- Relational Therapy With Very Young Children in Foster Care
Infants and toddlers in foster care and their birth parents have special treatment needs if family reunification is to be a viable goal. Families in Transition (FIT), a Michigan research program, addresses these needs by using relational therapy to treat birth parents and their young children together during family visitation. Through this process, the therapist guides the parent in nurturing the child appropriately, so that the child can begin to associate positive experiences with the parent.
Families referred to the FIT program by their supervising agency and the court are offered extra sessions of family visitation each week at the therapist's office. Typically, they receive two sessions per week for the first 3 months after their referral. Therapy may continue for 6 months to a year, depending on the supervising agency and the court. Each therapy session may involve a short lesson for the parents in appropriate child interaction, as well as the application of contemporary infant mental health psychotherapeutic techniques. Parents are coached as they interact with their children, and the therapist asks questions to help the parents explore their own expectations or their own experiences of maltreatment.
The relational therapy can help the parent-child relationship by:
- Heightening parent awareness of the child's needs
- Removing barriers to appropriate responsiveness
- Shaping realistic expectations of parents
- Providing insight into the connection between the parent's relationship history and its impact on the relationship with the child
Of 24 families referred to the program, the children were returned to their biological parents in 21 cases. Agency caseworkers involved with these cases noted substantial beneficial relational changes. They also felt more comfortable in their recommendations to the court regarding the final disposition of the children.
The authors of the FIT program, R. E. Lee and A. M. Stack, report on the program in an article titled "In Whose Arms? Using Relational Therapy in Supervised Family Visitation with Very Young Children in Foster Care" in Volume 15(4) of the Journal of Family Psychotherapy. Copies are available from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J085v15n04_01?journalCode=wjfp20#.
Children's Bureau Express explored the topic of infants in foster care in previous issues, including:
- "Transitions for Infants and Toddlers" (March 2005)
- "Supporting Infants in Foster Care" (September 2004)
- "Mental Health Support for Young Children at Risk" (April 2004)
- National Foster Care Month: "Change a Lifetime"
May is National Foster Care Month, an opportunity to focus attention on addressing the needs of this country's 523,000 children and youth living in foster care. Casey Family Programs is once again leading this effort, in partnership with 13 national organizations including the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and its National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning. The focus of the partnership is to call all Americans to take action on behalf of the children and youth in foster care in their own communities, in May and throughout the year.
The National Foster Care Month website offers useful tools for any individual or organization wishing to get involved. Resources include:
- An extensive media kit with factsheets, campaign spokesperson bios, and a list of experts available for interviews
- A toolkit containing logos and graphics, sample letters and proclamations, and Foster Care Month activities
- A State-by-State listing of Foster Care Month events
- Information on foster care success stories
Foster Care Month originated in 1988 when the National Foster Parent Association persuaded Senator Strom Thurmond to introduce a resolution to proclaim May as National Foster Care Month. Early efforts focused on appreciation and recognition of foster parents; in the 1990s, Foster Care Month focused on youth in transition. The campaign continues to grow. Last year 41 States and territories reported having Foster Care Month proclamations from their Governors.
For more information, visit the website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/.
- Understanding and Preventing Foster Care Runaways
Running away from out-of-home care exposes youth to grave risks and prevents them from receiving needed educational and treatment services. Chapin Hall has recently conducted the largest study to date of youth who run away from out-of-home care, in an effort to understand the trends, demographics, and reasons behind this phenomenon. This information, presented in an issue brief titled "Youth Who Run Away From Out-of-Home Care," may help child welfare agencies prevent children from running away and better protect youth.
The research included analysis of government data on more than 14,000 youths who ran away from out-of-home care in Illinois between 1993 and 2003, as well as individual interviews with 42 youth who had recently run away and then returned to care. Foster parents and child welfare professionals were also interviewed.
Key findings about the youth who ran away include:
- 90 percent of those who ran away from care were between the ages of 12 and 18.
- Girls were more likely to run than boys.
- Youth who experienced placement instability were more likely to run than those with stable placement histories.
- Youth placed in foster home care were less likely to run than those in residential care. Those in kinship care were less likely to run than both groups.
- Youth placed with siblings were less likely to run than those placed on their own.
- While the likelihood of a first run was low and difficult to predict, youth who had run away once before were found to be very likely to do so again.
Researchers also collected data on trends in running away over time, what happened to youth when they ran away, and reasons why youth ran away. These analyses lead to a number of implications for child welfare practice. In general, the authors suggest that viewing running away as a coping behavior may help agencies begin to devise prevention strategies. Some of their specific suggestions for how child welfare agencies can address runaways include:
- Facilitating relationships between foster youth and schools, foster families, and biological family members to provide youth with a critical sense of consistency and stability
- Involving youth in developmentally appropriate activities, to foster a sense of normalcy
- Increasing attention to assessment and treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues
- Focusing prevention efforts on engaging youth who run and return, to decrease the occurrence of subsequent runs
The abstract of the issue brief, "Youth Who Run Away From Out-of-Home Care," is available on the Chapin Hall website at www.chapinhall.org/research/brief/youth-who-run-away-out-home-care. Users may access the full-text article through a free registration process.
- Improving the Well-Being of Children in Foster Care
Children in foster care are at increased risk for poor outcomes and need high quality programs to ensure their physical and emotional well-being. A recent issue brief from Voices for America's Children highlights these critical needs and provides information about some promising approaches in States and communities.
Strategies discussed in the brief include:
- Enhancing well-being while in care. Included here are programs that ensure caregivers are well educated, informed, and prepared; develop cultural competency in foster care; and help children maintain connections with their families and communities of origin.
- Helping children recuperate. Programs discussed help to ensure initial, comprehensive, and ongoing health assessments for children in foster care; provide for adequate expertise in screening and assessments; ensure access to health care services and treatment; support developmental and mental health services; ensure appropriate management of children's health care data; and provide educational services. Also included here is the description of a program that sets specific goals for improving children's health outcomes.
- Preparing children for a permanent home. The programs discussed in this section help children transition more smoothly back to their families of origin or to new homes.
(Editor's note: The link for this article is no longer available.)
- May Is National Foster Care Month
Every year, about 170,000 families care for more than one-half million children whose parents cannot take care of them. Every jurisdiction in the country has experienced a shortage of foster homes, and estimates of the number of homes needed range into the millions. May, National Foster Care Month, provides an opportunity for people across the nation to show their appreciation for the dedication of foster families and workers. It is also an opportunity to get more people involved as foster parents, volunteers, mentors, employers, or in other ways.
This year, the National Foster Care Month partnership has developed new materials to support the largest Foster Care Month effort ever. The National Foster Parent Association is promoting a nationwide ribbon campaign to heighten public awareness of the need for foster parents and how people can help make a difference in the lives of foster children and youth. These campaigns will display a ribbon for every child in foster care in participating States or communities. For more information about the ribbon campaign, contact your local foster parent association or go to http://nfpainc.org.
A toolkit with Foster Care Month information and graphics also is available. Contents include facts about foster care, ideas for Foster Care Month events, and materials for working with foster parents, educators, the media, local businesses, and policy makers. Find the toolkit online at https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/.
National Foster Care Month is a joint effort of Casey Family Programs and the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning at the Hunter College School of Social Work, in conjunction with Annie E. Casey Foundation; Casey Family Services; Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Child Welfare League of America; Connect for Kids; APHSA/National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators; National Association of Social Workers; National CASA; National Foster Care Coalition; and the National Foster Parent Association.
Spotlight on Child and Family Services Review, Round 4
Spotlight on Child Welfare Workforce Development
News From the Children's Bureau
- ACF Launches Spanish-Language Adoption Recruitment Campaign
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF), in partnership with the Adoption Exchange Association, the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids, and the Advertising Council, launched the first national Spanish-language adoption recruitment campaign on Wednesday, April 20, 2005. The campaign is designed to increase public awareness among Latino families about adoption and to encourage prospective parents to adopt children from foster care. The launch included radio interviews and media releases to television and radio stations across the country.
The Spanish-language public service announcements (PSAs) address specific barriers that prevent many families from considering adoption. For example, the campaign highlights that information is available in Spanish, and the adoption process is not as difficult as many perceive it to be. The emotionally moving spots show Hispanic children in everyday activities, such as playing soccer or combing their hair, while having conversations with an imaginary parent. The PSAs encourage prospective parents to call 1-877-ADOPTE1 (1-877-236-7831) or visit www.adopte1.org for additional information in Spanish. (Editor's note: The link to www.adopte1.org is no longer active. To view AdoptUSKids' Spanish resources, visit http://www.adoptuskids.org/para-familias.)
A significant number of Hispanic children in the U.S. foster care system are in need of finding a permanent, loving home. Of the 523,000 children are in foster care, about 91,000 are Hispanic. However, not all of these children are eligible for adoption; of the 118,000 children who are eligible for adoption, about 16,000 are Hispanic.
For more information in Spanish about this campaign or about becoming a parent to a child from foster care, visit http://www.adoptuskids.org/para-familias. For more information about the Ad Council, go to www.adcouncil.org.
HHS's English-language adoption recruitment campaign was recently honored by the American Advertising Federation. Read "HHS Adoption Public Service Advertising Campaign Wins Addy Awards" in this issue.
Read more about www.adopte1.org in the Resources section in this issue.
- HHS Adoption Public Service Advertising Campaign Wins Addy Awards
The HHS adoption recruitment campaign launched in June 2004 to promote adoption of children from foster care was honored by the American Advertising Federation in early April. The PSA campaign, a partnership of the Advertising Council, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, the Adoption Exchange Association, and the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids, won four Gold ADDY awards, including best public service TV campaign.
Introduced nationally in July 2004, the multimedia campaign was created pro bono by kirshenbaum bond + partners and includes television, radio, print, and internet PSAs. The campaign issues a national call to action for parents to adopt children from foster care by offering important, accurate information about the foster care system and the adoption process. It also aims to significantly increase awareness of the need to provide loving, permanent homes for children in the foster care system, as well as to communicate to prospective parents that they do not have to be perfect to be a parent.
"We are tremendously excited that the American Advertising Federation has given this campaign a prestigious award," said Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., HHS's assistant secretary for children and families. "Not only is this campaign creative, but it's working. To date, more than 4,500 children pictured on the adoptuskids.org website have found permanent homes. This wonderful outcome is a testament both to the power of creative advertising and the good hearts of families all over America."
The ADDY Awards are the advertising industry's largest, most representative and arguably toughest competition, recognizing and rewarding creative excellence in the art of advertising.
Read the full press release announcing the award at http://archive.acf.hhs.gov/news/press/2005/ADDYs_press_release.htm.
ACF recently released a similar adoption recruitment campaign in Spanish. Learn more in "ACF Launches Spanish-Language Adoption Recruitment Campaign" in this issue.
- Strengthening the Triangle of Support for Children in Out-of-Home Placements
Relationships among birth families, resource families, and child welfare workers can be challenging. Yet if child permanency outcomes are to be improved, child-serving agencies must find ways to help these groups work together effectively. In a recent paper published by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (NRCFCPPP), consultant L. L. Lutz discusses common challenges and promising strategies in enhancing relationships among these groups at every stage of the out-of-home placement process, from recruiting resource families to making permanency decisions.
The lessons learned discussed in the paper arose from "facilitated dialogues" conducted in a number of States by the NRCFCPPP. Facilitated dialogues are a model of technical assistance designed to address the tensions, role confusion, and communication problems among birth families, resource families, and child welfare workers. Each facilitated dialogue begins with a presentation on the complexities of these relationships and is followed by a discussion of a specific case study. Social workers, resource parents, and birth parents all provide input to the discussion of the case study, and issues are identified that affect child stability. Once the problems are identified, organizational leaders commit to finding solutions.
This paper, Relationship Between Public Child Welfare Workers, Resource Families and Birth Families: Preventing the Triangulation of the Triangle of Support, is available on the NRCFCPPP website at www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/triangle_of_support.pdf (PDF 689 KB).
- Few Differences Found Among Ethnic Groups' Definitions of Child Sexual Abuse
Hispanic Americans, African-Americans, and White Americans generally agree about what constitutes child sexual abuse and the circumstances under which it should be reported, according to a recent study. Researchers who investigated whether the three largest ethnic populations in the United States would agree on the definitions found differences only at the lowest levels of severity. In those cases, Hispanic Americans and African-Americans were more likely to recognize or report child sexual abuse than were White Americans.
Researchers surveyed 179 adults enrolled in college classes to determine their responses to the Child Sexual Abuse Evaluation questionnaire, as well as a demographic questionnaire. The sexual abuse questionnaire included vignettes designed to represent different levels of abuse severity and different legal categories of abuse as defined by State (Indiana) law. While ethnicity emerged as a variable for one vignette involving less severe abuse, the only other variable that attained significance was gender. Results indicated that females may be more likely than males to interpret inappropriate sexual behaviors by males as wrong, criminal, or reportable, especially in cases in which there is a small age difference between the male perpetrator and the female victim.
Based on their results, the authors of this study suggest that clinicians who work with child victims of sexual abuse can generally assume that clients of different ethnic groups perceive and respond to child sexual abuse similarly, from both a moral and a legal stance. Clinical implications of this study are explored, as are research implications.
The study is described in a recent article, "Do American Ethnic Cultures Differ in Their Definitions of Child Sexual Abuse?" by W. Lowe, Jr., T. W. Pavkov, G. M. Casanova, and J. L. Wetchler. The article was published in the February 2005 issue of the American Journal of Family Therapy and is available for a fee at www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/uaft/2005/00000033/00000002/art00004.
- Child Welfare Workforce Survey Reveals Continuing Concerns, Creative Strategies
A recent survey found State child welfare agencies continue to be plagued by workforce issues that include high turnover, low compensation, demanding workloads, and limited resources. Despite these shortcomings, many State agencies have begun to implement creative recruitment and retention strategies, as well as to focus on strategies that address preventable turnover.
The survey was conducted in the summer of 2004 by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), Fostering Results, and the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research, with funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Surveys, which focused on case-carrying child welfare workers, were completed by child welfare administrators in 42 States. Administrators provided information on salaries, education, training, caseloads, hiring, turnover, recruitment, and retention.
Many of the findings could be compared with those from a similar survey conducted in 2000. Results show:
- The vacancy rate improved slightly for child protective services (CPS) workers (from 9.3 percent in 2000 to 8.5 percent in 2004), but vacancies stayed open longer.
- Turnover rates rose during the period (from 19.9 percent in 2000 to 22.1 percent in 2004 for CPS workers).
- While salaries increased, they did not keep pace with the cost of living, nor were they as high as the salaries of other public and private service workers, such as teachers, firefighters, and nurses.
- Respondents listed budget constraints as the top factor contributing to recruitment and preventable turnover.
- Preventable problems found to cause staff to leave included workloads and caseloads that were too demanding, interference of work with their personal lives, and insufficient resources for client families and children.
The survey also asked about strategies that administrators used to recruit new child welfare workers. The three most effective strategies were:
- Partnerships with universities or stipends for students
- Job announcements on websites
- Early and aggressive recruiting at social work schools
In addition, administrators rated strategies for retaining workers. According to the survey results, the five most effective were:
- Increased and improved inservice training
- Increased educational opportunities
- Increased and improved orientation and preservice training
- Available technology such as laptops and cell phones
- Improved professional culture throughout the agency
The full Report From the 2004 Child Welfare Workforce Survey is available on the APHSA website at www.aphsa.org/Home/Doc/Workforce%20Report%202005.pdf (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
A recent article in the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment found that exposure to public child welfare agencies increased masters of social work (M.S.W.) students' interest in pursuing careers with those agencies. This was found to be a more significant predictive influence on students' decisions than a number of sociodemographic factors, including gender, age, and socioeconomic background. The findings are based on survey data from 5,793 students in accredited M.S.W. programs in California between 1992 and 1998. The study is titled "Factors Influencing M.S.W. Students' Interest in Public Child Welfare," by researcher R. Perry, and it can be accessed at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J137v10n02_01#.
Read more about the child welfare workforce in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Online Resource for Child Welfare Training" (February 2005)
- "Addressing the Staffing Crisis in Child and Family Services" (June 2004)
- "Meeting the Challenge: Recruiting and Retaining Quality Staff" (August 2003)
- Toolkit for Parents on Early Development
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities have produced a toolkit to help parents learn about the milestones in their children's growth, from birth to age 5 years, as well as developmental delays and other disabilities. The "Learn the Signs. Act Early" campaign and toolkit are designed to help parents recognize any delays so that their children can be screened and receive early treatment, if necessary.
Available in both English and Spanish, the toolkit includes an informational card on developmental milestones, a growth chart, and a series of factsheets on milestones and developmental and behavioral delays. These materials can be downloaded from the website or ordered in bulk. In addition, the "Learn the Signs. Act Early" website has an interactive tool for parents and information for health providers on becoming involved with the campaign. Visit the site at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/index.html.
- When Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment Co-Occur
When families experience child maltreatment and domestic violence, child welfare agencies, domestic violence service providers, and dependency courts typically respond to individual victims in isolation. The Greenbook initiative, however, provides communities with guidelines and recommendations that focus on collaboration among these three entities to address these problems in a systemic way.
Federal funding was provided to six communities to implement the Greenbook recommendations. Now at the halfway point of the 5-year funding cycle, the Greenbook National Evaluation Team has published an interim report on the demonstration initiative. The participating communities have identified activities that both promote collaboration among agencies and treat the entire family, not just individual victims. These include:
- Strengthening collaborations through activities such as cross-training
- Identifying co-occurring issues
- Sharing information among agencies and courts
- Ensuring batterer accountability
- Improving access to services, including multidisciplinary case planning
- Improving advocacy, including co-located advocates in multiple systems
Interim results showed that systems changes were occurring in several areas. For instance, child welfare agencies were beginning to implement new screening procedures that allowed them to screen for domestic violence. To further their advocacy efforts, some communities had begun to work on changing State-level policies. Overall, staff at all levels reported that the changes had raised community awareness about child maltreatment and domestic violence, and staff were beginning to think about their cases in the context of all family members and all family strengths and needs.
The next phase of the project will focus on quantitative evaluations to determine system changes. It is expected that such changes will result in improved safety and well-being for children and families.
The full interim report, The Greenbook Demonstation Initiative: Interim Evaluation Report, was prepared by the Greenbook National Evaluation Team (Caliber Associates, Education Development Center, Inc., and the National Center for State Courts) and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice. The report is available at www.thegreenbook.info/documents/Greenbook_Interim_Evaluation_Report_2_05.pdf (PDF 2.36 MB).
- Webcast: Surgeon General's Workshop on Child Maltreatment
On March 30 and 31, Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., F.A.C.S., held a workshop in Washington, DC, to discuss defining and achieving a public health approach to preventing child maltreatment. The event included a cross-cutting list of participants representing medicine, public health, interchange development, social services, child welfare, academia, education, law enforcement, the faith-based community, juvenile justice, foundations, communications, mental health, and government.
An archived webcast of the conference, "Making Prevention of Child Maltreatment a National Priority: Implementing Innovations of a Public Health Approach," is available on the National Institutes of Health website at http://videocast.nih.gov/PastEvents.asp?c=1. (Editor's note: This link is no longer active. To view a description of the conference proceedings, visit http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK47486/.)
- Health Care Practice Standards for Children in Foster Care
In 1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) convened the Task Force on Health Care for Children in Foster Care to address the unique and complex health care needs of this population. The practice standards developed by this committee were published in Fostering Health: Health Care for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care, which has just been released in a second edition. These standards of care are designed to be used by health care professionals, foster parents, child welfare agencies, the courts and legal community, and policymakers.
Fostering Health provides practice parameters for primary health care, developmental and mental health care, and child abuse and neglect. These practice parameters identify events, timeframes, professionals involved, and necessary procedures. Other chapters of the book cover health care management, medical consents, confidentiality, qualifications of health care professionals, assessment and improvement, and health care financing.
Fostering Health is published by AAP (District II, New York State) and is available for purchase from its website at http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/healthy-foster-care-america/Pages/Fostering-Health.aspx.
- National Association of Youth Service Consultants
The National Association of Youth Service Consultants (NAYSC) serves as an information resource that links agencies and organizations in need of technical assistance with youth-focused consulting services. The NAYSC website hosts a searchable directory of consultants, trainers, speakers, and technical assistance providers. NAYSC funding notices cover city, State, regional, and national funding opportunities from across the country. To access the many resources of the NAYSC, visit its website at www.naysc.org (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
A Spanish version of the popular www.adoptuskids.org website is now available. The site, www.adopte1.org, was launched Wednesday, April 20, and includes Spanish-language information about the adoption process and children in the foster care system who are waiting for permanent families. (Editor's note, www.adopte1.org is no longer active. To veiw AdoptUSKids Spanish resources, visit http://www.adoptuskids.org/para-familias.) For more about the public service advertising campaign to publicize the site and increase awareness about adoption among Latino families, see "ACF Launches Spanish-Language Adoption Recruitment Campaign" in this issue.
- Child Abuse and Culture
Cultural competency and multicultural approaches in child welfare are the focus of a new book, Child Abuse and Culture: Working With Diverse Families, by L. A. Fontes. This book is designed to help child welfare workers develop a multicultural approach to helping their client families by confronting their own prejudices, overcoming language and culture barriers, respecting families' values while ensuring children's safety, and creating an agency environment that is welcoming to all.
- Developing a multicultural orientation
- Working with immigrant families affected by child maltreatment
- Assessing diverse families for child maltreatment
- Interviewing diverse families
- Physical discipline and abuse
- Child sexual abuse
- Working with interpreters
- Child maltreatment prevention and parent education
- Improving cultural competency of an agency
Each chapter concludes with a set of questions for reflection and discussion, so that the book may serve not only as a reference for social workers and therapists, but also as a supplementary text for trainees and students. In addition, the book includes a number of case examples to illustrate commonly encountered challenges and ways to deal with them.
The book, published by Guilford Press, is available on the publisher's website at www.guilford.com.
Read more about culturally competent child welfare practice in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "Cultural Competence Training" (February 2005)
- "Culturally Competent Practice with Urban Indian Children and Families" (December 2003/January 2004)
- "Interviewing Immigrant Children About Maltreatment" (September/October 2001)
- Online Fundraising Courses from Groundspring.org
Groundspring.org's Internet Academy offers a series of online fundraising courses titled "Building the eNonprofit." The series covers the following topics:
- What Is Online Fundraising?
- Organizational Capacity & Online Fundraising
- Creating an Effective Website
- Driving Traffic to Your Site
- Online Donation Processing
- Email Communications Program
- Introduction to Data Integration
- Creating a Successful Internet Strategy & Online Campaign
Each session is offered monthly, January through November, and is 90 or 120 minutes long. A single session costs between $49 and $59, or $314 for a series covering all eight topics. Members receive a discount. For more information on courses and registration, go to the Groundspring.org website at www.groundspring.org/training/online_training.cfm (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
- Helping Children in the Child Welfare System Heal from Trauma
Recently, more attention has been paid to understanding and improving the interaction of systems that become involved with a child immediately following maltreatment (e.g., child protective and law enforcement systems). However, less is known about how systems that become involved with these children later, including mental health agencies and schools, incorporate trauma-related information and expertise into their response to children and families.
Treating Child Trauma: A Systems Integration Approach, by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's Systems Integration Working Group, reports on the results of a survey conducted among 53 of these later-stage agencies in 11 communities. The survey was used to assess (1) the ways the agencies gather, assess, and share trauma-related information and (2) the basic training about child trauma their staff members receive. While this survey is a small first step, the ultimate goal is to identify gaps in communication among agencies and systems and to develop training and educational materials to improve collaboration on issues associated with child maltreatment and trauma.
Along with survey findings, the 41-page report includes recommendations for a number of groups, including family and dependency courts, public child welfare agencies, foster care agencies, mental health agencies, and schools, as well as for members of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
The report is available on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website at http://nctsnet.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/materials_for_applicants/A_Systems_Integration_Approach.pdf (Editor's note: Link no longer active).
- Special Issue: Decision-Making in Child Welfare
Child welfare decisions run the gamut from clinical decisions about client assessment, goals, and services to decisions about collecting and evaluating program data. A special issue of Children and Youth Services Review focuses on the decision-making process in child welfare and, specifically, the errors that can occur.
The issue includes six articles:
- "Investigating Child Maltreatment in Out-of-Home Care: Barriers to Effective Decision-Making" (D. DePanfilis and H. Girvin) reports on archival case reviews of 129 investigations into maltreatment in out-of-home care.
- "Improving Practice: Child Protection as a Systems Problem" (E. Munro) argues for the application of systems design to child welfare.
- "Examining Decision Errors in Child Protection: A New Application of Root Cause Analysis" (T. L. Rzepnicki and P. R. Johnson) describes the use of root cause analysis to investigate decision-making errors in a child fatality case.
- "The Next Step: Integrating Actuarial Risk Assessment and Clinical Judgment into an Evidence-Based Practice Framework in CPS Case Management" (A. Shlonsky and D. Wagner) describes the use of (1) assessment of risk and (2) contextual assessment of child and family functioning as decision aids for evidence-based practice in child welfare.
- "Assessing Parenting Capacity in a Child Welfare Context" (K. S. Budd) describes a clinical practice model for mental health evaluations of parents in cases of physical abuse, neglect, or dependency.
- "Lessons From a Systematic Review of Effects of Multisystemic Therapy" (J. H. Littell) considers methods for synthesizing results of multiple studies of the effects of social interventions.
These papers were originally presented at the 3rd International Symposium of the School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley, in December 2003. They were published in the April 2005 issue of Children and Youth Services Review 27(4) and are available for purchase online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01907409/27/4.
- Grants.gov "Spread the Word" Webcast
Did you miss the Grants.gov webcast on March 9? If so, there is still time to view an archived version on the Grants.gov website before June 9, 2005.
The "Spread the Word" webcast is targeted toward Federal agency grant program offices and other key partners to elicit support and promote the understanding of Grants.gov within their grant communities. The content of the presentation, however, is appropriate for anyone who wants to learn more about Grants.gov, how to find grant opportunities, and how to apply for grants.
The webcast (www.grants.gov/section910/spreadthewordwebcast.pdf) (Editor's note: Link no longer active) runs approximately 40 minutes and includes a slide show for participants to follow along. The presentation slides can be viewed at http://www.ag.ncat.edu/agedispatch/docs/grantsDOVgov.pdf (PDF - 1,300 KB). The original broadcast also included a question and answer session. A summary of the questions and responses is available at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~beattie/bmc/WebcastQA.pdf (PDF - 252 KB).
- Governance Self-Assessment
The Council on Accreditation (COA) has developed an online tool that allows leaders of human service organizations to conduct self-assessments of their organization's governance process. The interactive assessment compares the user's responses with national best practice standards in governance and provides immediate feedback in such areas as regulatory requirements, confidentiality, ethics, risk management, financial management, and governing authority. This tool is the second initiative in COA's Leadership Series; the first interactive assessment dealt with Continuous Quality Assessment.
To access the Governance Assessment Tool or the Continuous Quality Assessment Tool, visit the COA website at www.coanet.org.
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.
- Online Courses Offer Support for Adoptive Parents
Adoption Learning Partners offers a series of web-based courses to address the information needs of adoptive families, families contemplating adoption, adopted persons, and birth parents.
Developed in partnership with adoption and child welfare experts, e-learning instructional design experts, and adoptive families, each course provides instruction, interactive exercises, and extensive resource lists. Courses take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to complete, and most are offered free of charge.
Courses focus on various aspects of the adoption process, including:
- Conspicuous Families: Race, Culture, and Adoption
- Adoption Tax Credit
- Let's Talk Adoption: A Lifetime of Family Conversations
- With Eyes Wide Open: A Preparation Guide to International Adoption
- The Journey of Attachment
- Finding the Missing Pieces: Helping Adopted Children Cope with Grief and Loss
- Becoming Your Child's Best Advocate: Help for Adoptive Parents
Complete course descriptions and registration information are available at www.adoptionlearningpartners.org.
- Strategies for Engaging Fathers
The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) recently released the Advanced Fatherhood Training Curriculum (AFTC) package. Developed in response to feedback from practitioners asking how to engage fathers who are reluctant to get involved with their children, the AFTC is intended for individuals who have already completed NFPN's basic fatherhood training curriculum.
The training package is recommended for use with small groups. It features a 33-page manual and a brief video. Key topics include:
- Differences in fathers' and mothers' parenting styles
- Strategies for overcoming obstacles to father involvement
- Case examples identifying specific skills to use to engage fathers
- A section for administrators on promoting father-friendly practice
Ordering information is available on the NFPN website at http://www.nfpn.org/father-involvement?adv-training-package=55-advanced-fatherhood-training-curriculum-package.html.
For more information about the NFPN basic fatherhood training curriculum, see "New Training Curriculum Helps Involve Fathers in Their Children's Lives" in the October 2003 (Training) issue of Children's Bureau Express.
Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through August 2005 include:
- NDACAN Summer Research Institute (National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect; June 1 through 5; Ithaca, NY)
- 2005 Conference on Family Group Decision Making (American Humane; June 8 through 11; Long Beach, CA)
- APSAC's 13th Annual Colloquium (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; June 15 through 18; New Orleans, LA)
- 2005 Building on Family Strengths Conference (Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health at Portland State University; June 23 through 25; Portland, OR)
- Investigation and Prosecution of Child Fatalities and Physical Abuse (American Prosecutors Research Institute; June 27 through July 1; Denver, CO)
- 27th Annual Conference "Don't Gamble with Truth in Adoption" (American Adoption Congress; July 6 through 10; Las Vegas, NV)
- 9th International Family Violence Research Conference (Family Research Laboratory & Crimes Against Children Research Center; July 10 through 13; Portsmouth, NH)
- Children's Bureau's 8th National Child Welfare Data Conference "Assuring Positive Outcomes for Children and Families: It's A Team Effort" (National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology; July 20 through 22; Washington, DC)
- 19th Annual Conference on Treatment Foster Care (Foster Family-Based Treatment Association; July 24 through 27; Atlanta, GA)
- 2005 NACAC Conference (North American Council on Adoptable Children; August 3 through 6; Pittsburgh, PA)
- 6th National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention (National Children's Advocacy Center and the Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention; August 10 through 12; Huntsville, AL)
- 28th National Children's Law Conference (National Association of Counsel for Children; August 25 through 28; Hollywood, CA)
Further details about national and regional adoption and child welfare conferences can be found through the "Conference Calendar Search" feature on Child Welfare Information Gateway at www.childwelfare.gov.
- Addressing Abuse of Children and Adults with Disabilities
Children and adults with developmental disabilities are at greater risk for all types of abuse or neglect, yet preventing and recognizing the maltreatment can be difficult. The Partnership for People with Disabilities has developed a comprehensive web-based course on the topic for health care professionals and others who serve this population, including those in education, protective services, the courts, and law enforcement.
The course, "Abuse and Neglect of Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities: A Problem of National Significance," consists of 13 self-paced instructional modules on a range of topics from risk factors and recognizing abuse to reporting and treatment. Each module includes learning objectives, self-study questions, references, resources, and links to relevant websites.
The Partnership for People with Disabilities is a project of Virginia Commonwealth University. A complete outline of the course and ordering information can be found at www.vcu.edu/partnership/maltreatment (Editor's note: Link no longer active).