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April 2023Vol. 24, No. 3Spotlight on National Child Abuse Prevention Month

This month’s issue 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, coauthored by the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women and the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, explores collaborative domestic violence and child welfare prevention efforts. This issue also includes valuable resources for professionals and the families they serve.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Issue Spotlight

  • Prevention Through a Domestic Violence Lens, A Message From the Associate Commissioner

    Prevention Through a Domestic Violence Lens, A Message From the Associate Commissioner

    Coauthored by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg; the Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women; and the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families Family and Youth Services Bureau

    We can achieve better outcomes for children, youth, adults, and families with intentional investments in prevention programs. More so, we can improve outcomes by increasing protective factors through the provision of multidisciplinary services at the individual, interpersonal, community, and societal levels.

    Research affirms that there are five protective factors that help to reduce the effects of domestic violence on adult and child survivors, support their personal growth and development, and build a family and community environment that promotes well-being. For individuals and families experiencing domestic violence, increasing these protective factors is critically important:

    1. Safer and more stable conditions
    2. Social, cultural, and spiritual connections
    3. Resilience and a growth mindset
    4. Nurturing parent-child interactions
    5. Social and emotional abilities

    In the past 2 years, we have made tremendous progress on the implementation of the Family First Prevention and Services Act. In fact, we have approved Family First prevention plans in 40 jurisdictions.

    Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness for survivors and their children. Among families currently experiencing homelessness, more than 80 percent had previously experienced domestic violence. According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in 2008, 28 percent of U.S. families were homeless because of domestic violence and 39 percent of U.S. cities cited domestic violence as the primary cause of homelessness.

    The County of Cuyahoga, OH, encompassing the greater Cleveland area, launched the nation’s first county-level Pay for Success (PFS) project in partnership with FrontLine Service, a comprehensive continuum of care service provider for homeless persons in Ohio. The Partnering for Family Success Program, the first PFS project in the combined areas of homelessness and child welfare, delivered intensive 12–15 month treatment to 135 families over 5 years to reduce the length of stay in out-of-home care placement for children whose families were homeless.

    As a result of this integrated collaboration model:

    • 118 families were stably housed.
    • 46 caregivers participated in substance use treatment.
    • 69 caregivers took advantage of mental health treatment.
    • 69 percent of African American children who were part of the treatment group and who exited care reunified with their families, versus 55 percent of African American children who received conventional County Division of Children and Family Services care and who exited care to reunify with family.

    Coordinated community responses are crucial to keeping survivors and their children from unnecessary and harmful involvement with the child welfare system. For example, in Washington state, partnerships between community-based home visiting programs and domestic violence advocates help expectant and parenting survivors access tailored resources and trauma-informed, culturally meaningful advocacy.

    Together, we will explore domestic violence and child welfare prevention models that the Children’s Bureau can use to create lasting impact and improved outcomes for adults, children, and youth. We celebrate those who are innovating their prevention and intervention services and will create space for them to share with their peers the partners, practices, and policies that have led to their successes.

  • 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 aligns with the theme of the 23rd National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, "Doing Things Differently: Moving From the Challenge to the Change," 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 2023 website. The Child Maltreatment Data section links to and outlines the contents of the newly released Child Maltreatment 2021 report, which presents national child abuse and neglect data known to child protective services agencies in the United States. New outreach materials and media tools are also available in the Spread the Word section, including a virtual meeting background and email signature and the initiative’s updated outreach toolkit. Additionally, in preparation for NCAPM, Child Welfare Information Gateway added new pages that align with this year’s theme within the Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect web section, such as the Promoting Child & Family Well-Being page.

    The updated 2023/2024 Prevention Resource Guide will be available in May. Preorder your copy here! The guide focuses on protective factors that build on family strengths to foster healthy child and youth development, and it is designed to help child welfare professionals and organizations in every community strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

    For more information, visit the NCAPM 2023 website.

     

    Related item:

    A new infographic, "Child Maltreatment 2021 Summary," developed by Child Welfare Information Gateway, presents key data from the Child Maltreatment 2021 report. View this visual summary of report findings on the Information Gateway website.

  • Culture Is Prevention: We Are All Connected

    Culture Is Prevention: We Are All Connected

    Culture Is Prevention: We Are All Connected, published by the Tribal Information Exchange, is a guide to help tribal communities understand how culture can be a protective factor that promotes healthy behaviors, strengthens family and community relationships, and creates a safe environment. The guide suggests that these factors help prevent negative outcomes for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth.

    The document highlights how featured tribal organizations use traditional tribal practices and incorporate cultural values to create a more holistic approach to prevention and healing and prevent and address harmful behaviors. The guide emphasizes the need for a holistic approach that considers the historical trauma and ongoing challenges faced by AI/AN communities and recognizes the strengths and resilience of their cultural traditions.

    The paper also highlights the importance of cultural context when developing prevention and treatment programs and provides practical strategies for how tribal communities might implement culture-based prevention efforts. It also provides examples of successful prevention programs and strategies that have integrated cultural components and emphasizes the importance of community engagement and partnerships with other organizations.

    Finally, the guide emphasizes the importance of collaboration and communication between tribal communities and outside organizations. Overall, Culture Is Prevention: We Are All Connected stresses the value of cultural preservation and promotion as a critical component of promoting the safety and well-being of AI/AN youth.

  • A Review of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Laws and Policy Recommendations for State Legislators

    A Review of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Laws and Policy Recommendations for State Legislators

    The "Call to Action for Policymakers and Advocates: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation in the States" report published by the Enough Abuse Campaign reviews five laws aimed at preventing sexual abuse through school-based initiatives and provides recommendations for legislation and policy changes to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse in the United States. It outlines the need for more robust legislation and policies to protect children from sexual abuse, including expanding existing laws and creating new ones.

    It encourages states to develop a comprehensive statewide strategy for preventing, responding to, and addressing child abuse, including strengthening laws related to mandatory reporting, expanding prevention education, providing trauma-informed care, and increasing funding for victim services. The report also calls for greater collaboration between federal, state, and local entities to ensure all efforts are coordinated and effective. It also emphasizes the importance of public awareness, education, and prevention efforts to create a culture of zero tolerance for child sexual abuse. It suggests greater accountability for perpetrators of child sexual abuse, including expanding criminal statutes of limitations, establishing a national registry for sex offenders, and improving the prosecution of online child sexual exploitation.

    Finally, the report recommends implementing trauma-informed approaches to ensure victims and survivors of child sexual abuse receive the most effective care and support, and it includes specific recommendations for policymakers and advocates to consider to better protect children and prevent child sexual abuse. Policymakers and advocates can find greater detail about the five reviewed laws and state summaries in the full report.

    Recent Issues

  • May 2023

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

    Spotlight on National Foster Care Month

  • March 2023

    Spotlight on Incorporating Youth Engagement and Lived Experience Into Child Welfare Practice

    Spotlight on Incorporating Youth Engagement and Lived Experience Into Child Welfare Practice

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 & 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.  

  • Understanding Judicial Decision-Making and Hearing Quality in Child Welfare Cases

    Understanding Judicial Decision-Making and Hearing Quality in Child Welfare Cases

    A Children’s Bureau research project is seeking to increase the understanding of judicial decision-making and hearing quality in child welfare cases, including factors that may impact case planning and child and family outcomes. The project will support both the Children’s Bureau and the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), an office in the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    The project includes phases related to knowledge review, study design, and study implementation. Specific activities include the following:

    • Assessing the knowledge base related to judicial decision-making and hearing quality in child welfare cases
    • Developing a conceptual model of key constructs related to judicial decision-making and hearing quality
    • Identifying methods, measures, and data sources that align with the identified constructs
    • Identifying strategies to access reliable administrative data
    • Developing design options for a study (or group of studies) to further examine the topic
    • Conducting pretesting for the selected components of the study design options  
    • Carrying out the design options

    Briefs, reports, and webinars that present study findings are available on the project page on the OPRE website. These include a brief on a reasonable efforts study, a brief for legal professionals about research on hearing quality, and a compendium of measures and data sources summarizing how judicial decision-making and hearing quality are measured.   

    More information is also available on the James Bell Associates website.

  • Literature Review Summarizes Youth Perspective on Technology Benefits, Risks

    Literature Review Summarizes Youth Perspective on Technology Benefits, Risks

    Foster caregivers, group home staff, and child welfare professionals sometimes restrict young people’s use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as smart phones and social media, due to potential risk. However, there are benefits for youth in care who use ICTs, including staying connected to friends and family and self-expression.

    A literature review in the Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal reports on the experiences of youth in care and their use of ICTs. The authors included findings from eight studies published between 2010 and 2020. Only studies featuring interviews with youth were reviewed.

    The review’s primary purpose was to gather youth’s perceptions of the benefits and risks of ICT use. Reported benefits include the following:

    • Access to information and resources
    • The ability to maintain connections through social media
    • Social capital
    • Normalcy
    • Relaxation and recreation
    • Empowerment and independence
    • Identity formation

    Regarding the benefit of supporting connections, youth said technology helps them find and maintain relationships with family members, make and sustain friendships and romantic relationships, support offline relationships, and improve relationships with formal supports.

    When discussing the risks of ICTs, youth mentioned the following:

    • Sexual exploitation and dating violence
    • Cyberbullying and harassment
    • Challenges navigating relationships online
    • Distraction caused by ICTs
    • Risk of being monitored by agency staff through ICTs

    When discussing ways to mitigate these risks, youth in care suggested using privacy settings, only befriending people they know, and seeking help from adults.

    The review discusses these findings and concludes that youth voice regarding ICTs is mostly positive, which is counter to risk-focused narratives in child welfare discourse. In addition, the youth interviewed both recognized risks and presented strategies for mitigating them. To help stakeholders consider potential positive interventions related to ICT use, the study explores ICTs in relation to the five “Cs” of positive youth development: competence, caring, connection, character, and confidence.

    The literature review concludes with a call for stronger research-based policies in child welfare settings that outline youth rights related to ICTs.

    For more information, read the full article, “A Systematic Review of Internet Communication Technology Use by Youth in Foster Care.”

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.

  • CBX Values YOUR Opinion!

    CBX Values YOUR Opinion!

    After 22 years, the goal of Children’s Bureau Express (CBX) remains unchanged—to provide readers with valuable resources and tools to help improve the lives of children and families involved with the child welfare system.

    Now, CBX needs you! Our audience is important to us, and we value your opinion. We want to know what you think about our content, topical coverage, format, style, number and timing of issues, and more.

    Please click on the survey link to complete a short questionnaire. We appreciate your feedback!

  • Judicial, Court, and Attorney Measures of Performance

    Judicial, Court, and Attorney Measures of Performance

    Volume I of the Judicial, Court, and Attorney Measures of Performance (JCAMP) report provides a set of performance measures to help judges, attorneys, court administrators, and related organizations understand and improve child welfare court practices. While most current child welfare measures focus on outcomes and agency practice, the JCAMP performance measures focus on court processes, professional practices, and family experience. These include what happens before, during, and after court; the activities that judges and juries perform; and how families experience and perceive the child welfare court system.

    The report organizes the measures into five categories:

    1. Family engagement
    2. Due process
    3. High-quality legal representation
    4. Safety
    5. Permanency

    The report includes a section on each measure category that explains what the category is, why it is important, how it can be measured in relation to child welfare court proceedings, and more. Each performance measure category prioritizes child and family experience, equity, and research evidence.

    More information is available in the full report, Judicial, Court, and Attorney Measures or Performance (JCAMP): Volume I: Measures. The project was funded by the Children’s Bureau and conducted by the Capacity Building Center for Courts. It was developed in collaboration with children, youth, and families with lived expertise.

    The report discussed in this article is one of five volumes included in the JCAMP project. The other four volumes include an implementation guide, an implementation toolbox, a technical guide, and a background and research report.

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.

  • Strengthening Caregiver Protective Factors in Tough Times

    Strengthening Caregiver Protective Factors in Tough Times

    Supporting parents and caregivers during difficult times through the Strengthening Families framework—an evidence-based approach to build family strengths, support healthy child development, and reduce the likelihood of child maltreatment—is the focus of Building Resilience in Troubled Times: A Guide for Parents from the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). The framework is centered on engaging families and communities in building five key protective factors, which are the strengths and characteristics of individuals, families, and society that, when present, lessen the effects of risk, stress, or trauma and promote the health and well-being of all.

    The resource outlines each of the following protective factors and provides tips and actionable steps to help families build them:

    • Resilience
    • Social connections
    • Concrete support
    • Knowledge of parenting and child development
    • Social and emotional competence of children

      Access the webpage and brief on the CSSP website.

  • Early Relational Health Critical to Healthy Families and Communities

    Early Relational Health Critical to Healthy Families and Communities

    The Nurture Connection movement, conceived and made possible by the Center for the Study of Social Policy and its partners, recently launched a dedicated website to grow and gain support for the movement to build healthier, resilient, and more connected communities through the promotion of early positive relationships. Early relational health (ERH) is the state of emotional well-being that grows from the positive emotional connection between babies and toddlers and their parents and caregivers when they experience strong, positive, and nurturing relationships with each other. It is critical to creating healthy children, healthy families, and healthy communities. While parent and family perspectives and partnerships play a powerful and central role in the movement, Nurture Connection is working to “build a community of communities,” where a diverse and growing network of caregivers, innovators, influencers, organizations, and advocates across geographies, systems, sectors, and expertise work collaboratively toward equitable and transformative solutions to advance ERH.

    Visit the Nurture Connections website to learn more about the movement, including its emphasis on preventive mental health.

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.