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April 2012Vol. 13, No. 3Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

This month, CBX focuses on National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In 2010, the Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood funded four projects to implement new approaches to preventing child abuse and neglect, promoting optimal child development, and strengthening families. We highlight two of those projects, the Family Networks Project and Fostering Hope.

Issue Spotlight

  • Palm Beach County Prevention Evaluation

    Palm Beach County Prevention Evaluation

    For more than 10 years, Florida's Palm Beach County has implemented an early intervention and prevention system of care program to promote healthy child development and school readiness in four of the county's low-income areas. Chapin Hall was commissioned by the county to conduct a 6-year longitudinal study of the program. A recent report by Chapin Hall details the findings from the final year of the project and examines families' use of services and outcome correlates.

    The system of care utilized a combination of the Maternal Child Health Partnership (MCHP)—a program of services specifically designed to serve expectant mothers or new mothers—and an array of other coordinated services to meet families' medical, psychological, parenting, educational, and other social services needs. The study also examined initiatives that support and promote school readiness, such as the Quality Counts improvement system for early care and education programs.

    The study evaluated maternal functioning by assessing factors including depression, parenting stress, and parenting practices. Child outcomes were evaluated by assessing, as reported by mothers, factors such as language development, cognition, and social-emotional behaviors. School readiness outcomes were reported by teachers and assessed using the Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screening. The most recent report centers on information from all 5 years, with a particular focus on information gathered from the 310 mothers who participated in each of the five annual surveys.

    At the end of year 5, results showed that most mothers had received MCHP services around the time of their child's birth, and mothers with the most risk factors (e.g., teen mothers, parents of children with special needs) were more likely to receive MCHP services at that time. In year 5, almost all mothers reported receiving assistance with basic needs such as health care and child care. However, there were no significant correlates between family use of services and improved child development or school readiness, nor were there correlates between types of services used and improved outcomes.

    Noting that the county was able to engage many at-risk families in need of services at the time of the child's birth, the authors made several recommendations for future development, including:

    • Improve the quality and effectiveness of parenting supports and education.
    • Improve access to and quality of early care and education.
    • Increase efforts to help families stay involved in or become reconnected to services over time.
    • Enhance training of service providers.
    • Strengthen relationships between the county system of care and other community supports and services.

    Supporting Low-Income Parents of Young Children, The Palm Beach County Family Study Fifth Annual Report, by Julie Spielberger, Lauren Rich, Marcia Gouvêa, Carolyn Winje, Molly Scannell, Kristin Berg, Allen Harden, and the reports from 2007–2011 are available on the Chapin Hall website:

  • Fostering Hope in Oregon

    Fostering Hope in Oregon

    Catholic Community Services, along with a host of local and State organizations, is implementing the Fostering Hope Initiative (FHI) in Salem and McMinnville, OR, to serve families in three high-poverty neighborhoods who are at-risk for child maltreatment. The project is funded through the Children's Bureau's Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC). FHI is seeking to reduce the incidence of child maltreatment and ensure that children are well-prepared to enter kindergarten. The project is designed to work at the four levels of the social ecological model: families, neighborhoods, collaborations, and policies.

    Family level. FHI established a suite of services for families in the three neighborhoods. The project conducts parent education and training within walking distance of the target population and also provides home visitation services and care coordination. Additionally, the project is implementing the Safe Families for Children program through which it finds volunteer host families who can temporarily care for children when the biological family experiences a crisis. For example, a pregnant mother in one of the neighborhoods was experiencing complications from diabetes and told by her doctor that she would need in-patient care. The doctor knew that the woman did not have any appropriate care options for her young child and referred her to FHI. The woman was connected with a host family and then was able to get the necessary medical care without risk of neglecting her child.

    Neighborhood level. The project has helped the three neighborhoods establish community cafes, which give residents the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns, brainstorm ideas for improving the neighborhood, and develop a greater sense of community. When possible, FHI provides the neighborhoods with the support needed to turn their ideas into realities. For example, one neighborhood wanted to develop stronger social connections. The project worked with them to set up a weekly neighborhood dinner at a local church. Child care is provided at the dinner, and parenting classes are offered after the meal. Nearly 200 people regularly attend. The project also seeks potential leaders in the community to facilitate the community cafes. FHI has a part-time neighborhood mobilization coordinator to oversee the work in all three neighborhoods and a part-time staff person in each neighborhood.

    Collaborative level. To help holistically serve children and families, FHI sought the input and assistance of various social services agencies, the medical community, and the education community. Accountability is a key component to the collaboration. The project tracks the supports and services each partner agrees to contribute and whether the partner followed through on the commitment. This information is presented at monthly project meetings. If a partner was not able to uphold the commitment, the team discusses how the goal can be achieved and what resources other partners can provide. FHI utilizes a part-time collective impact coordinator to help engage existing partners and bring additional partners to the table.

    Policy level. FHI's regional council developed a list of priority issues designed to make Oregon public policy more family friendly. The council is chaired by FHI's official spokesperson, the Chief Justice Paul De Muniz of the Oregon Supreme Court. Having a well-respected spokesperson from this level of government has greatly assisted the project's efforts and has helped bring policymakers at various levels throughout the State together to address FHI's priority issues. As FHI partners speak to policymakers, they focus on why it is in their localities' best interests to have healthy, well-prepared children entering the school system and the role that the policymakers and localities can play in improving well-being.

    Jim Seymour, the Executive Director of Catholic Community Services, has been with the organization for more than 40 years and says he has never been more excited about any initiative. Seymour noted, “After years of trying to pick up the pieces after families fall apart, it is great to be part of an initiative where families are getting stronger, local residents promote family protective factors in their neighborhood, social service, education, and health care practitioners work together, and elected officials are getting on board."

    FHI uses a utilization-focused and participatory evaluation that employs three comparison neighborhoods with comparable demographics to study effectiveness. Although the evaluation is still in process, preliminary findings are promising, showing decreases in child maltreatment substantiations and foster care rates.

    For more information about FHI, visit the QIC-EC website:

    Many thanks to Jim Seymour of Catholic Community Services for providing information for this article.

    Related Item

    The Fostering Hope Initiative and other QIC-EC projects were highlighted in the February 2011 issue of CBX. Check out "Keeping Young Children Safely With Their Families: The QIC on Early Childhood."

  • Working Strategies Focuses on Preventing Maltreatment

    Working Strategies Focuses on Preventing Maltreatment

    The winter 2011-2012 issues of Working Strategies, a California-based online magazine for child welfare and related professionals, provides several articles focused on child abuse prevention and strengthening families and communities. The magazine is produced by Strategies, a network of training centers funded by the California Department of Social Services' Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) to promote a statewide network of family strengthening organizations.

    In "Feedback From the Field: Child Abuse Prevention and Early Intervention Across California," an article by Annette Marcus, Barbara Alderson, and Doug Green, the authors present findings from a 2011 evaluation of California's child abuse prevention and early intervention field. The assessment findings, commissioned by OCAP and coordinated by Strategies, are intended to assist counties in integrating prevention plans into the State's Outcomes and Accountability System (O&A). California developed the O&A system after the 2011 passage of the State's Child Welfare System Improvement and Accountability Act. O&A went into effect in 2004 and is intended to enhance the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews.

    Several issue areas were assessed, such as implementation of emerging frameworks, collaboration, evaluation, technical assistance, and program and planning development. The assessment was conducted utilizing several data collection methods:

    • A survey of 378 public and private prevention partners
    • A series of 37 focus groups in 19 counties involving 140 administrators and 123 frontline workers
    • A survey of key words from the System Improvement Plans from the 19 counties involved in the focus groups 
    • Interviews with 20 leaders and policymakers at the State and county levels

    Findings showed, among other things, that counties are using the Differential Response, Pathways to the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and Strengthening Families frameworks in varying ways. The Differential Response and Strengthening Families frameworks seemed to be more widely used, and funding issues were reported as a barrier to full implementation. The article includes a number of recommendations for improving each of the evaluated issue areas.

    A study of the Family Development Matrix Outcomes Model/Pathway to the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Project (FDM Pathway), also funded by OCAP, is the focus of another article. FDM Pathway has become an important tool for California's 90 family resource centers (FRCs). A 2010 survey of participating agencies showed that FRCs using the FDM Pathway achieved overwhelmingly positive outcomes for families.

    A number of families labeled "at risk" or "in crisis" at the first assessment moved up at least one level by their second assessment (between 3 and 6 months after receiving interventions from the family empowerment plan). More than 80 percent of families moved to "stable" in areas including:

    • Parent emotional well-being
    • Family communication
    • Child health insurance
    • Nutrition
    • Abuse risk

    Other articles in this issue of Working Strategies include:

    • "Leadership Development in Changing Times"
    • "Building Strength-Based Families"
    • "Father Involvement – Does it Really Matter?"
    • "Child Neglect: A National Concern"
    • "Postpartum Depression"
    • "Investing in Children Through the Five Protective Factors"
    • "What Child Welfare Realignment Means to Family Strengthening Organizations"

    This issue is available on the Strategies website: (3.5 MB)


  • The Family Networks Project

    The Family Networks Project

    Children with disabilities are at a higher risk for behavioral and emotional problems and for being victims of maltreatment. To improve outcomes for children with developmental disabilities and their families, the Family Networks Project in South Carolina, a research and demonstration project led by South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness and funded by the Children's Bureau's Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC), is implementing two strategies: a parenting program and a capacity-building curriculum for service coordinators. The strategies will be provided in different combinations in two separate regions of the State as part of a random assignment study to test their efficacy.

    The project utilizes the Stepping Stones Triple P-Positive Parenting Program (SSTP) in a seven-county region of South Carolina to enhance parent confidence and competence and promote positive development in children with developmental disabilities. Stepping Stones is a variant of the Triple P program designed specifically for parents of children with disabilities. SSTP is delivered in family homes by parent educators specially trained and accredited to deliver SSTP. To be eligible for the project, all children are enrolled in the State early intervention system (Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act or IDEA), called BabyNet in South Carolina. Children aged 0–3 who are at higher risk of or who currently have developmental delays are eligible for IDEA Part C services, which help enhance child development and well-being. All children are enrolled in the project prior to their second birthday. The project studies whether families experience improved outcomes when they receive IDEA Part C and SSTP services rather than IDEA Part C services as usual.

    SSTP typically includes 10 in-home sessions and focuses on helping parents set goals and apply strategies to affect issues and behaviors that are important to them. The SSTP provider presents the families with a range of strategies to address their goals and then supports parents in the selection and application of strategies they want to try. The project aims to enroll a total of 50 families; 27 families are currently enrolled.

    In a separate study in a five-county region of South Carolina, BabyNet service coordinators are trained using the Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: Parent-Provider Partnerships in Child Care curriculum (PCAN). This training is intended to help these IDEA Part C service coordinators develop an increased understanding of the impact of child maltreatment and build better relationships with parents. This training addresses a wide range of topics, including healthy development in infants and toddlers, culture and caregiving, and supportive responses to troubled parent-child relationships. The project will study whether family outcomes improve when they receive SSTP services and IDEA Part C services enhanced by PCAN training as opposed to when families only receive SSTP services enhanced by PCAN training. To date, approximately 60 service coordinators have received the PCAN training, and project enrollment stands at 34, with 50 families eventually being enrolled.

    Cheri Shapiro, the Principal Investigator for the project, stresses that it is important to remain flexible when working with families of children with developmental disabilities. SSTP providers may need to vary the length of sessions depending on family circumstances, and they may need to increase the number of sessions to accomplish the goals set by parents. Shapiro said, “Applying evidence-based parenting interventions in real-world settings requires flexibility while maintaining fidelity to the program model being tested. Our providers have demonstrated that these are not competing goals, and both can be accomplished."

    For more information about this project, visit the QIC-EC website:

    Many thanks to Cheri Shapiro, Ph.D., of the Institute for Families in Society and the Parenting and Family Research Center of the University of South Carolina for providing information for this article.

    Related Item

    The Family Networks project and other QIC-EC projects were highlighted in the February 2011 issue of CBX. Check out "Keeping Young Children Safely With Their Families: The QIC on Early Childhood."

  • April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Nearly 30 years ago, Congress and the President first designated April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month is an opportunity to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and promote activities across the nation aimed at protecting children and supporting families. This year's Prevention Month activities reflect the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect's (OCAN's) June 2011 conference theme, Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: Network for Action.

    The annual observation of Prevention Month includes the release of an updated resource guide, with the latest research, practices, and information centered on prevention. This year's guide, Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: A Network for Action: 2012 Resource Guide, includes information on an additional protective factor that can help families safeguard children from the risk of abuse. The six protective factors include:

    • Nurturing and attachment
    • Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
    • Parental resilience
    • Social connections
    • Concrete supports for parents
    • Social and emotional competence of children

    In addition to tools and strategies for integrating the protective factors into everyday child and family services, the guide also includes 11 tip sheets for parents—two more than last year. The tip sheets, available in both English and Spanish, cover topics that range from "10 Ways to Be a Better Dad" and "Connecting With Your Teen" to "Dealing With Temper Tantrums" and "Bonding With Your Baby."

    The 2012 Resource Guide has been refreshed with new information, while maintaining some of its main content structure. It has a different theme and design and updated statistics.

    • Chapter One, "Laying the Groundwork," contains information on the Protective Factor Framework.
    • The "Levers for Change" section was updated to include new examples from Network for Action’s Strategic Projects.
    • The list of protective factors was expanded to include a sixth factor: Social and Emotional Competence of Children.
    • Chapter Four, "Engaging Your Community," contains new information on engaging traditional and social media to build your network.
    • The guide features new tips on collaborating with the military and medical communities.
    • A new activity calendar gives suggestions for different ways to use the six protective factors. The calendar, "30 Ways to Promote Child Well Being During National Child Abuse Prevention Month," provides activities to support children and families throughout an entire month.

    The resource guide is the result of collaboration among the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Children's Bureau, OCAN, Child Welfare Information Gateway, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and numerous national organizations.

    To view or order a copy of the resource guide, please visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: 

    Child Welfare Information Gateway updated its Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect web section to reflect the new material in the guide and more. This redesigned section offers:

    • The Protective Factors Framework
    • Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce
    • Cultural Competence in Prevention Services: Rural Communities

    Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway webpage to access these tools and materials:

    Related Item

    In March, CBX featured an article on OCAN's 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect: Celebrating the Past and Imagining the Future.

  • Somali Cultural Guide

    Somali Cultural Guide

    The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare published Somali Cultural Guide: Building Capacity to Strengthen the Well-Being of Immigrant Families and Their Children: A Prevention Strategy. This guide provides important information for child welfare professionals in understanding the culture and environment of Somali immigrant children and families. It focuses on factors identified through research and interviews that are considered common themes relevant to Somali family life for most Somali families.

    Understanding cultural differences is necessary for successful intervention and prevention strategies. For instance, the Somali culture is a traditionally oral culture, and handouts intended to be read may not be as effective as discussion. Additionally, while Somali families value healthy development and children are regularly given medical examinations, "mental illness" is not a recognized concept. Specific language, such as “noise in the brain," "thinking too much," or "ongoing headache," may indicate mental health needs or challenges.

    Somali families are often substantial in size, sometimes including 5 to 10 children, and the culture places value in community connections and kinship relationships. However, immigration to the United States can result in the loss of traditional roles filled by the extended family. This separation can affect families already traumatized as a result of the Somali civil war. 

    The cultural guide addresses the following themes:

    • Accurate understanding of parenting practices
    • Parent and child nurturing and attachment styles
    • Expectations of child development
    • Attitudes in seeking health care for children
    • Attitudes toward emotional behavior and mental health
    • Role of kin and Tribal networks
    • Support networks in coping with day-to-day challenges
    • Intergenerational tradition and values
    • Roles of men and women in their family life and socialization of children
    • Experiences in the migration journey

    The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare is a part of The University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work. The complete guide can be downloaded on the School of Social Work's website: (136 KB)

  • Preventing Maltreatment in High-Risk Families

    Preventing Maltreatment in High-Risk Families

    A home visiting program modified for high-risk rural families demonstrated mixed results in reducing risk factors and subsequent child welfare reports in a recent study published in Children and Youth Services Review. The study examined the effectiveness of SafeCare+ (SC+), a version of the SafeCare home visiting program in which professionals are trained to identify risks for immediate child maltreatment and use motivational interviewing to address issues unique to high-risk families (e.g., substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health problems, and multiple other risks). SC+ was also adapted for rural families by employing home visitors from within the community who know and have access to formal and informal networks and services.

    The study included 105 families with children under age 5 who were not involved in active child welfare cases, had two or fewer previous reports of child maltreatment, and had at least one risk factor (parental substance abuse, mental health issues, or interpersonal violence). Families were randomly assigned to receive either SC+ or standard home-based community mental health services. When compared to families receiving standard services, SC+ families:

    • Received more services and were more engaged in and satisfied with services
    • Reported better parenting skills, such as addressing home hazards, reducing child health and behavior problems, and using nonviolent parenting strategies
    • Reported fewer depressive symptoms and more family resources and social supports
    • Received the same number of subsequent child welfare reports, although time to first report was twice as long
    • Received fewer reports related to domestic violence

    Although SC+ families experienced positive outcomes immediately after receiving services, the authors suggested those outcomes were temporary because services were not offered long enough to sustain improvements. One encouraging finding is that families who fully completed the SC+ program achieved better outcomes than those who partially completed the program. To improve SC+ results in rural communities, the authors recommended the program provide services for longer periods of time, offer "booster sessions" after intervention, and connect families to informal sources of support to help them sustain positive outcomes.

    "Prevention of Child Maltreatment in High-risk Rural Families: A Randomized Clinical Trial With Child Welfare Outcomes," by J. F. Silovsky, D. Bard, M. Chaffin, D. Hecht, L. Burris, and A. Owora et al., was published in Children and Youth Services Review, 33(8), and is available on the ScienceDirect website:

  • Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment

    Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment

    The lifetime cost of child maltreatment cases and related fatalities confirmed in 1 year totals $124 billion, according to a new study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors generated the findings by combining estimates of child maltreatment survivors' lifetime health and mental health care costs, lost productivity, child welfare services, special education, and criminal justice services, as well as services and lost productivity for children who died as a result of maltreatment. The study was based on 2008 data, during which 579,000 new child maltreatment victims were identified and 1,740 children died from maltreatment.

    To underscore the significance of child maltreatment's impact on the U.S. economy, the authors compared costs per case with two common public health issues:

    • Stroke: $159,000
    • Type 2 diabetes: $181,000 to $253,000
    • Child maltreatment: $210,000
    • Child maltreatment fatality: More than $1.2 million

    The authors described several reasons why the results likely underestimate the total cost of child maltreatment:

    1. Official statistics include only children who come to the attention of State child welfare systems, so the total impact of child maltreatment is likely much larger.
    2. Costs that are more difficult to estimate were not included, such as the impact of psychological abuse, reduced life expectancy and quality of life, and the intergenerational cycle of abuse.
    3. Differences due to the severity of child maltreatment could not be factored into the estimate.

    To reduce the high cost of child maltreatment and maltreatment-related fatalities, the authors recommended that child welfare professionals and policymakers redouble efforts to fund and implement evidence-based prevention services and intervention services to reduce the impact when it occurs.

    "The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications for Prevention," by X. Fang, D. S. Brown, C. S. Florence, and J. A. Mercy (in press), was published in Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, and is available on the ScienceDirect website:

  • The Front Porch Project

    The Front Porch Project

    American Humane Association's Front Porch Project is a national prevention initiative focused on educating and training communities about what individuals can do to prevent child abuse and neglect and strengthen families. For the past 10 years, Devereux Kids in Pinellas County, FL, has implemented the Front Porch Project. To help other organizations interested in implementing the prevention initiative, American Humane produced an issue bulletin outlining the six elements for success as experienced by Devereux Kids.

    Devereux Kids is a prevention program under the umbrella organization Devereux Florida, a social services organization that provides an array of services to more than 13,000 families each year. Services include community outreach, child welfare, and abuse and neglect prevention programs.

    In developing the Pinellas County program, staff from Devereux Kids and American Humane defined the three key roles necessary for effective implementation and sustainability: the sustainer, connectors, and supporters. The sustainer is the local organization that facilitates and sustains the project. Connectors are the program participants and the vehicles by which the Front Porch message is spread throughout the community. Supporters are the organizations, associations, corporations, and other entities that monetarily, or through other in-kind resources, support the program.

    The six steps for successful implementation include:

    1. Create a strong infrastructure as the sustainer organization.
    2. Build a strong network of champions or connectors. Monthly trainer meetings and open invitations to media outlets were some methods by which Devereux Kids raised visibility and grew its network of connectors.  
    3. Invest in relationships with sustainable funders or supporters. Devereux Kids developed a series of community presentations aimed at several audiences, especially potential funders. 
    4. Strategically plan for growth. To increase training participation by professionals, Devereux Kids began offering continuing education credits.
    5. Develop and implement comprehensive marketing strategies. Partnerships with other child-safety organizations have been instrumental in Devereux Kids' marketing strategy.
    6. Invest in evaluation. A cross-site evaluation of the Devereux Kids project and other Front Porch Project sites garnered both qualitative and quantitative data.

    Lessons Learned From a Decade of Implementation, by Ann Doyle, Lauren Morely, and Leslie Wilmot, is available on the American Humane Association website: (1 MB)


    The Front Porch Project no longer exists at the American Humane Association. It has been absorbed by the Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver under its new name, Communities NOW. For more information on Communities NOW, visit or contact Lara Bruce, or 303.871.4509.

News From the Children's Bureau

We highlight results from the CBX survey in addition to new reports published by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.

  • CBX Survey Results: What You Told Us

    CBX Survey Results: What You Told Us

    From July to October 2011, 1,363 readers of Children's Bureau Express (CBX) responded to an online survey about the digest, providing information about how, when, and why they read CBX, as well as information about their background and interests. Thanks to all of those who completed a survey, we learned more about how CBX is used and how we can make it even better.

    The following are some highlights from the findings:

    • Overall, 90 percent of respondents were satisfied with CBX (65 percent were very satisfied, and 25 percent were somewhat satisfied). Most respondents expressed that the level of detail and the number and types of articles in CBX were about right.
    • There was at least one survey response from every State and the District of Columbia.
    • The top five topics that interest users are child abuse and neglect, Federal information, family support and preservation, out-of-home care/foster care, and permanency for children/youth.
    • The most common way that respondents read an issue of CBX was to click on the article titles from the email alert (78 percent).
    • More than 20 percent of respondents indicated that they searched the archives on the CBX website about once a month.
    • Most respondents reported that they used CBX information most often for professional development.
    • Approximately 37 percent of the survey respondents identified themselves as child welfare professionals in public or private agencies, while 15 percent work in child protective services or family support, and 9 percent work in adoption.
    • CBX readers are experienced professionals: 65 percent of readers have 10 or more years of experience, and 42 percent are either directors/administrators or managers/supervisors.
    • Nearly 90 percent of respondents had some familiarity with the work of the Children's Bureau.

    We were glad to see that CBX is a useful tool for many child welfare professionals, but we're looking at ways to make it even more useful. Whether it's through new technology or coverage of new topics or reaching out to more workers and researchers in the field, we're committed to bringing you the most useful information from the Children's Bureau and the child welfare field.

    Are you one of the 20,000+ subscribers who receives an email alert each month when a new issue of CBX is posted? If not, subscribe here:

    Do you have any thoughts about how to make CBX better? Email us here:

  • 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:

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

  • New Grant Information

    New Grant Information

    The Children's Bureau announced a new FY 2012 discretionary grant funding opportunity for Child Welfare-Education System Collaborations to Increase Educational Stability. The application due date is May 29, 2012.

    In addition, there is a forecasted funding opportunity for 5-year grants to fund Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System:

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

    Please check the forecast site regularly, as forecasts are subject to change.

  • OPRE Report on Disconnected Families

    OPRE Report on Disconnected Families

    The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently released reports on the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. One report highlights research on disconnected families. Another report details a study of how States used Emergency TANF funds to subsidize the 2010 Summer Youth Employment Initiative. 

    The brief on disconnected families compares the economic well-being of disconnected single-mother families and all low-income single-mother families by looking at research on national and State populations. For the purposes of the brief, "disconnected" is defined as low-income single mothers who are not working or who have low wages and are not receiving, or receive low levels of, TANF funds or Supplemental Security Income (i.e., they are disconnected from the labor market and from government subsidies).

    While basic characteristics of low-income single mothers and disconnected low-income single mothers are similar, a few stark contrasts point to possible difficulties in achieving employment for the disconnected population.

    • Approximately 29 percent of disconnected low-income single mothers have less than a high school education, compared to 18 percent of all low-income single mothers.
    • Nearly 17 percent of disconnected low-income single mothers are noncitizens, compared to 10 percent of all low-income single mothers.
    • Roughly 20 percent of disconnected low-income single mothers reported a health condition that prevents them from working, compared to 13 percent of all low-income single mothers.

    The report suggests that TANF employment strategies for improving economic well-being currently used for low-income single mothers may be appropriate for the disconnected population. However, the report also points to the need for devising strategies specific to the chronically disconnected population.

    Disconnected Families and TANF, by Pamela J. Loprest, is available on the OPRE website:  (201 KB)

    Using TANF Funds to Support Subsidized Youth Employment: The 2010 Summer Youth Employment Initiative, presents findings from a study of 10 sites in seven States that used TANF Emergency Funds, along with other funding, to subsidize youth employment programs in 2009 and 2010. Specifically, the study examined:

    • Partnerships between States and local TANF and other workforce agencies
    • The effects of the Emergency TANF funds on specific elements of youth employment initiatives
    • The overall work experience of youth participants

    Using TANF Funds to Support Subsidized Youth Employment: The 2010 Summer Youth Employment Initiative, by Linda Rosenberg, Megan Hague Angus, Cassandra Pickens, and Michelle Derr, is available on the OPRE website: (677 KB)

    Other recently released OPRE Reports include:


  • The Children's Bureau Turns 100!

    The Children's Bureau Turns 100!

    This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Children's Bureau (CB). Several events and activities will take place over the course of 2012 to honor CB's rich history of protecting children and strengthening families. CB is kicking off the centennial year with the following:

    • The Children's Bureau e-brochure provides readers with an overview of CB's history of collaboration, assistance programs to States and Tribes, public awareness campaigns, and leadership development initiatives. Read the e-brochure here:
    • The centennial webinar series includes four historical and eight topical webinars, each open to the public. The first historical webinar, "The Story of the Children's Bureau, The Early Years: 1912-1937," will take place on April 11 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (ET). Register for the webinar here:
    • CB's centennial website is dedicated to all things centennial. Visitors will find the e-brochure, historical photos, webinar recordings, and much more. The centennial website will be available in April.

    Other materials, including a short video about CB's 100 years of work and a commemorative e-book, will be available in the coming months. Look for the new CB centennial logo on the CB website and CBX and check the CB website regularly for updates!

    Related Item

    Read about the social issues, practices, and policies that led to the creation of the Children's Bureau in the first CBX Centennial Series.

Children's Bureau Centennial

This special section is dedicated to CB's 100th anniversary. The ninth and final article in our first Centennial Series looks at the creation of the Children's Bureau. A new series focusing on highlights from each of CB's 10 decades will premiere in May.

  • Grace Abbott's Legacy

    Grace Abbott's Legacy

    A column in the December 2011 and January 2012 issues of Prairie Fire, a Nebraska-based newspaper, featured the life's work of child welfare maven Grace Abbott and her legacy of social change. The column, "Sonny's Corner," focuses on justice and civil rights issues and explores the lives of heroes who made a difference in our society.

    The December 2011 column highlights Abbott's work with the Immigrants' Protective League. Author Jane Renner Hood describes Abbott's family background, education, and early work.

    Abbott's family had strong roots in Nebraska as well as in social reform. Her mother, Elizabeth, was a suffragette. Abbott's father, O.A., was an attorney and Nebraska's first Lt. Governor. Abbott and her sister Edith would later move to Chicago where, through Jane Addams' Hull House—a settlement house for immigrants—she began her work with the Immigrants' Protective League, fighting to provide immigrant families with the same rights and protection as other Americans. Among her immediate efforts was the regulation of banks that often treated immigrants unfairly.

    Abbott recommended to the Bankers' Association that private banks should be regulated and all agents in the foreign exchange business be licensed and inspected. These recommendations laid the foundation for Illinois State legislation in 1917 that safeguarded money sent from immigrants in the U.S. to their families abroad.

    Abbott later traveled to many of the immigrants' home countries to better understand the plight families faced when entering life in America. Upon her return, she was quoted as saying, "A great means of enriching our national life is lost if we give those who are coming from the various nations of Europe the impression that we desire to neglect all but the Anglo-Saxon element in our population."

    The January 2012 column in Prairie Fire, also written by Hood, focused on Abbott's work with the Children's Bureau, with a particular focus on the 1916 Child Labor Law. The law prohibited child labor in mines for children under 16 and those under 14 in mills and factories. The law also banned children from working more than 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, or at night. Abbott worked on the law's implementation, establishing the rules and regulations, and evaluating which States were in compliance and which were not.

    Hood also highlighted Abbott's influence in the passage of The Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921, the first major piece of Federal legislation aimed at improving maternal and infant health. That same year, Abbott became Children's Bureau Chief. She served under four presidents during her tenure with the Children's Bureau from 1921 to 1934.

    The December 2011 issue of Prairie Fire is available here:

    The January 2012 issue of Prairie Fire is available here:  

    Related Item

    Chicago's Hull House, founded by Jane Addams in 1889, closed its doors in January 2012 after more than 120 years. Addams spearheaded the social reform movement on behalf of immigrants, children, and women. Abbott began her work to better the lives of immigrants and children at Hull House, along with her sister Edith.

    For more information on Hull House, visit the Jane Addams Hull House Association website:

  • Centennial Series: The Creation of the Children's Bureau

    Centennial Series: The Creation of the Children's Bureau

    This is the ninth and final article in our first Centennial Series. This series addressed some of the social issues, practices, and policies that laid the groundwork for the creation of the Children's Bureau in April 1912. A new series, CB Decade-by-Decade, will premiere in May and examine the highlights from each decade of the Children's Bureau's first 100 years.

    At the turn of the last century, the concept of children as economic necessities began to wane and was replaced by the idea that children had a right to a happy, healthy, and safe childhood. This budding attitude, combined with Progressive Era campaigns for government intervention in the nation's social struggles, raised the need for a Federal agency charged with protecting the welfare of America's children. After 9 years and 11 congressional bills, the Children's Bureau was created. Its early efforts laid the foundation for much of the research, initiatives, and programs that continue today. 

    There were two main issues that led to the Bureau's creation: infant mortality rates and child labor. According to the 1910 U.S. Census, there were an estimated 2.2 million children under 1 year of age (U.S. Census Bureau, 1910). That year, there also were approximately 300,000 infant deaths (Lathrop, 1914). A study in 1907 found that more than 500,000 children were employed in industrial jobs, including in coal mines, textile mills, iron and steel works, and furniture, lumber, and glass factories (Lindenmeyer, 1997). In the early 20th century, the Federal Government had no stake in nurturing the development or protecting the well-being of the nation's children. Such work was primarily conducted by religious and philanthropic entities, until activists encouraged government engagement.

    As early as 1900, Florence Kelley, a member of the National Consumers League who regularly spoke on child labor issues, proposed in her lectures a Federal Commission on Children. In 1903, Lillian Wald, founder of New York City's Henry Street Settlement, suggested to Kelley that the government establish a Federal Children's Bureau. Kelley brought the recommendation to Edward Devine, a trustee of the newly formed National Child Labor Committee and through whom Wald was able to get the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt (Bradbury, 1962). While the President promised his support, congressional approval was necessary. That road was neither short nor smooth.

    The first bill to create the Children's Bureau was introduced in 1906, however, it never reached a vote. In 1908, another bill was introduced and passed out of committee. Nevertheless, it reached the same fate as the original bill, never seeing a final vote (U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor, 1912). The turning point came in 1909 when the American Academy of Medicine (AAM) convened the first-ever infant mortality conference in New Haven, CT (Reynolds, 2007). That same year, President Roosevelt called for the first White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children and raised his support for the agency to new heights: 

    "We have an Agricultural Department and we are spending $14 million or $15 million a year to tell the farmers, by the result of our research, how they ought to treat the soil and how they ought to treat the cattle and the horses, with a view of having good hogs and good cattle . . . it does not seem to be a long step or a stretch of logic to say we have the power to spend the money on a Bureau of Research to tell how we may develop good men and women" (Bradbury, 1962).

    Over the course of 6 years, eight bills in the U.S. House and three bills in the U.S. Senate were introduced. Finally, a bill introduced in the 61st Congress by Senator William E. Borah passed the Senate on January 31, 1912, and the House on April 2 of the same year. President Taft signed it into law on April 9, creating the nation's—and the world's—first Federal agency whose exclusive focus was improving the lives of children and families. Its mission was to "investigate and report upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people." Its immediate task was to research infant and maternal mortality, followed by orphanages, juvenile courts, dangerous occupations, diseases of children, employment, and State and territory legislation affecting children (U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor, 1912; Bradbury, 1962).

    In the original bill, the Bureau was allocated an annual budget of $25,640 and permitted a staff of 15, including one Chief officer. Eight years before women won the right to vote in America, Julia Lathrop was appointed Chief of the Children's Bureau and became the first woman to head a Federal agency. Among her successes, she established new research efforts and led groundbreaking "baby saving" campaigns that helped to dramatically lower the nation's infant mortality rate.

    One hundred years later, the Children's Bureau continues to work with States, Tribes, and territories to improve the overall health and well-being of our nation's children and families. With an annual budget of almost $8 billion, the Children's Bureau maintains its focus on rigorous research to inform practices that prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children when child abuse and neglect occur, and ensure every child has a permanent family or family connection.


    Bradbury, D. (1962). Five decades of action for children, a history of the Children's Bureau. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education, And Welfare. Social Security Administration. Children's Bureau. Retrieved from (8 MB)

    Lathrop, J. (1914a). First annual report of the Chief, Children's Bureau, to the Secretary of Labor, for the fiscal year ended June 1913. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved from (1MB)

    Lindenmeyer, K. (1997). A right to childhood: The U.S. Children's Bureau and child welfare, 1912-46. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

    Reynolds, H. (2007). Public health and midwifery. In L. Ament (Ed.), Professional issues in midwifery (pp. 54–55). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Retrieved from  (1 MB)

    U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor. (1912). Establishment of the Children's Bureau. Retrieved from (842 KB)

  • CB and the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921

    CB and the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921

    The Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921 was the first major piece of Federal legislation focused on improving maternal and infant health. The law allocated nearly $1.2 million in Federal funds to States over 5 years for infant and maternal health care education. An article in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services describes the role that Children's Bureau research and advocacy played in the passage of the act.

    Children's Bureau (CB) efforts not only paved the way for the groundbreaking legislation but also changed the face of social science research. CB's first Chief, Julia Lathrop, adopted a cohort approach to studying infant mortality to try to identify the causes of the high rate of infant mortality. Prior to the studies conducted by CB in the early 1900s, infant deaths had merely been counted. Factors contributing to the death, particularly factors that could prevent infant deaths, had not been evaluated. Moreover, Lathrop insisted the data be aggregated, evaluated, and disseminated to vulnerable populations.

    By 1921, CB had published and disseminated 46 documents ranging from pamphlets on proper infant and child care to full field study reports and cross-national comparisons. This approach to research and subsequent findings led Jeanette Rankin, the first female Member of Congress, to introduce a bill to address infant mortality. It was later reintroduced by Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas and Congressman Horace Towner of Iowa, receiving the moniker Sheppard-Towner.

    The act was the first of its kind, providing direct Federal funds to States and, in essence, extending the work of CB to the States. Lathrop repeatedly testified at congressional hearings that CB's research and dissemination efforts simply were not enough. Federal action was necessary to help States lower the nation's infant mortality rate.

    The Sheppard-Towner Act passed the U.S. Senate on July 22, 1921, and passed the U.S. House of Representatives that November. President Harding signed the act into law on November 21, 1921, authorizing the flow of nearly $1.2 million through CB to States for 5 years, expiring on June 30, 1927. The act included provisions for:

    • Infant and maternal health care education
    • Visiting nurses
    • Child health centers
    • Child health conferences
    • Literature distribution

    Following the implementation of the Sheppard-Towner Act:

    • The U.S. infant mortality rate fell from 76 per 1,000 live births in 1921 to 65 per 1,000 in 1927.
    • Nearly 145,000 health conferences provided health care to children and mothers.
    • Approximately 3,000 centers for prenatal care were established.
    • Nearly 20,000 infant and maternal care classes were conducted.

    The article also explores the staunch opposition to the act, the failed attempts to extend the act for 2 years, and the act's implications on social work practice today.

    "The Children's Bureau and Passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921: Early Social Work Macro Practice in Action," by Elizabeth Sammons Rodems, H. Luke Shaefer, and Marci Ybarra, is available on the Families in Society website: (212 KB)


Training and Technical Assistance Update

Learn about how States are using differential response for screened-out reports and other news from CB's T&TA Network.

  • Decision-Making Tools Library for Child Welfare

    Decision-Making Tools Library for Child Welfare

    To offer the most up-to-date tools and resources to the child welfare field, the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) recently announced the launch of its online Decision-Making Tools Library. All the items are from State Liaison Officers who currently use them in their child welfare agencies. So far, 18 States and the Virgin Islands have contributed.

    Resources in this library are instruments, policies, and procedures that guide child welfare staff in gathering information to make decisions regarding a child's safety, measuring levels of risk and family functioning, assessing the strengths and needs of the child or family, and judging if a case is ready to be closed. The types of tools differ according to each State's child welfare system and represent various stages, from an initial hotline call through case closure. "Not all States use tools for all levels of decision-making," said Kathy Simms, consultant with NRCCPS, "so that is why the number of tools provided varies greatly from State to State."

    Among the library's resources are assessments, safety plans, and guidelines for intake and investigation, for example:

    • Maine's Pediatric Symptom Checklist
    • Nebraska's Dependency Screening Tool
    • North Carolina's Structured Intake Policy
    • Ohio's Family Service Plan Review Instructions
    • West Virginia's Protective Capacity Family Assessment

    In addition, there are policies and procedures that cover topics such as educational neglect, homeschooling, and needs assessments for children.

    The library will update and verify its contents every 6 months and add resources as more States and territories participate.

    For more information on the library and how to contribute, contact Kathy Simms at

    Visit the website here:

  • More Updates From the T&TA Network

    More Updates From the T&TA Network

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

  • Differential Response for Screened-Out Reports

    Differential Response for Screened-Out Reports

    When families come to the attention of child welfare systems for reports of child maltreatment that do not warrant investigation or formal assessment, they often can benefit from intervention services to prevent future reports. The process through which States point these families toward prevention services is the focus of a recent study conducted by the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response (QIC-DR).

    Traditionally, differential response refers to an approach that allows child protective services (CPS) agencies to respond in more than one way to screened-in reports of child maltreatment. This study, however, focused on State responses to screened-out reports, which refer to those families who do not warrant CPS intervention but may benefit from other preventive services. 

    In April 2011, 102 State public child welfare administrators and Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) agency contacts were sent an email with a link to and information about the survey. Both CBCAP State leads and State leaders from child welfare systems were surveyed. A total of 49 respondents (48 percent) completed the survey, 13 respondents (13 percent) deferred to the information provided by the other respondent from their State, and 40 contacts (39 percent) did not respond. The QIC-DR was able to gather information from all but seven States.

    The survey report provides descriptive summaries of State approaches, contact information for some States, and, where possible, resources regarding their response systems for screened-out reports. The discussion portion of the report strongly focuses on States without formal response systems to screened-out reports as well as information about States implementing new response systems.

    Nine States have statewide, formal response systems to screened-out reports, and five States have jurisdictions with formal response systems. Twenty of the 26 States indicated interest in implementing a preventive or early intervention response pathway to screened-out reports. Lisa Merkel-Holguin, Principal Investigator of the QIC-DR, said the increasing interest is expected. "Many States are reorganizing their CPS systems to have a differential response approach. I'm not surprised to see a growing interest by a number of CPS systems looking at screened-out reports because some research shows there to be less variability than anticipated between low- to moderate-risk families that are screened in versus those that are screened out. In addition, these systems desire to serve vulnerable families before additional reports may occur."

    Lauren Morley, Manager, Training and Prevention at the American Humane Association, said State approaches vary. "What some States refer to as differential response looks different from practice in other States that refer to their systemic practice using the same terminology. For example, some States are doing excellent work in the way of front-end prevention and early intervention for those families who come to the attention of the system but aren’t screened in for a formal CPS response, and those States are calling that response to screened-out reports a differential response. Through this study, we were able to better understand what these formal responses look like and to more clearly discern what preventive efforts exist in States both with and without a differential response CPS system."

    In September 2013, the QIC-DR will release, in partnership with its three research and demonstration sites, final outcomes, cost, and implementation studies. Merkel-Holguin said States might be waiting to see what those results show and how that evidence can inform practice and systems changes.

    The authors suggest that further study is needed to develop best practices for serving these vulnerable families. Morley said, "There's not going to be just one model. It's more about what components we can study and learning about how to develop the most effective system with areas where flexibility at the community and State levels will be essential."

    Formal Public Child Welfare Responses to Screened-Out Reports of Alleged Maltreatment, by Lauren Morley and Caren Kaplan, is available on the QIC-DR website: (314 KB) 

    Special thanks to Lauren Morley, Manager, Prevention and Training at the American Humane Association, and Lisa Merkel-Holguin, Director, System and Practice Advancements in Child Welfare at the American Humane Association and Principal Investigator of the QIC-DR,  for providing the information for this article. 

    Related Item

    CBX featured an article on the QIC-DR in February 2011 issue, "Innovations in Differential Response Across States," and the February 2010 Spotlight section was focused on differential response.

Child Welfare Research

This month, CBX highlights a magazine issue dedicated to engaging fathers, links to research on the relationship between placement changes and mental health services use, and more.

  • Mental Health Care and Placement Change

    Mental Health Care and Placement Change

    The correlation between frequent foster care placement changes and the use of crisis mental health services is explored in a recent journal article. Researchers Kya Fawley-King and Lonnie Snowden examined the use of these services, including psychiatric hospitalization, by more than 19,000 children during their first 90 days of foster care between October 1998 and March 2011. The study sought to confirm the results of earlier research that suggested that the need for mental health care services leads to changes in placement, and frequent changes in placement may create the need for mental health treatment. The research is important because these negative outcomes are highly prevalent among children in foster care.

    Results confirmed the bidirectional relationship. Children who use crisis mental health services tend to be older and are more likely to have received mental health treatment prior to entering foster care. Also, preexisting mental health issues may be triggered by placement changes. Children who experience a  placement change are more likely to need treatment, including psychiatric hospitalization, than children who remain with current caregivers.

    The authors suggest that a factor in placement instability for these children is that many foster parents are unprepared to deal with the children's behavior and could benefit from training on coping with foster children with mental health challenges. Other strategies to promote placement stability include improved outpatient mental health care services, including services that are designed specifically for children in foster care such as the Fostering Individualized Assistance Program or New York City's the Foster Care Initiative.

    The article concludes with suggestions for future research. "Relationship Between Placement Change During Foster Care and Utilization of Emergency Mental Health Services" was published in the November 2011 issue of Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 348–353, and is available on the ScienceDirect website:

  • Perceptions of Abuse, Neglect

    Perceptions of Abuse, Neglect

    A recent study revealed that while most Hawaiians believe child abuse and neglect is a serious issue, many are unsure how to identify the signs of abuse. Additionally, a majority of residents said that knowing they could report child abuse and neglect anonymously increased the likelihood they would do so.

    The Hawaii Children's Trust Fund and the Joyful Heart Foundation conducted the study to gauge citizens' perceptions and understanding of and level of concern about child abuse and neglect. Between June 28 and July 20, 2010, more than 700 residents from every Hawaiian county and a variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds were surveyed via telephone. To ensure a representative sample, 20 percent of the final sample were residents without landlines.

    The survey revealed that:

    • Nearly 40 percent of residents know someone who was abused or neglected.
    • About 9 percent of citizens have personally experienced abuse or neglect.
    • Nearly 65 percent of residents said it was "difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to spot the signs of abuse.
    • While 75 percent said they would talk to someone if they suspected a child they did not know was being abused, only 11 percent would talk to a social service agency and 5 percent would talk to child welfare services. Most residents would talk to their own family and friends.  
    • Nearly 90 percent of residents said knowing they could report suspected child abuse or neglect anonymously made them more likely to report it.

    These results laid the foundation for a public awareness campaign to raise understanding about the signs of abuse, reporting suspected abuse, tips for strengthening families, and more. Hinged on the study's findings that residents are more likely to speak to friends, family members, and colleagues if they suspect a child is being abused, the One Strong Ohana campaign aims to inspire open conversation about abuse and neglect. The campaign forms community partnerships to educate residents about appropriate responses to suspected child abuse or neglect. Its website features a number of resources for parents and caregivers, community members, and service providers.

    The study, Perceptions of Child Abuse and Neglect in Hawaii, is available on the Joyful Heart Foundation's website: (2 MB)

    More information on the One Strong Ohana campaign is available on the Hawaii Children's Trust Fund website:

  • Differential Response Pilot Programs

    Differential Response Pilot Programs

    The experiences of two States, Missouri and Minnesota, in implementing differential response systems are presented in a new publication, Lessons From the Beginning of Differential Response: Why It Works and When It Doesn't. A system of differential response provides for alternatives to the traditional investigation that generally follows a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. The alternative response, in cases that do not involve criminal behavior or imminent danger to a child, is to conduct a family assessment.

    In this monograph, author Gary Siegel describes the family assessment process and the challenges that each State encountered in implementing differential response. The assessment differs from an investigation in its focus and purpose in that there is less emphasis on confirming the report of maltreatment and more on determining the needs of the family. Missouri's legislation required that the same funding mechanisms remain in place with no increases. Collaboration between child protective services (CPS) and existing community support systems was vital. Minnesota's challenges were different and involved jurisdictional issues. Minnesota's county-administered CPS system required consent from and collaboration with participating counties to ensure successful implementation.

    Evaluations  of pilot programs in both States showed generally positive outcomes. Families in particular preferred the assessment approach as it provided them with the means to improve their situations in a nonthreatening, nonadversarial way. In Missouri in particular, the analysis showed that families most helped were those who lived in poverty—the family assessment approach led to an increase in the provision of basic services to the families that would have received little or no attention from workers in the traditional approach.

    Overall, findings from the evaluations of these pilot programs indicate that the core features of differential response—increased services and positive family engagement—had positive effects and led to improved outcomes for families and children.

    Lessons From the Beginning of Differential Response: Why It Works and When It Doesn't was published by the Institute of Applied Research of St. Louis, MO, and is available on its website:
    (490 KB)

  • Bringing Back the Dads

    Bringing Back the Dads

    A 2011 special issue of American Humane's Protecting Children is dedicated to father engagement and features a variety of articles addressing issues facing nonresident fathers involved with the child welfare system. Practitioners and researchers share lessons learned from the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers (QIC-NRF), a Children's Bureau-funded project geared toward determining the impact of increased nonresident father engagement on the safety, permanency, and well-being of their children involved in the child welfare system.

    The article "Fathers' Voices in the Child Welfare System: Not About Us Without Us," by Ron J. Clark and Greg Cox, explores strides taken by the QIC-NRF to include the voices of fathers when building intervention programs aimed at fathers. Conceptually simple, the author notes that nonresident fathers are often viewed as apathetic to the needs of their children involved in the child welfare system rather than as individuals dealing with their own challenges. The QIC-NRF established the National Fathers Advisory Council (NFAC) to foster a culture shift and move away from the punitive-only approach to serving fathers, change perceptions, and incorporate fathers' voices in developing support services. The group met six times during the 5-year grant period, and Local Fathers Advisory Councils were later formed near demonstration sites.

    The issue also includes a spotlight on Colorado's Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative (PRF), which funded 63 faith- and community-based organizations over 5 years to provide direct services to fathers—serving approximately 5,000 fathers. The PRF program also facilitated fatherhood training. While each site operated under core requirements, they were permitted flexibility to meet the needs of local, diverse populations. The article highlights the program's core collaborative elements, public awareness campaign efforts that raised program visibility, strategies to involve caseworkers such as the online fatherhood engagement portal, and participant success stories.

    Other articles highlight promising child welfare casework and legal and judicial best practices.

    The special issue of Protecting Children, 26(2),"Bringing Back the Dads: Changing Practice's in Child Welfare Systems," is available on the American Humane website: (1.47 MB)

    Related Item

    In 2011, CBX featured a number of articles about site visits to the QIC-NRF demonstration sites. Check them out:

  • Research Synthesis on Disproportionality

    Research Synthesis on Disproportionality

    In July of 2010, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) and The Annie E. Casey Foundation held a symposium to discuss a series of papers assessing current research on racial disparities in child welfare. The symposium was an initiative of the Alliance for Racial Equality, whose goal is to improve outcomes for children and families of color served by the child welfare system while simultaneously addressing those disparities.

    The symposium was structured with the goal of garnering input from individuals with broad, and sometimes differing, perspectives. The resulting compendium of papers includes "A Research Synthesis on Child Welfare Disproportionality and Disparities," as well as a series of response papers reflecting on that synthesis. The synthesis updates research from Robert Hill's 2006 Research Synthesis in Child Welfare: An Update and identifies significant updates and gaps in research regarding the role of race and ethnicity in child welfare.

    The third portion of the compendium is titled "Racial Equity in Child Welfare: Key Themes, Findings and Perspectives" and was developed after the symposium. It serves as a summary of information presented and discussed at the symposium, examines new research and data published since then, provides an analysis of the areas where the research is the clearest as well as where findings remain inconclusive, and points to places where further research is most urgently needed.

    Disparities and Disproportionality in Child Welfare: Analysis of the Research can be found on the CSSP website: (3 MB)

Strategies and Tools for Practice

  • Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Care

    Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Care

    The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) published a new two-part guide, Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Foster Care, to offer suggestions in the areas of both policy and practice. Part one, A Guide to Service Implementation, offers a set of policy recommendations for administrators and practitioners who work closely with pregnant and parenting youth in foster care. National experts were consulted when drafting this list of recommendations, and findings were taken from a yearlong project that examined what is currently working in States and Tribes. The recommendations align with goals of keeping pregnant and parenting youth and their children healthy, successful in school, and safe in their communities.

    Part one is divided into five sections:

    • State Infrastructure for Service Delivery, Financing, Monitoring, and Accountability
    • Legal Rights, Placement and Permanency
    • Physical, Socio-Emotional Health and Well-Being
    • Education and Self-Sufficiency
    • Engagement of Fathers

    Part two, A Guide on Effective Programs, Curricula and Other Resources, is geared toward jurisdictions working to help pregnant and parenting youth in foster care. This guide includes resources based on evidence-based programs, surveys, and phone interviews with those knowledgeable about existing supports for this vulnerable population. The guide includes more general resources for pregnant or parenting youth that may be applied to the foster care population.

    Part two is composed of three sections:

    • Parenting Supports
    • Developmental Supports for Children and Parents, including Health Care and Trauma-Informed Supports
    • Preparation for Adulthood, including Education and Housing

    Both guides are available on the CSSP website:

    Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Foster Care: Part I: A Guide to Service Implementation (415 KB)

    Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Foster Care: Part II: A Guide on Effective Programs, Curricula and Other Resources (406 KB)

  • Toolbox for Foster Parents

    Toolbox for Foster Parents

    A new guide is available to provide foster parents and child welfare professionals with practical information, parenting tips, and fresh strategies to better understand and respond to the needs of children and youth in foster care. Edited by Kim Phagan-Hansel, The Foster Parenting Toolbox is the result of a collaborative effort that taps into the experiences, words of wisdom, and problem-solving skills of foster parents, birth parents, caseworkers, former foster youth, and child welfare advocates. The 464-page book covers topics such as how to become a foster parent, working with biological families, and dealing with issues of grief and loss, and it offers advice and recommendations on nurturing positive foster parent/child relationships, successfully managing difficult behaviors, and seeking appropriate services.

    Developed as an extension of State trainings, the book focuses on the most common foster care issues and concerns. Chapters highlight critical areas of foster parenting, including:

    • Collaborations
    • Caregiver transitions
    • Birth family relations
    • Addressing trauma
    • Issues related to anger, grief, attachment disruption
    • Using discipline
    • Support services
    • Allegations of abuse
    • Family reunification/adoption

    The Foster Parenting Toolbox can be purchased on the EMK Press website:  

    Download a free article from the book, "The Jigsaw Puzzle Child," by Eileen Mayers Pasztor:  (3 MB)


  • Trauma Guide for Resource Parents

    Trauma Guide for Resource Parents

    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network published Birth Parents With Trauma Histories and the Child Welfare System: A Guide for Resource Parents. This short factsheet describes how trauma experienced by birth parents can affect children's lives and how resource parents (foster, adoptive, or kinship) can support both the birth parent and the entire family.

    The guide is broken into three sections:

    • What resource parents should know about the effects of trauma on birth parents
    • How resource parents can work together with birth parents
    • How resource parents can protect themselves from secondary traumatic stress

    Each section includes a list of bulleted tips. This factsheet's conversational tone makes the information accessible and easy to understand, especially for resource parents who may not have any formal child welfare training.

    Birth Parents With Trauma Histories and the Child Welfare System: A Guide for Resource Parents is available on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website: (308 KB)

    This factsheet is part of a series of factsheets about parent trauma in the child welfare system. The series includes guides for child welfare staff, birth parents, and judges and attorneys and are available on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website:

  • Strengths and Needs Assessment Tool

    Strengths and Needs Assessment Tool

    Wisconsin's Department of Children and Families' (DCF) Division of Safety and Permanence issued a memo outlining the State's policies and procedures for child welfare professionals using the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool. CANS is a standardized assessment resource for evaluating the needs of children and youth in care and the ability of caregivers to meet those needs.

    The tool assesses the child or youth's trauma history and its impact, physical and mental health, behavioral and emotional needs, school performance, risk behaviors, and more. Caregivers' strengths and needs are evaluated pertaining to factors such as problem solving, empathy, social resources, physical health, and others. The initial assessment must be conducted within the first 30 days of placement, and follow-up assessments should be conducted after 6 months.

    Training for Wisconsin child welfare workers is located on the Wisconsin Professional Development System’s website under Caseworker Trainings:

    Assessing the Strengths and Needs of Children Placed in Out-of-Home Care Through the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths Tool is available on the Wisconsin DCF website: (39 KB)

  • Fostering Connections Sibling Provisions

    Fostering Connections Sibling Provisions

    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 requires States to make a "reasonable effort" to place siblings together in foster care, kinship care, or adoption placements. If placing siblings together is not possible, States must make a reasonable effort to ensure siblings visit together at least monthly, unless the placement or visit puts a child in danger.

    The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which has been tracking State legislation related to the act, published summaries of States' progress toward fulfilling the sibling placement provision. The summaries quote language from States' bills.

    In July 2009, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families issued a program instruction encouraging child welfare agencies to establish protocols to assist caseworkers in sibling placements. During the 2009, 2010, and 2011 State legislative sessions, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota (two bills), Missouri (two bills), Nebraska, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington submitted or passed bills related to these mandatory provisions.

    Prior to the enactment of Fostering Connections, some States—Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington—submitted legislation to ensure the consideration of sibling placement and visitation for siblings in the child welfare system.

    The State legislation summaries are available on the NCSL website:

    Additional resources referenced on the NCSL website include the information packet, Sibling Placement: The Importance of the Sibling Relationship for Children in Foster Care, published by the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections: (121 KB)

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


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

    May 2012

    June 2012

    • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 49th Annual Conference
      Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
      June 06-09, Chicago, IL
    • 14th Annual International Fatherhood Conference
      Partnerships and Collaboration: Expanding Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Family Program Connections
      National Partnership for Community Leadership
      June 12-15, Fort Lauderdale, FL
    • 2012 National Foster Parent Association National Education Conference
      National Foster Parent Association
      June 15-18, Chicago, IL
    • 2012 National Pathways to Adulthood
      Convening on Youth in Transition
      National Resource Center for Youth Development
      June 26-29, New Orleans, LA

    July 2012

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


  • MCH Navigator

    MCH Navigator

    The Maternal Child Health (MCH) Navigator learning portal is now available for child welfare professionals at the State and community levels interested in advancing their MCH skills. Developed by the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the MCH Navigator aims to increase access to free or low-cost web-based training materials.

    Through the portal, professionals can assess their training needs and connect to appropriate training resources. The Navigator system is being continually developed and, while the current focus is on State-level MCH professionals, future enhancements will address the professional development needs for family advocates, health agency workers, and more.

    The MCH Navigator portal is available here:

    The MCH Navigator web tour is available at:

    A short video presentation is also available at:

  • Father Involvement Curricula

    Father Involvement Curricula

    The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) offers several trainings for child welfare professionals to help them in engaging fathers.

    • The Basic Fatherhood Training Curriculum is focused on working with noncustodial fathers but can be applied to other father-child relationships.
    • Two self-contained training packages (one basic and one advanced) were modeled on The Basic Fatherhood Training Curriculum to help practitioners develop the skills for engaging fathers and to learn best practices. The advanced curricula was developed for those working with fathers who are resistant to engaging with their child or children.
    • The basic and advanced training packages were converted into three online courses worth three continuing education units upon completion.

    In addition to the training options, NFPN produced a handbook for child welfare professionals developing father-involvement programs, the Complete Guide to Father Involvement.

    Find all the fatherhood materials on NFPN's website: