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September/October 2015Vol. 16, No. 7Spotlight on Back to School

A new school year is beginning, and with it come new opportunities for child welfare professionals to support the academic goals and success of the children and youth they serve. This month, CBX features resources to help improve educational stability, services, and outcomes for children and youth involved with child welfare.

Issue Spotlight

  • Toward Educational Stability for Youth in Care

    Toward Educational Stability for Youth in Care

    A September 2014 report discusses the Annie E. Casey Foundation's efforts to improve educational stability and outcomes for youth in foster care between 2008 (when the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act was enacted) and 2013 (when the Federal Uninterrupted Scholars Act was signed, which made it easier for child welfare caseworkers to obtain the educational records for the youth with whom they work). For youth in foster care already experiencing family trauma, separation, and instability, school interruptions can have added adverse consequences on their educational achievement and long-term success into adulthood. Some issues include delays in school enrollment, omissions and errors in transferring records from one school to another, and difficulties accessing or continuing to receive special education and other needed services from one school to the next.

    Compared to children not in foster care, youth in foster care consistently experience lower academic achievement; lower standardized test scores; higher rates of absenteeism, dropping out, and grade retention; and more behavioral issues. Fostering Connections brought attention to the educational struggles of children and youth in care. To help guide and support States in implementing Fostering Connections and fill the gaps legislation did not address—specifically how to collaborate effectively across the child welfare and education systems—Annie E. Casey focused on four key areas of strategic investment:

    • Funding data collection and research to fill gaps in information about school stability, educational performance, and permanency outcomes for students in foster care
    • Building and strengthening State networks of policy advocates
    • Providing intensive technical assistance to selected States
    • Convening stakeholders, disseminating resources, and promoting the exchange of information about best practices

    The report highlights some of the successes and milestones achieved by Annie E. Casey and its partners in their work to provide youth with a stable and positive school experience. Snapshots of progress are presented, and the report also addresses lessons learned; recognizes continuing challenges; and lists specific recommendations and next steps for leaders, advocates, and funders to keep the Foundation's work, momentum, and progress in this area moving forward.

    To read Sustaining Momentum: Improving Educational Stability for Young People in Foster Care, visit the Annie E. Casey Foundation website at

  • Sharing Education Data

    Sharing Education Data

    The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education and the Data Quality Campaign developed a factsheet about the importance of child welfare and education agencies sharing data about the school experiences of children in foster care. It also provides information about which States securely link their K–12 and foster care data systems. Sharing relevant and critical information across systems can help ensure that children in foster care receive the support and services they need to succeed in school. Child welfare professionals can use education data to help children and youth in foster care with the following:

    • Helping with timely enrollment and transfer of credits if a school change is needed
    • Identifying the need for educational supports
    • Working with school staff to address attendance and discipline issues
    • Assisting with transition planning to postschool activities such as higher education

    The factsheet Supporting Students in Foster Care: Collaboration Between Education and Child Welfare Agencies Is Key, along with a supplemental data file for related numbers, is available at

  • Services for Improving Youth's Educational, Employment Outcomes

    Services for Improving Youth's Educational, Employment Outcomes

    A recent article in the journal Child & Family Social Work highlights the efforts of the National Foster Youth Demonstration Project, a project sponsored by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department of Labor to fund workforce development services that specifically targeted youth in foster care and alumni of care. ETA awarded demonstration grants to five youth employment and training programs in Pasadena and Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; New York, NY; and Houston, TX. The five centers were asked to develop model programs for foster youth primarily between the ages of 16 and 21 that would provide a range of educational, employment, and independent living activities.

    This project represents a response to the growing concern in the United States that many young people are not developing the skills they need for success in today's economy. A major issue is the need to create feasible postsecondary pathways to good jobs for high school dropouts. For youth who have experienced out-of-home care, the path to job and career success is particularly challenging as they are more likely to have inadequate work skills because of unstable housing, multiple school changes, lack of life skills, limited access to postsecondary education and training, and limited employment experience.

    During the 2-year study period, 35 percent of the 1,058 participants obtained employment, 23 percent obtained a General Education Development (GED) certificate or high school diploma, and 17 percent enrolled in postsecondary education. In their evaluation, the authors found that that the longer the youth were enrolled in programs, the more education and employment outcomes they achieved. Further, job preparation and income support services were associated significantly with achieving positive education or employment outcome. Results indicated that certain services provided over an extended period of time can improve outcomes for youth placed in foster care.

    The article "Effective Services for Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for Children and Alumni of Foster Care Service: Correlates and Educational and Employment Outcomes," by Burt S. Barnow, Amy Buck, Kirk O’Brien, Peter Pecora, Mei Ling Ellis, and Eric Steiner, Child & Family Social Work, 20(2), 2015, is available for purchase at

  • Pathways to College for Youth in Foster Care

    Pathways to College for Youth in Foster Care

    The John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes and California College Pathways partnered to produce a report aimed at identifying the specific policies and practices that can help mitigate the barriers that can prevent youth in foster care from achieving their postsecondary education goals. Some of these barriers can include foster youth's lack of academic preparation for college, knowledge of the matriculation process, and access to adequate financial aid; difficulties accessing documentation necessary for enrollment and benefit access; and inadequate access to housing, including during summer breaks.

    After analyses of educational and child welfare data, as well as interviews and input from State and national experts and youth in care, the report provides 17 policy recommendations, each falling under one of the following categories:

    • Solutions to lack of academic preparation
    • Solutions to lack of knowledge regarding matriculation
    • Solutions to inadequate financial aid
    • Solutions to documentation access
    • Solutions to inadequate college completion
    • Solutions to inadequate housing
    • Solutions to inadequate data

    To learn more and read the detailed policy recommendations, access No Time to Lose: A Policy Agenda to Support College Success for Foster Youth at (2 MB).

  • California's Efforts to Support Academic Success

    California's Efforts to Support Academic Success

    Children and youth in foster care may need extra supports and services to help them achieve academic success, and many States are working to increase those available supports. Two recent publications highlight efforts in California to improve educational outcomes for this vulnerable population. A publication from Chapin Hall focuses on the State's implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 and the law's provision allowing States to extend foster care services for youth after they reach age 18. California also enacted the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), a comprehensive change in the State's education funding system, which is the focus of a research brief from SRI International and J. Koppich & Associates.

    The Chapin Hall paper looks at the perspectives of older youth in foster care in California and caseworkers who work with older youth regarding  youth's educational status, as well as the resources and services available to help these youth achieve academic goals. The paper draws data from the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH), which includes a survey of caseworkers and the baseline interview of a longitudinal study of adolescents transitioning out of foster care. It also examines the educational history and status of older youth in care, the perception of how ready these youth are to pursue their educational goals, and the availability and helpfulness of education-related services.

    The study found that discrepancies exist between youth and caseworker assessment of youth's educational preparedness. For example, youth most commonly responded that they felt prepared or very prepared to continue their education, but caseworkers most commonly responded that youth they work with were only somewhat prepared. Both groups agreed that educational supports and services play an important role in helping youth achieve their educational goals, and youth most frequently cited receiving continued educational support as a main reason for staying in foster care. However, less than one-third of caseworkers felt that there was a wide range of education services available to youth in foster care, and only one-quarter of youth felt very satisfied with the services they received. The paper concludes by stating the importance of expanding services and improving coordination between systems in order to help improve youth outcomes. To learn more, read Youth and Caseworker Perspectives on Older Adolescents in California Foster Care: Youths’ Education Status and Services, by Nathanael J. Okpych, Mark E. Courtney, and Pajarita Charles, at (600 KB).

    The research brief from SRI International and J. Koppich & Associates is one of a series of reports examining the early implementation of LCFF, which allows school districts to decide how to allocate their funds to best meet students' needs, and it requires districts to submit a fiscal strategic plan, called a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). LCFF also highlights youth in foster care as a subpopulation of students that are underserved and in need of increased attention. Districts' LCAPs must include goals for serving youth in foster care, metrics for measuring progress toward these goals, and specific services and strategies that will be employed to reach youth in care.

    The brief found that while there have been challenges to early implementation (e.g., providing an accurate count of youth in care, data-sharing dilemmas, and new roles for county offices of education), districts have also developed specific strategies for providing improved support for youth in care, including:

    • Promoting school stability
    • Increasing counseling services targeted to youth in care
    • Providing tutoring services, often through Federal title I funds
    • Including districts' liaisons for youth in foster care in the development of LCAPs
    • Creating a more positive and inclusive school climate for youth in care
    • Providing school personnel with professional development around foster youth

    To read more about early implementation of LCFF, read Foster Youth and Early Implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula: Not Yet Making the Grade, by Daniel C. Humphrey at (513 KB).

    Related Item

    The Children's Bureau funded several projects aimed at building infrastructure capacity to support collaborative initiatives between child welfare and early childhood systems to maximize enrollment, attendance, and supports of infants and young children who are in foster care into comprehensive, high-quality early care and education programs. Learn about the projects on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at

  • Improving Educational Outcomes: Federal, State, and Local Efforts

    Improving Educational Outcomes: Federal, State, and Local Efforts

    A new school year is beginning, and with it come new opportunities for children and youth to learn, grow, and work toward a bright future. Each year also brings new opportunities for child welfare professionals to work toward ensuring that all children who come to the attention of child welfare have access to the supports and services they need to achieve success. Laying the groundwork for academic success must begin early. Services such as those stipulated in the Part C referral provisions of the 2003 reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) support the educational stability of children receiving child welfare services by meeting special needs that may exist before they enter school.

    There is significant overlap in the population of young children with substantiated abuse or neglect and those who experience developmental delays. Research shows that children who are abused or neglected often experience physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social problems.1 Part C recognizes this through provisions for early intervention and requirements for States to refer victims of abuse and neglect up to age 3 for developmental assessments. IDEA 2004 also details specific requirements for State early intervention programs (EIPs), which are administered by lead agencies in each State (including departments of health, developmental disability, social services, children and families, or education). For more information about Part C and early intervention services, including how child welfare and early intervention intersect, an overview of Part C, the benefits of Part C for child welfare, and how child welfare professionals can support Part C efforts, read Child Welfare Information Gateway's bulletin Addressing the Needs of Young Children in Child Welfare: Part C—Early Intervention Services at

    Child welfare workers can help ensure that the developmental needs of children who are abused and neglected are addressed by referring children to EIPs and working closely with EIP staff. It is also important for child welfare and EIP staff to partner with education, Early Head Start/Head Start, health and mental health, and other agencies and services to ensure that vital information is shared and all avenues for helping children reach their full potential are explored. An example of collaboration among systems to improve children's outcomes can be seen in the efforts of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), the Pittsburgh Public School (PPS) District, and the Allegheny County Family Court. Using a 17-month Children's Bureau grant, these agencies continued their work to improve educational stability and permanency outcomes for children served by all three systems.

    The project, built on an existing data-sharing partnership between DHS and PPS, began in 2009 and has helped improve collaboration and information access among the school, social services, and the courts. Improved information access allows school personnel to understand circumstances outside of the school that may influence school performance and behavior, such as issues related to trauma histories. In addition, it allows child welfare caseworkers to more closely follow the academic performance of children on their caseloads and to address issues more expeditiously. To read more about the project, including challenges, lessons learned, and outcomes, read Information Gateway's Site Visit Report: Improving Educational Well-Being Outcomes of Children at (301 KB). For more information on programs funded by Children's Bureau discretionary grants that support collaborative initiatives between State, local, or Tribal child welfare agencies and education systems to improve educational stability and permanency outcomes for youth, visit

    Providing early services and intervention to support the healthy development of young children can have positive effects that last throughout childhood and into adulthood.2 Partnering with child-serving systems, agencies, and other stakeholders can ensure children receive quality, comprehensive, and coordinated services that address their special needs and help create a stable foundation so that children enter school ready to learn and achieve their life goals.

    1 Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2009). Understanding the effects of maltreatment on brain development. Retrieved from
    2 Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2010). The foundations of lifelong health are built in early childhood. Retrieved from


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News From the Children's Bureau

In this month's "Associate Commissioner's Page," JooYeun Chang shares a few parting words as she transitions out of the Associate Commissioner's office. We also highlight the Administration on Children, Youth and Families' (ACYF's) newly appointed commissioner; the Children's Bureau's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise regulations for the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems; and more.

  • Help Improve the Family Engagement Inventory

    Help Improve the Family Engagement Inventory

    Child Welfare Information Gateway wants to hear from you! Visit the Family Engagement Inventory and tell us what you think!

    The Family Engagement Inventory is an informational tool designed to familiarize users with family engagement practices across child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, education, and early education. Access the following domains for links to organizations, agencies, and information that support family engagement:

    • The Practice Level Strategies domain includes methods, plans of action, processes, and/or policies designed to be used by frontline staff of each discipline to enhance or achieve family engagement.
    • The What Works domain includes links to and information on selected practices and programs that are validated and supported by a documented, evaluative process as they relate to family engagement.
    • The Resources domain includes links to useful or valuable information and websites that provide additional literature about family engagement processes, methods, and programs.

    Check out the website and take the survey at

    If you have any materials you would like us to consider adding to the Family Engagement Inventory, please submit them via email to

  • Children's Bureau Proposes Information System Regulations Updates

    Children's Bureau Proposes Information System Regulations Updates

    The Children's Bureau published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in the Federal Register on August 11, 2015. When final, these regulations will replace the Statewide/Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information System (S/TACWIS) regulations at 45 CFR 1355.50 – 57. This Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) NPRM is the first significant change in these regulations in over 20 years. The CCWIS NPRM provides State and Tribal title IV-E agencies with significant flexibility to take advantage of modern technology to build smaller, flexible, and less expensive systems to support changes in child welfare business practice.

    Download a copy of the CCWIS NPRM at (452 KB).

    The Children's Bureau also published explanatory materials on its website. Go to the Bureau's State & Tribal Information Systems webpage ( and scroll down to "Proposed Rule on SACWIS/TACWIS" to access additional information about the CCWIS NPRM.

    We encourage you to submit comments on the CCWIS NPRM at

    Comments are due by October 13, 2015.


  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    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.

    Recent additions to the site include:

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

  • Health-Care Screening for Children in Foster Care

    Health-Care Screening for Children in Foster Care

    Children and youth in foster care are more likely to develop health problems than any other group of children, according to a guide produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics. These health conditions are often underidentified, undertreated, and can be chronic, impacting children's lives in multiple ways, both after they have exited foster care and throughout their adult lives. Children in foster care should receive regular and periodic health and developmental screenings in order to recognize and address potential delays in their growth and development.

    The Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) Program is a service of Medicaid that focuses on child health and is required in every State. The program includes services such as mental health, developmental, dental, and preventive care for eligible children and youth. EPSDT benefits are intended "to assure that children receive early detection and care, so that health problems are averted or diagnosed and treated as early as possible. When children's health problems are not diagnosed or treated, they not only require more costly treatment later but can inhibit healthy development in other areas as well."1

    In 2010, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report that found 76 percent of children in nine States did not receive the required health screening services. The report, Most Medicaid Children in Nine States Are Not Receiving All Required Preventive Screening Services, also found that nearly 60 percent of children who received health screenings did not receive a complete screening, missing at least one component.

    The OIG cited a number of barriers to ensuring children receive health screenings, including:

    • Not all eligible children are enrolled
    • Increase in Affordable Care Act's (ACA) provider rates for primary care services
    • Lack of dependable and consistent data
    • Incomplete reporting by managed care companies in States that contract for Medicaid services

    The OIG report recommended that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) improve both the low participation and incomplete screenings by:

    • Requiring States to report the number of vision and hearing screenings of eligible children and youth
    • Strategizing ways to encourage participation of beneficiaries in EPSDT screenings
    • Developing incentives for providers to encourage complete screenings
    • Identifying State practices to increase children's participation in and provider delivery of complete screenings

    In an effort to improve the number of eligible children who receive health-care screenings and preventive care, CMS organized a National EPSDT Improvement Workgroup. The development of a set of strategy guides is one outcome of the workgroup. The guides, which each focus on a specific topic, present approaches to improving the access to and utilization of the EPSDT benefit for eligible children.

    The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education also created a guide for child welfare caseworkers that is focused on the importance of behavior screening and child development. The guide, produced in 2014, is part of the Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive initiative, a part of a Federal effort to encourage healthy development in children.

    While there are issues that disrupt the rate at which eligible children receive health screenings, there are some States that have been successful in their implementation. The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation's report, Making Medicaid Work for Children in Child Welfare: Examples From the Field, provides case studies of Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey. The 2013 report provides a snapshot of the collaborative work the States implemented to "make Medicaid work" for children and families involved in the child welfare system.

    Some of the lessons learned reported across each State include:

    • Understand the importance of delivering customized responses to children and families. The States interviewed recognized that the life experiences of children and youth in foster care can include types of trauma, separation from family and friends, and multiple placements, meaning a customized response strategy is necessary. No case or need is the same, requiring tailored health-care plans for children in foster care.
    • Recognize the importance of cross-agency relationships and collaboration. Interviewees in each State discussed the significance in sharing responsibilities when it comes to meeting the needs of children in foster care, noting that State-level collaboration is essential. However, relationships at the local level are also critical. This can include collaboration with local system leaders and front line staff; cross-agency relationships not only help solve problems, but can also help develop new strategies.
    • Create multiple strategies instead of relying on just one approach. Each State in the report had numerous strategies for each of the areas discussed, including service coverage, screening, and financing, among others. "It's hard to identify the most effective strategy. It's a combination—one can't work without the others," said an interviewee.

    To find information about the Medicaid program and the Children's Health Insurance Program in your State, call 1.877.KIDS.NOW (1.877.543.7669) or visit

    Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!: A Child Welfare Caseworker's Guide for Developmental and Behavioral Screening is available at (155 KB).

    Making Medicaid Work for Children in Child Welfare: Examples From the Field is available at (821 KB).

    The OIG report Most Medicaid Children in Nine States Are Not Receiving All Required Preventive Screening Services, OEI-05-08-00520, May 2010, is available at

    1 Health Resources and Services Administration. (n.d.). EPSDT & Title V Collaboration to Improve Child Health. Retrieved from

  • State-Tribal Partnerships to Recruit Resource Families

    State-Tribal Partnerships to Recruit Resource Families

    The National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids recently released a guide to assist State child welfare agencies in recruiting foster, adoptive, and kinship families for Native American children. The guide, Recruiting Families for Native American Children: Strengthening Partnerships for Success, provides an overview of Federal laws (including the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Adoption and Safe Families Act) that regulate how States place Native American children in foster, adoptive, and kinship families. It also outlines ways in which State agencies can work with Native American communities to recruit and support resource families and how State agencies can assess their current practices and needs. Lastly, the guide provides key considerations when strengthening or establishing partnerships with Tribal child welfare systems, including recognizing that Tribes are independent governments.

    To view the guide, visit (107 KB).

  • Making Healthy Choices Companion Guide

    Making Healthy Choices Companion Guide

    In 2012, the Children's Bureau partnered with the National Resource Center for Youth Development and a collaborative committee of young people and professionals to produce Making Healthy Choices: A Guide on Psychotropic Medications for Youth in Foster Care. The guide (available in English and Spanish at presents valuable information for youth in foster care related to making decisions about their mental health, treatment options, and the use of psychotropic medications.

    This year, the Children's Bureau and its partners collaborated to publish a companion guide intended to help caseworkers, foster parents, other caregivers, or other caring adults to use Making Healthy Choices with youth. This guide aims to provide all the caring adults in a youth's life with information about trauma experienced by youth in foster care and treatment options, including approaches other than psychotropic medication. The guide presents strategies for seeking help for youth, identifying appropriate treatment, and supporting youth in making decisions about their mental health. Additionally, specific sections that can be used in conjunction with sections of the Making Healthy Choices youth guide are clearly indicated with relevant instructions for each.

    Access Supporting Youth in Foster Care in Making Healthy Choices: A Guide for Caregivers and Caseworkers on Trauma, Treatment, and Psychotropic Medications at

  • ACYF Welcomes New Commissioner

    ACYF Welcomes New Commissioner

    On August 5 of this year, the U.S. Senate confirmed Rafael López as the new commissioner for the Administration for Children and Families' (ACF's) Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF). Mr. López brings with him a strong track record of public service on behalf of children and families. He was a senior policy advisor in the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President and with the Domestic Policy Council. Prior to his work at the White House, Mr. López advocated for and promoted the well-being of children and families in a number of positions. From 2010 to 2013, he was an associate director at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and from 2009 to 2010, he served as the president and CEO of the Family League of Baltimore City, Inc.

    Mr. López held several offices in his home State of California, including executive director of the City of Los Angeles Commission for Children, Youth and Their Families; deputy director of the City and County of San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families; and senior deputy for Health and Human Services for Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. From 1999 to 2004, he served as the founding executive director of First 5 Santa Cruz County. Mr. López received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

    The ACYF commissioner, who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, leads ACYF's two bureaus, the Children's Bureau and the Family and Youth Services Bureau. These bureaus are responsible for different issues involving children, youth, and families and a crosscutting unit charged with research and evaluation.

    Read Mr. López's testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, in which he discusses his commitment to public service and his concerns regarding issues such as abuse, mental health, violence, and poverty, at (23 KB).

  • Evaluating Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs

    Evaluating Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs

    Child Trends recently released a series of products to assist organizations with the evaluation of healthy marriage and relationship education programs. These products were developed as part of a project funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The products focus on two target populations: parents in complex families and adolescents. A complex family is one in which the couple is in a committed relationship and have a child together and one or both parents have a child from a prior relationship. Child Trends developed two products for each population: a set of recommended measures to assess project outcomes and a tip sheet providing guidance on data collection.

    These products are available from the OPRE website at

  • Associate Commissioner's Page

    Associate Commissioner's Page

    The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current Children's Bureau Express Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

    Dear friends and colleagues,

    It is with deep gratitude that I write my last "Associate Commissioner's Page." I am leaving the Children's Bureau after serving as Associate Commissioner for the past 2 years and will return to Casey Family Programs at the end of the month. It has been a privilege to be part of the Bureau—a team made up of people with expertise, commitment, and passion to our shared work of helping vulnerable children and families. In my short tenure at the Children's Bureau, we have accomplished a great deal:

    In 2014 and 2015, President Obama's Federal Budget called for increased assistance to vulnerable populations by investing in efforts to improve outcomes for children in foster care and support the prevention of human trafficking and direct services for domestic victims. In September of 2014, we saw a vital piece of legislation enacted in support of these priorities. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183) amends the title IV-E foster care program to define sex trafficking and set title IV-E requirements for identifying, reporting, and determining services to victims; limits another planned permanency living arrangement as a plan for youth; and reauthorizes and amends Family Connections Grants and the Adoption Incentives Program (read more in the April 2015 issue of CBX). The law includes provisions requiring States to implement a "reasonable and prudent parent standard" that will empower foster parents or other designated decision-makers to make decisions to allow youth in foster care to participate in healthy and developmentally appropriate activities such as field trips, sleepovers, and other extracurricular activities. This standard is intended to expand opportunities for youth in care to engage in activities that will promote their well-being.

    During the past 2 years, the Bureau also continued to support States in implementing title IV-E child welfare waiver demonstration projects. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, P.L. 112-34, signed into law on September 30, 2011, provided the Department of Health and Human Services with authority to approve up to 10 demonstration projects in each of fiscal years 2012–2014. These demonstration projects involve the waiver of certain requirements of titles IV-E and IV-B of the Social Security Act to allow for more flexible use of Federal funds in order to test new approaches to service delivery and financing structures, in an effort to improve outcomes for children and families involved in child welfare. Currently, there are 30 active demonstration projects in 29 States, the District of Columbia, and one Tribe. For more information, including summaries and profiles of the projects, visit the Children's Bureau website at

    The Children's Bureau kicked off the third round of the Child and Family Services Reviews in 2015, incorporating improvements to the process for reviewing titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act through the CFSR. Round 3 reviews will be done this year in Delaware, North Carolina, Vermont, New Mexico, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Arizona, and reviews will be carried out in the remaining States through 2018. You can read more about the CFSRs in CBX's June 2014 Spotlight.

    During February of this year, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) (PDF - 665 KB) on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) that proposed to update the AFCARS requirements and included changes made as a result of the enactment of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351) and the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. Just last month, an NPRM was published for Tribal and State title IV-E agencies on the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) (PDF - 452 KB). This NPRM addresses changes in child welfare practice and technology related to the case management and data collection needs of children receiving foster care and adoption services, and it provides agencies with increased flexibility to build smaller systems that more closely mirror their practice models. These are only a few examples of the improvements and advances we have seen during my time with the Children's Bureau, and I have every confidence that the Bureau will continue to work hand-in-hand with Federal, State, and local partners to further advance the well-being of the children and families we serve.

    I have enjoyed this chance to speak directly to child welfare leaders, frontline workers, advocates, families, and perhaps most importantly, youth who are or were formally in care. Thank you for embracing the changes we have initiated and for your partnership in creating policies that will ensure that children and families who come to our attention receive the services and supports they need, not merely the ones we currently have available. Thank you for your tireless efforts to make a difference in the lives of all children and families, regardless of race, religion, creed, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. A special thanks to the Children's Bureau staff for your kindness, commitment, and flexibility during times of transition. It has been a privilege to be part of this team.


    JooYeun Chang
    Associate Commissioner
    Children's Bureau
    Administration for Children, Youth & Families
    Administration for Children and Families
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services




Child Welfare Research

This month, CBX features a policy brief that addresses the Federal budget provisions for fiscal year (FY) 2016 that may support struggling families and communities and a series of issues briefs presenting findings from a study on informal child care in California.

  • Assessing the Needs of Kinship Caregivers

    Assessing the Needs of Kinship Caregivers

    An article in GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy details the implementation of the Connecting for Kids Kinship Navigators Program. This 3-year demonstration study was funded by the Administration for Children and Families as part of the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. It was piloted to measure and provide needed services to kinship caregivers.

    This study determined that while kinship care can be a positive alternate placement to foster care for many children, kin caregivers need proper support services, just as foster parents do, to sustain that placement. Caregiver support services identified include financial resources, child care, legal services, parenting skills training, assistance with housing and food, access to support groups and training, recreational activities for children and families, information about available services, and tutoring and counseling for the children.

    The article includes a literature review of existing research on kinship caregivers' service needs, examining topics such as the benefits of kinship care; caregivers' financial, child care, and legal needs; and other needs. The Connecting for Kids Kinship Navigators Program responded to these research findings by serving as a conduit to help kinship caregivers throughout six counties in South Carolina identify and address their needs. The program employed the Family Needs Scale as a measurement tool to evaluate and refer participants to the services they needed. Kinship navigators collected demographic information on 370 caregivers, and the article provides overall results of identified needs through detailed tables embedded in the article.

    In a follow-up survey conducted during the project's third year, caregivers indicated that the kinship navigator program helped them connect with the support and financial resources that they needed. This outcome led to the incorporation of kinship navigators into the social services agency's standard service array. Recommended policy changes include the need to inform caregivers of and providing caregivers access to the same services as foster parents, increase awareness of kinship caregivers' eligibility for services that can assist them in continuing to care for the children in their homes, and better inform caregivers of their eligibility.

    Funding for this project was provided by a discretionary grant awarded to the South Carolina Department of Social Services by the Administration for Children and Families (Grant #: 90CF0017). Access the article "Using Kinship Navigators to Assess the Needs of Kinship Caregivers," by Suzanne T. Sutphin, GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy, 2(1), 2015, at (PDF - 231 KB).

  • National Policy on Unaccompanied Child Migrants

    National Policy on Unaccompanied Child Migrants

    Earlier this year, the Migration Policy Institute released a report describing the complex situations facing unaccompanied child migrants to the United States, particularly children from Central America. The report, Unaccompanied Child Migration to the United States: The Tension Between Protection and Prevention, outlines U.S. policies and practices regarding this population, examines the reasons why these migrants travel to the United States, highlights the challenges of the current response, and provides recommendations for a long-term response.

    To view the report, visit the Migration Policy Institute at

  • Informal Child Care and Early Learning Strategies

    Informal Child Care and Early Learning Strategies

    The David and Lucile Packard Foundation's Children, Families, and Communities (CFC) program recently released a series of three issues briefs that present findings from the Informal Caregivers Research Project, funded by the CFC and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research. The CFC is focusing some of its Early Learning strategy on identifying informal child care in California, learning about those involved and the supports they need, and evaluating promising practices and policies that will improve children's experiences.

    The first brief, Setting the Stage: The Importance of Informal Child Care in California, highlights the important role that informal child care plays in the lives of families in California and provides valuable background for the other two briefs. It defines informal child care and outlines the needs of low-income working parents, how informal care meets those needs, and the concerns parents and others share about the quality of informal care. This issue brief is available at

    The second brief, A Closer Look: Informal Child Care Arrangements and Support in California, takes a closer look at the arrangements and supports of informal child care. It draws on in-person interviews with parents and informal caregivers that describe their care arrangements and support systems. It also utilizes ecomaps to graphically represent two different examples of caregiving arrangements and support networks. The second brief is available at

    The final brief, Moving Forward Together: How Programs Can Support Informal Caregivers and Parents, discusses the roles that parents and informal caregivers play, as well as the strengths, needs, and the barriers they face. This brief draws on the findings in the previous briefs for recommendations that will help overcome those barriers. Researchers found that parents and informal caregivers want more programs and outreach, but they face many barriers, including language, financial, and logistical barriers; not being aware of subsidies and programs; and lack of access to available resources. The final issue brief is available at


  • Benefits to Families in the FY 2016 Federal Budget

    Benefits to Families in the FY 2016 Federal Budget

    In the release of his proposed Federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016, President Obama included funding for programs that could potentially have a significant benefit for positive development of children, youth, and families and the communities in which they live. A new policy brief from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Aligning Resources and Results: Increasing Equity Through the Budget, provides an overview of the budget provisions that have the most potential to support struggling families and communities.

    The brief discusses how the programs proposed in the new budget could provide an opportunity for State policymakers and community members to work together to promote child and family well-being and reduce equity gaps in outcomes. For example, at the community level, the proposal introduces the Upward Mobility Project, a new initiative that will provide up to 10 communities with the opportunity to redirect funds from four existing Federal programs to support programs and resources that local policymakers have determined will meet the specific needs of its residents. Other budget proposals include substantial new investments in preschool and early child care, tax credits to boost income support for working families, support for English-language learners, creating a pathway to college, and expanded workforce development opportunities.

    The publication also provides a summary of the dollar amounts being proposed for Federal programs that will benefit children, youth, families, and communities. Of particular note is the $11.9 billion allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services for a wide range of children and family services programs, including priority investments in early learning. This includes the following specific budget items:

    • $23 million for family violence prevention and services
    • $15 million for comprehensive services to youth in the child welfare system who are victims of, or at risk of, human trafficking
    • $9 million to improve services for homeless youth
    • $5 million for child protection investigations

    This publication is available from the Center for the Study of Social Policy website at (1 MB).

Strategies and Tools for Practice

This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other instruments that provide either evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.

  • Learning Communities for Trauma-Informed Practice

    Learning Communities for Trauma-Informed Practice

    Trauma is increasingly found to be correlated with conditions affecting behavioral, mental, and physical health. Individuals who have had adverse childhood experiences, such as physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and substance abuse, can be at higher risk for behavioral and physical health issues. In light of this, organizations engaged in service delivery should strive be more trauma-informed and have a more holistic approach to treating trauma-impacted individuals and communities.

    A recent report published by the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and the National Council for Behavioral Health highlights a yearlong learning community (LC), a collaboration between the two organizations. The LC represents a strategy for teaching and modeling for organizations how to increase their knowledge and successful implementation of the fundamentals of trauma-informed care (TIC). With the help of trauma experts, LC participant organizations were taught strategies for change management, continuous quality improvement, workforce development, and capacity building to help organizations reach the National Council for Behavioral Health's domains for being trauma informed:

    • Early screening and comprehensive assessment of trauma
    • Consumer-driven care and services
    • Trauma-informed, educated, and responsive workforce
    • Provision of trauma-informed, evidence-based, and emerging best practices
    • Create a safe and secure environment
    • Engage in community outreach and partnership building
    • Ongoing performance improvement and evaluation

    The report defines trauma, discusses its prevalence and effect on individuals, and examines implications for service systems. The report also addresses the LC model for implementation and the results of the LC. While organizations reported certain challenges related to implementation, 92 percent of the organizations were able to implement TIC in at least six of the seven domains.

    For more information on LCs and to read the report Harnessing the Learning Community Model to Integrate Trauma-Informed Care Principles in Service Organizations, visit (166 KB).

    Related Item

    CBX spotlighted trauma-informed care in the February 2012 issue, available at

    For more information and resources on Trauma-Informed Practice, visit Child Welfare Information Gateway at

  • Model Practices for Law Enforcement Agencies

    Model Practices for Law Enforcement Agencies

    The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Diagnostic Center and Strategies for Youth produced a brief on the model of practices for law enforcement agencies when arresting parents in the presence of children. Parental incarceration and the disruption of family relationships can produce negative outcomes for children, including trauma-induced physical and mental health issues, which can lead to negative academic, behavioral, and justice system outcomes. To help mitigate these outcomes, law enforcement can modify their procedures to make arrests less traumatic for children, adopt protocols to ensure children are accounted for and are left in the care of responsible caregivers, and collaborate with social workers and child advocates to help make sure children receive the services they need.

    This report recommends specific models of practices that law enforcement can incorporate to help protect children of incarcerated parents, such as procedures for arriving at the scene of a call for service where children might be involved, making referrals to social service agencies, creating interagency teams to support children, and training for law enforcement officials on the signs and symptoms of trauma. Also included are sections discussing the following:

    • Importance of Limiting Exposure to Trauma and Violence in Children
    • Opportunities to Connect With Children and Interrupt Cycles of Violence
    • Elements of Effective Models for Responding to Children of Arrested Parents
    • Examples of Effective Models for Responding to Children of Arrested Parents

    Access First, Do No Harm: Model Practices for Law Enforcement Agencies When Arresting Parents in the Presence of Children, by Lisa H. Thurau, at (4 MB).

  • Human Trafficking Issue Brief

    Human Trafficking Issue Brief

    Child Welfare Information Gateway, the information service for the U.S. Children's Bureau, announced a new issue brief that offers a broad overview of the crossover between the child welfare field and the work currently being done to prevent and respond to human trafficking of children and youth in the United States. Children and youth involved with child welfare due to abuse or neglect and then placed in foster care or group homes—as well as youth who are involved with the justice system, are homeless, or have run away—are all at high risk of being trafficked. In addition, the sex trafficking of children and youth is more likely to affect the child welfare population.

    Child Welfare and Human Trafficking provides basic background information, including highlights of Federal legislation, and then discusses the needs of victims and the ways that child welfare agencies can address the problem of child trafficking. Access this issue brief on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at

  • Transgender Youth in Child Welfare

    Transgender Youth in Child Welfare

    As part of its Best Practice Resources web section, the National Center for Child Welfare Excellence at the Silberman School of Social Work (NCCWE) posted an information packet titled Transgender Youth in Child Welfare Settings. The packet provides professionals with an overview of information and tips for supporting transgender youth, including:

    • An introduction providing answers to questions such as, "What does transgender mean?" and, "What issues do transgender youth face in the child welfare system?"
    • A factsheet providing insights and statistical information on transgender and gender nonconforming youth in child welfare settings
    • Related State and Federal policies and legislation, with specific protection examples at both State and agency levels
    • Best practice tips supporting safe, inclusive, and discrimination-free environments, including information on education, placements, gender-segregated spaces, privacy, language use, and what to avoid
    • Web-based and related resources to supplement additional needs

    The Transgender Youth in Child Welfare Settings information packet, by Priya Sikerwar and Erin Rider, is available on the NCCWE website at (521 KB).


This CBX section provides a quick list of interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials that can be used in the field or with families.

  • Documentary on Youth Homelessness

    Documentary on Youth Homelessness

    The Homestretch, a 90-minute documentary coproduced by Spargel Productions and Kartemquin Films, follows three Chicago-area youth who ended up homeless at an early age. The documentary captures the teens' various challenges as they navigate homelessness, poverty, trauma, stereotypes, and abandonment in hopes of transitioning into an independent life with improved circumstances. Although the documentary is narrated through an individual perspective by the three youth, their experiences raise concerns for broader issues associated with teen homelessness on a national level.

    The Homestretch invites viewers into the lives of these three young people in an effort to bring awareness to issues related to homelessness; immigration; foster care; juvenile justice; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth; poverty; child abuse; public resources; and education. The documentary's website offers several discussion tools to help further awareness and conversation about these topics, including a discussion guide for the film, two tools to help inspire and guide concrete actions in support of homeless youth, and the House Party Toolkit. These tools offer resourceful, challenging, and encouraging content that provokes questions, thoughts, discussion, and creativity amongst its readers.

    For more information on The Homestretch, to purchase the film, and to access the discussion tools, visit the documentary website at

  • Parent Guide to Child Protective Services

    Parent Guide to Child Protective Services

    A handbook for parents involved with the Texas child welfare system aims to help parents understand the system, their roles and responsibilities, and those of others involved in their case. Parent Resource Guide walks parents through each step of the process beginning from a report of suspected child abuse to the course of a child protective services (CPS) investigation and case closure. Based on input from parents, parent advocates, caseworkers, and family law attorneys, this handbook answers questions related to the different stages of a CPS case and addresses common issues and concerns such as going to court, complying with a service plan, understanding circumstances needing a child's removal from home, and working toward reunification.

    Focused on positive and concrete tips parents can follow to protect their children and family, the handbook highlights some of the following key topics:

    • Reasons for investigation
    • Helping and advocating for yourself
    • Role of professionals
    • Confidentiality
    • Court process and permanency planning
    • Family group decision-making
    • Legal representation
    • Visits

    The resource guide covers parents' rights and responsibilities and provides details about the court hearing, the range of available support services, and avenues of recourse. Appendices include definitions of terms, child welfare statutes, and various case management resources such as a checklist, a contact page, and calendar. The Parent Resource Guide was produced by the Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission with funding from the Court Improvement Program and in partnership with the University of Texas William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law. It is available on the University of Texas website at (2 MB), and well as the Children's Commission's website at (2 MB).

  • Coping With Reunification Anxiety

    Coping With Reunification Anxiety

    Foster parents play an important role in providing safe and stable environments for children who have entered into their care through the child welfare system. While reunification is the primary goal of foster care, it is not always easy for foster families to let go of the children entrusted to their care. A tip sheet from the Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center defines what reunification anxiety is, discusses how both foster families and the foster children that they care for can experience reunification anxiety, and provides ways for foster parents to cope and effectively manage reunification anxiety.

    Learning to Let Go: Coping With Reunification Anxiety is available on the Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center’s website at (608 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 December 2015 include:

    October 2015

    • 2015 National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children Conference
      National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC), West Virginia DEC & partners; West Virginia Center for Children's Justice; West Virginia Children's Justice Task Force; West Virginia State Police Crimes Against Children Unit; U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia; West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Children and Families; West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney's Institute
      October 6–8, Charleston, WV
    • Together We Can Conference
      Louisiana Supreme Court; Louisiana Department of Children and Families, Children's Justice Act; Pelican Center for Children and Families;; Louisiana CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates); Children's Advocacy Centers of Louisiana; National Association of Social Workers-Louisiana Chapter; Louisiana Children's Trust Fund
      October 13–15, Lafayette, LA
    • Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse
      Gundersen National Child Protection Training
      October 15–16, Burnsville, MN
    • 17th Annual Shoulder to Shoulder Conference
      Albertina Kerr; CASA for Children (Multnomah and Washington Counties); Children's Justice Act Task Force; Children's Trust Fund of Oregon Foundation; Citizen Review Board; Foster Club; Juvenile Court Improvement Program; Morrison Child and Family Services; Native American Youth and Family Center; Northwest Resource Associates/Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center; Portland State University Child Welfare Partnership; Providence Child Center Swindells Resource Center
      October 25–26, Portland, OR
    • ChildFirst® EX: Expanded Forensic Interview Process
      Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center
      October 27–29, Bentonville, AR
    • International Conference on Innovations in Family Engagement
      Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect
      October 27–30, Minneapolis, MN

    November 2015

    December 2015

    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 at


  • Family and Youth Law Center Continuing Education Program

    Family and Youth Law Center Continuing Education Program

    The Family and Youth Law Center at Capital University Law School announced its new Continuing Education Program. The yearlong program offers webinars on a range of topics, including adoption, child welfare, and juvenile justice. Professionals and practitioners—specifically attorneys, social workers, and counselors—may receive continuing education credit through the program. Webinars featured in the program's spring session included:

    • I Want to Be an Adoption Attorney! Nuts and Bolts of Adoption Law and Process—Starting Your Practice: Learn the basics of adoption law and practice (public, private, and intercountry), including tips for avoiding and managing contested adoptions and guidance for starting your practice.
    • Serving Youth With Cross-Systems Involvement: Youth who have been involved with one or more child-serving systems represent one of our most vulnerable populations. High percentages of such youth have disabilities, mental health issues, and/or drug and alcohol involvement. In addition, youth of color are overrepresented in these systems. This session will explore how we can assure fairness in serving these youth in relation to issues of race, ethnicity, foreign origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, and other relevant factors.

    Pricing for each webinar is available on the webinar registration page. For more information on the program and webinar topics, please visit