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November 2008Vol. 9, No. 9Spotlight on National Adoption Month

CBX covers Children's Bureau initiatives such as National Adoption Month and the Adoption Excellence Awards. New research and resources in the adoption field also make news.

Issue Spotlight

  • AFCARS Report on Foster Care and Adoption Trends

    AFCARS Report on Foster Care and Adoption Trends

    A new report from the Children's Bureau tracks trends in adoption and foster care statistics from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for the period of fiscal year (FY) 2002 through FY 2007. Data were submitted to the Children's Bureau Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). Estimated data are presented for each FY in seven categories:

    • Number of children in foster care on the last day of the FY
    • Entries into foster care during that FY
    • Exits from foster care during that FY
    • Children awaiting adoption on the last day of the FY
    • Children whose parents' rights have been terminated by the last day of the FY
    • Children adopted during the FY
    • Children served by the public foster care system during the FY

    A brief discussion of the data points out some of the trends, including the following:

    • For the first time since AFCARS data have been collected, the estimated number of children in foster care dropped below 500,000 (to 496,000 in FY 2007).
    • The estimated number of children served also reached a new low (783,000 in FY 2007), although this was not a steady decline.
    • While the estimated number of children awaiting adoption has remained around 130,000 over the measured period, the number with parents whose rights have been terminated has increased every year, reaching 84,000 in FY 2007.

    Read the full report on the Children's Bureau website:

    www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/trends.htm

  • How Adoption Subsidies Help Children With Special Needs

    How Adoption Subsidies Help Children With Special Needs

    Adoption subsidies have the potential to increase the number of foster children with special needs who achieve permanency. A new report from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), The Value of Adoption Subsidies: Helping Children Find Permanent Families, provides data on the children in foster care awaiting adoption who meet their State's definition of "special needs." Depending on the State, "special needs" may include membership in a sibling group, ethnic background, age, or medical condition or disability. It might entail the need for specialized health care, educational remediation, or therapy for emotional or behavioral problems. Subsidies can help adoptive parents provide the specialized services that these children need.

    After providing an overview of the current system of federally and State-funded adoption subsidies and how children and families are qualified to receive subsidies, the report notes that the existence and amount of subsidies impact the number of children who are adopted from foster care. Statistics show that a higher percentage of children who received an adoption subsidy in a State was associated with a higher rate of adoption from foster care. Higher subsidy amounts also correlated with more adoptions. The report also cites survey data from adoptive parents indicating that the presence of a subsidy affected their decision to adopt and that many would not otherwise have been able to afford to support their adopted child.

    Citing the many benefits of adoption for long-term health and well-being of children, the report makes specific policy recommendations to extend adoption subsidies to all children who have special needs.

    The report was written by Madelyn Freundlich and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It is available on the NACAC website:

    www.nacac.org/adoptionsubsidy/valueofsubsidies.pdf (161 - KB)

  • Adoption-Friendly Workplaces

    Adoption-Friendly Workplaces

    The Adoption-Friendly Workplace is a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption that encourages employers to offer adoption benefits. This is the second year the Foundation has announced the top 100 adoption-friendly workplaces in the United States, with rankings based on the amount of financial reimbursement and paid leave available to employees who adopt. Businesses are honored by placement in the top 100 overall, in the top 10 by size, and in the top 5 by industry. The foundation collected survey data from 919 employers in order to make the awards.

    The 2008 winner of the 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplace programs is Wendy's International, Inc., headquartered in Dublin, OH. This company offers up to $23,300 in financial reimbursement and up to 6 weeks of paid leave for employees who adopt. In announcing the 2008 winners, the foundation also announced that there has been a significant increase in the number of employers providing adoption benefits in recent years.

    To encourage more employers to support adoption, the Dave Thomas Foundation offers a free toolkit for companies looking for ways to initiate or expand their adoption benefits package. The toolkit includes a step-by-step guide to adoption benefits, a CD-ROM that includes a sample proposal and benefits policies form, a financial reimbursement form, a factsheet, and more. There also is a toolkit for employees who want to make the case for employer-provided adoption benefits.

    For more information about the Adoption-Friendly Workplace program or to order a free toolkit, visit:

    www.davethomasfoundation.org/Our-Work/Adoption-Friendly-Workplace

  • Honoring the Adoption Excellence Awardees

    Honoring the Adoption Excellence Awardees

    Each year, the Children's Bureau presents Adoption Excellence Awards to honor those organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the adoption of children from foster care. This year, the awards were presented at a luncheon ceremony on October 21. Many award recipients were able to travel to Washington, DC, to attend the ceremony and receive their award in person.

    The Adoption Excellence Awards are among the many Children's Bureau initiatives aimed at raising public awareness about the 496,000 children in foster care, including the 130,000 awaiting adoption. The individuals and organizations honored with Adoption Excellence Awards represent the many innovative and hard-working Americans who strive to ensure that children have permanent, loving families, as well as the support they need to become healthy, productive adults and citizens.

    This year's awardees were the following:

    • Decrease in the Length of Time That Children in Foster Care Wait For Adoption
      • Family Support Services of North Florida, Inc.
    • Support For Adoptive Families
      • San Diego County Adoptions
      • Adoption Resource Network at Hillside Children's Center
      • New Alternatives for Children, Inc
      • Northwest Arkansas Adoption Coalition
      • Tennessee Adoption Support and Preservation
      • Riverside County Permanency Programs: Adoptions: Post-Adoption Support Program
    • Individual and/or Family Contributions
      • Cynthia Deal
      • Gail Johnson Vaughan
      • Dixie van de Flier Davis
      • Tim Morris
      • Debra Gilmore
      • Twila Costigan
      • Veda D. Thompkins
      • Robyn L. Harrod
      • Marcie Velen
    • Philanthropy/Business Contributions
      • Western Reserve Restaurant Management Group, Inc.
    • Adoption of Minority Children from Foster Care
      • Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN)
    • Media/Public Awareness of Adoption From Foster Care
      • Summit County Children Services
      • World Association for Children and Parents

    For more information on the awardees, visit the Children's Bureau website:

    www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/current_initiatives/aeawards08.htm

  • Family Attitudes Toward Open Adoption

    Family Attitudes Toward Open Adoption

    Two recently published studies indicate that birth families and adoptive families with open adoption arrangements are more satisfied with the arrangement and with the adoption process in general than families with semi-open or closed adoptions. The studies reached similar conclusions even though their samples included birth and adoptive families at different stages of life.

    The first study, "Bridging the Divide: Openness in Adoption and Postadoption Psychosocial Adjustment Among Birth and Adoptive Parents," examined satisfaction with the adoption process and postadoption adjustment and well-being of birth and adoptive families 6 to 9 months after infant adoptions. Interviews were performed with 323 matched birth mothers and adoptive parents, as well as a subsample of 112 birth fathers. According to the results:

    • Openness increased both adoptive parents' and birth mothers' satisfaction with the adoption process.
    • Higher degrees of openness increased birth mothers' postadoption adjustment and well-being.
    • More control over the degree of openness increased birth fathers' satisfaction with the adoption process.

    In the second study, "Many Faces of Openness in Adoption: Perspectives of Adopted Adolescents and Their Parents," parents and adopted adolescents from 177 adoptive families were interviewed regarding satisfaction with their postadoption contact arrangements. The adolescents had been adopted at birth and ranged in age from 11 to 20 years old. Adoptive families in contact with the birth mother reported higher levels of satisfaction with the arrangement than those without contact. Among the results:

    • Families with face-to-face contact reported the greatest satisfaction; those with stopped or no contact reported the least satisfaction.
    • Most families wanted the intensity of contact to increase in the future; fewer than 1 percent wanted contact to decrease.
    • As the intensity of contact increased, adopted adolescents reported more positive feelings toward their birth mother; the amount of contact showed no effect on negative feelings or well-being.

    These studies contribute to the growing evidence that increasing contact among the birth mother, adoptive parents, and adopted children may improve family members' overall satisfaction and adjustment after the adoption. The authors of both studies suggest that giving individuals more control over determining the amount of openness in the adoption may improve outcomes for everyone involved.

    "Bridging the Divide: Openness in Adoption and Postadoption Psychosocial Adjustment Among Birth and Adoptive Parents," by Ge Xiaojia et al., was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, Volume 22(4), and can be purchased online:
    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/fam/22/4/529/

    "Many Faces of Openness in Adoption: Perspectives of Adopted Adolescents and Their Parents," by Harold D. Grotevant et al., was published in Adoption Quarterly, Volume 10(3-4), and can be purchased online:
    www.haworthpress.com/store/ArticleAbstract.asp?sid=9T6EGQ9B7WSH8KKJ10FBUJ2QFHQ22032&ID=110830

  • Celebrate National Adoption Month!

    Celebrate National Adoption Month!

    November is National Adoption Month, a time to celebrate the families and children brought together by adoption. Around the country, families, churches, agencies, and communities will celebrate with special adoption-related events and activities. This month is also a time to remember the 496,000 children in foster care, especially the 130,000 awaiting adoption. Many of these children are older, part of a sibling group, or have medical conditions that make their adoption more challenging. National Adoption Month is a time to acknowledge the importance of finding homes for all of these children.

    Recognized by Presidential Proclamation, National Adoption Month is a priority of the Children's Bureau, which sponsors the National Adoption Month website. This year the website includes several feature articles, as well as the 2008 Presidential Proclamation, an activities calendar of ways to celebrate daily, and resources for professionals, families, and teachers.

    The Children's Bureau's efforts to raise public awareness and recruit adoptive families include sponsorship of a media campaign designed by the Ad Council in collaboration with AdoptUsKids. The series of television, radio, and print ads are built around the theme, "You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of teens in foster care who would love to put up with you." The English- and Spanish-language ads are designed to convey the message that teens in foster care are just like other American teens—they need loving, committed parents, not perfection.

    For more information, visit the following:

  • Who Are Adoptive Parents?

    Who Are Adoptive Parents?

    Men ages 18 to 44 years are more than twice as likely as women of the same age group to have adopted a child, according to a recent report released by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of 2002, more than 1.2 million men and 613,000 women had adopted children.

    The report, Adoption Experiences of Women and Men and Demand for Children to Adopt by Women 18-44 Years of Age in the United States, presents data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. The report offers a demographic profile of those who adopt, including the percentage of men and women who have ever adopted a child and the number of children they adopted. Although the report does not offer conclusive data as to why more men adopt than women, it may be due, in part, to men marrying women who already have children, whom the men then adopt.

    Other findings in the report include:

    • Among ever-married persons, men were more than 2.5 times as likely as women to have adopted—3.8 percent compared with 1.4 percent. Overall, 2.3 percent of all men had ever adopted a child.
    • More than one in four women ages 40 to 44 who had ever used infertility services had adopted a child.
    • Although never-married adults ages 18 to 44 years were significantly less likely to have adopted a child compared with those who were currently married, approximately 100,000 never-married women and 73,000 never-married men had adopted a child.
    • Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black women were more likely to be currently seeking to adopt a child, compared with non-Hispanic White women.

    The report is available on the CDC website:

    www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_027.pdf (1,629 - KB)

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News From the Children's Bureau

This month, CBX brings you a message from the Associate Commissioner and news about evaluating privatized programs, as well as the latest resources from the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network.

  • From the Associate Commissioner's Office

    From the Associate Commissioner's Office

    Welcome to the November 2008 issue of Children's Bureau Express (CBX) as we celebrate National Adoption Month. National Adoption Month raises public awareness about the thousands of children and youth waiting in foster care for permanent, loving families. CB supports many activities that promote the adoption of children and youth from foster care, including a national photolisting website for waiting children called AdoptUsKids, which can be accessed at www.adoptuskids.org.

    This year's theme of adopting teens from foster care builds on the Ad Council's new public service announcement (PSA) campaign of the Children's Bureau, the Adoption Exchange Association, and The Collaboration to AdoptUsKids. This highly successful public service advertising campaign was launched in July 2004, with the goal of raising awareness of the significant number of children in foster care in the United States waiting to be adopted. Targets of the campaign have included sibling groups, children of color, and a Spanish speaking series of ads, all of which have won numerous advertising awards. The newest focus of the ad campaign is on older youth and teens, for whom finding permanent families is often more challenging. These heartwarming PSAs illustrate that "You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent." Information on the campaign and links to the PSAs can be found at www.adoptuskids.org/answeringTheCall.aspx. More information on National Adoption Month can be found at www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/nam/.

    Additionally, CB has been very busy preparing information related to the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351), which President Bush signed into law on October 7. CB has issued a Program Instruction (ACYF-CB-PI-08-05, available at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/pi/2008/pi0805.htm), which includes a summary of the law's provisions and a certification for States to request a delayed effective date. CB also has issued an Information Memorandum (ACYF-CB-IM-08-03, available at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/im/2008/im0803.htm), which outlines the Tribal option to submit a title IV-E plan for direct funding and other Tribal provisions in P.L. 110-351. These have been distributed electronically to the States and Tribes via our listservs, but if you have not received a copy, please contact your Regional Office. Additional communication from CB will be forthcoming. Thank you for your understanding that implementation of a law of this magnitude will take some time, but please know that CB is committed to working diligently to meet your needs for information.

    Finally, I would like to thank the Foster Care Managers, Adoption Managers, and Family Preservation Managers who took time out of their schedules to join us in Washington, DC, the week of October 18 for the Policy to Practice Dialogue: Child Welfare Leadership in Action. The Dialogue provided a place for substantive discussion on how to work collaboratively to achieve systemic changes that would positively impact outcomes for children and families. If you would like further information on the presentations shared at the Dialogue, please contact Natalie Lyons at the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption by email (NLyons@spaulding.org) or phone 248.443.7080.

    Thank you for your interest in the Children's Bureau's activities and for your work on behalf of at-risk children and their families. I hope you find CBX to be a helpful resource.

    Christine M. Calpin
    Associate Commissioner
    Children's Bureau

  • New! On the Children's Bureau Site

    New! On the Children's Bureau Site

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

    Recent additions to the site include:

    • A Program Instruction and Information Memorandum on P.L. 110-351, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
    • Adoption Incentive Awards History - Cumulative Adoption Incentive Earning History by State for FY 1998-FY 2007
    • The most recent CFSR reports from Round 2

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

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

  • The Latest Resources From the T&TA Network

    The Latest Resources From the T&TA Network

    The Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network offers many new resources for States and agencies. Some recent releases include:

    • From the National Resource Center (NRC) for Child Protective Services: The Newsletter for State CPS Liaison Officers—The June 2008 issue of this online newsletter includes an article on "Process Evaluation of the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network," in which the author, Anita Barbee, Ph.D., describes her 5-year evaluation of the impact of the Children's Bureau T&TA Network. The evaluation, based on interviews with 3 Federal Project Officers, 33 Regional Office personnel, 5 NRC leaders, and 29 State child welfare administrators, notes many positive outcomes and offers suggestions for future enhancements.
      www.nrccps.org/documents/2008/pdf/SLO-NEWSLETTER_06302008.pdf (72 - KB)
    • The Collaboration to AdoptUsKids: In partnership with the North American Council on Adoptable Children, AdoptUsKids has awarded 20 mini-grants to foster/adoptive parent groups that will partner with local public agencies to improve the availability of and excellence of respite care for adoptive and foster families. Read the full list of grant recipients here:
      www.adoptuskids.org/resourceCenter/parentSupport/miniGrantRecipients.aspx
    • FRIENDS NRC for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention: An online Discussion Tool is now available to help State Lead Agencies talk with their funded programs about implementing evidence-based or evidence-informed programs and practices.
      www.friendsnrc.org/resources/evidence.htm
    • National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health: Compendium of In-Service Training Resources—This collection of resources provides information about competency-based, in-service curricula and training materials being used by State mental health agencies to train professionals and paraprofessionals.
      http://gucchd.georgetown.edu/programs/ta_center/index.html
  • Helping Program Managers Evaluate Privatized Programs

    Helping Program Managers Evaluate Privatized Programs

    Privatization initiatives—where case management is contracted to private agencies by State or county offices—have become common in child welfare. But how well do they achieve their goals? A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) focuses on planning and implementing evaluations of these initiatives to shed light on their efficacy.

    Evaluating Privatized Child Welfare Programs: A Guide for Program Managers, by Jacqueline Smollar, Ph.D., is the fourth of six papers in a privatization series by ASPE. This paper provides guidance to child welfare agency administrators and program managers on the key features and tasks of program evaluation with privatization initiatives. Highlights include:

    • Developing the conceptual framework (a logic model, questions, measures, a design)
    • Implementing the evaluation (informing stakeholders and staff, establishing the target population and timeframes)
    • Using information from the evaluation
    • Cost evaluations

    The author stresses that conducting methodologically sound evaluations is the only way to determine whether privatization initiatives are resulting in desired outcomes for children and families.

    To download the full report, visit the ASPE website:

    http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/07/CWPI/guide/report.pdf (215 - KB)

  • Prevention Clusters

Child Welfare Research

CBX points to research on flexible funding through Federal waivers, the success of children's advocacy centers, and evidence-based practice in the mental health field.

  • Florida's IV-E Waiver Demonstration Project

    Florida's IV-E Waiver Demonstration Project

    In 2006, Florida implemented a 5-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, which allowed the State to use title IV-E funds for child welfare services other than direct foster care. Eighteen months later, a new issue brief reports on early efforts to improve child welfare outcomes by using the flexible funding to expand programs and services in the following key areas:

    • Creation and expansion of prevention and diversion services
    • Implementation of permanency resources for children already in out-of-home care
    • Enhancement of preservice and inservice training for all child welfare staff
    • Engagement of community organizations, stakeholders, and caregivers

    While it is early in the evaluation process, the issue brief does note some positive trends, including improvement in all permanency indicators and a decrease in the percentage of children who experience maltreatment recurrence within 6 months after leaving the system. The brief also presents a discussion of the project's theory of change and how it has been refined since the project began.

    The full report, Evaluation Brief on the Status and Activities Related to Florida's IV-E Waiver Demonstration Project: First 18 Months, by T. King-Miller et al., is available on the University of South Florida, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute website:

    http://cfs.fmhi.usf.edu/publications/detail.cfm?id=226

  • Evidence-Based Practice and Mental Health Services

    Evidence-Based Practice and Mental Health Services

    A new report from the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice for Children and Adolescents recommends ways to disseminate evidence-based practices to improve mental health services for children and adolescents, including those involved with the child welfare system. The task force defines evidence-based practice as the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences. The report recommends that providers should adhere to the following ideals when providing mental health services to children and families:

    • Partnerships with other providers
    • Cultural responsiveness
    • A developmental approach
    • A socioecological framework

    Systems-level strategies that can improve the provision of evidence-based practices include enhancing education and training for service providers, increasing funding for research, and revising policies and practices so that evidence-based services are available to all children and families.

    Find the full report, "Disseminating Evidence-Based Practice for Children and Adolescents: A Systems Approach to Enhancing Care," on the APA website:

    www.apa.org/releases/EBPCAreport0608draftfinal.pdf (858 - KB)

  • Evaluating Children's Advocacy Centers

    Evaluating Children's Advocacy Centers

    Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) were developed to improve the investigative process and minimize trauma to victims of abuse, especially sexual abuse, through a better coordination of multidisciplinary services in centralized, child-friendly environments. In a recent report published in the Juvenile Justice Bulletin, researchers at the University of New Hampshire evaluated the effectiveness of CACs in responding to cases of child sexual abuse to determine whether research supports CACs' growing popularity.

    Data from more than 1,000 cases of sexual abuse were collected in four CACs and comparison communities that used traditional child protective services investigation models. Research findings showed that communities with CACs had:

    • Greater law enforcement involvement
    • More evidence of coordinated investigations
    • Better child access to medical exams
    • Higher rates of referrals to child mental health services
    • Greater caregiver satisfaction with the investigative process

    While more studies are needed to confirm these findings, researchers suggest that CACs play an essential role in improving the experience of children and families while ensuring the delivery of needed services and the prosecution of offenders.

    "Evaluating Children's Advocacy Centers' Response to Child Sexual Abuse," by Theodore P. Cross et al., appeared in the Juvenile Justice Bulletin, August 2008, and is available online:

    www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/218530.pdf (307 - KB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

Child welfare professionals will want to check out resources on trauma and useful tools and information on racial disproportionality, differential response, and assessing risk and safety.

  • Implementing Differential Response

    Implementing Differential Response

    Many child welfare agencies use differential response (DR) as a strategy for addressing child maltreatment in cases deemed to carry low to moderate risk for endangering a child. DR allows an agency to partner with a family and work to strengthen and support the family so that the child can remain in the home while the parents address issues that led to the maltreatment report. This prevents further involvement in the child welfare system, removal of the child, and disruption in the child's home, school, and community life.

    A recent issue of American Humane's Protecting Children focuses on this special topic: "Exploring Differential Response: One Pathway Toward Reforming Child Welfare." Several of the articles describe results from specific programs:

    • "The Parent Support Outreach Program: Minnesota's Early Intervention Track" describes the use of the Parent Support Outreach Program (PSOP) with families with young children who have been reported for maltreatment but screened out. Pilot counties receive funding to offer the voluntary PSOP to these families, who then receive services and referrals (e.g., counseling, job training). An early evaluation showed that two-thirds of surveyed families were better able to care for their children after participating in the PSOP.
    • "Implementation of California's Differential Response Model in Small Counties" reports on the use of DR in 11 rural counties. Results thus far indicate improvement in the counties' methods of case identification, an increase in formalized partnerships between child welfare agencies and other organizations, and a shift to preventive services. Challenges include confidentiality issues and geographic isolation in these rural communities.
    • "Development and Field Testing of a Family Assessment Scale for Use in Child Welfare Practice Settings Utilizing Differential Response" presents results from a study using the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General Services in a county using a DR services model with low- to moderate-risk families. The instrument exhibited good psychometric properties and may be useful in helping workers assess families and construct service plans in the DR context.

    These and other articles are available in Protecting Children, Volume 23, Numbers 1 & 2, 2008, and are downloadable from the American Humane website: 

    www.americanhumane.org/assets/pdfs/children/protecting-children-journal/pc-23-1-2.pdf

    Related Item

    The Children's Bureau recently awarded funding to American Humane to create the Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services. The purpose of this 5-year project is to generate knowledge on effective practice models of differential response in child protective systems and support the infrastructure needed at the State and local levels to improve child welfare outcomes for children and their families referred for suspected maltreatment.

  • Measuring Racial Equity in Child Welfare

    Measuring Racial Equity in Child Welfare

    An article in the journal Child Welfare describes the use of a racial equity "scorecard" to determine disproportionality at key points in the child welfare process in order to improve policies and practices and reduce disparity in a jurisdiction's child welfare system. The scorecard, developed by the Casey Foundation/Center for the Study of Social Policy Alliance on Racial Equity, measures involvement with the child welfare system by race at six key points, or "gateways":

    • Acceptance of a hotline report for investigation
    • Assessment or investigation
    • In-home service provision or out-of-home placement
    • Type of placement
    • Permanency goal
    • Time to permanency

    By collecting data on involvement by race at these points in the child welfare process, the scorecard can pinpoint where improvements are most needed. Communities can then develop strategies targeted at reducing disproportionality in those areas. The scorecard also can help track changes in involvement by race over time to evaluate the effectiveness of a community's efforts.

    The article highlights a county in Iowa that used the racial equity scorecard to address the disproportionate representation of Native American children in the child welfare system. Informed by the scorecard data, the community implemented strategies to reduce the involvement of Native American families at the initial gateways. The two main strategies were (1) a prevention strategy to educate families about their rights and responsibilities and (2) use of the Parents as Partners mentoring concept. While results are preliminary, anecdotal evidence suggests improved outcomes for families and increased collaboration among members of the community to address racial equity.

    "Evaluating Multisystemic Efforts to Impact Disproportionality Through Key Decision Points," by Dennette Derezotes, Brad Richardson, Connie Bear King, Julia Kleinschmit-Rembert, and Betty Pratt, was published in Child Welfare, Volume 87(2). The article was part of the special issue "Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare" and can be purchased online:

    www.cwla.org/pubs/pubdetails.asp?PUBID=J872

  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

    Some children who are the victims of child maltreatment also experience traumatic stress due to either acute instances of maltreatment or to chronic maltreatment. Children who suffer from traumatic stress often need specific therapeutic treatment that targets the traumatic stress and its symptoms. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers information on children's traumatic stress and evidence-based interventions and treatments. NCTSN develops and disseminates evidence-based interventions, trauma-informed services, and public and professional education for traumatized children and their families. NCTSN is a group of 70 member centers that are currently or were previously funded by the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through a congressional initiative.

    Many resources (including some in Spanish) are available through the NCTSN website. Resources are grouped according to the target audience, including parents and caregivers, military families, educators, the media, and professionals in a number of social service disciplines, including disaster response, juvenile justice, and mental health. Resources include:

    • Training in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, including a web-based course
    • Searchable Knowledge Bank that provides access and referral to print materials, audio and video productions, and the expertise of the NCTSN centers and individuals
    • Factsheets on empirically supported treatments and promising practices
    • Information on different types of trauma
    • Database of reviews of tools that measure children's experiences of trauma
    • Electronic newsletter, published quarterly, that highlights some of the successful programs
    • Information on writing grants and sustainability

    Visit the NCTSN website for more information:

    www.nctsnet.org/nccts/nav.do?pid=hom_main

  • Evaluating Risk and Safety Assessments

    Evaluating Risk and Safety Assessments

    Child welfare agency caseworkers use risk and safety assessments to identify children at risk of maltreatment and in need of services. A newly released study, "Risk and Safety Assessment in Child Welfare: Instrument Comparisons," examines the research on an array of risk and safety instruments to assess the reliability, validity, outcomes, and use of such instruments with children and families of color.

    Two major approaches to risk assessment are examined. The first, a consensus-based model, emphasizes a comprehensive assessment of risk based on various theories of child maltreatment. Many of these instruments describe areas to be assessed by the worker, and the worker codes each area as high, moderate, or low risk, based upon his or her judgment.

    The second approach, an actuarial-based model, uses statistical procedures that identify and weigh factors that predict future maltreatment. Factors identified as predictive of maltreatment are incorporated into a checklist.

    The study examines several instruments using both approaches, focusing particularly on predictive validity, i.e., the accuracy of the instrument in predicting a particular outcome. The findings suggest that actuarial instruments have stronger predictive validity than consensus-based instruments.

    Written by Amy D'Andrade, Michael J. Austin, and Amy Benton, the study is available in the Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, Volume 5(1/2), published by the Haworth Press:

    www.haworthpress.com/

Resources

  • Title IV-E Child Welfare Agency/University Partnerships

    Title IV-E Child Welfare Agency/University Partnerships

    The University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work has designed a website for information sharing among the growing network of Child Welfare Agency/University Partnerships. These partnerships develop programs in social work education that prepare undergraduate and graduate students for work in public child welfare. They also provide high quality inservice training to practitioners in public child welfare agencies, as well as training for foster and adoptive families.

    These partnerships have been formed to guide the use of title IV-E funds in creative ways that bear the intent of Federal legislation while addressing the unique needs of each State. Resources on the website include current research projects, a directory of State contacts, child welfare curricula, journal articles and papers, and links to external resources.

    http://louisville.edu/kent/projects/iv-e

  • New MENTOR Online Community

    New MENTOR Online Community

    MENTOR's National Mentoring Institute now offers an online community and blog to allow participants (mentors, mentees, and professionals) to share experiences. A recent visit to the online community showed an active exchange on such topics as:

    • Motivation for becoming a mentor
    • Activities for mentors and mentees
    • Resources in Spanish
    • Closing the mentoring relationship

    The blog, "Musings on Mentoring," is posted by Allison Smith, who is a mentor, a former mentee, and an employee of a mentoring program. Read her new postings every Monday for this unique perspective on mentoring.

    To join the mentoring online community, visit:
    http://forums.mentoring.org/ntlm/

    To read the mentoring blog, visit:
    http://forums.mentoring.org/ntlm/blog?blog.id=musings_on_mentoring

  • Kinship Care Resource Center

    Kinship Care Resource Center

    The Kinship Care Resource Center is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide support for the physical, emotional, cultural, and social well-being of kinship families in Michigan. Sponsored by the School of Social Work at Michigan State University, the center provides a centralized location where relative caregivers and professionals can receive assistance and find resources. The center's services include:

    • A toll-free hotline to answer general questions about financial resources for kinship care, legal assistance, and other needs
    • Referrals for support groups
    • Resource brochures and booklets
    • Training and workshops for kinship caregivers and agency professionals
    • Consulting services for kinship program development
    • Kinship research
    • A kinship coalition and a legislative task force group

    More details about the Kinship Care Resource Center are available on the Michigan State University website:

    www.kinship.msu.edu/index.html

Training and Conferences

Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.

  • Conferences

    Conferences

    Upcoming national conferences on adoption and child welfare through February 2009 include:

    December 2008

    January 2009

    • SSWR Thirteenth Annual Conference
      Research That Promotes Sustainability and (Re)Builds Strengths

      Society for Social Work and Research
      January 16-18, New Orleans, LA
      http://www.sswr.org/conferences.php
    • 23rd Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment
      Chadwick Center for Children and Families
      January 26-30, San Diego, CA
      www.chadwickcenter.org/conference.htm

    February 2009

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

    www.childwelfare.gov/calendar/index.cfm

  • Transitional Independent Living Plan

    Transitional Independent Living Plan

    Resources for conducting 1-hour trainings for child welfare workers and managers/supervisors on the Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP) are available on the California Social Work Education Center website. The TILP is developed in collaboration with teens in out-of-home care to serve as their roadmap for services and goals while they are part of the child welfare system. The online training materials include a basic manual and other resources, including sample TILP agreements.

    Access the resources on the California Social Work Education Center website:

    http://calswec.berkeley.edu/CalSWEC/OtherTraining_i.html
  • PREVENT Child Maltreatment Institute

    PREVENT Child Maltreatment Institute

    Child abuse prevention professionals are encouraged to consider the latest training opportunity from the PREVENT Child Maltreatment Institute, Chapel Hill, NC. The 2009 institute, Enhancing Leadership in Child Maltreatment Prevention, will offer intensive training sessions and coaching to experienced, multi-organizational prevention teams. The institute will include:

    • Three days of onsite coursework and team-based activities (February 16-18, 2009)
    • A 6-month team project back home with an experienced coach to apply new skills
    • Three more days of onsite courses and team presentations (September 2009)

    Teams and individuals will learn to create sustainable strategies for preventing child maltreatment. Sessions are designed by experienced faculty with a special emphasis on application of skills to each team's goals. Letters of intent (encouraged but not required) are due November 14, 2008. The application deadline is December 10, 2008.

    http://prevent.unc.edu/education/institute.htm