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May 2013Vol. 14, No. 4Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

As of September 30, 2011, there were 400,540 children and youth in foster care, many of whom were between the ages of 12 and 17. Youth who exit foster care without permanent families or connections are at risk for myriad negative outcomes. The theme for the 2013 National Foster Care Month is "Supporting Youth in Transition." This month, CBX highlights a higher education program for transitioning youth, a tool for evaluating youth connectedness, and other information about foster care.

Issue Spotlight

  • Electronic Information Exchange for Foster Care

    Electronic Information Exchange for Foster Care

    Children in foster care are more likely than their peers to have significant physical health, psychological, behavioral, or academic problems, but delivering medical, psychological, dental, and educational services to these children remains a challenge. In a new white paper, author Beth Morrow, Director of Health IT Initiatives at the Children's Partnership, explores the potential of electronic records for the exchange of vital information and coordination of care to improve outcomes.

    Evidence shows that an electronic exchange of information can facilitate better coordination of care across systems, yielding more cost-effective medical care and reduced prescription errors. Currently, many localities capture health and education records for children in care in "health and education passports," but these records generally are kept only in paper form. In this format, it can be difficult to keep records up to date and available when a service provider needs access. The author provides examples from six States where the use of electronic records has reduced costs and improved outcomes.

    Benchmarks for developing electronic records exchanges that will offer secure access to health, education, and dependency information for doctors, educators, caregivers, and other service providers are also provided. In addition, specific recommendations on the roles that governments and advocates can play in the development of these systems are discussed.

    Electronic Information Exchange: Elements that Matter for Children in Foster Care was published by the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC) and is available on the SPARC website:

    http://www.firstfocus.net/sites/default/files/Electronic%20Information%20Exchange-%20Elements%20that%20Matter%20for%20Children%20in%20Foster%20Care.pdf (519 KB) 
     

  • Evaluating Youth Connections

    Evaluating Youth Connections

    While achieving legal permanence for youth in care—through reunification, adoption, or guardianship—is important, achieving lifelong emotional and relational permanence with caring adults also is vital to youth well-being. The Center for Advance Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) and Anu Family Services, a Treatment Foster Care Agency, developed a tool to help child welfare professionals measure the relational permanence of the youth with whom they work.

    With the Youth Connections Scale (YCS), professionals can evaluate, on a scale from zero to 100, the following domains:

    • The number of meaningful connections with supportive adults
    • The strength of connections and frequency and consistency of contact
    • The specific types of supports identified as most important by youth
    • The overall level of connectedness

    CASCW's implementation guide provides workers and agencies with information on developing a YCS pilot program, the Youth Connection Scale, implementation instructions, scoring instructions and a scoring guide, a tracking sheet for measuring results, and resources for additional support.

    Measuring Relational Permanence of Youth: The Youth Connections Scale Implementation Guide is available on the CASCW website:

    http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/cascw/attributes/PDF/YCS/YCSImplementation.pdf (1 MB)

  • Higher Education Aids Transition to Independence

    Higher Education Aids Transition to Independence

    As of December 2011, the State of Michigan was overseeing the care of 13,893 children in out-of-home care, the seventh highest foster care population in the United States. A critical area of concern for those who work with this population is supporting youth who age out of foster care, a group that typically struggles to attend and graduate from college. A new program at Wayne State University (WSU) aims to improve higher education retention and graduation rates for transitioning youth.

    The Foster Care and Higher Education Transition to Independence Program (TIP) provides mentoring, coaching, and other support services to WSU youth who were in foster care on or after their 14th birthday and not adopted before their 16th birthday. Founded in the fall of 2012 and funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Human Services, TIP is one of nine foster care and higher education programs in the State. It is modeled after Michigan State University's FAME Program. Angelique Day, TIP Director and an Assistant Professor at WSU's School of Social Work, said TIP is one of the largest and most aggressive programs with regard to enrollment rates and the level of comprehensive services provided to students.

    In the fall of 2012, Wayne State University enrolled 482 students who identified as being a "ward of the court" as identified by the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid. Of those students, 110 identified as being in out-of-home care on or after their 13th birthday. TIP is actively serving 84 young people this semester who meet the definition—from the John H. Chaffee Foster Care Independence Program—of youth aging out of foster care and under the age of 25. "Most students enrolled in college become ineligible for title IV-E funded DHS services after their freshman year but are no less in need of intense student support services to ensure they maintain enrollment in school and persist to graduation," said Day.

    On average, youth in care move to new foster families three times per year, and these moves often result in a change of school. Because it takes time to recover academically after each school change, many children in foster care lose ground. This is also true for TIP recruits. "Many of the young people in foster care in Wayne County are extremely old for their grade, including several 17-year-olds who are enrolled in the ninth grade," Day said.

    She added that TIP is unique because the core service team consists of professionals with personal histories in foster care. "TIP uses an empowerment model that emphasizes leadership and coaching to assist students to see their foster care status as an asset rather than a deficit in obtaining their career goals." She said TIP is the foster care and higher education program with the most established community-based partnerships, allowing the university to provide a cost-effective program.

    Child Safe Michigan provides support with mentor training and for faculty and staff who serve as mentors. The 313 Project, an initiative of Michigan Children's Law Center, provides free legal consultation and representation to TIP students. PNC Bank provides financial counseling and financial literacy training to students. The Big Family of Michigan and the Michigan Faith-Based Communities Coalition for Foster Care Youth support the program by providing care packages to youth during finals week, in addition to Christmas and birthday gifts. Anyone can volunteer to provide services to the program, Day said, including help with care packages.

    "The average population doesn't think about how meaningful care packages are to students on campus who see roommates getting them," Day said. "Many of our students say they don't even check their mailboxes because they're always empty. A care package during finals week is an important part of the normal college experience, and it makes students feel like someone cares about their success." 

    Although the program is in its infancy, it already is achieving positive results. A review of administrative data of students who enrolled in TIP in the fall of 2012 suggests that the program has successfully maintained 84 percent of youth through the winter 2013 term. "These results are very promising," Day said. "They are well above the average retention rates of other first-generation, low-income students who enroll at Wayne State University."

    She added that WSU is embracing TIP and improving educational outcomes for kids in care as a university responsibility, not just a child welfare responsibility: "The largest percentage of kids in care are in Wayne County—nearly 50 percent of the population are there—and we are an institution located in Detroit. It's our obligation to take on this issue and take the responsibility seriously. This program was created as an institutional reaction to that need."

    Special thanks to Angelique Day, M.S.W., Ph.D., Assistant Professor Wayne State University School of Social Work and TIP Project Director, for providing information for this article.
     

  • Federal Foster Care Supports

    Federal Foster Care Supports

    Recognizing the unique challenges faced by youth transitioning out of foster care, the Federal Government funds a number of programs to help current and former youth in care make the transition to adulthood. These programs are discussed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where author Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara provides background information on the characteristics of youth in foster care and an overview the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP).

    For example, the report explains CFCIP funding of State programs that provide Independent Living services—such as assistance in obtaining a high school diploma or career exploration—to youth who are likely to age out of foster care or who were adopted or placed in a kinship guardianship after age 16. The Chafee Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program separately authorizes discretionary funding for education and training vouchers for eligible youth to cover their cost of postsecondary education (until age 23).

    The report's appendix provides a summary of the characteristics and outcomes of youth who are or were in foster care compared to youth in the general population; a second appendix lists funding data for the CFCIP.

    CRS provides policy and legal analysis exclusively to Committees and Members of the U.S. Congress. Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background and Federal Programs is available on the U.S. House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee 2012 Green Book website:

    http://greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/2012/RL34499_gb.pdf (475 KB)

  • Keeping Siblings in Care Connected

    Keeping Siblings in Care Connected

    EPIC 'Ohana, a Hawaiian nonprofit that works to transform child welfare practice to better protect children, strengthen families, and enhance the health of communities, recently released the video Brothers and Sisters: Keeping Siblings in Foster Care Connected. In it, youth formerly in foster care discuss their personal stories, the benefits of being placed with their siblings and, conversely, the struggles associated with sibling separation. Recommendations for maintaining sibling connections in foster care are also presented.

    The 9-minute video is available on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9uoqOWHosg

  • May Is National Foster Care Month

    May Is National Foster Care Month

    May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize those who enhance the lives of children and youth in foster care. The Children's Bureau—together with its information service, Child Welfare Information Gateway, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, the National Resource Center for Youth Development, Voice for Adoption, and the National Association of State Foster Care Managers—supports National Foster Care Month through a website on Child Welfare Information Gateway.

    The theme for the 2013 National Foster Care Month is "Supporting Youth in Transition." This year's newly designed website features real-life stories of children and youth in foster care and the adults who have made a difference in their lives. These stories highlight ways in which everyone can enrich the lives of children and youth in foster care. The website's Promote section also provides a variety of tools to help organizations, agencies, and individuals spread the word about National Foster Care month.

    As part of this year's initiative, Child Welfare Information Gateway is releasing three publications focused on supporting youth in transition:

    • Helping Youth Transition to Adulthood: Guidance for Foster Parents provides foster parents with tips on how to help youth build a foundation for a successful transition outside of foster care.
    • Working With Youth to Develop a Transition Plan is intended to help child welfare professionals and others who work with transitioning youth to understand the Federal legislative requirements for transition plans and partner with youth to develop a plan that builds on their strengths and supports their needs.
    • Enhancing Permanency for Youth in Out-of-Home Care addresses the specific challenges of permanency planning with youth and highlights successful models and activities.

    These resources and more are available on the National Foster Care Month initiative website:

    https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/

  • The Public's Perception of Foster Care

    The Public's Perception of Foster Care

    While most Americans have a largely positive attitude toward the nation's foster care system, they view it as less important than other serious social issues. These attitudes and the overall perception of foster care in the United States is the focus of a study published in a recent issue of Children and Youth Services Review.

    Just over 300 respondents completed a phone survey on a range of questions pertaining to their general knowledge of foster care. The survey consisted of 55 questions, 15 true-false questions about general foster care knowledge, 27 questions assessing attitudes about foster care and foster families, and 3 comparison questions that examined the relative importance of foster care among other social issues. Findings include the following:

    • More than 40 percent of respondents identified as having some personal experience with foster care.
    • More than 56 percent correctly identified neglect as the leading cause of entering care, while a significant portion incorrectly identified physical or sexual abuse as the primary reason a child enters care.
    • More than 90 percent of respondents reported knowing that foster parents can adopt a child after serving as a temporary caregiver, and more than 73 percent knew that training is required to be a foster parent.
    • While over 66 percent reported that they Agree/Strongly Agree that the Federal Government should spend more to support the foster care system, a majority of respondents rated foster care as less serious and less deserving of Federal funds than education or health care.

    The authors note that without an accurate understanding of the public's knowledge and perception of foster care, it is difficult to debunk negative stereotypes, promote positive policies, and recruit prospective foster families. For example, a majority of survey respondents agreed to the falsehood that foster parents receive a salary in addition to funds to provide for children's basic needs.

    "Public Perception of the Foster Case System: A National Study," by C. Leber and C. Winston LeCroy, Children and Youth Services Review, 34(9), 2012, is available for purchase via ScienceDirect:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740912001855

    Recent Issues

  • March 2024

    Spotlight on Diversity and Racial Equity in Child Welfare

    Spotlight on Diversity and Racial Equity in Child Welfare

  • February 2024

    Spotlight on Child Welfare Data and Technology

    Spotlight on Child Welfare Data and Technology

News From the Children's Bureau

Two new Funding Opportunity Announcements have been made available by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, and we also feature the new CB Centennial Timeline.

  • Annual State Child Welfare Expenditures

    Annual State Child Welfare Expenditures

    Each year, States are required by the Social Security Act to submit to Congress a report of planned and actual spending for child welfare programs. The law also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to synthesize the information and provide national totals for spending from the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program (title IV-B, subpart 1) and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (title IV-B, subpart 2). The most recent numbers have been made available in the Annual Report to Congress on State Child Welfare Expenditures Reported on the CFS-101: 2012.

    For fiscal year (FY) 2012, estimated expenditures for the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program included the following: 

    • Protective services would receive one-third (32 percent) of the funds.
    • Family preservation services would receive 28 percent of the funds.
    • Preventive and support services would receive about 13 percent of the funds.
    • Time-limited reunification services would receive 11 percent.
    • Just over 10 percent of funding was estimated for foster care maintenance payments, and States planned to spend just over 5 percent on administrative costs. The law requires that not more than 10 percent be spent on administrative costs.

    Promoting Safe and Stable Families estimates for FY 2012 included:

    • Family preservation would receive approximately 25 percent of funds.
    • Prevention/ family support services would receive about 23 percent of the funds.
    • Time-limited reunification services and adoption promotion and support services were slated to receive 21 percent.
    • Just under 6 percent was estimated for administrative costs, and another 4 percent was categorized as "other."

    The annual report also includes actual State expenditures for these programs for FY 2009. Annual Report to Congress on State Child Welfare Expenditures Reported on the CFS-101: 2012 is available on the website for the Administration for Children and Families:

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cfs_101_report_to_congress_for_2012.pdf  (567 KB)

  • CB Centennial Timeline Launches

    CB Centennial Timeline Launches

    April 9, 2012, marked the 100th anniversary of the Children's Bureau. Exciting activities have taken place throughout the centennial year, and will continue through 2013, to honor the Bureau's legacy of protecting children and strengthening families. The most recent resource highlighting the Bureau's 100 years of work is the newly launched Timeline.

    The Children's Bureau's Timeline provides a century of Bureau accomplishments, milestones, legislation, and other key events that shaped the evolution of child welfare in America. 

    Check out the interactive Timeline on the Children's Bureau's centennial website:

    https://cb100.acf.hhs.gov/childrens-bureau-timeline

  • New! From CB

    New! From CB

    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:

    • PI-13-02 – This Program Instruction (PI) provides instruction on the available Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2013 funds under the Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect program created by title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA):
      https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pi1302
    • PI-13-03 – This PI provides instruction to Tribes on the June 30, 2013 Submission of the Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR) required under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act (the Act) for the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services and Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Programs, and the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP), including the Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) program; submission of the CFS-101, Part I, Annual Budget Request; Part II, Annual Summary of Child and Family Services; and Part III, Annual Expenditures for Title IV-B, Subparts 1 and 2:
      http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pi1303
    • PI-13-04 – This PI provides instruction to States on the June 30, 2013 submission of the APSR required under Title IV-B of the Act for the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services (CWS) and Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Programs, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) State Grant Program; and the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) and the Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) Program; and the CFS-101, Part I, Annual Budget Request, Part II, Annual Summary of Child and Family Services, and Part III, Annual Expenditure Report—Title IV-B, subparts 1 and 2, CFCIP, and ETV:
      http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pi1304
    • PI-13-05 – This PI provides a comprehensive title IV-E plan preprint to replace previous title IV-E plan preprints and amendments and provide instructions to title IV-E agencies on optional and required changes to title IV-E plan requirements:
      http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pi1305
    • The Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network 2013 Directory:
      https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/tta-network-directory-2013
    • Technical Assistance Materials, Guidance and Template Documents for Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Projects:
      https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs/child-welfare-waivers  

    For news from the Administration for Children and Families, read the latest entries in its blog, The Family Room:

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog

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

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb

  • New Division, Newsletter at OPRE

    New Division, Newsletter at OPRE

    The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families announced a reorganization to form a third division. OPRE now consists of the Division of Economic Independence, the Division of Child and Family Development, and the newly formed Division of Family Strengthening. The reorganization announcement was made via the agency's first newsletter.

    The newsletter, titled OPRE, announced the new structure, introduced readers to Division leaders, and featured new reports and grants awarded. Recent OPRE research includes two National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) Spotlight reports:

    • Parents Reported for Maltreatment Experience High Rates of Domestic Violence points to research showing that 86 percent of children who have received a report of child abuse or neglect remain in their homes following the investigation. In addition to the maltreatment report preceding the investigation, these children are often exposed to domestic violence. NSCAW II data indicate that one-quarter of parents whose children remained at home following a maltreatment report experienced physical domestic violence during the previous 12 months, which may affect child safety and the ability of parents to properly care for their children:
      https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/nscaw-child-well-being-spotlight-parents-reported-for-maltreatment
    • More than One Quarter of Children Placed Out of Home Experience Placement Disruption in the First 18 Months After a Maltreatment Investigation highlights data indicating that more than 22 percent of children in families investigated for maltreatment were placed in foster care at least once within the 18 months following an investigation. Of the children and youth placed in out-of-home care, more than 73 percent experienced one placement, more than 18 percent experienced two placements, and 8.5 percent experienced three or more placements. Research also showed that older children experienced more placements than their younger peers: 
      https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/nscaw-child-well-being-spotlight-more-than-one-quarter-of-children-placed

    These reports and more are available on the OPRE website:

    https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre

    Sign up for the OPRE newsletter:

    http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001uL6aNbggBXIXgGmIWq0jlg%3D%3D

  • Funding Opportunity Announcements

    Funding Opportunity Announcements

    The Administration on Children, Youth and Families announced two new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for fiscal year (FY) 2013.

    Information about planned FY 2013 FOAs is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants Forecast website:

    https://www.acf.hhs.gov/hhsgrantsforecast/

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

Training and Technical Assistance Update

Learn about the QIC-EC's Project DULCE, the use of customer service practices to increase the retention and recruitment of foster parents, adoptive parents, and kin, and other updates from CB's T&TA Network.

Child Welfare Research

CBX points to research about relationship education programs for youth in foster care, the health and social consequences of adverse childhood experiences, and other news from the child welfare field.

  • Social Consequences of Adverse Experiences

    Social Consequences of Adverse Experiences

    Highlighting the findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, a special issue of the Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community focuses on using ACE research to inform public policies on the lifelong effects of ACE. Seven articles by a variety of authors explore the convergence of public policy, neuroscience, and social sciences under ACE research.

    ACE is a collaboration between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente's Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego, CA. It is the largest ongoing examination of the correlation between childhood maltreatment and adult health and well-being outcomes. Data are collected from more than 17,000 participants undergoing regular health screenings who provide information about childhood experiences of abuse and neglect, and findings show that certain experiences are risk factors or causes for various illnesses and poor health.

    In the special issue's introduction, Heather Larkin, Joseph Shields, and Robert Anda suggest that the ACE study and its findings have created a shared language among the social services, mental health, substance abuse, neurobiology, and other fields within the research community. Furthermore, these authors contend that service systems addressing ACE consequences independently pose great challenges, and they call for a more integrated framework, funding, and interventions. The issue's articles highlight work being done to accomplish this goal. 

    For example, one article highlights legislation in the State of Washington to reduce adverse childhood experiences. The article outlines the legislation, and the authors—Washington State legislators—pose questions to researchers to inform next steps.

    "The Health and Social Consequences of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Across the Lifespan: An Introduction to Prevention and Intervention in the Community," by Heather Larkin, Joseph J. Shields, and Robert F. Anda, Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 40(4), 2012, is available for purchase:

    http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wpic20/40/4

  • Youth Relationship Education in Foster Care

    Youth Relationship Education in Foster Care

    Research shows that many teens in foster care engage in risky sexual behavior, such as having sex for the first time at a young age and using contraceptives incorrectly. Adolescence is a confusing time for anyone, and it can be especially difficult for youth in care who lack strong relationships with caring adults who can provide sound relationship advice. A research brief from Child Trends explores the research on and evaluation of relationship education programs for youth in foster care.

    Research shows that relationship skills can be learned; however, there is a clear gap among relationship education programs that specifically target children and youth in care. To fill this gap, the authors suggest implementing a tiered approach to services that integrates relationship education components into existing services, particularly teen pregnancy prevention services.

    Child Trends examined dozens of programs targeting both youth in care and other vulnerable populations with similar risk factors. Existing programs include:

    • Four relationship education programs for any population that have been evaluated using a randomized control treatment design or a high-quality quasiexperimental design
    • One program for youth in care that has been evaluated using a randomized control treatment design, with a relationship component as part of a broader range of program components
    • Three evaluated programs with a relationship education component that addresses romantic relationships but do not address relationship outcomes
    • Nine evidence-based relationship education programs, or programs with a relationship education component, without a formal evaluation
    • One evaluated program already implemented with youth in care that could be augmented with a relationship education component
    • Eight programs that do not target youth in care but have been evaluated and could be augmented with a relationship education component

    The authors developed a logic model depicting key program elements critical for success and that could be used as a tool for designing, planning, implementing, and evaluating relationship education programs.

    Putting Youth Relationship Education on the Child Welfare Agenda: Findings from a Research and Evaluation Review, by Mindy Scott, Kristin Anderson Morre, Alan Hawkins, Karin Malm, and Martha Beltz, is available on the Child Trends website:

    http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2012_12_01_FR_RelationshipEduc.pdf  (811 KB)

  • Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption

    Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption

    In January 2011, UNICEF estimated that the global orphan population had increased to more than 150 million children, up from 132 million in 2008, with 18 million orphaned by both parents. In comparison, there are 900,000 Americans seeking to adopt and approximately 10,000 intercountry adoptions in the United States every year.

    In light of declining intercountry adoption rates and the increasing number of orphaned children worldwide, American author and Professor Christopher Balding of Peking University Graduate School of Business in Shenzhen, China, set out to shed light on this growing disparity. His article appears in the March 2013 issue of Adoption Advocate, a publication by the National Council for Adoption.

    Balding utilizes data from the 2006–2008 National Survey on Family Growth (conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the USAID/UNICEF Demographic and Health Surveys, and United Nations and U.S. Census Bureau statistics. He examined the dangers faced by orphaned children across the world, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The article discusses the dire consequences—for children—of restricting or closing intercountry adoption programs and the gap between the number of orphans who lack safe, permanent families and the number of international adoptions that occur in the United States. Data and a graph that underscores this orphan crisis are also presented. 

    "Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who Wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted" is available on the National Council for Adoption website:

    https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/publications/adoption-advocate-no-57.html

  • Evaluating Home Visiting Programs

    Evaluating Home Visiting Programs

    The Affordable Care Act increased investments in Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation programs, making evaluating program effectiveness more important than ever. A new publication presents the results of an evaluation of a home visiting program in Pennsylvania, as well as a discussion of the challenges inherent in designing and conducting reliable evaluation studies. In Evaluation of Maternal and Child Home Visitation Programs: Lessons From Pennsylvania, author Meredith Matone and other researchers at the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia discuss their experiences in conducting an evaluation of the Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program.

    The Pennsylvania NFP program includes 24 agencies, operating in 40 of the State's 67 counties, that serve a racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse client base. Nurses visit mothers in their homes during pregnancy and for up to 2 years postpartum and provide parent education using a standardized curriculum. The PolicyLab evaluation compared 6,000 NFP clients to 17,000 first-time mothers who were economically and demographically similar but who had not enrolled in NFP. The study indicated that over time, NFP mothers showed slightly better outcomes in the areas of pregnancy spacing, prenatal smoking cessation, and child injuries in the first 2 years of life.

    The paper also discusses the challenges of evaluating real-life programs and compares the strengths and pitfalls of different evaluation methodologies to inform evaluation efforts in other States. Four key program evaluation concepts are also presented.
     

    Evaluation of Maternal and Child Home Visitation Programs: Lessons From Pennsylvania is available on the PolicyLab website:

    http://policylab.us/images/pdf/PolicyLab_E2A_NFP_and_evaluation_Final.pdf (1,219 KB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Lifelong Families Practice Tools

    Lifelong Families Practice Tools

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation's former direct-service agency, Casey Family Services, developed and tested a foster care practice model titled Lifelong Families. The practice model is intended to improve practice within private child welfare agencies to achieve permanency for children and youth in foster care. In addition to the many resources related to the practice model—including a brochure and a video—Annie E. Casey recently released a practice toolkit. The toolkit contains a case planning tool, a permanency team process grid, a supervisory tool, and other materials.

    The toolkit is available on the Annie E. Casey website:

    http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/Publications.aspx?pubguid={28123D47-0363-46B4-A592-974FCCB07FA7}

    A webpage dedicated to Lifelong Families contains related resources and materials:

    http://www.aecf.org/KnowledgeCenter/PublicationsSeries/LifelongFamiliesModel.aspx

  • Managing Personal Assistance Services

    Managing Personal Assistance Services

    The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) released a toolkit for youth with disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood. The toolkit is aimed at helping youth with disabilities manage Personal Assistance Services (PASs), including effective communication and time management, as well as understanding the differences between personal and job-related PASs. Materials in the toolkit include sample worksheets, questions, and charts, in addition to stories from youth and their families.

    Making the Move to Managing Your Own Personal Assistance Services (PAS): A Toolkit for Youth With Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood is available on the NCWD/Youth website:

    http://www.ncwd-youth.info/PAS-Toolkit

  • Uninterrupted Scholars Act Factsheet

    Uninterrupted Scholars Act Factsheet

    A factsheet from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education provides information on recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to allow information sharing about children and youth in care. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA), which was signed by President Obama in January 2013, amended FERPA to make it easier for child welfare agencies to obtain the education records of children and youth with whom they work.

    FERPA, enacted in 1974, protects the privacy of students' education records, giving certain rights to parents. The law, however, often created problems for children in foster care by prohibiting child welfare professionals from accessing to educational information. The two-page factsheet explains, in a question-and-answer format, why information sharing is important, what changes were made to FERPA to allow information sharing, and why these changes were necessary. Links to additional Legal Center resources also are provided.

    The Legal Center was formed in 2007 by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, the Education Law Center and the Juvenile Law Center. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act: How Do Recent Changes To FERPA Help Child Welfare Agencies Get Access To School Records? is available on the Legal Center's website:

    http://www.fostercareandeducation.org/portals/0/dmx/2013/02/file_20130211_145758_xjnFqt_0.pdf (75 KB)

  • Family Drug Court Best Practices

    Family Drug Court Best Practices

    As part of its peer-to-peer technical assistance programs, the Center for Children and Family Futures (CCFF) is highlighting examples for conducting successful family drug court programs. The new Family Drug Court (FDC) Peer Learning Court Program showcases national best practice models through five mentorship sites.

    The courts selected as FDC Peer Learning Courts use evidence-supported practices and exhibit strong partnerships with child welfare, substance abuse, and other entities within the social services community. The five sites include:

    • The Baltimore City, MD, Juvenile Court Family Recovery Program
    • The Chatham County, GA, Family Dependency Treatment Court
    • The Hillsdale County, MI, Family Drug Treatment Court
    • The Jackson County, MO, Family Drug Court
    • The Pima County, AZ, Family Drug Court

    More information about the five mentorship sites and the FDC Peer Learning Court Program is available on the CCFF website:

    http://www.cffutures.org/projects/family-drug-court-peer-learning-court-program

  • Fatherhood Engagement Guide

    Fatherhood Engagement Guide

    The North Carolina Department of Social Services, the State agency responsible for child welfare programs in North Carolina, released a new guide, Best Practice Guide for Engaging Fathers and Non-Residential Parents. This guide offers recommendations and tools for implementing or improving practices aimed at engaging fathers within child welfare and other child-serving systems.

    The guide offers an overview of father engagement and explores the positive impacts the presence of fathers has on child well-being and healthy development. In addition, the guide offers recommendations for improving practices to engage fathers in case planning and family-team meetings within the child welfare system. Unique parenting opportunities are explored, such as within military families, same-sex couples, incarcerated parents, and more. Finally, the guide provides a "Father Friendly Check-Up," an assessment tool designed by the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System, National Fatherhood Initiative, American Humane Association, and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law. This assessment tool is designed to identify current practices and encourage additional father involvement in programs.

    Best Practice Guide for Engaging Fathers and Non-Residential Parents is available on the NC Division of Social Services' website:

    http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/best_practices_pilot/misc/Practice%20Guide%20for%20Fatherhood%20Engagement.pdf (518 KB)

Resources

  • Connecticut's Fatherhood Matters Initiative

    Connecticut's Fatherhood Matters Initiative

    In a new issue of Common Ground, the online newspaper of the New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors, author Douglas Howard highlights the Connecticut Department of Children and Families' (DCF's) Fatherhood Matters Initiative.

    In 2007, statewide data suggested that fathers, compared to mothers, are statistically less likely to have their needs assessed and met when their families are receiving child welfare services. DCF launched the Fatherhood Matters Initiative as an integral part of its Program Improvement Plan—a Federal requirement to improve child welfare services in areas identified by the State's Child and Family Services Review. Howard identifies several relevant areas in case practice guiding the fatherhood work, including assessing the needs and strengths of fathers within a holistic assessment of family functioning and establishing Fatherhood Engagement Leadership Teams in regional offices to support the initiative. Several participating fathers have responded positively, volunteering to partner with DCF to plan trainings.

    In addition to fatherhood engagement, this issue of Common Ground includes articles about:

    • The New England Youth Coalition's Sibling Bill of Rights
    • Adoption Rhode Island's use of social media for recruitment and support
    • Trauma-informed safety planning

    Common Ground is available on the Judge Baker Children Center, Harvard University, website:

    http://jbcc.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/galleries/common_ground_july_2012.pdf  (4 MB)

  • Transition Tips for Youth, by Youth

    Transition Tips for Youth, by Youth

    A toolkit produced by Pathways RTC provides advice for youth from youth who have transitioned out of foster care to independent living or who are preparing to transition. The authors interviewed youth about a variety of topics, including finances, employment, health care, transportation, relationships, self-advocacy, and more.

    The toolkit is divided into two sections, (1) a section with quotes from youth concerning the life areas about which they felt underprepared or uninformed prior to their transition out of care, such as "When it comes to money, I was never told...," and (2) suggestions for young people about how to succeed in transition. A list of barriers to successful transition and a list of myths and stereotypes about foster care also are provided.

    The Pathways RTC program is sponsored by Portland State University's Regional Research Institute and School of Social Work. Things People Never Told Me is available on the Pathways RTC website:

    http://www.pathwaysrtc.pdx.edu/pdf/proj2-ThingsNoOneToldMe.pdf (905 KB)

    Related Item

    Pathways RTC produced a tip sheet for service providers working with transitioning youth that explores competencies necessary for transition service providers working with young people with mental health difficulties. Tips on Core Competencies for Transition Service Providers is also available on the Pathways website:

    http://www.pathwaysrtc.pdx.edu/pdf/projPTTC-CoreCompetenciesSvcProviders.pdf (247 KB)

  • Resources for Preventing Burnout

    Resources for Preventing Burnout

    The current economic climate is reducing social service budgets and increasing stress on social workers. Tribal STAR, a program of the Academy for Professional Excellence at the San Diego State University School of Social Work, provides a number of resources for helping child welfare professionals recognize burnout and practice self-care. The resources are intended to help Tribal and non-Tribal workers recognize the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue and seek help.

    With the increased attention paid to child and family well-being, Tribal STAR notes the need for workers to model well-being. In addition to a press release outlining the need for such resources, Tribal STAR's webpage includes:

    • Resources for preventing and addressing burnout
    • Resources for well-being and self-care
    • Resources for coping

    For more information, or to access these materials, visit the Tribal STAR website:

    http://theacademy.sdsu.edu/TribalSTAR/resources/burnout.html

  • Children in Dependency Court Hearings

    Children in Dependency Court Hearings

    Research shows that children who attend their dependency hearings are more likely to trust the decisions made by the judge than children who have been excluded from such hearings. This topic is the focus of a new technical assistance bulletin from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).

    NCJFCJ recommends that children of all ages be present at dependency hearings unless the judge decides there are compelling reasons to exclude them. Common concerns from judges, as well as solutions to address those concerns, are presented in the brief. Information on best practices for bringing children to court and the benefits of having the child present at the hearing—including providing the judge the opportunity to observe the child, speak to the child, and to ask questions—are also presented.

    The brief provides specific policy recommendations for dependency court practice, and the appendix includes a series of judicial benchcards with developmental information to guide age-appropriate engagement of children at hearings.

    Seen, Heard, and Engaged: Children in Dependency Court Hearings is available on the NCJFCJ website:

    http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/CIC_FINAL.pdf (194 KB)

  • National Runaway Safeline

    National Runaway Safeline

    The National Runaway Switchboard recently changed its name to the National Runaway Safeline. The nation's leading resource for runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth changed its name in January 2013 to reflect the many ways youth can connect with services. The new name is the result of a comprehensive evaluation and feedback from focus groups with stakeholders and youth. In fact, many youth said they were unfamiliar with the term "switchboard."

    The group's mission and services remain the same. For more information, visit the National Runaway Safeline:

    http://www.1800runaway.org/national-runaway-safeline/

    Related Item

    Children's Bureau Express featured the National Runaway Safeline, formerly the National Runaway Switchboard, and its free, online curriculum for teens and families, in the September/October 2011 issue:

    https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=129&sectionid=6&articleid=3290

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.

  • Newsletter Focuses on Father Engagement

    Newsletter Focuses on Father Engagement

    The February 2013 issue of Training Matters, a publication of the North Carolina Department of Social Services (NC DSS) Child Welfare Services Statewide Training Partnership, provides information and resources on strengthening father engagement. Issue highlights include a best practices guide, national and State resources, and suggestions for interviewing nonresident fathers.

    The new issue is available on the Training Matters website:

    http://trainingmatters-nc.org/

  • Conferences

    Conferences

    Upcoming national conferences on child welfare and adoption through August 2013 include:

    June 2013

    • One Child, Many Hands: A Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare
      Field Center for Children's Policy, University of Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
      June 12–14, Philadelphia, PA
      www.onechildmanyhands.org
    • The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children 21st Annual Colloquium
      American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
      June 25–28, Las Vegas NV
      http://www.apsac.org

    July 2013

    August 2013

    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:

    http://www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm

  • National Certification of Parent Leaders

    National Certification of Parent Leaders

    The National Center on Shared Leadership and Parents Anonymous Inc. will sponsor the National Certification of Parent Leaders, July 22–15, 2013, in Ontario, Canada. The certification program aims to enhance families and communities by inspiring and empowering parent and shared leadership.

    The national certification is rooted in research-based and results-oriented learning competencies on leadership for parents in any role dedicated to strengthening families. The early registration deadline is May 31, 2013. Registration and additional information is available on the Parents Anonymous website:

    http://www.parentsanonymous.org/

  • Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children

    Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children

    The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center is offering an online curriculum on the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC). The ICPC was written in 1960 and set the standard for ensuring the safe and stable placement of children across State lines. The ICPC determines who is legally and financially responsible for a child placed in another State and establishes supervisory requirements for foster care and adoption services to the child and family.
    The training covers:

    • Definition and characteristics of an interstate compact
    • Circumstances in which the ICPC must be utilized
    • Laws, regulations, and other mandates that impact the movement of children and youth across State lines
    • Ways in which the ICPC benefits all stakeholders
    • Jurisdiction issues under various circumstances
    • Appropriate procedures to place a child/youth across State lines

    The curriculum is available on the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center website:

    http://www.pacwcbt.pitt.edu/Curriculum/205ICPC.htm