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November 2011Vol. 12, No. 8Spotlight on National Adoption Month

CBX spotlights this year's National Adoption Month initiative, announces the winners of the Adoption Excellence Awards, and links to a number of reports on the benefits of adoption, including adoption of young adults. An article about a Denver program describes how the program has increased adoptions from foster care.

Issue Spotlight

  • NSAP Reports on Adoption From Foster Care

    NSAP Reports on Adoption From Foster Care

    Results from the first-ever National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP) were published in 2009, shedding light on the experiences of thousands of adoptive families across the country. The data gathered in that landmark study continue to be analyzed, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released three new research briefs based on NSAP, including two that look specifically at families that adopted from foster care.

    Conducted in 2007–2008, the NASP collected data from interviews with 2,089 adoptive parents, 763 of whom adopted from foster care, 781 through private domestic adoptions, and 545 through intercountry adoptions. The survey confirmed that approximately 2 percent of children in the United States are adopted. The initial findings were published in Adoption USA: A Chartbook Based on the 2007 Survey of Adoptive Parents.

    The recently published research briefs look at more detailed aspects of adoption and the experiences of adoptive families:

    • Children Adopted From Foster Care: Child and Family Characteristics, Adoption Motivation, and Well-Being does more than analyze data on the number, age, and race of children adopted from foster care; it highlights unique information such as the satisfaction of adoptive parents and their reasons behind choosing to adopt from foster care. According to findings, 81 percent of children adopted from foster care have parents who would definitely make the decision to adopt again, and three-quarters feel the relationship with the child or children is warm and close. Regarding motivation, 86 percent of parents said the number one reason for adopting was to provide a permanent home to a child. Other top motivating factors included expanding their family (61 percent), infertility issues (39 percent), and wanting a sibling for a child (24 percent). Sixty percent of parents cited reduced cost as the number one reason for adopting specifically from foster care compared to other types of adoption.
    • Children Adopted From Foster Care: Adoption Agreements, Adoption Subsidies, and Other Post-Adoption Supports provides statistics on the percentages of children who receive financial and other types of support. The study found that 92 percent have adoption agreements with public agencies, and more than three-quarters receive monthly subsidies, although the vast majority of parents agree that they would have adopted the child even without the subsidy. Information on other types of support and how parents find resources is also included.
    • The National Survey of Adoptive Parents: Benchmark Estimates of School Performance and Family Relationship Quality for Adopted Children compared survey results from all 2,089 adoptive parents with survey results from a control (not adopted) group. Adopted children showed poorer school performance, and children adopted from foster care accounted for most of this disparity. Few differences in relationship quality were found.

    Read the full research briefs on the ASPE website:

  • 2011 Adoption Excellence Awards

    2011 Adoption Excellence Awards

    On October 12, 2011, the Children's Bureau honored 18 individuals and organizations with Adoption Excellence Awards, recognizing the recipients' contributions to providing stable, permanent homes for the nation's children in foster care. These awards demonstrate the Bureau's national commitment to rebuild the lives of the 408,000 children in foster care and to achieve permanency for the 107,000 of those who are waiting for adoption.

    The awards, recognizing seven categories of excellence, were established in 1997 to honor States, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families for their work in increasing adoptions from foster care. The award winners were chosen by a committee representing nonprofit adoption agencies, child welfare and adoption advocates, adoptive parents, foundations, businesses, and State and Federal offices.

    This year's winners are listed within their award category:

    Decrease in the Length of Time that Children in Foster Care Wait for Adoption:

    • Lilliput Children's Services, an adoption agency based in Sacramento, CA, that also provides foster care services to families in several California counties 
    • Diane Dexter and Wanda Audette, founders of Project Family in Vermont, a public-private partnership to recruit families for older children in foster care

    Increased Adoptions of Older Children:

    • Betsie Norris, founder and Executive Director of Adoption Network Cleveland, OH
    • Harmony Adoptions of Tennessee, Inc., a nonprofit adoption agency with a mission to share life, love, and joy through adoption

    Support for Adoptive Families:

    • American Samoa Government, Department of Human and Social Services, Adoption Division, the primary provider of adoption support services in American Samoa
    • Kathi Donofro, Permanency Specialist for 12 North Florida counties and founding member of The Heart Gallery of North Florida
    • Right Turn, a collaborative effort between Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska and Nebraska Children’s Homes Society

    Family Contributions:

    • Bernadette Dorsainville, a single mother and nurse from Kingston, NY, who has fostered 14 children, adopted 4 children, and is in the process of adopting another child

    Judicial/Child Welfare System Improvement:

    • Judge Karen Eileen Howze, appointed Magistrate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
    • Huron County Department of Job and Family Services—Children Services Unit, the agency in Northwest Ohio responsible for administering a number of public social services including Family Support, Child and Adult Protective Services, Child Care, and Workforce Development
    • Maura Corrigan, Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services and creator of the Michigan Adoption Forum
    • Dona Ana County Child Welfare Team, the child welfare team for the second largest county in New Mexico

    Adoption of Minority Children From Foster Care:

    • Catherine A. Swessel, Director of Special Needs Adoption for Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin
    • Jeri Jasken, Director of the White Earth Indian Child Welfare Division in White Earth, MN
    • The Reverend Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., founder and CEO of Harvest of Hope Family Services Network Inc. in Somerset, NJ

    Media/Public Awareness of Adoption From Foster Care:

    • Judge Martha Walsh Hood and the 5th Judicial District National Adoption Day Committee, Supervising Family Court Judge for the 5th Judicial District in Central New York
    • Kim Johnson, Adoption Specialist for Partnership for Strong Families in Gainesville, FL
    • Lynne Hayes-Freeland and KDKA-TV, Reporter and host of the bi-weekly KDKA program, Waiting Child that features children in foster care

    For more information about the 18 recipients or the awards, visit the Children's Bureau's website:

  • The Economic Benefits of Foster Care Adoption

    The Economic Benefits of Foster Care Adoption

    At a time when our nation is experiencing a multitude of economic hardships, Federal, State and local agencies could potentially lower expenditures while maintaining essential child welfare services if more children and youth from the foster care system were adopted. This is the argument of Nicholas Zill in his May 2011 Center on Children and Families brief, Adoption From Foster Care: Aiding Children While Saving Public Money. Everyone agrees on the benefits of permanency for children, but Zill takes the argument further by identifying a monetary benefit for society.

    The public costs of foster care are substantial; under title IV-E of the Social Security Act alone, annual State and Federal expenditures total in excess of $9 billion. Additional money is spent for medical care, food stamps, cash welfare, and child care payments to families caring for foster youth. There also are long-term costs associated with youth in care, such as those related to dropping out of high school, unemployment, homelessness, teenage parenthood, drug and alcohol abuse, and crime. For example, Zill notes, in 2004, it cost approximately $5.1 billion to incarcerate former foster youth in State and Federal prisons.

    Recent data indicate that less than 15 percent of all children in foster care will be adopted. In FY 2009, 57,000 foster children were adopted, but the number of youth in care awaiting adoption was more than double – 115,000.

    Zill draws on data from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP), which provides evidence that may support his position. The aim of the NSAP analysis summarized in this brief was to compare the life circumstances and well-being of children adopted from foster care with those of foster children remaining in care. Based on data from the comparative survey analysis, it was determined that children adopted from the foster care system have more favorable home environments for child development and well-being than those in care. Factors affecting positive outcomes for children and youth include a two-parent family, higher parent education level, higher family income level, and safe and family-friendly neighborhood.

    To read the full brief, Adoption From Foster Care: Aiding Children While Saving Public Money, visit the Brookings website:

  • Building Family Relations Through Adult Adoption

    Building Family Relations Through Adult Adoption

    Too many youth in foster care reach adulthood without a permanent family. For some, the opportunity to be adopted comes later. A number of States have enacted legislation that allows the adoption of an adult by another adult. The Florida Bar Foundation has developed a step-by-step guide that describes the legal ramifications and requirements for this process. Written in easy-to-understand language that is geared toward youth who have aged out of foster care, this publication uses a question-and-answer format to meet the specific information needs of adult individuals seeking to be adopted in the State of Florida.

    The guide addresses the following key areas:

    • Name change
    • Parental rights
    • Continued eligibility for benefits
    • New birth certificate

    A full complement of appendices completes the publication, including relevant court documents such as the petition to adopt, consent forms, the final judgment of adoption, and a listing of judicial circuits in Florida.

    Published by Florida’s Children First, Adult Adoption: Creating a Lifelong Family Bond and Legal Connection is available for download on the Florida's Children First website: (494 KB)

    For information on other States' age requirements and restrictions for adoption, see Child Welfare Information Gateway's Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption? at:

  • Denver's Village: Enhanced Recruitment for Permanent Homes

    Denver's Village: Enhanced Recruitment for Permanent Homes

    In 2008, the Children's Bureau awarded eight cooperative agreements to implement diligent recruitment programs that would locate resource families for children in foster care. One of those awards went to the Denver Department of Human Services (DHS) for its Denver's Village program. Denver's Village seeks to find safe, supportive homes for children in need of foster, kinship, or adoptive families by establishing community-based resource teams (CBRTs) and enhancing their internal processes for finding homes for children. This has yielded shorter times to permanency and an increase in adoptions.

    Traditionally, it was DHS's responsibility to recruit and retain resource families, but the CBRT approach is a joint effort between DHS and the community. DHS has established four CBRTs throughout the city and county of Denver by leveraging its existing broad community network. CBRTs recruit potential resource families in the children's own communities and try to ensure that the racial and ethnic characteristics of the resource families mirror those of the children in care. CBRT members often include individuals from businesses, schools, service providers, community-based organizations, and DHS, including foster care, adoption, kinship care, and recruitment staff. Each CBRT develops its own recruitment plan for targeted and child-specific recruitment and conducts approximately four recruitment activities per month. For a recent recruitment event, one CBRT worked with a local church to use a service for more than 300 parishioners as an extreme recruiting event for 13 children. Several families expressed interest in becoming resource families, and more than a dozen additional families volunteered to host a "fosterware" party, during which CBRT staff would speak to the host's family and friends about the need for permanent and temporary homes for children.

    DHS also has implemented two types of meetings to help find permanent homes for children in foster care: permanency decision meetings (PDMs) and permanency roundtables. During a PDM, in which DHS tries to reduce and overcome barriers to achieving permanency for a child, the current caseworker and supervisor and other DHS staff—including those from intake, child protection, and youth services—examine the case's progress, determine the specific barriers to permanency, and develop a concurrent plan for the child. PDMs are conducted when children have been in out-of-home care for 45 days.

    The second type of meeting is the permanency roundtable, which focuses primarily on youth but is held for any child who has been in care for 12 months or longer. The purpose of the roundtable is to determine what actions may help achieve permanence for the child. They include DHS staff, the youth in care, and individuals the youth identifies as being important to them (e.g., relatives, friends, mentors). The roundtables help involve youth in the decision-making process, and the youth sometimes are able to identify permanency options for themselves. Often, even if a permanent placement is not identified through the roundtable, the youth still is able to establish permanent connections with relatives or others.

    Denver's Village has shown promising results thus far. When DHS received the award, children in care waited an average of 34.6 months after parental rights were terminated until permanency was achieved. Over the last 2 years of the project, that average has dropped to approximately 13 months. Additionally, more than 650 children have been adopted over the course of the project, and in the first year, Denver's Village increased the number of resource families from the communities of children in care by 55 percent.

    One of the important systemic outcomes of the project was a change in how DHS staff viewed permanency. Previously, some staff viewed permanency as an option that should be considered toward the end of a case. Now, staff see permanency as a vital issue that should be considered at multiple points throughout the life of the case, which helps reduce barriers to permanency at later points in the case. For example, conducting a diligent search in the beginning of a case may make it easier to engage family members as the case proceeds, which may open up additional permanency options.

    For additional information about Denver's Village and the other Diligent Recruitment grantees, visit the AdoptUSKids website:

    Many thanks to Margaret Booker, Project Director of Denver's Village and Administrator of Permanency Services and Support in the Denver Department of Human Services, for providing the information for this article.

  • Postadoption Guide Available Online

    Postadoption Guide Available Online

    The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has published Strengthen Your Forever Family: A Step-by-Step Guide to Post-Adoption. This online guide helps new adoptive parents prepare for adoption by finding and accessing resources that will help with their child’s transition.

    Topics covered include:

    • Getting ready
    • Identifying resources
    • Finding resources
    • Creating resources when none exist
    • Setting expectations
    • Recommended resources

    The Dave Thomas Foundation is the only nonprofit charity in America dedicated to finding permanent homes for children in foster care. This guide was developed with support from Jockey Being Family, an initiative from Jockey International, Inc. dedicated to help strengthen adoptive families.

    The guide may be accessed on The Dave Thomas Foundation’s website: (2.67 MB)

  • November Is National Adoption Month

    November Is National Adoption Month

    November is National Adoption Month, a time to recognize the millions of families brought together by adoption and call attention to the approximately 107,000 children and youth in foster care waiting to be adopted. Recognized by Presidential Proclamation, National Adoption Month is a priority of the Children's Bureau.

    The focus of this year's National Adoption Month is building the capacity of adoption professionals to recruit and retain parents for the children and youth waiting for permanent families. Using the slogan "Honor National Adoption Month all year long," the campaign offers suggestions on how adoption professionals and others can take daily, weekly, and monthly steps to promote adoption. The campaign focuses on five themes:

    • Supporting and retaining families
    • Diligent recruitment
    • Working with diverse populations
    • Proactively finding families
    • Facilitating interjurisdictional placements

    The National Adoption Month website, produced by Child Welfare Information Gateway, provides resources for professionals and families who are planning activities to raise awareness of the need for adoptive parents. Visitors to the website can download materials and link to resources. The website includes:

    The National Adoption Month initiative is a partnership among the Children's Bureau, AdoptUSKids, and Child Welfare Information Gateway.


    Recent Issues

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    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

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    Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

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News From the Children's Bureau

The fifth article in our Centennial Series takes a brief look at the impact of the Progressive Movement in the early 20th century. We also have reports from the second Evaluation Summit and first Network for Action meeting. Read on for more new resources from ACF and the Children's Bureau.

  • Report Examines Programs That Support At-Risk Youth

    Report Examines Programs That Support At-Risk Youth

    A new report from the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF’s) Office of Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE) presents research-based frameworks that can be used to develop programs for at-risk youth. Synthesis of Research and Resources to Support At-Risk Youth also describes the risk factors for at-risk youth and approaches that can help these youth achieve self-sufficiency. At-risk youth include youth aging out of foster care, runaway and homeless youth, youth receiving TANF, teenage parents, and juvenile offenders.

    Two complementary theoretical perspectives provide a framework for evidence-based practices that can improve youth programs:

    • The risk and resilience perspective focuses on developing resilience among at-risk youth by improving mental health, forming nurturing attachments with caring adults, and identifying role models.
    • The capital development perspective focuses on developing the human, social, cultural, and economic capital that at-risk youth need to succeed in school and work.

    The report uses these perspectives to examine an array of approaches for addressing the needs of this population. Resilience programs include mentoring programs and trauma and drug treatment. Capital development programs include alternative schools, career academies, and internships. Specific youth-serving programs sponsored by ACF's Family and Youth Services Bureau, Children's Bureau, Office of Child Support Enforcement, and Office of Family Assistance also are described. Four ACF programs are examined in detail:

    • Transitional Living Program for Runaway and Homeless Youth
    • The Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
    • The Parenting and Paternity Awareness Program
    • Teen REACH (Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring, and Hope)

    The report suggests that programs for at-risk youth should reflect the specific needs of at-risk youth, target the youth as well as their families and communities, be culturally diverse, and incorporate both resilience and capital development perspectives.

    This report was produced by Heather Koball and other researchers at Mathematica Policy Research, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, and Public/Private Ventures as part of the ACF Youth Demonstration Development Project. It is available on the OPRE website: (962 KB)

  • CBX Debuts New Look

    CBX Debuts New Look

    Children's Bureau Express has gotten a facelift! The colors of the new Children's Bureau logo have been incorporated into CBX. We hope you enjoy our new look as you continue to stay current on all child welfare-related news.

  • The 2nd National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit

    The 2nd National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit

    The best efforts of Hurricane Irene and the recent East Coast earthquake could not stop the Children’s Bureau’s second National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit. Scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, on August 29-31, 2011, the first day was canceled because of flight delays resulting from the hurricane; however, some quick rescheduling allowed for a full 2 days of meetings and presentations that focused on the summit’s themes of Building Evidence, Strengthening Practice, and Informing Policy.

    Commissioner Bryan Samuels of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) presented the opening keynote address, noting the importance of cross-disciplinary research and the lessons that child welfare can take from such fields as brain research. The remainder of the opening plenary focused on translating research to practice and the best ways for that to happen in child welfare.

    Many of the presentations and conference materials are posted on the Evaluation Summit website:

    The full program for the Child Welfare Evaluation Summit also is available:

    (2.23 MB)

  • ACF's Tribal Consultation Policy

    ACF's Tribal Consultation Policy

    The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently published a policy statement establishing the process for consultation with federally recognized Indian Tribes. The policy requires ACF to conduct timely, respectful, meaningful, and effective two-way communication and consultation with Tribes, allowing representatives of Tribal governments to provide input before any action that either ACF or one or more Tribes determines has or may have significantly affected a Tribe. An action that triggers consultation includes any legislative proposal, new rule adoption, or other policy change when there is a reasonable presumption that it may affect:

    • One or more Indian Tribes
    • The relationship between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes
    • The amount or duration of ACF program funding
    • The delivery of ACF program services to one or more Tribes
    • The distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes

    The policy statement outlines how a consultation is initiated, who should participate in the consultation, notice requirements, the consultation process, and how the outcomes are reported. The policy was developed in response to an Executive Memorandum signed by President Obama on November 5, 2009, that reaffirmed the government-to-government relationship between Indian Tribes and the Federal Government and directed each executive department and agency to consult with Tribal governments before taking actions that affect this population.

    Read the full policy statement on the ACF website: (170 KB)

  • Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: Network for Action

    Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: Network for Action

    Contributed by Linda Baker, Program Director for the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention
    On June 21-22, 2011, a network of 450 people with a common interest in the prevention of child maltreatment and the promotion of child and family well-being met in Alexandria, VA, at the first Network for Action meeting. The meeting was sponsored by the Children's Bureau's Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN), in collaboration with other organizations that support prevention efforts. Both the creation of the network and the design of the meeting were driven by three specific goals: 

    • Developing a shared vision. All parties contributed to a vision for the future that imbues the work of each network member with common purpose and enhances collaborative efforts at the Federal, State, and local levels. A vision video was created at the meeting:
    • Engaging in shared action. Breaking traditional barriers to collaboration, the meeting was designed to form teams and partnerships to advance one (or more) of several strategic projects. Each project was designed to move away from conditions of risk of child maltreatment and toward conditions promoting well-being. These ongoing projects are of national significance:
    • Developing and strengthening networks of partners at the State and Federal levels. Strengthened partnerships will sustain the Network for Action and begin a collaborative journey that is expected to go on for years. A social networking site was designed to continue the dialogue started at the meeting and to engage new members in the discussion:

    The following organizations are just some of those collaborating with OCAN on the Network for Action:

    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Violence Prevention’s Knowledge to Action (K2A) Child Maltreatment Prevention Consortium Leadership Group
    • The FRIENDS National Resource Center

    Visit the Network for Action webpage on the FRIENDS website:

  • Centennial Series: The Progressive Movement

    Centennial Series: The Progressive Movement

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

    The beginning of the 20th century ushered in dramatic changes to American society that resulted in a number of new social and political movements. The post-Civil War years were characterized by social upheaval brought on by massive immigration, the shift from an agrarian society to life in new urban communities, and an economic depression. Corruption stemming from industrialization and the creation of big businesses, growing inner-city poverty, educational disparity, child labor, and class strife began to cause angst among much of the American public. This was fed by the rise of popular journalism, as newspapers and magazines made it possible for more people to keep abreast of what was happening across the country. One outgrowth of this dissatisfaction was the Progressive Movement, a political effort to address and remedy these social concerns by looking to the government to right injustices.

    The Progressives were, for the most part, the new, urban middle class—doctors, lawyers, ministers, journalists, teachers, college professors, engineers and social workers—and their spouses (Sage, 2010). They viewed government as the solution to many of the social and moral problems of the day. In response to the Progressive Movement, many new Federal and State government programs were created or enhanced in the early 20th century. In fact, the Progressives touched almost every sector of life and were responsible for a number of "firsts" among government programs, for instance:

    • The creation of mothers' pension laws, also called widows' pensions, provided payments to widows with children and were the forerunners of State and Federal welfare programs that would later fall under the Social Security Act of 1935 (Leff, 1973). Illinois was the first State to pass a mothers' pension law in 1911, and 40 States would follow suit within less than a decade (Leff, 1973).
    • Some of the earliest consumer protection laws came about because of the work of activists who campaigned for government intervention against the unscrupulous patent medicine business and the unregulated food industry. Dr. Harvey Wiley, the first commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with the aid of Mrs. Walter McNab Miller, president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and Miss Alice Lakey of the National Consumers League, became activists for safe food and drugs. Their efforts resulted in a groundbreaking consumer protection bill, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (Janssen).
    • Child labor was a strong focus of the Progressives. When the 1900 census was released, Americans were shocked by the number of children working to survive and living in poverty—one out of every six children aged 10 to 15 worked to support their families (Zelizer, 2000). Spurred by the plight of working children, the Reverend Edgar Gardner Murphy of Alabama founded the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) and fought for child-labor legislation in every State.

    As ideas about child well-being took on a new dimension, citizens lobbied for the creation of a Federal agency that would focus its attention solely on the welfare of children (Marten, 2004). In 1909, the first White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children called for Congress to create the Children’s Bureau. This was fully endorsed by the founder of the Progressive Party, President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1912, the Children’s Bureau was established, and Julia Lathrop became its first chief, making her the first woman selected by a President to head a Federal statutory agency (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1967).

    The Progressive Party was short-lived as an American political party, but the Progressive Movement, which had begun in the late 1800s and continued on for several decades into the 20th century, had a long-lasting impact on much of American society and government, laying the groundwork for many of today's social programs designed to improve the lives and well-being of children and adults.


    Janssen, W. F. (1981) The story of the laws behind the labels. Retrieved from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, October 2011:

    Leff, M. (1973). Consensus for Reform: The mothers' pension movement in the Progressive Era. Social Service Review, 47, 397–417.

    Marten, J. (2004). Childhood and child welfare in the Progressive Era. Boston & New York: Bedford/St. Martin's.

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

    Riis, J. A. (1997). How the other half lives. New York: Penguin Books.

    Zelizer, V. (2000). The changing social value of children. In Fass, P., & Mason. M. (Eds.), Childhood in America (pp. 260-261). New York, NY: New York University Press.

  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    The Children's Bureau website carries information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, Federal reporting, and much more. The "New on Site" section includes grant announcements, policy announcements, agency information, and recently released publications.

    Recent additions to the site include:

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

  • States Share Promising Practices in Regional Call

    States Share Promising Practices in Regional Call

    In a first-of-its-kind phone call in early August, North Carolina and Pennsylvania State staff related information about their child welfare safety programs, while administrators from 10 other States listened in to take notes and identify strategies that might be useful in their own States. The call was organized by Children's Bureau staff in Regions III and IV and was designed to facilitate peer-to-peer information sharing in a structured and brief format.

    North Carolina kicked off the presentation with a description of the State's multiple response system (MRS) program. Holly McNeill (MRS Policy Consultant) and Patrick Betancourt (MRS Program Coordinator) traced the decision to implement the MRS program to the findings from North Carolina's first Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) report in 2001, which indicated that the State needed to make systemic child welfare improvements. While the State had contemplated the use of differential response in the past, the CFSR findings spurred State staff into action. The MRS program, which included many elements of differential response, was introduced as a pilot program in 10 counties in 2002. By 2006, all 100 counties in the State were using MRS.

    MRS is a reform of the State's child welfare system, based on principles of partnership and family-centered practice. Seven strategies were identified to bring about this reform—from the time a family enters the system through closure, whether that closure comes from completion of a Family Services Agreement, reunification, or adoption:
    1.    Choice of two tracks for reports of maltreatment—traditional investigation or family assessment
    2.    Collaboration between the Work First and child welfare systems
    3.    Strengths-based structured intake
    4.    Collaboration with law enforcement
    5.    In-home services that are individualized
    6.    Child and family team meetings throughout the life of the case
    7.    Shared parenting between birth and foster parents

    In sharing their positive experiences with the MRS program, Ms. McNeill noted, "We went from a system that did CPS to families to a system that did CPS with families."

    Pennsylvania staff related their experiences with the State's Safety Assessment and Management Process (SAMP), which has been implemented for in-home cases and eventually will be implemented for out-of-home cases and for youth in congregate care across the State. Cindi Horshaw (Director of Program Policy) and Bryle Zickler (Program Specialist) described SAMP as an assessment process that involves four phases: safety assessment, safety analysis, safety decision, and safety plan and management.

    The National Resource Center for Child Protective Services helped Pennsylvania develop the first SAMP, which was designed for in-home cases. One of the challenges that the State experienced was an initial lack of buy-in from workers. Therefore, when the State decided to implement SAMP with out-of-home cases, staff held focus groups and solicited input from workers, families, and other stakeholders to introduce the process more slowly and to promote inclusion and collaboration. 

    Over the past couple of years, Pennsylvania has seen a decrease in the number of children entering foster care.  Many workers using the in-home SAMP have reported improved decision-making during the initial phases of the casework process because of the in-home SAMP, and the SAMP makes it easier to refer families to community services early in the process. Some of the decrease in the number of children entering foster care may be attributed to this. It is also important to note that many other initiatives occurred in Pennsylvania at the same time as the SAMP implementation that are likely to have contributed to the decrease in the number of children entering foster care. 

    In response to the question, "Has SAMP made Pennsylvania children safer?" Ms. Horshaw noted, "We think so! SAMP helps workers ask the right questions, gather the right information, and make better decisions."

    To find out more about North Carolina's MRS program, visit the website:

    To read about Pennsylvania's SAMP, refer to The Safety Assessment and Management Process Reference Manual:

Training and Technical Assistance Update

The Children's Bureau T&TA Network offers a number of new resources, addressing such topics as father involvement in court cases, T&TA for Tribes, systems of care, and practice models.

  • Findings From the NRC4Tribes TA Needs Assessment

    Findings From the NRC4Tribes TA Needs Assessment

    The National Resource Center for Tribes (NRC4Tribes) has released Findings From the NRC4Tribes Technical Assistance Needs Assessment, which summarizes the needs assessment that the NRC conducted during the first year of its 5-year contract. The goal of the needs assessment was to identify the systemic and practice challenges of Tribal child welfare programs and to develop and provide appropriate training and technical assistance (T&TA) for the next 4 years of the project.

    Almost all of the 565 federally recognized Tribes provide child protection services to their children and families through their own child welfare and judicial programs. Although the Tribes have sovereign-nation status, funding and resources for welfare programs to Native families are provided by the Federal Government, including the Children's Bureau.

    To conduct the needs assessment, NRC4Tribes staff conducted interviews, administered surveys, and held onsite assessments with more than 400 stakeholders. Among the respondents were Tribal child welfare program directors, caseworkers, and supervisors; Tribal court judges and attorneys; client families and foster parents; and community partners and providers.

    The major topic areas identified in the report for T&TA focus were the following:

    • Tribal child welfare practice
    • Foster care and adoption
    • The Indian Child Welfare Act
    • Legal and judicial issues
    • Tribal child welfare program operations

    The report describes the findings as a first step in building a more comprehensive foundation of knowledge about Tribal child welfare programs, and it offers 10 recommendations and implementation strategies for addressing the topic areas through T&TA.

    Both the full report and its executive summary are available on the NRC4Tribes website:

  • Basics for Practice Model Implementation Success

    Basics for Practice Model Implementation Success

    In a recent issue of Child Welfare Matters, the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) focuses on how child welfare systems can employ a growing body of knowledge to implement practice models. NCROI used the National Implementation Research Network's concept of "implementation drivers"—activities that can help move system reform principles and approaches from ideas into practice—as applied to child welfare practice models. Ten factors agencies should consider as critical to implementing and sustaining new programs and practices successfully over time are organized under three implementation drivers:

    • Leadership—(1) guiding implementation with a commitment to the practice model; (2) pacing the evolution of the implementation; and (3) being inclusive and transparent
    • Competency—(4) training managers, supervisors, staff, and stakeholders; (5) providing experience and coaching; (6) designating staff and supporting champions; and (7) aligning staff selection and evaluation systems
    • Organization—(8) evaluating progress and outcomes through quality improvement; (9) using feedback loops; and (10) revising policies and creating tools

    Examples from four States that have made good progress in implementing a child welfare practice model are presented to illustrate the implementation drivers and critical factors. The article includes quotes from staff and supervisors that exemplify some of the successes and lessons learned—about training, useful tools, investment in the practice model, clarifying goals, and the value of feedback, for example—in each State's implementation experience.

    To access the summer/fall 2011 issue of Child Welfare Matters, go to: (1.34 MB)

    The NCROI Practice Model Peer Network website offers resources, State documents, and ways to connect with colleagues engaged in similar work.

  • More Updates From the T&TA Network

    More Updates From the T&TA Network

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

  • Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases

    Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases

    Increased father engagement in the lives of their children has proven to increase positive outcomes for children and families. The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF) now offers a series of short guides that provide information and tips for noncustodial fathers involved in child protection cases. The guides address legal issues and are intended to help fathers who wish to be active participants in the court process prepare for and navigate the protection system.

    The guides provide general information in the following areas:

    • Guide 1: Your Rights and Responsibilities
    • Guide 2: How to Work with Your Lawyer
    • Guide 3: Your Role in Court
      • 3.1 The Court Process
      • 3.2 Who Will Be in Court
      • 3.3 Common Court Terms
    • Guide 4: Your Role Outside Court
    • Guide 5: When You Owe Child Support
    • Guide 6: If You Are or Have Been in Prison

    "Finding Your Way: Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases" and the corresponding Spanish translations are available on the QIC NRF website. The QIC NRF is a collaborative effort between the American Humane Association, the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, and the National Fatherhood Initiative and is funded by the Children’s Bureau.

    Find the guides on the QIC NRF website: (15.44 MB)

    Visit the QIC NRF website for more fatherhood resources:

  • Action Briefs for Implementing Systems of Care

    Action Briefs for Implementing Systems of Care

    The National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care (NTAECS) has produced a series of action briefs for child welfare administrators and programs managers responsible for implementing systems change. The five briefs highlight findings from the national cross-site evaluation of nine grantees (18 demonstration sites) funded by the Children's Bureau to test a systems of care approach to improving outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system.

    Systems of care is an integrated process for delivering services via a blend of partnerships among child welfare service organizations to meet families' complex needs. The series examines crucial elements of systems of care, including the role of frontline staff, sustaining partnerships, developing a shared vision, and building agency and family capacities for engagement. The briefs are:

    • Gaining Buy-In From the Front Line During Times of Change
    • Building and Sustaining Child Welfare Partnerships
    • Leadership in Systems of Care: Creating and Communicating a Shared Vision
    • Building Agency Capacity for Family Involvement in Child Welfare
    • Building Family Capacity for Family Involvement in Child Welfare

    The briefs are available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    To learn more about the work of the center and to access additional systems of care resources, including evaluation reports, toolkits, logic models, webinar transcripts and slides, and more, go to:

    Related Items

    Children's Bureau Express recently wrote about other NTAECS resources:

Children's Bureau Grantee Updates

It's grant season, so read about FOAs that are forecast, as well as grants that have been awarded. A site visit article reports on strategies for diligent recruitment.

  • Site Visit: Kentucky's Diligent Recruitment MATCH Project

    Site Visit: Kentucky's Diligent Recruitment MATCH Project

    Faced with increases in out-of-home placements and stagnant numbers of resource families, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is utilizing a 2008 Children's Bureau grant to recruit and approve more resource parents in the hopes of achieving timely permanency for children in foster care. The funded project, Making Appropriate and Timely Connections for Children (MATCH), uses a host of innovative outreach tools, including community intervention, listserv and website development, press outreach, and other strategies.

    Kentucky identified a problem in the disconnect between the number of families that inquire about and the number of families approved as resource families. In 2007, more than 3,600 families expressed interest in becoming resource families, yet only 446 were approved—a mere 12 percent. As of May 2008, there were 7,622 children in out-of-home care and only 2,206 resource homes. Compounded, these issues lengthen the stay of children in the foster care system.

    Project MATCH—executed in the Eastern Mountain, Southern Bluegrass, Lakes, and Two Rivers regions—increases its pool of resource parents through five approaches:

    • Targeted and Child Specific Recruitment mobilizes paid foster parents to perform a range of community intervention activities to raise awareness about the need for resource families and generate interest.
    • Customer Service efforts are focused on a centralized intake at Murray State University for interested families.
    • Respite Provided by Waiting Families allows families awaiting approval to remain engaged in the process by providing respite care. This tactic also helps to ease waiting families into full-time care for children with special needs and potentially broadens their acceptance scale. 
    • Mix and Match Sessions help identify barriers and develop strategies for overcoming barriers to permanency. These quarterly meetings comprise public and private partners as well as resource parents and function as peer consulting groups.
    • Collaborative Review of Permanency Data with the courts and Kentucky's central office helps to identify barriers to permanency and devise plans to overcome challenges.

    In addition to the primary goal of increasing the pool of resource parents, Project MATCH also aims to increase the effectiveness in locating and using kinship care, fully integrating concurrent planning into permanency planning, and increasing inter- and intra-agency communication between public, private, and community stakeholders. In working toward these goals, project staff have encountered some challenges, including the problem of dealing with a large number of intervention strategies, economic difficulties including budget cuts, and data sharing.

    Project MATCH outcomes vary by region, but highlights include:

    • The average time between inquiry and approval in the Eastern Mountain Region decreased from 15.22 months between October 2009 and March 2010 to 5.43 months between October 2010 and March 2011.
    • The percentage of siblings separated in the Southern Bluegrass Region decreased from 36.52 percent in September 2009 to 26.6 percent in March 2011.
    • The percentage of siblings separated in the Two Rivers Region decreased from 42.29 percent in September 2009 to 35.7 percent in March 2011.

    Outreach methods and tools used by Project MATCH can be viewed on the AdoptUSKids website:

    For more information about this project, contact Jennie Willson, Interim Project Director, at

    The full site visit report is posted on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

    The Model for Comprehensive Family Assessments is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award #90-CO-1040).This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.

  • 2011 Discretionary Grants Awarded

    2011 Discretionary Grants Awarded

    The Children's Bureau recently announced the award of its 2011 discretionary grants. Awards were made in eight categories:

    • Child Welfare - Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children With Child Welfare Involvement
    • Child Welfare - Education System Collaborations to Increase Educational Stability
    • Family Connection Grants: Using Family Group Decision-Making to Build Protective Factors for Children and Families
    • Grants to Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Migrant Programs for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs
    • Improving Services Delivery to Youth in the Child Welfare System
    • Infant Adoption Awareness Training Grants
    • Integrating Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Focused Practice in Child Protective Service (CPS) Delivery
    • Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants

    Find the list of new grantees on the Children's Bureau website:

  • Discretionary Grant Forecasts

    Discretionary Grant Forecasts

    The Children's Bureau is currently forecasting eight FY 2012 discretionary grant funding opportunities. Please check the forecast site regularly, as these forecasts are subject to change.

    As of October 13, 2011, these eight CB FY 2012 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) were in the forecast:

    • Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CS-0280
    • Comprehensive Support Services for Families Affected by Substance Abuse and/or HIV/AIDS HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CB-0286
    • AdoptUSKids HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CQ-0269
    • Family Connection Discretionary Grants HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CF-0271
    • Improving Service Delivery to Youth in the Child Welfare System HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CW-0313
    • Integrating Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Focused Practice in Child Protective Service (CPS) Delivery HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CO-0279
    • Child Welfare--Early Education Partnerships to Expand Protective Factors for Children With Child Welfare Involvement HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CO-0315
    • Child Welfare--Education System Collaborations to Increase Educational Stability HHS-2012-ACF-ACYF-CO-0270

    Information about planned FY 2012 FOAs is now available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants Forecast website:

    To find the Children's Bureau's planned announcements, enter the title or Funding Opportunity Number (FON) in the search box. To see all of ACF’s forecasted FOAs, select "Advanced Search," then select "Administration on Children and Families (ACF)."

Child Welfare Research

This month, CBX looks child well-being data from two sources, announces a unique campaign to prevent infant abuse, and links to a study on how Florida counties reduced the number of children in foster care. Also, we report on one of the first studies of the impact of the economic downturn on child maltreatment.

  • Data on Child Well-Being in America

    Data on Child Well-Being in America

    Two annual, national reports provide current data on the well-being of children in America:

    America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011, is produced by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics ( and based on data collected from 22 Federal agencies to update 41 well-being indicators on children, youth, and families. This is the 15th report in the ongoing series. The indicators span seven domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. In addition, this year’s report contains a new indicator on teen immunizations and a special feature section on adoption. (5.33 MB)

    The 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that presents data on 10 key indicators of child well-being, addressing health, education, teen employment, teen pregnancy, and family economic conditions. This year's report points out that while great improvements have been realized in the past two decades, several concerning issues have emerged as well. For example, since 2001, the number of low-income children rose from 27 to 31 million in 2009—an increase of 42 percent. The official child poverty rate in 2009 declined to match the 1990 rate, 20 percent.

    Some popular features of the KIDS COUNT Data Center website include:

    • A downloadable version of the full report
    • Data by State, county, city, or school district
    • State rankings and geographic profiles
    • Customizable maps, trend lines, and rankings for use in publications and presentations
    • Stories from real families facing economic hardships and the solutions that helped
    • Link to a new mobile site

    Visit the Kids Count Data Center for more information:

  • Assessing Redesigned Foster Care Systems

    Assessing Redesigned Foster Care Systems

    A report from Casey Family Services, Foster Care Redesign in Duval and Alachua Counties: An Implementation Assessment and Research Chronicle, tells the story of how two Florida counties safely reduced the number of children in foster care by redesigning their child welfare systems to focus on family preservation. Using title IV-E waivers from the Federal Government that allowed for more flexible allocation of foster care funds, and partnering with Casey Family Services, the two counties were able to reduce the numbers of children in foster care by more than 60 percent between the end of 2006 and 2010. The study reviews how the redesigned systems were implemented, how the redesign affected families, and how the positive outcomes are being sustained.

    The redesigned systems relied on early and intensive work with families, using nine strategies:

    • Family preservation
    • Use of specialists
    • Cultural changes
    • Early assessment teams
    • Leadership support
    • Belief that the safety of the child is paramount
    • Family-centered practice
    • Community collaboration
    • Communication planning

    The report looks at the achievements and explores some of the factors contributing to sustaining these successes, including committed leadership, a coherent practice model, and ongoing coaching for workers and supervisors.

    Read the full report on the Casey Family Services website: (852 KB)

  • Knitting Campaign to Prevent Infant Abuse

    Knitting Campaign to Prevent Infant Abuse

    Contributed by Ryan L. Steinbeigle, Director of Development, National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome

    The reverberation of clicking knitting needles can be heard radiating from across the country as knitters (and crocheters) come together to make thousands of purple baby caps to give to infants born in the month of November. The new grassroots campaign, called “Click for Babies,” is part of a national public education initiative created to help build awareness of the Period of PURPLE Crying and prevent infant abuse.

    During the past few months, organizers in seven States have been collecting and storing baby caps with the goal of collecting enough that every baby born in November receives one. So far, nearly 14,000 baby caps have been collected from hundreds of knitters and crocheters across the country. The Click for Babies campaign is an annual initiative launched this year by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in partnership with invited States and organizations that have implemented the Period of PURPLE Crying program.

    The Period of PURPLE Crying is an evidence-based infant abuse prevention program that educates both parents and caregivers about normal infant crying and the dangers of shaking an infant. The program consists of a 10-minute DVD and 11-page booklet that remind parents that all babies go through a normal period of increased crying in the first few months of life and that it is never okay to react to the crying by shaking or otherwise harming an infant.

    To learn more about the Click for Babies campaign, visit:

    Learn more about the Period of PURPLE Crying program:

  • The Economic Recession's Impact on Child Maltreatment Rates

    The Economic Recession's Impact on Child Maltreatment Rates

    A study exploring the relationship between the nation’s recent economic downturn and child maltreatment rates found only weak and inconsistent links. "Are Economic Trends Associated With Child Maltreatment? Preliminary Results From the Recent Recession Using State Level Data," by Lina Millett, Paul Lanier, and Brett Drake, makes note of the steady decline of child maltreatment rates in recent history and documents the researchers' attempts to explore whether or not the current economic recession might be reversing this positive trend. 

    The research study examines the relationships between economic indicators—including unemployment rates, food stamp usage, and labor force participation—and child maltreatment rates. State-level economic and child maltreatment data were collected from the following seven States: Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, and Wisconsin.  The time periods that the researchers examined differed across States: the starting point for all States was January 2008, but the ending point across States spanned from September 2009 to May 2010.

    Contrary to the researchers’ expectations, results generally indicated no relationships between child maltreatment rates and the study’s chosen indicators of economic recession. The article notes that the lack of significant findings might be due to study limitations, including, but not limited to the following: (1) the small sample of States may not be representative of the rest of the country, and (2) sufficient time may not yet have elapsed since the beginning of the recession to draw conclusions on trends. The researchers conclude the article by noting that the results from their study lend evidence to the notion that the relationship between child maltreatment and poverty is not always straightforward, and future research should be conducted in order to better understand the connections that exist between these variables.

    The full article was published in Children and Youth Services Review, Vol. 33, and can be purchased on the publishers' website:

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Tip Sheet for Children in Foster Care

    Tip Sheet for Children in Foster Care

    The National Association of Social Workers has released an adoption and foster care tip sheet written for children that focuses on questions that children and youth in foster care may have. Topics vary and include why the child was placed in foster care, what a child can do to make foster care a positive experience, and what part the court system plays in foster care. A set of definitions the child may find useful while reading the tip sheet is also provided.

    Spending Time in Foster Care: A Guide for Children, by Kristen Humphrey, can be found on the National Association of Social Workers website:

  • Judges' Benchcard Leads to Better Outcomes for Children

    Judges' Benchcard Leads to Better Outcomes for Children

    A new study looks at how the use of a judge's benchcard can lead to improved court practices and better outcomes for children in foster care. A benchcard is a set a guidelines, consisting of standard questions and procedures, that a judge can utilize in conducting a hearing. The CCC Preliminary Protective Hearing Benchcard Study Report: Testing a Tool for Judicial Decision-Making reports on the effectiveness of the Preliminary Protective Hearing (PPH) Benchcard that was developed as part of the Courts Catalyzing Change (CCC) project.

    The CCC initiative, supported by Casey Family Programs and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, was created and launched through the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Model Courts project. In 2009, the NCJFCJ's Permanency Planning for Children Department began a study to examine outcomes associated with judges’ use of the benchcard. For the assessment study, data were collected on more than 500 children in Los Angeles, CA, Omaha, NE, and Portland, OR. Data were gathered from case file information (both court and agency files) and from courtroom observations. Information was collected at several junctures, from placement to establishment of jurisdiction and disposition. To explore benchcard implementation effects, the study was designed to allow for several different comparisons. The information collected included demographic details, as well as information about the families involved, hearing participants, dates of case events, and details on allegations, services, and placement. Judicial officers at each site were randomly assigned to either a benchcard implementation group or a control group.

    Findings of the study show that those judicial officers who used the benchcard discussed more key topics during the preliminary protective hearings than the control group. Benchcard implementation appears to be associated with substantially higher quantities and quality of discussion of key dependency topics when compared to the control group. Benchcard implementation also corresponds to an increased thoroughness of discussion and judicial inquiry, as demonstrated by the number of topics and how thoroughly they were discussed. Benchcard use also was associated with more family placements—placement with a charged parent, with a noncharged parent, or with a relative—at the initial hearing and even more again at adjudication when comparing the same judges before and after benchcard implementation. Benchcard use also was associated with fewer children placed in nonrelative foster care at the initial hearing and even fewer again at adjudication. Similarly, the percentage of children who were reunified with the charged parent at the initial hearing and at the adjudication hearing increased after Benchcard implementation.

    The full report is available on the NCJFCJ website: (1.50 MB)

    Also find the PPH benchcard on the website: (78 KB)

  • Workplace Adoption Benefits Toolkits

    Workplace Adoption Benefits Toolkits

    The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has free adoption benefits toolkits and other resources available to promote adoption-friendly workplaces. Toolkits for employees and employers contain a copy of the book Beyond Benefits: More Ways to Make Your Workplace Adoption-Friendly and a CD with samples of benefits plans to help users start a conversation about adoption benefits in their workplace.

    Workplace adoption benefits handout cards are also available to order from the website. Intended for adoption organizations to distribute to adoptive parents, the cards are written for families involved in adoption.

    Visit the Dave Thomas website to order any of these toolkits and other resources:



  • Free School Meals for Children in Foster Care

    Free School Meals for Children in Foster Care

    Due to the recently signed Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, it is easier for school districts to enroll foster children for free school meals. Children in foster care are now automatically eligible to receive free school meals, regardless of household income, and they can remain enrolled for the entire school year, even if they leave foster care during the year. Because of this, the process of school districts enrolling foster children into this program is simplified.

    An article written by Nate Frentz and Zoe Neuberger for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities covers six tips on how to take advantage of this new Act, so that families can receive the best opportunities possible:

    • Directly certify children in foster care for free school meals by matching data from foster care agencies or a court with student data.
    • Use the notification that schools receive from child welfare caseworkers or a court of a child's foster status to certify the child for free school meals.
    • Revise school meals applications to reflect the categorical eligibility of children in foster care for free school meals and the potential benefit to the foster family of including children in foster care on the same school meals application as other children in the household.
    • Notify foster parents that their children in foster care are eligible for free school meals and explain how to apply for benefits.
    • Maintain certification when a child in foster care changes schools by transferring the certification for free meals to the new school.
    • Relieve foster families of paperwork if an application with a child in foster care is selected for verification by obtaining documentation of the child's foster care status directly from a foster care agency or court (or by allowing foster parents to provide contact information for an appropriate third party who can verify the child's foster status, such as a social worker).

    The full article, Six Ways that States and School Districts Can Make It Easier for Children in Foster Care to Get Free Meals at School, can be found on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website:

  • Dealing With Lost or Destroyed Child Welfare Records

    Dealing With Lost or Destroyed Child Welfare Records

    "Where are the Records? Handling Lost/Destroyed Records in Child Welfare Tort Litigation," an article in the journal ABA Child Law Practice, discusses the issues involved in the duty to preserve child welfare case records. Records that can be used as evidence in child welfare cases include agency records, law enforcement notes, and medical and therapist reports. When these records are lost, destroyed, or altered, the agency responsible for retaining them can face an array of consequences, including criminal prosecution, civil sanctions, disciplinary actions, and monetary penalties. This article provides a thorough overview of statutes and regulations of the types of actions that can be pursued and the possible consequences for lost or destroyed records. The article also provides guidance to plaintiff's attorneys on how to access records, as well as to agency attorneys on how to work with agencies on the proper retention of records.

    The article, written by Dale Margolin and Daniel Pollack, was published in the August 2011 (Vol. 30, No. 6) issue of the journal ABA Child Law Practice and can be purchased online:  

  • Casey Connects With Community Investment

    Casey Connects With Community Investment

    The summer 2011 issue of Casey Connects discusses four interrelated initiatives: utilizing the strengths of faith-based organizations, providing opportunity to formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, creating a foundation for healthy relationships and marriages, and supporting responsible fatherhood. These topics carry the common theme of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's commitment to investing in families where they live.

    • The first article, "Faith in Communities," highlights the Foundation's Making Connections initiative, an effort aimed at providing the tools and information necessary to help faith-based organizations strengthen families and communities. The article looks at the Providence Plan, a nonprofit that works to improve economic and social well-being and one initiative site that was particularly successful in employing grant funding. 
    • "A Positive Return" discusses the Foundation's reentry work that "supports programs, policies, and practices that improve the employment prospects of former prisoners in an effort to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and improve outcomes for children and families affected by incarceration." A number of successful programs across the country are presented.
    • "Nurturing Relationships" focuses on the Foundation's efforts to improve outcomes for vulnerable children by promoting healthy relationships. YouthBuild USA, a youth and community development program that helps low-income adolescents and young adults procure their GED or high school diploma while learning job skills by building affordable housing, received funding from the Foundation and is highlighted.
    • "Fatherhood Figures" looks at the Foundation's investment in responsible fatherhood, which is exemplified by the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore, a program that has been a longtime recipient of Foundation funding.

    To view Casey Connects, visit the Annie E. Casey Foundation website: (1.76 MB)

  • The IRS Wants You to Know About the Adoption Tax Credit

    The IRS Wants You to Know About the Adoption Tax Credit

    Among the many provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) of 2010 was an expansion of the tax credit for adopting parents. A new factsheet from the Internal Revenue Service, Six Things to Know About the Expanded Adoption Tax Credit, provides details about the necessary steps for adoptive parents to take to claim the tax credit.

    P.L. 111-148 increased the tax credit from $10,000 to as much as $13,170. In addition, the credit, which was originally set to expire at the end of 2010, was extended through the end of 2011. Another new provision allows refunds when the tax credit results in a negative balance in taxes owed for the year; previously the credit was nonrefundable.

    The factsheet also lists the forms and documentation that are required to process a claim for the credit. Links to an Adoption Benefits FAQs, the required form, and instructions are included. There also are links to short videos in English and Spanish that provide an overview of the new credit.

    The factsheet is available on the IRS website:,,id=242932,00.html

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.

  • Community Readiness Model Webinar

    Community Readiness Model Webinar

    The Native American Center for Excellence, an initiative of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has posted a 2-hour skills-building webinar on the Community Readiness Model (CRM). The webinar was presented on July 12, 2011, by Dr. Pamela Jumper Thurman and Dr. Barbara Plested, members of the team that developed the CRM nearly 20 years ago at Colorado State University.

    The CRM was designed to mobilize communities at the appropriate readiness stage and build cooperation and coordination among systems and individuals. Community Readiness is a step-by-step approach to creating positive and healthy community change that uses resources already available within communities and supports development of culturally appropriate intervention strategies.

    To watch or download the recorded webinar, visit:

  • Conferences


    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through February 2012 include:

    December 2011

    • 26th National Training Institute
      Connecting Science, Policy and Practice
      December 9–11, National Harbor, Washington, DC

    January 2012

    • SSWR 16th Annual Conference
      Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
      Society for Social Work and Research
      January 11–15, Washington, DC
    • The 26th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment - 2012
      Chadwick Center for Children & Families
      January 23–26, San Diego, CA

    February 2012

    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:


  • Child Trauma Webinar Series

    Child Trauma Webinar Series

    The Zero to Six Child Welfare Series is currently underway on the Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma website. The remaining webinars in the first part of this series consist of the following four presentations:

    • Issues of Attachment for Young Traumatized Children and Their Caregivers – November 3, 2011
    • Cultural Considerations for Young Children in Foster Care – December 1, 2011
    • Developmental and Medical Issues for Young Foster Children – January 12, 2012
    • Therapeutic Interventions for Young Foster Children and Their Caregivers – February 2, 2012

    This series, which is sponsored by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Zero to Six Workgroup and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is free and open to the public; however, in order to access the presentations, users are asked to create an account and enroll in the Speaker Series. Continuing Education Credits are available to eligible participants, and part two of this series is scheduled to begin March 2012. Additional information, including presentation times and how to sign up is available on the Learning Center’s webpage: (208.85 KB)