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April 2022Vol. 23, No. 3Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

This edition of CBX highlights National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM). Learn about enhancements to the NCAPM website and Resource Guide and find new outreach materials to help spread the word about this year's special initiative. This month's message from Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg continues to feature an article written by young mothers of the IMPACT initiative, which works to elevate the voices of young mothers and raise awareness of the issues impacting young families. This issue also includes valuable resources for professionals and the families they serve.

Issue Spotlight

  • There Is No Age Requirement for Loving Your Children

    There Is No Age Requirement for Loving Your Children

    Written by TK Cross & Madison Iokennoronhawi White, IMPACT steering committee members

    Listen to young mothers. As we continue to learn the value of lived experiences throughout our work with children, youth, and their families, it is important to acknowledge the perspectives and experiences of the young mothers who are often left to struggle without a support system. The writers of the following article are working hard to bolster support for these young women and their families.—Aysha E. Schomburg, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Over the last 2 years, IMPACT (Invincible Mamas Pushing for Action and Change Together) has been working to elevate the voices of young mothers and raise awareness of the issues impacting young families. IMPACT is boldly advocating for freedom, opportunity, and equity for young families, communities, and the mamas that unite them. Through advocacy and organizing, we are working to change the narrative around young parenthood.

    We are young mamas from across the country, from diverse backgrounds, including various tribal communities all working toward the same goal—raising our children with love and respect for our communities. As mamas of color, we recognize the systemic oppressions we have faced by systems designed to support us, which initially create barriers and contribute to the cycle we are working to dismantle. 

    We have been beaten down, criticized, restricted from adulthood, and shamed for enjoying motherhood. While being stripped of the "rites of passages" into adulthood, we were expected to own a systemic view of parenthood. Being young does not denote a mama's lack of ability to be committed, smart, capable, and/or loving. Being a young mama means we're strong, energized, and full of life. 

    Our IMPACT community rallies to support our children and create a support system for young mamas. This is done in addition to, or in lieu of, the young mama's multigenerational familial/community supports (grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) where elder relations may or may not still be alive, present, or involved. 

    Our lives are at the intersectionality of age, race, and social constructs of "adequate" parenthood. We are here to celebrate our expertise as parents and work on dismantling the barriers (intentional or unintentional) created by systems such as child welfare, health care, housing, and foster care. We are here to tell our stories of intimidation by foster care, to create a platform for young moms who need housing and are turned away, for those who need child care but are presented with barriers, documentation, and endless excuses to get the benefits they need. 

    IMPACT uses a modest approach to parenting in which we collaborate and learn from each other as we grow together. It is ok to not have life figured out just yet as we figure it out together. We are the experts in our lived experiences, and we need you to listen. Young moms are here to show our strength to say we are no longer invisible. Motherhood is not one size fits all. Since when did loving your children have an age requirement? 

  • April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Every April, the Children's Bureau observes National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM) to raise public awareness of child abuse and neglect, recommit efforts and resources aimed at protecting children and strengthening families, and promote community involvement through activities that support the cause. The theme of this year's NCAPM initiative continues to align with the theme of the 23rd National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, "Thriving Children and Families: Prevention With Purpose," and highlights what it can look like when prevention efforts are guided by the need to build protective factors and provide support to children and families.

    This year's campaign features several enhancements to the NCAPM website, including new outreach materials and media tools in the Spread the Word section—such as an op-ed template, a sample press release, and newly added graphics—and an expanded multimedia gallery featuring newly added brief videos in which families with lived experience discuss how important prevention services and supports have been for them and their children.

    Additionally, in preparation for NCAPM, Child Welfare Information Gateway updated its Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect web section by adding a new page on equity and inclusion.

    For more information on NCAPM or to view or order a copy of the 2021/2022 Prevention Resource Guide, visit the NCAPM website.

  • A Call to Action on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation in the States

    A Call to Action on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation in the States

    A report from Prevent Child Abuse America, A Call to Action for Policymakers and Advocates: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation in the States, assesses the legislative efforts of states to prevent child abuse in schools. The report reviews five types of prevention-oriented laws and provides an overview of states' efforts in each area. It also presents the results of a survey of advocates in each state about the successes and barriers they face.

    The report reviews laws that achieve the following: 

    • Mandating child sexual abuse prevention education in schools
    • Improving screening of new job applicants and dismissing school employees engaged in sexual misconduct or abuse
    • Criminalizing educator-specific sexual misconduct
    • Establishing state task forces to address child sexual abuse
    • Requiring student safety posters in schools
    The report notes that prevention needs to be a part of schools' fundamental mission due to the impact that trauma from sexual abuse has on children throughout their lives—including lessened social-emotional development and academic achievement and increased risk of physical and mental health challenges in adulthood. It also argues that schools need to take bold and unified action against sexual abuse through a comprehensive package of prevention policies and practices.
     
    National trends over the past decade are encouraging, with several states implementing new laws aimed at prevention. Although the increase in legislative activity is promising, the variations in laws suggest that state legislators and advocates could benefit from utilizing recommended provisions outlined in the report.
     
  • Linking Administrative Data to Improve the Understanding of Child Maltreatment

    Linking Administrative Data to Improve the Understanding of Child Maltreatment

    Adverse events in childhood have lifelong impacts that can reverberate across generations. Improving the accuracy of determining the incidence and prevalence child maltreatment is critical to improving prevention and intervention efforts and reducing the negative lifetime impacts. A study funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services examined how linking administrative data may help. Local, state, and federal administrative records from child welfare, health, social services, education, public safety, and other agencies can be leveraged to provide a more holistic view of the true incidence of maltreatment and allow for more effective targeting of prevention and intervention resources. The project team conducted a feasibility study to see which promising practices were most effective by identifying five selected sites with experience using administrative data linkages to examine child maltreatment incidence.

    Sites were expected to engage in five activities while participating in the study:

    • Develop research questions and explore data partnerships
    • Share and access data
    • Prepare datasets and complete data linkages
    • Conduct analyses to answer research questions
    • Report the results of their research
    The study identified promising practices for each of these project activities and considered the surrounding contextual and organizational factors—such as child welfare system structures, child welfare policies and definitions, the legal and policy contexts for data use, and the existing data infrastructure—and how they benefited or impeded the participating sites. The enhanced data linkages ultimately resulted in every site being able to get new information about child maltreatment incidence and prevalence. 
     
    Administrative data linkages can create new knowledge about child welfare that would not be available otherwise or that would require substantial amounts of time and resources to produce using other data-collection methods and data sources. The experiences of the sites offer evidence that enhancing administrative data linkages is a feasible approach to addressing high-priority questions about child maltreatment incidence and related risk and protective factors. 
     
    Read the full report, Linking Administrative Data to Improve the Understanding of Child Maltreatment Incidence and Related Risk and Protective Factors: A Feasibility Study, for details on promising practices, including those responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Effective Components of School-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs

    Effective Components of School-Based Child Abuse Prevention Programs

    study published in Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review examined the effect of school-based programming on children's child abuse-related knowledge and self-protection skills. Most reviews in the study were focused on child sexual abuse prevention.

    The study conducted two three-level meta-analyses. The first meta-analysis focused on the overall effect on knowledge. The data suggest that school programs had a significant positive effect on knowledge. These effects were larger in programs that addressed and focused on improving the social-emotional skills of children, used puppets and games or quizzes, and taught children to avoid self-blame. Significant positive effects were also found in programs that lasted longer and had more, but shorter, sessions that allowed children to maintain their attention and that incorporated repetition. The second meta-analysis found that school-based prevention programs had a medium positive effect on children's self-protection skills. Surprisingly, programs that focused on identifying trusted adults had a smaller than anticipated effect on children's self-protection skills.

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News From the Children's Bureau

In this section, find the latest news, resources, and publications from the Administration for Children and Families, the Children's Bureau, and other offices within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as a listing of the latest additions to the Children's Bureau website.

Training and Technical Assistance Updates

This section features resources and updates from the Children's Bureau's technical assistance partners to support practices and systems that improve the lives of children and families.

Child Welfare Research

In this section, we highlight recent studies, literature reviews, and other research on child welfare topics.

  • New Child Welfare Journal Inaugural Issue

    New Child Welfare Journal Inaugural Issue

    A new child welfare journal, Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly, recently released its inaugural issue, which focused on harms created by the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The journal's editors and writers point out problems with ASFA's passage and implementation, including the lack of American Indian and Alaska Native leaders in drafting the law, the preference for adoption over other forms of permanence, and built-in biases that continue to perpetuate systemic racism. "We believe the harm and injustice caused by ASFA are overwhelming and must be abolished," editors-in-chief Jerry Milner and David Kelly write in the forward of the issue. "It is an outdated law with oversized deleterious effects on children, families, and communities."

    Each issue of the journal will address topics in the child welfare field that the editorial team believes needs to be reconsidered to achieve a child welfare system devoted to family well-being. According to the editors, the goal of the journal is to inspire readers to do the following:

    • Reflect on how you are causing, contributing, or perpetuating harm
    • Integrate lived experience into your work
    • Call for congressional action
    • Share the publication with colleagues
    Volume 2 of Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly will be released in April 2022. It will focus on definitions of neglect and mandatory reporting laws that act as barriers to equity and justice. 

    To learn more, visit the journal's page on the Family Integrity and Justice Works website

  • Applying Safety Science to Critical Incident Reviews

    Applying Safety Science to Critical Incident Reviews

    A recent strategy brief from Casey Family Programs explores the movement toward applying safety science to critical incident reviews (CIRs). Safety science involves using scientific methods of learning and investigation to understand, manage, and assess safety. When applied to CIRs in a child welfare context, this means using an evidence- and research-based approach to improve response and prevention practices. It is a high-level approach that promotes overall systemic accountability and applies systemic methods of learning and investigation. Without a safety science approach, child welfare agencies may take reactive actions to a child fatality or other tragic event, such as firing a leader, which often does not contribute to preventing future incidents.

    The National Partnership for Child Safety (NPCS), a collaborative founded by Casey Family Programs and child welfare agencies from 11 jurisdictions, is advocating to normalize this safety science approach to CIRs. The strategy brief includes takeaways from four NPCS jurisdictions that implemented the approach.

Strategies and Tools for Practice

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

  • Guide Provides Strategies for Implementing Antiracist Approaches to Data Collection

    Guide Provides Strategies for Implementing Antiracist Approaches to Data Collection

    A new guide from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Our Identities, Ourselves: A Guide to Anti-Racist Data Collection for System Leaders and Data Administrators, provides guiding principles and best practices for antiracist data collection within child welfare systems. The guide is designed to help caseworkers, service providers, and leaders collect demographic information in more accurate, inclusive, and affirming ways.

    While child welfare agencies have long been collecting information that reveals which populations are under or inadequately served, much of the data collected are flawed, missing, or not specific enough to meaningfully support families. The guide is designed to help child welfare professionals collect more accurate and nuanced data on race, ethnicity, and other demographics to achieve the following:

    • Develop policy and practice guidelines that protect more groups from discrimination and support inclusivity
    • Direct funding and resources to programs that support historically underserved and marginalized populations
    • Improve outcomes for children and youth by having their racial and ethnic identities affirmed
    The guide provides best practices for both system leaders and data administrators and features examples of specific jurisdictions implementing this work.


  • Partnering for Prevention: Centering Lived Expertise

    Partnering for Prevention: Centering Lived Expertise

    Written by the Capacity Building Center for States

    Working in partnership with youth and families to center their lived expertise throughout planning and implementation can help agencies capitalize on the potential of the Family First Prevention Services Act and move further upstream toward primary prevention.

    Even when agencies have experience engaging youth and families along the continuum of child welfare practice, partnering for prevention may reveal unique challenges and opportunities. In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, bring your team together and use the discussion prompts below to brainstorm about how to amplify lived expertise in your prevention efforts:
    • Child welfare agencies may not be perceived as trusted organizations within the community. Consider how your agency can begin to overcome community trust issues as you work to identify partners with lived experience. 
      • Have we partnered successfully with youth, families, and community leaders in the past who would be interested in helping us build trust?
      • How are we sharing power with communities in our prevention efforts? How are they empowered to be responsive, and how are we resourcing their ideas?
      • How are we ensuring our relationship with community members is not transactional or only beneficial to the agency? What are communities gaining from partnering with us? 
      • How are we ensuring that our staff is reflective of the communities we serve?
    • Child welfare agencies often solicit feedback from a relatively small number of youth and families, particularly those who have had positive experiences with services. Consider how you can include different perspectives as you move toward prevention.  
      • How can we bring more partners with diverse experiences and perspectives to the table? What is the benefit for youth, families, and communities to partner with us? 
      • How are we committed to seeking and honoring multiple different viewpoints, including those who might share hard-to-hear information? What might be getting in the way?
      • What are we doing to hear from people with different types of experiences, including those with active cases and those who may be candidates for prevention services? How can we partner with community service providers to gather feedback from a wide range of youth and families?
    • Even when agencies are actively seeking to partner with youth and families, their commitment may not be evident in everyday practice. Consider what actions you can take to actively demonstrate the value of lived experience. 
      • How are youth and families compensated for their time partnering with us? How do we ensure that our process is mutually beneficial?
      • What are we doing to be intentional about the language and messaging we use to communicate about prevention efforts? Are communications decisions informed by youth and families? 
      • How are people with lived experience recruited, trained, and nurtured along a professional pathway toward highly visible, highly influential roles within the agency? 
    • Prevention efforts are an opportunity to advance racial equity and address disparate outcomes for people of color, particularly Black and Native American and Alaska Native youth and families. Consider how your prevention efforts are informed by an understanding of, and a commitment to, racial equity. 
      • How are we generating and using data to understand the degree of disparity and disproportionality present in the system? How are people with lived experience informing data collection? How are qualitative data from youth and families considered? 
      • How are we digging deeper into the data to understand and identify intersectional experiences with child welfare (for example, the experiences of Black women in particular zip codes in your community)?
      • How can we deepen our organizational understanding of unconscious bias and the impact of systemic racism in child welfare? How will that understanding inform our prevention approaches?
    Check out the 2021/2022 Prevention Resource Guide to find additional information and questions for exploration.

    Examples in Action

    The following efforts are examples of partnering with lived experts along the prevention continuum: 
    • Birth Parent National Network—The Children's Trust Fund Alliance houses the Birth Parent National Network, a national network of parents with lived experience in child welfare who serve as leaders and partners in prevention and child welfare systems reform. Participating parents are supported and compensated for their time and expertise. 
    • Iowa Department of Human Services—Iowa recruits parents with lived expertise as mentors for other parents navigating child welfare services. Parent Partner program mentors have prior involvement with child protection that resulted in either successful reunification or resolution around termination of their parental rights. Once trained, mentors work intensively with other parents to encourage them, connect them to resources, help them advocate for themselves, and support them in completing their case plans. 

    Additional Resources

     Explore the following resources as you consider opportunities to partner for prevention:
    As you move toward a prevention-focused system, think about the expertise that youth and families have to offer and how much more successful the journey will be if you walk it together.

Resources

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

  • New Publication Explains Kinship Caregiving Options Inside and Outside Child Welfare

    New Publication Explains Kinship Caregiving Options Inside and Outside Child Welfare

    A new publication from the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law describes the different placement options available to kinship care families and the factors that should be considered when pursuing kin caregiving arrangements.

    Kinship Caregiving Options: Considerations for Caregivers is a 14-page guide developed primarily for relatives caring for or planning to care for their kin, but it is also a useful tool for professionals working with these families. It begins with a brief overview of the need for and prevalence of kin caregiving in the United States and the importance and benefits of this practice. 

    It also describes the main paths to kinship care—inside and outside the child welfare system—and addresses the considerations associated with each. The publication presents considerations in the following areas by placement type (inside the child welfare system/licensed, inside the child welfare system/not licensed, and outside the child welfare system):
    • Help with decision-making about caregiving options
    • Legal assistance
    • Parental rights and responsibilities
    • Relationship with birth parents
    • Children's health-care consent authority and insurance
    • Children's education
    • Oversight from the child welfare and judicial systems
    • Foster home licensure
    • Sources and availability of assistance, including financial aid and child welfare agency and community-based supports
    • Kinship navigator programs
    • Federal and state child tax credits
    • Long-term permanency options, including financial assistance and other supports and services
    The publication also includes bulleted tips for caregivers and the professionals working with kin, a glossary of common terms, and a page of additional resources from Grandfamilies.org, such as factsheets (in English and Spanish) that provide kin caregivers with state-specific data and information about public benefits, educational assistance, legal relationship options, and laws.

  • Free Toolkit Assesses Life Skills Youth Need for Independence

    Free Toolkit Assesses Life Skills Youth Need for Independence

    An updated version of the Casey Life Skills (CLS) toolkit is now available with recent revisions made using a diversity and equity lens. The updated toolkit includes two new skill areas—civic engagement and navigating the child welfare system—and a supplemental assessment that evaluates youth access to formal and informal supports.

    The CLS toolkit also contains a series of free, youth-centered, self-reporting instruments developed to empower youth ages 14 to 21, regardless of social strata and life circumstance, to lead healthy and productive lives through the assessment of life skills needed for successful independent living. 

    The standard 126-item assessment and a shorter 20-item assessment both measure strengths and areas for growth in nine life skills categories: 
    • Daily living
    • Self-care
    • Housing and money management
    • Relationships and communication
    • Work and study
    • Career and education planning
    • Civic engagement
    • Navigating the child welfare system
    • Looking forward
    The authors of the toolkit emphasize that the CLS assessments are not tests but are, instead, designed to be conversation starters to inspire young people to set their own goals and work with supportive adults to develop and strengthen their life skills. The toolkit was developed, reviewed, and revised by a collaborative team of child welfare practitioners, foster care alumni, resource parents, and life-skills experts. 

    For more information and to download a copy of the CLS toolkit, visit the Casey Family Programs website.

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.