This month, CBX spotlights differential response, which refers to the use of a tailored response for families reported for child maltreatment. Different from the "one response fits all" approach, differential response is most often used when there is a determination of low risk or when the family might not otherwise qualify for services. Read below to find out about programs, training, and research into differential response.
- Ohio Implements Alternative Response Pilots
In an effort to offer early child abuse and neglect prevention services to families in need, the Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services introduced a pilot program that would allow selected counties to offer alternative response (AR) as part of their regular child protective services. In July 2008, 10 Ohio counties implemented AR pilot projects in which AR was offered for accepted reports of alleged child maltreatment. The counties collected data for 18 months (through December 2009) on child safety, services, family involvement and participation, feedback from workers, and other issues.
A team of researchers will evaluate the outcomes and share results so that the State can decide whether to expand the pilot to other counties. One positive outcome already realized was the significant enhancement made to Ohio's Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS), giving caseworkers and administrators the ability to track and manage AR cases in the system, a major milestone for the State.
Prior to the pilot project's end in December 2009, the participating counties developed transition plans to institute AR as a child protection option, realizing the value it brings to Ohio families. Read more about county transition plans, Ohio's SACWIS improvements, Greene County's experience with the AR pilot program, staff coaching, and more in the October 2009 issue of Alternative Response Quarterly on the American Humane website:
http://www.americanhumane.org/assets/pdfs/children/differential-response/alternative-response-oct-2009.pdf (347 KB)
For more information about Ohio's alternative response pilot project, including pilot documents and resources on alternative response, visit:
- State Legislation on Differential Response
As of June 2009, 28 States have enacted differential response legislation, and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) tracks this legislation on its website. Differential response, sometimes referred to as "dual-track response," "multitrack response," or "alternative response," is an approach that allows child protective services agencies to identify the varying needs and concerns of children and families and tailor their response to reports of child abuse and neglect accordingly.
The NCSL website provides a State-specific chart that lists descriptions of the current/enabling legislation and information pertaining to substantiation, central registries, immunity, confidentiality, and services.
- Differential Response Models in Child Protective Services: Building a Greater Knowledge Base Through
Differential Response Models in Child Protective Services: Building a Greater Knowledge Base Through
Since the mid-1990s, States across the country have been implementing various models of differential or alternative response in child protective services (CPS). Studies have shown that implementing these models holds great promise for efforts to improve outcomes for children and their families. But the research base is limited. In order to increase its knowledge and determine whether or not differential response is an effective approach in CPS, the Children's Bureau awarded a 5-year cooperative agreement to American Humane Association and its partners, Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Inc., and the Institute of Applied Research to create the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR).
The purposes of this project are to:
- Improve child welfare outcomes by implementing differential response and build cutting-edge, innovative, and replicable knowledge about differential response
- Enhance capacity at the local level to improve outcomes for children and families identified for suspected abuse or neglect
- Provide guidance on best practices in differential response
To achieve these purposes, the QIC-DR has identified its core research question: "Is differential response an effective approach in child protective services, and, if so, what are the specific elements that make it effective?" To answer this question through research and implementation, the QIC- DR recently selected three research and demonstration projects to support. The research and demonstration project sites include:
- Colorado (a five-county consortium), including Araphahoe, Fremont, Garfield, Jefferson, and Larimer counties
- State of Illinois
- Ohio (a six-county consortium) including Clark, Champaign, Madison, Montgomery, Richland, and Summit counties
Over the first project year, the QIC-DR, along with the additional partnership of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and the National Conference of State Legislatures, conducted a national comprehensive review and needs assessment. The needs assessment leveraged existing knowledge and documentation on differential response with a gap analysis, literature review, meta-evaluation, key informant interviews, focus groups, and informational summits with diverse audiences to inform the future work of the QIC-DR and the selected research and demonstration projects. The QIC-DR has posted findings and key products from the needs assessment on its website. Current products posted include:
- Differential Response Literature Review
- Searchable Annotated Differential Response Bibliography
- Differential Response in Child Protective Services: A Legal Analysis
- Online Survey of State Differential Response Policies and Practices: Findings Report
Please visit QIC-DR's website to read more about its work and the individual research and demonstration projects and to view a number of the products.
For more information on the QIC-DR, visit the website, or contact the QIC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks for this article to Jean Nussbaum, who serves as co-Federal Project Officer, along with Catherine Nolan, for the QIC-DR.
- Nevada's Progress Implementing Differential Response
Over the past 3 years, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has taken great strides to develop a differential response (DR) model for screening and investigating reports of child maltreatment. The model was first implemented in February 2007 as a pilot project in 1 Nevada county and has now expanded to 10 counties serving over 97 percent of the State's population. The Institute of Applied Research (IAR) is evaluating the project to determine the effects of DR on outcomes for children and families, to study its impact on the broader State child protection system, and to analyze cost effectiveness.
Nevada's DR model is a unique public-private partnership among State/county child welfare agencies and community family resource centers (FRCs). Under the DR model, a county child protective services (CPS) agency refers child maltreatment reports to an FRC for assessment when the report is considered priority 3 according to the State's screening system and also meets the following criteria: The child is age 6 or older, the family has not had a substantiated report in the past 3 years, and the family has not previously had a child in foster care. When a report is referred, the FRC is responsible for conducting a family assessment, providing ongoing services as needed, and determining case closure. When necessary, the FRC returns the case to CPS for a traditional investigation. The DR pilot project originally included only reports of child neglect, but in June 2009 the model was expanded to include any priority 3 reports appropriate for DR.
The Nevada Differential Response Pilot Project: Interim Evaluation Report was published by IAR in November 2008 to present trends, challenges, and accomplishments based on early data and initial staff interviews and family surveys. Among the findings:
- 563 reports were referred for DR in the initial pilot period (February 2007 to September 2008).
- Two-thirds of DR cases received some kind of services, such as emergency food services, assistance with utilities or rent, and budgeting and financial support.
- FRC staff reported high levels of satisfaction and felt they were able to intervene effectively using the DR model.
- Some CPS staff reported difficulty understanding the essential differences between DR and traditional investigations.
- A majority of families served under the DR model felt better able to care for their children and deal with issues in their lives.
- Sixty-one percent of DR cases have been closed, with only a small number returned to the county child welfare agency for investigation.
The Interim Evaluation Report made several policy and systemic recommendations to further improve the State's DR model, including expanding eligibility to families with very young children and chronic problems, increasing the system's capacity to provide family assessment, and training CPS staff to have more direct DR responsibilities.
A brief update published by the Nevada DHHS in September 2009 reported on the expansion of the DR model to serve the majority of Nevada residents, resulting in 1,489 families being assessed by an FRC. To support the improvement and expansion of the DR model, the State continues to offer DR trainings to administrative, supervisory, and frontline staff. A steering committee also meets quarterly to address policy and practice issues as they arise and to guide program modifications as the model continues expanding across the State.
Download the Interim Evaluation Report, by Gary L. Siegel, L. Anthony Loman, Jerome Cline, Christine Shannon, and Lina Sapokaite, on the IAR website:
www.iarstl.org/papers/Nevada%20Differential%20Response%20Pilot%20Project-Interim%20Report%20November%202008.pdf (737 KB)
The September 2009 update on the DR model is available on the DHHS website:
http://dhhs.nv.gov/Grants/Meetings/GMAC/GMAC%202009-10-21/GMACDifferentialResponseUpdateSeptember2009.doc (82 KB)
- Survey Examines States' Differential Response
A snapshot of the differential response practices, models, and child protective services (CPS) structures currently in use across the country is presented in a new publication, Online Survey of State Differential Response Policies and Practices Findings Report. The report, prepared by the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR), presents the results of a web-based survey that looked at the degree to which States have implemented differential response (DR) models in their child protection services.
The survey was conceived as a follow-up to a 2006 study conducted by American Humane and the Child Welfare League of America. This earlier study identified the following core elements of the DR model:
- CPS uses more than one discrete response.
- Multiple responses are available for reports of maltreatment that are screened in and accepted.
- A pathway assignment is determined by the presence of imminent danger, level of risk, and existing legal requirements.
- Families can be reassigned to different pathways in response to findings from initial investigation or assessment.
- The establishment of multiple responses is codified in statute, policy, and/or protocols.
- Families in the assessment pathway may refuse services without consequences, as long as child safety is not compromised.
- There is no formal determination of maltreatment for families in an assessment pathway, and services may be offered to such families without any such determination.
- No person in an assessment pathway can be listed as a child maltreatment perpetrator in the State’s central registry.
The questions in the survey looked at the reasons States implemented DR, funding of DR programs, and the extent to which a State's DR program incorporated the elements identified in the national study.
Completed surveys from 40 States and jurisdictions revealed that 18 States had implemented a DR model. Overall, States with self-defined DR appear to be incorporating the core elements of a DR model as identified in the 2006 national study. These DR models include the following:
- A separate pathway for screened-in and accepted reports of child maltreatment
- Assignment to an alternate pathway(s) based on the level of risk and/or case characteristics.
- Codification by law in most States and evident in policy and protocols in nearly all States
The questions used in the survey are included in an appendix. The report is available online:
www.differentialresponseqic.org/assets/docs/qic-dr-findings-report-jun09.pdf (374 KB)
- Protecting Children Special Issue on Differential Response
American Humane's journal, Protecting Children, devoted a double issue in 2008 to the topic of differential response. The articles describe practices, issues, and outcomes from differential response programs around the country. The articles include:
- "Another Look at the National Study on Differential Response in Child Welfare" by Caren Kaplan and Lisa Merkel-Holguin
- "The Parent Support Outreach Program: Minnesota’s Early Intervention Track" by David Thompson, Gary L. Siegel, and L. Anthony Loman
- "Implementation of Differential Response in Ethnically Diverse Neighborhoods" by Amy Conley and Jill Duerr Berrick
- "Implementation of California’s Differential Response Model in Small Counties" by Sofya Bagdasaryan, Walter Furman, and Todd Franke
- "Outcomes for Children with Allegations of Neglect Who Receive Alternative Response and Traditional Investigations: Findings for NCANDS" by Mary Jo Ortiz, Gila R. Shusterman, and John D. Fluke
- "Development and Field Testing of a Family Assessment Scale for Use in Child Welfare Practice Settings Utilizing Differential Response" by Raymond S. Kirk
- "The Intersection Between Differential Response and Family Involvement Approaches" by Betty Christenson, Scott Curran, Kelli DeCook, Scott Maloney, and Lisa Merkel-Holguin
- "Six Principles of Partnership: Building and Sustaining System-Wide Change" by Daniel P. Comer and Deborah Vassar
The entire issue is available for free download on the American Humane website:
http://www.americanhumane.org/assets/pdfs/children/protecting-children-journal/pc-23-1-2.pdf (2,839 KB)
- A Curriculum for Differential Response
The California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) at the University of California at Berkeley has developed Differential Response and Alternative Response in Diverse Communities: An Empirically Based Curriculum, intended for title IV-E graduate social work education programs and for the continuing education of child welfare agency staff. Students and staff learn about problems with the traditional child protective services (CPS) screening and referral process and the potential benefits of differential response.
In California, differential response offers a more tailored response for families reported to CPS, especially those families who would be screened out but might benefit from community and/or child welfare services. The CalSWEC curriculum describes the application of this approach in Contra Costa and Alameda counties and outlines the implications for policy and practice. The goals and objectives of the curriculum are based on the CalSWEC Curriculum Competencies for Public Welfare, and each module includes an instructional guide and questions for classroom discussion.
The curriculum's module on practice issues explores provider strategies and lessons learned regarding all aspects of differential response services, including client engagement and provision of social support, providing referrals to community resources, and helping to meet basic needs. Another module examines how to assess diverse communities for their readiness for differential response and includes information about racial disproportionality in child welfare, cultural competence, and case studies of six neighborhoods in which differential response was introduced.
Differential Response and Alternative Response in Diverse Communities: An Empirically Based Curriculum, developed by Jill Duerr Berrick et al., is available on the CalSWEC website:
www.csulb.edu/projects/ccwrl/Differential%20Response%201023.pdf (1.26 MB)
Spotlight on National Adoption Month
Spotlight on Creating a More Equitable Child Welfare System
News From the Children's Bureau
Our first issue of the new year brings you the announcement of four new Regional Office directors, the latest national statistics on adoption from foster care, links to the newest resources from the Training & Technical Assistance Network, and 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:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway is on Facebook! Visit the page for news and updates:
Information Gateway’s Disaster Preparedness & Response web section has been streamlined and updated with more recent and relevant resources, and it has a new URL:
- Mountains and Plains Child Welfare Implementation Center (MPCWIC) recently posted Round 1 Implementation Projects for Colorado and New Mexico and Round 2 Implementation Projects for Utah, the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, and the Skun-eyah (Garden) Project in North Dakota.
- The National Resource Center for Adoption recently released a new issue of its newsletter, The Roundtable, with articles focusing on timeliness to adoption. Read about programs in four jurisdictions that have improved the timely placement of children in permanent homes.
http://www.nrcadoption.org/pdfs/roundtable/V24N1-2010.pdf (782 KB)
- National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) has several additions to its website:
- A new "hot topic"—Homeless Families and Child Welfare
- A new information packet, Placement Stability, by Teija Sudol
- A new "hot topic"—Homeless Families and Child Welfare
- National Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) will soon post its 2010 winter/spring schedule of teleconferences and webinars. Check for the new posting to find topics and speakers for upcoming presentations.
- National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect has made available the First National Juvenile Online victimization Study, which examines the incidence and characteristics of cases such as sexual exploitation and child pornography in the criminal justice system.
- National Resource Center for Adoption has posted on its website a PowerPoint presentation, "Successful Strategies in Achieving Youth Permanency." It describes the findings and accomplishments of grantee projects nearing the end of their funding period.
http://www.nrcadoption.org/pdfs/ypc/Successful Strategies in Achieving Youth Permanency - Final.pdf
- National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (FRIENDS) has added a new course about parent leadership, Creating Effective Parent-Practitioner Partnerships, to its Online Learning Center. The course is free.
- Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood has commissioned three papers this past year, which are posted on its website.
- An Assessment of Services Partnerships Affecting Younger Children
http://www.qic-ec.org/documents/research-and-findings/research-commissioned-papers/An-Assessment-of-Services-Partnerships-Affecting-Younger-Children.pdf (290 KB)
- Indicators for Child Maltreatment Prevention Programs
http://www.qic-ec.org/documents/research-and-findings/research-commissioned-papers/Indicators-for-Child-Maltreatment-Prevention-Programs.pdf (512 KB)
- Response to Indicators for Child Maltreatment Prevention Programs
http://www.qic-ec.org/documents/research-and-findings/research-commissioned-papers/Response-to-Indicators-for-Child-Maltreatment-Prevention-Programs.pdf (189 KB)
- An Assessment of Services Partnerships Affecting Younger Children
- Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services and the University of Kentucky College of Social Work have published An Annotated Bibliography on Child Welfare Privatization and Public/Private Partnership, Performance Based Contracting, and Quality Assurance Systems Publications Since 2005, by Ramie Martin-Galijatovic. This supplements and updates two literature reviews on child welfare privatization and on performance-based contracting and quality assurance systems for child welfare.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway is on Facebook! Visit the page for news and updates:
- Home Study Resource for Intercountry Adoption
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has developed some tips for home studies conducted for the purpose of adopting a child from a Hague Convention country. The Hague Home Study Tip Sheet for Adoption Service Providers and Prospective Adoptive Parents answers frequently asked questions concerning the home study requirements set forth by the Hague Adoption Convention. Since the Hague Convention entered into force for the United States in April 2008, parents who adopt from another Hague Convention country must follow specific home study (and other) requirements.
The tip sheet details specific components of a home study by offering supporting examples and sample wording to cover topics such as:
- Contacts with the prospective family
- Health, income, housing, and resources of prospective parents
- Characteristics of the type of child the parents wish to adopt
- Background check on the prospective parents
- Recommendation of the professional conducting the home study
Visit the USCIS website to download the file:
www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-738.pdf (100 KB)
- 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:
- Implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 Working Document
- Recorded webinars from the Federal Interagency Work Group (FEDIAWG) on topics related to child abuse prevention (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/fediawg/webinars/index.htm)
Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new!
- Children's Bureau Releases New AFCARS Reports
The Children's Bureau has released two new reports from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) for fiscal year (FY) 2008. AFCARS reports are based on data submitted by the States, which are synthesized to provide national data on children in foster care and those adopted from the foster care system.
The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY 2008 Estimates as of October 2009 (16) presents data from both the regular and revised foster care file submissions received by October 9, 2009, and data from adoption file submissions received by July 1, 2009. The report indicates that, on September 30, 2008:
- There were 463,000 children in foster care, down from 491,000 in FY 2007.
- The average age for the children in foster care was 9.7 years.
- Average length of stay in foster care was 27.2 months.
- The largest percentage of children (47 percent) were in a nonrelative foster family home.
- Forty-nine percent had a case goal of reunification.
- 123,000 were awaiting adoption, down from 132,000 in FY 2007.
In addition, during FY 2008, 273,000 children entered foster care and 285,000 children exited foster care. Also during FY 2008, 55,000 children were adopted from foster care, of whom 54 percent were adopted by a foster parent and 30 percent by a relative.
A second report, Trends in Foster Care and Adoption—FY 2002-FY 2008, uses a graph to show a variety of statistics for each year, including the number of children in care, the number who entered and exited care, the number waiting to be adopted and actually adopted, and those who were served by the public child welfare system.
Both reports are available for download from the Children's Bureau website:
- New HHS Regional Directors Appointed
On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the appointment of four new HHS Regional Directors, who will act as Secretary Sebelius's key representatives in working with Federal, State, local, and Tribal officials on health and social service issues. The new directors are:
- Cristal Thomas, M.P.P., Director for Region V (Based in Chicago and including IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI)
Ms. Thomas has served as executive director of the Ohio Executive Medicaid Management Administration since January 2008.
- Marjorie McColl Petty, J.D., M.S., Director for Region VI, (Based in Dallas and including AR, LA, NM, OK, and TX)
Ms. Petty has served as director of public affairs and consumer protection for the Kansas Corporation Commission since 2003 and as chair of the board of directors of Delta Dental of Kansas since August 2008.
- Judy Baker, Director for Region VII (Based in Kansas City and including IA, KS, MO, and NE)
Ms. Baker is a former member of the Missouri House of Representatives and a managing partner of Cura Advantage, a consulting firm she founded that focuses on health-care systems design and improvement.
- Susan M. R. Johnson, Director for Region X (Based in Seattle and including AK, ID, OR, and WA)
Ms. Johnson has served as the director of the King County Health Action Plan for the Public Health Department in Seattle and King County since 1997.
- Cristal Thomas, M.P.P., Director for Region V (Based in Chicago and including IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI)
Research from the child welfare field includes the latest look at what States are doing to reduce racial disproportionality in child welfare, reintegrating youth with severe mental challenges, and adapting home visiting programs for nonparent caregivers.
- Reintegrating Youth Who Have Severe Emotional and Behavioral Problems
Youth with severe emotional and behavioral health problems in the foster care system face special challenges in obtaining services and in reunification with family and reintegration into the community. A recent pilot project by Casey Family Programs, the Travis County Health and Human Services and Veterans Service, and the Texas Child Protective Services was designed to facilitate the reunification and reintegration of six youth in residential treatment, using a wraparound service model. Data collection methods included indepth structured case file reviews and semistructured interviews with the youth, as well as their caregivers, child protective services (CPS) caseworkers, and program staff.
The program model consisted of six steps, which started with the referral phase and ended with the case-closure phase. By the final phase, five of the six participants were reunited with family and integrated into the community, and one participant experienced a disruption in placement and was returned to the foster care system.
Project staff encountered three types of barriers when implementing this program, including:
- System barriers
- Insufficient collaboration with residential treatment centers
- Lack of qualified service providers
- Insufficient pre-reintegration contact
- Program barriers
- Lack of collaboration between CPS and the CPS Reintegration Pilot Project
- Lack of cultural competency
- Improper utilization of the model
- Client barriers
- Youth behaviors and caregiver ambivalence
- Lack of assessment and preparation for reintegration
- Financial insecurity
The authors provide recommendations to address these barriers, such as:
- Provide training on cultural competency.
- Increase communication among and within programs.
- Provide clear roles for staff, partners, youth, and families.
- Conduct a needs assessment of all participants to have a clear understanding of needs.
- Assess the community to determine what resources and services are available.
The full report, Travis County, Texas, Child Protective Services Reintegration Pilot Project:
Final Evaluation Report, by Elissa E. Madden, Ruth G. McRoy, Erin Maher, and Kristin Ward, is available on the Casey website:
www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/pdf/AustinReintegration_FR.pdf (807 KB)
- System barriers
- Home Visiting for Kinship and Other Caregivers
The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) recently released a report analyzing how home visiting services (e.g., child assessments, parent education) can be best used by, and expanded to, families providing kinship care and/or family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) care.
CLASP researchers interviewed representatives from six major national models of home visiting, as well as stakeholders and experts in the field at the community, State, and national levels. The report gives extensive overviews and examples of how the reviewed home visiting programs incorporate kinship and FFN care situations into their models. A summary of these reviews indicates that most home visiting models operate on the notion that including kinship and FFN caregivers as part of their target population allows the programs to serve more vulnerable children. However, there are a number of considerations and adaptations that may need to be made to optimize home visiting for these populations.
The report spotlights four programs that have been developed especially for these populations:
- The Florida Kinship Center developed the Kin as Teachers program to provide support and information on raising children to kinship caregivers caring for children from birth through kindergarten.
- Begun in Massachusetts, the Parent-Child Home Program for Family Child Care Providers serves licensed family child care providers and family, friends, and neighbors who provide regular child care. Caregivers receive visits twice a week from home visitors who model interactions around reading, play, and conversation.
- Family Child Care Satellites of Greater Rochester (New York) makes twice-monthly visits to caregivers using the curriculum adapted by Parents as Teachers specifically for caregivers titled "Supporting Care Providers Through Personal Visits."
- Selected Early Head Start (EHS) sites participated in the Enhanced Home Visiting Pilot Project in which children in home-based EHS also received home visits with their FFN caregiver.
The full report, Extending Home Visiting to Kinship Caregivers and Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers, by Elizabeth Hoffmann and Tiffany Conway Perrin, is available on the CLASP website:
www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications/files/homevisitingkinshipffn.pdf (967 KB)
- States' Efforts to Reduce Racial Disproportionality
States continue to be challenged by the disproportionate representation of children from certain racial or ethnic communities in their child welfare systems. A new report from the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare examines the progress that 11 States (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington) have made in identifying and addressing racial disproportionality through State legislative policy. The strategies are discussed in terms of six dimensions of change necessary for addressing racial disproportionality:
- Legislation, Policy Change, Finance Reform
- Youth, Parent, and Community Partnership and Development
- Public Will and Communication
- Human Service Workforce Development
- Practice Change
- Research, Evaluation, and Data-Based Decision-making
The report also notes the following key strategies developed by the States:
- Ongoing data analysis to address disproportionality
- Education, training, and awareness at all levels (investigations, case management, service provision, and community)
- Family-focused and strengths-based practices, including alternative response and family team conferencing principles
- Increased supports for kinship placements to achieve permanency
- Identification of existing policies and practices that may be contributing factors to disproportionality
- Targeted recruitment of foster parents in specific communities and matching foster families
The report, Policy Action to Reduce Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in Child Welfare: A Scan of Eleven States, was prepared by the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare and is available on the Policy for Results website:
CBX links you to tools and examples of programs that promote legal representation in child welfare cases, engaging parents, meeting the mental health needs of children in foster care, and working with immigrant families.
- Implementing Mental Health Guidelines
A new resource from the REACH Institute, Mental Health Practices in Child Welfare Guidelines Toolkit, helps child welfare agencies address the mental health needs of children, youth, and families involved in the child welfare system. Developed with support from Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Foster Family-Based Treatment Association, the toolkit equips agency administrators and staff members with practical implementation tips, tools, and resources to integrate and sustain 32 mental health guidelines within child welfare agencies. The guidelines were originally published in a 2009 special issue of Child Welfare, 88(1), titled Mental Health Practice Guidelines for Child Welfare: Context for Reform.
The toolkit is organized into five topical sections:
- Mental health screening and assessment
- Psychosocial interventions
- Psychopharmacological interventions
- Parent engagement and support
- Youth empowerment and support
The sections present each guideline along with answers to two key questions for child welfare agencies: Why is this guideline important, and How can I incorporate it at my agency? The toolkit then describes specific tools, interventions, and other resources that can be used to implement the guidelines. When applicable, resources are scored on a rating scale to indicate the level of evidence in support of their use.
The toolkit was prepared by Lisa Hunter Romanelli, Theresa L. LaBarrie, Shane Sabnani, and Peter S. Jensen, and is available on the Casey Family Programs website:
- New Resources for Working With Immigrant Youth and Families
Recent resources from American Humane and from Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) offer tools and tips for child welfare workers whose caseloads include immigrant children and families.
American Humane has released new toolkits designed to familiarize workers with the dynamics of the U.S. immigration system, addressing immigration issues that may arise through the progression of a child welfare case. The toolkits include a description of basic immigration concepts (e.g., immigration status, roles of government agencies, confidentiality provisions), a child welfare flowchart, and a summary of immigration relief options. The importance of cultural and linguistic competency in the child welfare system is also highlighted. Appendices offer information on obtaining vital documents, screening questions for immigrant youth, a glossary of immigration terms, and other relevant links.
Visit the American Humane website to access A Social Worker’s Tool Kit for Working With Immigrant Families: Executive Summary, A Child Welfare Flowchart, and Immigration Status and Relief Options:
The BRYCS website has posted Suggestions for Interviewing Refugee and Immigrant Children and Families and 12 Suggestions for Interviewing Children Using a Foreign Language Interpreter. These tip sheets stress the importance of linguistic sensitivity while preparing for interviews with immigrant families. Some of the recommendations include:
- Obtain access to indepth information about refugees' culture and family values prior to the interview
- Choose a qualified interpreter ahead of time
- Clarify confidentiality issues with both the interviewee and the interpreter
- Encourage questions
- Be aware of your tone, voice, and emotional response
Both briefs are available on the BRYCS website:
[Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]
- Models for Effective Legal Representation of Parents
In response to an emerging national consensus that quality legal representation for parents can help ensure the most appropriate outcomes for families and children involved in the child welfare system, the American Bar Association (ABA) has compiled a factsheet of model programs aimed at improving the level and quality of parent representation.
Summary of Parent Representation Models reviews 22 parent representation models currently in use in 14 States and the District of Columbia. Each summary provides a snapshot of what the jurisdiction is doing in areas such as training, developing caseload and practice standards for attorneys and social workers, and compensation to improve legal representation for parents. A website address is provided (when available) for each program.
In addition, brief summaries are provided on the efforts in five other States to improve parent representation. The publication concludes with a description of programs to provide legal representation for parents at three law school clinics.
This publication can be found on the ABA website:
- Parent Involvement Programs That Work
Parent involvement programs can play a significant role in enhancing parents' ability to help their children acquire or strengthen the behaviors, skills, attitudes, and motivation that promote physical and mental health and overall well-being. Child Trends has produced two factsheets that synthesize findings from rigorous evaluations of parent involvement programs. The factsheets identify the components and strategies associated with successful programs and also indicate gaps in research, particularly the need to better recruit and engage parents.
In What Works for Parent Involvement Programs for Children: Lessons From Experimental Evaluations of Social Interventions, researchers synthesized findings from 67 rigorous evaluations of parent involvement interventions for children 6-11 years old. The authors conclude that programs that actively engaged parents generally had positive impacts, while parent education-only programs generally had few effects. In addition, 10 of 12 programs that integrated technology into their interventions had positive impacts on at least one child outcome. The report concludes that the role of parents in improving children's well-being could be better understood by engaging in more evaluations that compare the relative effectiveness of parent-only, child-only, and "parent plus" intervention conditions.
In What Works for Parent Involvement Programs for Adolescents: Lessons From Experimental Evaluations of Social Interventions, researchers synthesized the findings from 47 rigorous evaluations of parent involvement interventions for adolescents. Nearly two-thirds of parent involvement programs were found to be effective and included at least one of the following types of interventions:
- Built parenting skills
- Included family and teen-focused therapeutic interventions
- Focused on intervention components for both parents and teens
- Offered at least five sessions
On the other hand, parent education programs that offered only parent information but no opportunity for parents to practice related skills tended to have little or no impact. Positive impacts for parent involvement programs were least likely to occur for substance use, education, and reproductive health outcomes.
Both factsheets include tables of outcomes for each program, as well as a synopsis of each program and its components. The factsheets are available on the Child Trends website:
- Healthy Foster Care America Website
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has launched a website to promote improved health and well-being for children and teens in foster care. Healthy Foster Care America is designed to engage communities in supporting children, youth, and their families with the services they need and a continuum of care.
Child welfare and related professionals and organizations can access the site to find tools, resources, and information on the health and well-being of children and youth in foster care. Foster parents and kin caring for children may also find appropriate resources to help them in their caregiving and to learn more about mental and physical health issues and interventions.
The new website is part of the AAP website:
- A Handbook for Youth in Foster Care
The Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) has created a booklet specifically for children, adolescents, and young adults in the custody of DCFS. Putting It All Together provides information related to being in foster care, with the goal of providing some guidance and answers to youth who, while in the State's care, have questions and concerns about the process. Information is divided into easy-to-read sections that include:
- Why was I removed from my home?
- What will happen to me?
- How long will I be away from my home?
- The courts and court decisions
- What are my rights?
- What are the rights of my family, DCFS care provider, and caseworker?
- Living in DCFS care
- Family and friends
- Personal stuff
- School and special activities
- Will I get to visit my family?
- Beyond DCFS care
In addition, information on addressing problems or complaints about care, important phone numbers available to youth, and a youth-friendly glossary of terms are provided.
www.state.il.us/dcfs/docs/CFS%201050-70%20Putting%20it%20all%20Together.pdf (218 KB)
- Website Offers Guidance on Public Child Welfare
Positioning Public Child Welfare Guidance (PPCWG) has launched a website that offers guidance in 14 critical areas of public child welfare. Each web section contains a definition of the critical area, an explanation of its importance in child welfare, questions and answers, and a systematic explanation of the guidance provided. Resources also are available and categorized in lists for each topic. The site supplies free downloadable files.
Currently, 7 of the 14 areas are loaded on the site—Strategy, Disparity and Disproportionality, Practice Model, Leadership, Workforce, Communications, and Change Management. Subjects to be added are Administrative Practices, Strategic Partnerships, Information Management, Public Policy, Budget and Finance, Research, and Technology.
PPCWG was developed by the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators and supported through a collaboration with Casey Family Programs.
Access the site here:
- Website Highlights Research on Youth With Mental Health Conditions
Portland State University’s Regional Research Institute and School of Social Work has been awarded a Federal grant to create and sustain the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures: Supporting Successful Transition for Youth and Young Adults With Serious Mental Health Conditions. The project has launched a website, which will serve as a base for research, training, publications, and other resources that come out of the eight research projects funded through this grant.
The site will feature current and previous research to include training through webinars, a mentoring program that offers research opportunities in young people's mental health to undergraduate and graduate students at Portland State University, and a training collaborative to help enhance the skills of service providers who work with this population.
To stay up-to-date on the research efforts of these projects, visit the Pathways to Positive Futures website:
Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through May 2010 include:
- National Conference on Juvenile and Family Law
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
March 14–17, Las Vegas, NV
- Sixth Annual Conference on Childhood Grief and Traumatic Loss
Restoring Joy to Children and Their Families
Los Angeles County Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect and Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services
March 17, Pasadena, CA
- American Adoption Congress 31st Annual Conference
Voices of Adoption Speaking Our Truth, Restoring Our Rights
March 19–21, Sacramento, CA
- NOFSW 27th Annual Conference
Forensic Social Work: Integrating Research, Policy and Practice
National Organization of Forensic Social Work
April 10–14, Atlanta, GA
- 28th Annual "Protecting Our Children" National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
National Indian Child Welfare Association
April 11–14, Portland, OR
- Families on the Fault Lines: Re-Imagining Race, Kinship, & Care
University of California, Berkeley, Center for Race & Gender
April 29–30, Berkeley, CA
- Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture: 3rd International Conference
Adoption: Secret Histories, Public Policies
April 29–May 2, Cambridge, MA
- Daniel Memorial Institute 17th Annual National Foster Care Conference
Footsteps to the Future
May 12–14, Clearwater Beach, FL
- Prevent Child Abuse America National Conference
Changing the Way We Think About Prevention: Making Children Our Priority
May 17–19, Jacksonville, FL
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the Conference Calendar Search feature on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
- National Conference on Juvenile and Family Law
- Online Courses in Early Education and Development
The University of Minnesota's Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) offers a number of online courses for continuing education. The spring semester includes the following courses:
- Seeing Is Believing: Videotaping Families and Using Guided Self-Observation to Build on Parenting Initiatives
- Supporting Stressed Young Children Through Relationship-Based Teaching
- Parent-Infant Pathways: An Educator's Guide to Providing Information and Support to New Parents
- Introduction to Infant Mental Health
- Premature Babies and Their Parents: Information and Insights for Early Intervention Personnel
- Prenatal Development Information: For Professionals Working With Families During Pregnancy
- Bridging Education and Mental Health
Visit the CEED website for more information and registration:
- Father Involvement Course for Continuing Education Credits
The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) has long promoted father involvement in the child welfare system. NFPN now offers an online site for comprehensive child welfare training in father involvement through CEQuick, which is a registered provider for several State and national accreditations. One course is available now, and two more will be added soon.
"Engaging Fathers in Children's Lives, Part I," is a 2½-hour course from NFPN that costs $17. It is accredited by the American Psychological Association and is described as, "A variety of interactive exercises and case vignettes [that] challenge you to think through the specifics of how you can work effectively with the fathers of children you serve." After the course is paid for, it is accessible at any time as long as you are registered.
For more information, visit the CEQuick website or the NFPN website: