fund a mobile CAC
    • Use individualized approaches to respond to child abuse cases and ensure the best outcomes
    • Encourage staff to get involved with multiple jobs on the mobile CAC
    • Explain the benefits of a mobile CAC to leaders in the community

    There are many benefits to implementing mobile CACs, beyond being able to provide basic trauma response services to underserved community members. Mobile CACs can reduce the amount of trauma a child experiences during an incident by providing timely response services tailored to children and families and decreasing the amount of time a child has to wait to perform a forensic interview. Nonoffending parents are encouraged to support their children throughout the intervention process, and opportunities for further mental health treatment are offered. Court cases are processed more quickly, due to the ability to coordinate investigative and interview procedures at the same time. In addition, the presence of a mobile CAC presents an opportunity to educate the community about child abuse prevention and response.

    The manual includes a chapter on "lessons learned" through the Kansas experience, a chapter of practical recommendations on outfitting a mobile CAC, and four appendices that include cost estimators and sample agreements and protocols.

    Taking Services Beyond Boundaries: How the Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center Is Using Mobile CACs to Improve Care for Underserved Children and Their Families was funded through a U.S. Department of Justice grant and is available for download on the American Bar Association website: (1.32 MB)

  • Benefits of Family-Focused Residential Substance Abuse Treatment

    Benefits of Family-Focused Residential Substance Abuse Treatment

    A recent qualitative study of 21 graduates of a residential substance abuse treatment program in Los Angeles suggests that a program that allows children to stay with their mothers during treatment can result in better long-term outcomes for the mothers and the children. In a Child Welfare journal article, author Susan D. Einbinder of California State University recounts the stories of 21 long-term, poly-substance abusing mothers who successfully completed an 18-month, family-focused residential substance abuse treatment program that helped them retain or regain custody of their children. Sixteen mothers had entered the program due to substantiated child maltreatment reports; all of them successfully reunified with their children during program participation.

    The Exodus program is a family-friendly substance abuse treatment program at Shields for Families that provides comprehensive residential substance abuse treatment. Each family receives individualized, comprehensive case management services throughout and beyond the 18-month program. This includes individual intensive substance abuse treatment for the parent(s), as well as an array of programs and services addressing parenting, health, mental health, education, employment, financial management, legal assistance, children's socialization experiences, and more. From 1994 through 2001, approximately 80 percent of parents who began Exodus successfully completed the program; many of these parents retained or regained custody of their children.

    In a review of the research on substance abuse treatment, the author highlights many potential advantages to family-friendly approaches, including developmental improvements among children living with their mothers in residential substance abuse treatment and improved parenting skills among the mothers. In addition, the research shows that allowing mothers to retain custody helps them complete treatment and maintain sobriety and abstinence afterward. Allowing children to remain with their parents also would greatly reduce foster care utilization.

    The article, "A Qualitative Study of Exodus Graduates: Family-Focused Residential Substance Abuse Treatment as an Option for Mothers to Retain or Regain Custody and Sobriety in Los Angeles, California," was published in the July/August 2010 issue of the journal Child Welfare (89(4)) and is available for purchase on the Child Welfare League of America website:


  • Highlights of the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010

    Highlights of the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010

    A recent article published by the American Bar Association (ABA) reviews the major provisions of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) reauthorization and discusses how child welfare system advocates should prepare for its effect on practice. "The CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010: What Advocates Should Know," by Howard Davidson, Director of the ABA's Center on Children and the Law, presents the "bottom line" regarding the effects of the Act in areas such as:

    • Differential response
    • Background check requirements
    • Referrals for newborns with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
    • Permanency planning for sexually abused children
    • School attendance for homeless children
    • Family and youth involvement in decision-making and system reform
    • Collaboration with domestic violence and substance abuse services
    • Case tracking technology and data collection
    • Knowledge development and training

    The article was published in ABA Child Law Practice, Volume 29(12), and is available online by subscription:

    Related Items:

    Children's Bureau Express first covered the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 in "Congress Reauthorizes CAPTA" (February 2011).

    An article published on the website of the ABA Children's Rights Litigation Section earlier this year provides similar highlights of the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010. Read more in

  • Immigrant Services Directory

    Immigrant Services Directory

    A listing of organizations that provide services to the immigrant community in the United States is presented in a new publication, Immigrant Services Directory: A National Guide of Service Providers. The directory includes over 400 organizations from all 50 States and the District of Columbia. The guide is organized by State, followed by an alphabetical index of organizations by name within each State. Information about each organization includes the services provided, the area and detention facilities served, non-English language services, and other relevant information.

    The directory was compiled by staff at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as part of their Immigrants’ Rights Project and is available for download on the ACLU website: (6.1 MB)

  • Fathers for Life

    Fathers for Life

    Fathers for Life, a new online resource hosted by the Early Childhood Learning Center, is designed for Head Start and other professionals who work with low-income families with infants, toddlers, and preschool children with incarcerated fathers or fathers on probation or parole. The website provides training and resources to service providers and other professionals who work with these families.

    The Professional Development Manual, the Technical Assistance Manual, and the Interventions Manual are currently highlighted and available in PDF on the website. In addition, the website offers a number of other resources for professionals as well as tip sheets and factsheets designed to be shared with families, for instance:

    • 20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father
    • Becoming a Father: The First Two Years
    • Building Blocks for Father Involvement
    • Fatherhood Initiative Resource Guide
    • Keys to Affective Father-Child Communication
    • National Head Start Institute on Father Involvement
    • Working With Native American Fathers

    The project Fathers for Life: Strengthening Families and Fatherhood: Children of Fathers in the Criminal Justice System was developed under an Innovation and Improvement Project grant from the Office of Head Start.

  • Newsletter Launches for Multisystem Youth Professionals

    Newsletter Launches for Multisystem Youth Professionals

    The Connector: Working Together for Multi-System Youth is a new quarterly newsletter designed to provide resources to those who work with youth involved in more than one system (e.g., child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, substance abuse). As a collaborative project of Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps and Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, The Connector will feature new initiatives, model programs, research, and policy updates and issues related to multisystem youth.

    The debut issue includes a message from Director Edward P. Kelley and articles on the Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice Systems Integration Initiative and the Crossover Youth Practice Model.

    Find The Connector on the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps website: (433 KB)

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.