Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

October 2014Vol. 15, No. 9Spotlight on Tribal Child Welfare

Native American children are disproportionally represented in child welfare. Efforts to effect change must be culturally competent and protect the best interests of Indian children and strengthen Native families. This month, we look at cultural adaptations of trauma treatments, research on the use of social services by urban American Indian families, and a guide to help CASAs advocate for Native children.

Issue Spotlight

  • Helping CASAs Advocate for Native Children

    Helping CASAs Advocate for Native Children

    A new publication, Supporting Native Children: A Guide for CASA/GAL Advocacy in State Courts, explains the unique aspects of representing the best interests of a Native American child. The booklet is specifically designed to support the effective practice of volunteer court-appointed special advocates (CASAs) or guardians ad litem (GALs) who lacks Tribal affiliation or familiarity with the history, political status, cultural values, and practices of Tribal Nations. The booklet, produced by Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, provides detailed guidance on fulfilling a volunteer's responsibilities when advocating for the best interests of a Native youth entering, currently experiencing, or exiting foster care.

    Basic information about the history of removing Indian children from their homes and their current over-representation in child welfare is presented, followed by the background and major provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The process of determining the child's legal status as an Indian child also is explained, as well as the benefits of Tribal membership for an eligible child.

    The booklet explains some ways that CASAs can promote State compliance with ICWA, such as asking pertinent questions at each stage of the case to ensure that court and State agency personnel are taking the necessary steps to serve the best interests of the child. Questions for CASAs to ask include: 

    • Is the child of Native heritage?
    • If the child is of Native heritage, is he or she enrolled or eligible for enrollment in a federally recognized Tribe?
    • If the child is enrolled or eligible for enrollment, are the ICWA requirements for notice and placement being followed?
    • Is the child eligible for Tribal services through the Tribe or other Federal Indian services such as Indian Health Services and educational services?
    • Will potential foster placements support the cultural well-being of the child?
    • If the child is in out-of-home care, is he or she offered opportunities to feel connected to his or her Tribal community, such as receiving newsletters from the Tribe or participating in Tribal activities, including pow wows, dances, or language classes?  

    A worksheet to aid in collecting pertinent information about the child's Tribe, links to additional resources and information, and an extensive bibliography are included. The booklet is available for download here: (12 MB)

  • Social Service Use Among Urban American Indian Families

    Social Service Use Among Urban American Indian Families

    There is a scarcity of information about the use of government services by urban American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) families. To unearth additional information, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in collaboration with the ACF Administration for Native Americans, sponsored a research study to assess the social service needs and usage of urban AI/AN families, including barriers to service receipt and best practices.

    As part of the study, ACF released a literature review that explores the history of urban AI/AN families, current demographics, service needs, and barriers to use. In addition to presenting statistics on employment, income, education, and other measurable characteristics, the report explores such topics as what it means to be an urban Indian, gender identity issues, and the context of services.

    To read the full literature review, Understanding Urban Indians' Interactions With ACF Programs and Services: Literature Review, visit: (908 KB)

  • Integrating Traditional Healing in Trauma Treatments

    Integrating Traditional Healing in Trauma Treatments

    Because culture is integral to healing among Native American communities, the National Native Children's Trauma Center works to integrate traditional cultural activities—including traditional healing—in evidence-based trauma treatments. The Center, located at the University of Montana, is funded by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as a Treatment and Service Adaptation Center within the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. An article in the Winter 2013 issue of CW360°, a publication from the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, highlights how the Center supports and serves Native communities through cultural adaptations of trauma treatments. 

    The Center's work has focused on providing cognitive behavioral treatments in American Indian reservation schools and creating trauma-informed behavioral health, juvenile justice, and child welfare systems. To overcome barriers to acceptance within the Native community, Center staff have developed a three-pronged developmental approach to building trust:

    1. Staff work only in communities to which they are invited.
    2. Data resulting from Tribal partnerships are owned by the Tribe and may be disseminated only with Tribal approval.
    3. The identities of Tribes with whom the Center works are not disclosed without the Tribe's permission.

    According to the authors, the fusion of evidence-based interventions and cultural activities has enhanced the acceptability, sustainability, and effectiveness of trauma treatments. They also note that cultural adaptation also leads to increased access to mental health services in the communities in which they work.

    More information about the National Native Children's Trauma Center is available on its website:

    The Winter 2013 issue of 360º also features the article "Native Families Impacted by Historical Trauma and the Role of the Child Welfare Worker," by Marilyn J. Bruguier Zimmerman and Patrick Shannon. 

    "Cultural Adaptations of Trauma Treatments in Indian Country," by Wynette Whitegoat and Richard van den Pohl, CW360° Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice, Winter 2013, is available here: (1 MB)

  • Video on Indian Child Welfare

    Video on Indian Child Welfare

    The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) hosted a panel discussion on June 6, 2013, at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC, aimed at shedding light on the "invisible children" in foster care, specifically, Native American youth overrepresented in child welfare. The discussion focused on the issues this vulnerable population faces and possible solutions. Panelists also talked about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), what prompted Congress to develop and pass ICWA, how it works today from the perspective of a Tribal official, and what it means relative to Tribal identity. CNAY has made available an 80-minute video of the panel discussion.

    Former Senator and CNAY Chairman and Founder Byron Dorgan led the conversation with the following panelists:

    • Hilary Tompkins, Solicitor of the Department of the Interior. Ms. Tompkins spent time in foster care in New Mexico as an infant and was adopted by a non-Indian family that fostered her Tribal identity to the best of their ability. She discussed growing up in a predominately White, New Jersey neighborhood, being different, and reconnecting with her Navajo culture as an adult.
    • Robert McGhee, Treasurer of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Mr. McGhee discussed growing up as a foster brother, attaining his B.S.W./M.S.W., becoming a social worker and ICWA case worker before entering politics, and being a board member of the National Indian Child Welfare Association and Secretary Tribal Advisory Board, all of which gave him the means and opportunity to challenge law and policy affecting Native American youth.
    • Seanna Pieper-Jordan, a Native American youth from the Blackfeet Reservation, formerly in foster care, Yale graduate, and intern at CNAY. Ms. Pieper-Jordan described her tumultuous childhood and entry into foster care, the initial inability to develop a Tribal identity, the resulting depression and failed suicide attempt as a teen, and her ability to eventually overcome these hardships.

    CNAY, a policy program within the Aspen Institute, is dedicated to improving the health, safety, and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development, and advocacy. Indian Child Welfare - Highlighting the Invisible, may be viewed on the CNAY website:

    It is also available on YouTube:

  • An Introduction to the Indian Child Welfare Act

    An Introduction to the Indian Child Welfare Act

    The Mississippi Administrative Office of Courts/Court Improvement Program, in consultation with the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues and the National Resource Center for Tribes, developed a video as an educational resource for judges, court personnel, child welfare staff, and judicial educators. The video provides historical information about the removal of Indian children from their families prior to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the effects the subsequent adoptions had on those children and the Native American culture, what led to the enactment of ICWA, and the purpose of ICWA. The information in the video is provided through various speakers including State, local, and Tribal judges, adult Native Americans who were adopted as children by White families prior to ICWA, and leaders of national Native American organizations.

    The video, Bringing Our Children Home: An Introduction to the Indian Child Welfare Act, is available on the State of Mississippi Judiciary website:

    Recent Issues

  • June 2024

    Spotlight on Reunification

    Spotlight on Reunification

  • May 2024

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

News From the Children's Bureau

A new funding opportunity announcement is available, and we also highlight a series of white papers on the integration of safety, permanency, and well-being in child welfare practice.

  • New NRCDR Website

    New NRCDR Website

    The National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment (NRCDR) at AdoptUSKids launched a new website that aims to help State and Tribal child welfare administrators, leaders, and managers implement diligent recruitment programs to find foster families that reflect the population of children in care. Featuring a modern look and clean navigation, the new website offers easy access to a wealth of information on topics such as diligent recruitment, placement stability and permanency, and working with and recruiting diverse populations. Professionals can also find resources for developing and supporting prospective and current foster and adoptive families, as well as information on how comprehensive diligent recruitment relates to continuous quality improvement (CQI). In addition, the new site includes a section for Tribes that describes NRCDR's work with Tribes in collaboration with other Children's Bureau member organizations, offers ideas from the field around diligent recruitment with Tribes, and points to useful tools and resources.

    The new website features NRCDR's Diligent Recruitment Navigator, a tool that States, Tribes, and territories can customize to help them develop and implement comprehensive diligent recruitment plans and programs. The new Diligent Recruitment Navigator webpage also reviews several frequently asked questions to help users know what to expect when using the tool.

    Explore the new NRCDR website here:

  • Funding Opportunity Announcements

    Funding Opportunity Announcements

    The Administration on Children, Youth and Families announced new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for fiscal year (FY) 2014.

    Information about planned FY 2014 FOAs is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants Forecast website:

    To find the Children's Bureau's FOA forecasts, go to the forecast website and enter the title or Funding Opportunity Number (FON) in the search box. Please check the forecast site regularly, as forecasts are subject to change.

  • Associate Commissioner's Page

    Associate Commissioner's Page

    The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current CBX Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

    The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 stated that there is "no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian Tribes than their children." This statement remains true, and the Children's Bureau remains committed to supporting and serving American Indian and Alaska Native children, youth, and families through culturally competent child welfare programs and resources.

    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 authorized federally recognized Tribes, Tribal consortia, and Tribal organizations to apply to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to receive title IV-E funds directly for foster care, adoption assistance, and guardianship assistance programs. In 2012, the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe of Kingston, WA, became the first Tribe with an approved title IV-E plan, followed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Pablo, MT, in March 2013. In December 2013, the Children's Bureau approved the title IV-E plan for the South Puget Tribal Planning Agency of Shelton, WA, the first Tribal consortium to operate the title IV-E program directly. Tribes also are eligible for discretionary grant funding, and links to Tribal programs and resources are available on the Bureau's website:

    Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires that 1 percent of funding from Title II be reserved for Tribes, Tribal organizations, and migrant programs. To meet that requirement and enhance our work with the Tribal community, the Children's Bureau funded our Tribal and migrant grantees, which work to prevent child abuse and neglect within the Tribal and migrant communities. Their programs implement evidence-based and evidence-informed interventions representing unique cultural characteristics that meet the needs of their respective communities. Grantees are seeing increased knowledge of parenting skills, access to support services, cultural competence, and implementation fidelity. Descriptions of the three programs funded in 2011—Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Toppenish, WA; Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribe, Pablo, MT; and Indian Child Welfare Consortium, Temecula, CA—are available here

    The Children's Bureau also is working with Tribes to support diligent recruitment of families to provide foster care for Indian children who are not able to remain safely in their homes. The Native Families for Native Children (NF4NC) program, administered through the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, is working to recruit and retain Native resource families that support the traditions, culture, and needs of Native American children and families. Specifically, NF4NC will revise and field-test foster and kinship training to ensure resource families are culturally responsive. The project also is developing Native trainers to conduct foster and kinship care training and serve as consultants for others outside of Siouxland who are interested in replicating these practices. This project is just getting underway, and I'm excited to see the collaboration among child welfare partners and the recruitment and retention of Native resource families. For more information on the components of the NF4NC program, visit the website for the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids

    This year, the Bureau embarked on a new way of conducting program evaluation. A group of national experts created a shared vision for the future of evaluation in Tribal communities and developed a guide for building capacity and developing culturally and scientifically rigorous evaluation. As part of the Child Welfare Evaluation Virtual Summit Series, the Children's Bureau released a publication and companion videos that highlight the roles of stakeholders in this new vision for Tribal program evaluation. More information on the Tribal Evaluation Workgroup is available in the September issue of CBX at

    Due to the changing nature and scope of training and technical assistance (T&TA) requests from States and Tribes, including requests pertaining to legislation expanding child welfare work with Tribes, the Bureau is changing the way we provide T&TA. In lieu of nine separate National Resource Centers and five separate Implementation Centers, we are funding three larger capacity building centers. More information about these capacity building centers will be available in the coming weeks. The National Capacity Building Center for Public Child Welfare Agencies, the National Center for Legal and Judicial Excellence in Child Welfare, and the National Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Tribes will subscribe to a single model of service and:

    • Deliver a comprehensive array of services to child welfare systems receiving Federal title IV-E and IV-B funds
    • Strategically develop and disseminate products
    • Design and deliver innovative peer networking and state-of-the-art learning experiences
    • Provide assessment- and outcome-driven technical assistance
    • Support concurrent, jurisdiction-specific, intensive capacity building projects

    We provided more information about this change in the February 2014 issue of CBX, and I outlined this shift in capacity building services during a briefing in April 2013. You can view my presentation on the Children's Bureau website:

    American Indian and Alaska Native communities face unique challenges, and the relationship between the Federal Government and American Indian Tribes continues to heal from generations of mistrust. I'm proud to be part of this process and the good work being done to protect Native children and youth, strengthen their families, and preserve their rich culture for generations to come.

  • White Paper Series on Well-Being

    White Paper Series on Well-Being

    In 2012, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families published the information memorandum Promoting Social and Emotional Well-Being for Children and Youth Receiving Child Welfare Services. Building on this guidance, the Children's Bureau published a series of white papers focused on integrating well-being into child welfare practice to effectively achieve safety and permanency for children and families. The series is intended to further the national dialogue on the topic of well-being and how incorporating and emphasizing well-being in child welfare can result in better outcomes for children and families and the overall child welfare system.

    The series includes an overview and three separate papers.

    1. The overview presents a historical evolution of child welfare practice from the 1970s through today and the recent emphasis on well-being. Integrating Safety, Permanency and Well-Being: A View From the Field, is available here: (538 KB)
    2. The first paper outlines the domains and indicators of well-being and presents a framework for ensuring the healthy development of young people who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing abuse or neglect. Examples of interventions for this population also are provided. A Comprehensive Framework for Nurturing the Well-Being of Children and Adolescents is available here: (676 KB)
    3. The second paper is centered on the use of evidence-based practices to improve the well-being of children in foster care, specifically trauma screening, clinical assessment, and progress monitoring. Screening, Assessing, Monitoring Outcomes and Using Evidence-Based Practices to Improve the Well-Being of Children in Foster Care is available here: (612 KB)
    4. The third paper presents a case study of a program that has successfully implemented the core aspects of the well-being framework. A Case Example of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families' Well-Being Frame-work: KIPP is available here: (600 KB)
  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    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.

    Recent additions to the site include:

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

Child Welfare Research

This month, CBX points to research on the combined effects of experiencing violent trauma as well as nonviolent interpersonal trauma, in addition to a review of State policies on using psychotropic medication with children in foster care.

  • The President's 2015 Budget and Child Welfare

    The President's 2015 Budget and Child Welfare

    First Focus recently released a factsheet outlining the child welfare-related initiatives contained in President Obama's budget request to Congress for the 2015 Federal fiscal year. The document highlights the Obama administration's priorities for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and is intended for congressional use as they decide where Federal dollars will be allocated in the coming year.

    The factsheet, Impact of the President’s FY 2015 Budget Request on Child Welfare Programs, highlights a new initiative aimed at improving behavioral health outcomes for children and youth in foster care. The 5-year Demonstration to Address Over-Prescription of Psychotropic Medications for Children in Foster Care program was designed to encourage States to provide evidence-based psychosocial interventions to children and youth served by the foster care system, as well as reducing inappropriate use and overprescription of psychotropic medications within this population. The initiative involves performance-based incentive payments to States to support their infrastructure and capacity building in this area.

    The factsheet also provides details on the proposed budget allocations for the following child-welfare related initiatives:

    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
    • Adoption Opportunities
    • Abandoned Infants Assistance Program
    • Social Services Block Grant
    • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program
    • Title V Maternal and Child (MCH) Services Block Grant
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    • Consolidated Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs

    Impact of the President's FY 2015 Budget Request on Child Welfare Programs is available on the FirstFocus website:

  • State Policies Regarding Psychotropic Medications

    State Policies Regarding Psychotropic Medications

    The use of psychotropic medications by children in foster care has come to the forefront of child welfare over the past 10 years, with especially heightened attention in the past several years. Studies have shown that children in foster care are much more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medications than their peers not in care. A 2006 Government Accountability Office report noted that one-third of States identified the use of psychotropic medications as a pressing issue, and 2 years later the Federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act indirectly addressed the issue by requiring States to provide health-care coordination and oversight for children in foster care. The Children's Bureau later released several policy documents directly addressing psychotropic medication use by children in foster care (e.g., ACYF-CB-PI-09-06, ACYF-CB-IM-12-04), and many States have developed or are developing their own policies to address this issue. An article in the August 2014 issue of the Hastings Law Journal presents a review of 16 States' policies.

    The article describes how the authors could not locate many State policies that were reported in previous studies, indicating that they were not widely available or generated through a transparent rulemaking process, with no notice or comment period. The authors also found that many of the policies were underdeveloped and did not address elements essential to protecting children, such as the use of medications by young children, dosage levels, and multiple, simultaneous prescriptions, or prior authorization. Only two States incorporated all four elements; seven States did not include any of the elements.

    "Fostering Transparency: A Preliminary Review of 'Policy' Governing Pediatric Psychotropic Medications in Foster Care," by Noonan, K., & Miller, D., Hastings Law Journal, 65(6), 2014, is available here: (510 KB)

  • Combined Effects of Interpersonal Violence and Attachment-Based Trauma

    Combined Effects of Interpersonal Violence and Attachment-Based Trauma

    Trauma of any type can have significant negative effects on youth. Many youth in child welfare have experienced both violent trauma that was severe and repeated, as well as nonviolent interpersonal trauma that included severe impairments in caregiving or emotional abuse. The complex trauma these youth experience may not be fully captured by the currently available diagnostic tools or treatments. An article in the Journal of Family Violence explored the effects of these two types of trauma, both on their own and in combination, on youth's symptoms and on child welfare-related outcomes.

    The study, which examined a sample of more than 16,000 youth in the Illinois child welfare system, found that youth who had been exposed to violent and nonviolent interpersonal trauma exhibited much more significant difficulties across all the assessed symptoms than those children that experienced only one form of trauma (either violence or nonviolent) or those that experienced less severe or no trauma. The symptoms included affective and physiological dysregulation (e.g., anger control, sensory issues), attentional and behavioral dysregulation (impulse control, suicide risk), self and relational dysregulation (attachment, social functioning), posttraumatic spectrum symptoms (numbing, dissociation), and functional impairment (school achievement, legal issues). Additionally, youth who had experienced both violent and nonviolent trauma were significantly more likely to have placement disruptions or psychiatric hospitalizations.

    The study authors noted that the results provide support for the use of a developmental trauma framework when assessing and treating trauma-exposed youth.

    "Constellations of Interpersonal Trauma and Symptoms in Child Welfare: Implications for a Developmental Trauma Framework," by Kisiel, C. L., Fehrenbach, T., Torgersen, E., Stolbach, B., McClelland, G., Griffin, G., & Burkman, K., Journal of Family Violence, 29(1), 2014, is available here: (532 KB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

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

  • Methamphetamine and Trauma Resource Webpages

    Methamphetamine and Trauma Resource Webpages

    The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) recently added updated information and resources to its webpages on Methamphetamine and Trauma Among Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders. The updated pages provide links to a variety of key resources, research, and websites, as well as related, previously held conferences, presentations, and webinars.

    Methamphetamine is a strong and highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that not only adversely affects the user, it also affects the well-being of the entire family. However, recovery from methamphetamine use disorder is possible with timely family-centered treatment. Information on this page is geared toward child welfare and related professionals and ranges from general information (what methamphetamine is, its effects, and associated risks) to more specific information pertaining to research, intervention, treatment, and prevention strategies. For example, a 2012 article "The Regional Partnership Grant (RPG) Program: Enhancing Collaboration, Promising Results," in The Journal of Public Child Welfare, discusses RPG grantees' progress in developing or improving cross-system collaboration to better serve families involved with methamphetamine or other substance use disorders and the child welfare system.

    Psychological trauma is the emotional response to an adverse life event such as child abuse and neglect. It is often associated with substance use disorders, child maltreatment, and judicial involvement. Resources in this section focus on trauma and its impact on the children and families involved in the child welfare, substance abuse treatment, and court systems. One resource, the Winter 2013 issue of CW360º Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice, published by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, offers an examination of trauma-informed practices with children and families receiving child welfare services.

    NCSACW is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides information, expert consultation, and technical assistance to child welfare, dependency court, and substance abuse treatment professionals working with families affected by substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders and child abuse or neglect. The updated pages are accessible here:

  • Attachment and Child Welfare Practice

    Attachment and Child Welfare Practice

    The July 2014 issue of Practice Notes, a newsletter produced by the North Carolina Division of Social Services (NC DSS) and the Family and Children's Resource Program, is focused on attachment and child welfare practice. In order to best serve the children and families that come to the attention of NC DSS, it is important that child welfare professionals are "attachment literate." This issue examines what attachment is, how it works, and ways of effectively responding to attachment problems.

    The first article, "Why Attachment Matters," discusses why attachment is important to healthy development and how it occurs. Secure attachment—the strong emotional bond between child and primary caregiver that makes a child feel safe and loved—is a powerful influence that positively affects the brain development, social and emotional development, and self-regulation of children. The article also touches on the effects of trauma on attachment and what child welfare workers can do to support secure attachment between children and biological and resource parents.

    Other articles in this issue discuss:

    • Identifying attachment problems, specifically insecure and disorganized attachment
    • Working with families experiencing attachment difficulties, with a focus on supporting caregivers and the use of attachment-informed mental health treatments
    • Reactive Attachment Disorder, a rare disruptive disorder that results from a child's nonattachment with a caregiver, its newly updated DSM-V definition, diagnosis, and treatment
    • The revised "Assessing and Strengthening Attachment," a 2-day classroom course developed by the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work for NC Division of Social Services workers and supervisors
    • Strategies for supporting the resiliency of child welfare workers who may be experiencing vicarious trauma

    Practice Notes, 19(3), 2014, is available here:

  • Identifying Human Trafficking Victims

    Identifying Human Trafficking Victims

    Human trafficking, in the forms of sex trafficking and other involuntary forms of forced servitude, occurs every day in the United States. In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act made it a Federal crime to traffic in persons, and every U.S. State has since instituted laws to prevent human trafficking. However, one of the primary barriers to the enforcement of these legislations is the difficulty in identifying victims of trafficking. By the very nature of the crime they are subjected to, victims of trafficking are often hidden out of fear, and they remain out of sight of the public eye. If they do come into contact with U.S. authorities, they are sometimes treated as criminals rather than victims. Because so few of the current victims of trafficking have been accurately identified, it has been difficult to get a good estimate on the real scope of the problem. In order to help victim service providers and law enforcement personnel more accurately identify victims of human trafficking, the Vera Institute of Justice created a screening tool for interviewing potential trafficking victims.

    There are two versions of the tool: a short, 16-question version and a longer, more detailed 30-topic questionnaire. Service providers can choose to use the version that best meets their needs at the time. For example, staff conducting a preliminary screening may wish to use the shorter version, while staff that follow up with the victim may want to proceed with the longer questionnaire once the victim feels more comfortable providing greater detail about his or her story. Because child welfare professionals often come into contact with victims of human trafficking, this tool may be useful in their work.

    The questionnaire was field-tested with a sample of 180 different potential trafficking victims. Victims who had already gone through a screening process were also interviewed using the tool, along with service providers and law enforcement personnel. Statistical analyses showed that the tool has a high rate of accurately and reliably predicting trafficking outcomes and identifying victims of trafficking, with the short version presenting comparable results to the longer version. The tool is accompanied by a detailed user's manual, which includes guidelines for administering screenings using the tool, tips for conducting interviews, frequently asked questions and advice, and other resources for training and further information.

    To access the short and long versions of the Trafficking Victim Identification Tool, available in English and Spanish, as well as a research summary and the full technical report on the testing and validation of the tool, access Vera's website.

    Out of the Shadows: A Tool for the Identification of Victims of Human Trafficking is available here:


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

  • Infographic: Behavioral Health Care Use in Medicaid

    Infographic: Behavioral Health Care Use in Medicaid

    The Center for Health Care Strategies has released a new infographic depicting the contrast between behavioral health care provided to children in foster care and that which is provided to the general Medicaid child population. Statistics presented on the infographic include:

    • The rate of Medicaid-enrolled children in foster care receiving behavioral health services is one out of three, compared to one out of 15 children in the general Medicaid child population.
    • The average expenses for behavioral health services provided to a child in the general Medicaid population total $4,868, compared to $8,094 for a child in foster care and enrolled in Medicaid.
    • Thirty-three percent of Medicaid-enrolled children in the general population are prescribed psychotropic drugs, compared to 50 percent of Medicaid-enrolled children in foster care.

    The infographic also notes that Medicaid is the primary source of health-care coverage for children in foster care and that many of these children have experienced trauma or neglect, which increases their risk for developing behavioral health conditions.

    Children in Foster Care: Behavioral Health Care Use in Medicaid is available here:

  • Guide to Prevent Migrant Family Separation

    Guide to Prevent Migrant Family Separation

    Migrant parents who are separated from their children due to detention or deportation are in danger of having their parental rights violated or terminated, and their children may be placed in the care of the child welfare system. It can be very difficult for detained or deported parents to comply with child welfare case plans or to attend court proceedings. Parents may not have time to make appropriate arrangements for their children before they are detained, and if they are deported, they run the risk of permanent separation from their children. The Women's Refugee Commission, a resource and advocacy organization that works for the care and protection of refugee women and children, published a guide to help migrant parents be prepared in the event they get detained or deported.

    The guide provides concrete strategies and steps parents can take to protect their children and preserve their parental rights. Guidance includes information on parents' rights to a phone call and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion when they are in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, getting a lawyer, finding out if their children have been placed with child welfare, participating in family court hearings, and much more.

    Access Detained or Deported? A Brief Guide to Maintaining Custody of Your Children here:

    English: (PDF - 146 KB)

    Spanish: (PDF - 154 KB)

    For more tools to help migrant parents prevent family separation, visit the Women's Refugee Commission webpage:

  • Child Trends' Hispanic Institute

    Child Trends' Hispanic Institute

    The Hispanic community is one of the fastest growing population groups in the United States. However, there are many gaps in research and knowledge as far as the needs of particular segments of the Hispanic community, including children and youth. Child Trends' Hispanic Institute is working to help fill this void by providing research-based information and guidance to policymakers, practitioners, the media, corporate leaders, and others on the strengths and challenges of Hispanic children and families. Child welfare and related professionals working with Latino families may find the Institute's resources and materials useful in their work.

    The Hispanic Institute's first random-assigned evaluation of a Latino parenting program examined the Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors program. Launched in 2007, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors works with low-income Latino parents with young children. The program aims to help parents prepare their children to succeed in school through parent education activities. The Institute's evaluation found that the program was able to deliver positive outcomes by fostering parenting practices that focus on developing children's preschool learning in preparation to attend school, improving family organizational skills, setting family goals, and more.

    To learn more about Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, see the evaluation's executive summary and discussion brief:

    Read more about Child Trends' Hispanic Institute here:

  • 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book

    2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book

    Annie E. Casey's 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book is now available with national and State data on key indicators of child well-being. The 2014 Data Book is the 25th edition of the annual report and compares 2012 data with data from 2005 to provide a picture of the effect of the recession on the status of children across four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. The report also looks at data from 1990, when the first Data Book was published, to gain a sense of how changes in technology, public policy, and population demographics have impacted families over the last quarter century.

    This year's report reveals that rates of child poverty reflect the overall prosperity in the United States. In 1990, 21 percent of children lived in poverty; by 2000, the rate had dropped to 16 percent. By 2010, after the economic downturn of 2008, the rate had risen to 22 percent. By 2012 (the latest data available), the rate of child poverty was at 23 percent. In addition, data from 2012 indicate that approximately one in every three children lived in families in which no parent had full-time, year-round employment. Other indicators of concern include an increase in the number of children living in single-parent households and the growing numbers of children living in areas of concentrated poverty.

    Despite economic conditions, education indicators—such as preschool attendance, reading and math proficiency, and high school graduation rates—improved modestly over prior years. Likewise, progress was evident in child health trends, including improvements in health insurance coverage and declines in infant, child, and teen mortality rates.

    The full KIDS COUNT Data Book, along with State child well-being data and charts with State rankings, is available from the KIDS COUNT Data Center website:

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.

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through October 2014 include:

    November 2014

    December 2014

    • 14th National Indian Nations Conference: Justice for Victims of Crime
      Office for Victims of Crime and The Office of Justice Programs
      December 10–13, Coachella Valley, CA
    • ZERO TO THREE 29th National Training Institute
      ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families
      December 10–12, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    • 16th Annual Ending Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Conference
      Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
      December 10–12, Lexington, KY

    January 2015

    • 2015 Children's Law Institute
      Southwest Region National Child Protection Training Center at New Mexico State University, the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department Protective Services and Juvenile Justice Divisions, the New Mexico CASA Network, the University of New Mexico School of Law's Corinne Wolfe Children's Law Center, the Casey Family Foundation and the Rozier E. Sanchez Judicial Education Center
      January 7–9, Albuquerque, NM
    • ISPCAN Global Institute 2015
      Positive Parenting to Improve Outcomes for Children
      The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN)
      January 25, San Diego, CA
    • 29th Annual International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment
      Chadwick Center for Children & Families
      January 26–29, San Diego, CA

    Further details about national and regional child welfare and adoption conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

  • Circle of Keepers Trainer's Manual, Resource Guide

    Circle of Keepers Trainer's Manual, Resource Guide

    The Mountains and Plains Child Welfare Implementation Center (MPCWIC) and the Shawnee Area Native American Child Protection Team (SANACPT) under the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work provide a number of resources to child welfare professionals and potential foster families. One such resource is the training curriculum Circle of Keepers: Voices of Native American Foster Care Warriors that features a trainer's manual and a foster family resource guide. 

    The curriculum was developed to specifically incorporate Native American traditions, beliefs, and practices to better meet the needs of Native American children in foster care and help them heal through culture while also preserving the connection to their Native American heritage. The sessions highlight specific information on child development including the identification of human needs, such as accepting grief and loss. Additionally, video presentations assist potential foster care parents with behavior management, strengthening families and cultural connections, fostering resiliency in youth, and participating in a community circle of caring. Trainers and foster families can also access certificates of completion from the website.

    View additional resource links on topics including at-risk youth, child abuse and neglect, child care, domestic violence, parenting/child development, welfare and assistance, and more. For more information on the Circle of Keepers: Voices of Native American Foster Care Warriors, visit the website: