Determining if a Child is Safe

The basic and most important determination judges make in child in need of care cases is whether a child(ren) is safe. Critical safety decisions are made when removing a child and determining whether a child should return home. However, without a comprehensive decision-making structure and thorough inquiry, decisions can lead to over and under removal, leaving children unsafe or returning them home too quickly. 

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has implemented a research-based, structured safety assessment process designed to avoid these problems. It is the responsibility of all individuals involved in a case to understand the goal of child safety, the terminology used when discussing safety, and the type of information needed to make good decisions about child safety.

This bulletin was developed in 2016 by the Pelican Center for Children and Families with assistance from ABA Center for Children and the Law and the Pelican Center/Louisiana Child Welfare Training Academy Training and Education Committee members. Please download and share!

 

Published in Law and Best Practices

Announcing the electronic version of the FRIENDS Summer 2017 Parent and Practitioner Newsletter.  This newsletter is created by members of the FRIENDS Parent Advisory Council (PAC).  The FRIENDS PAC is excited to announce that starting with this edition, the Parent and Practitioner Newsletter will be simultaneously available in English and Spanish!  As always, feel free to disseminate the electronic version widely among your networks of parents and practitioners.  Don’t forget to check out our website www.friendsnrc.org for the web link to this newsletter and previous editions as well as other great information and resources.

 

MaryJo Alimena Caruso, M.Ed., Training / Technical Assistance Coordinator - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FRIENDS National Center For Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention

 

FRIENDS is a service of the Children’s Bureau

Published in Home Page
Tuesday, 13 June 2017 10:28

2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book

2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book (Press release)

Annie E. Casey Foundation - June 13, 2017

The Annie E. Casey Foundation urged policymakers not to back away from targeted investments that help U.S. children become healthier, more likely to complete high school and better positioned to contribute to the nation's economy as adults. The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book also shows the child poverty rate in 2015 continued its drop, landing at 21%. In addition, children experienced gains in reading proficiency and a significant increase in the number of kids with health insurance. However, the data indicate that unacceptable levels of children living in poverty and in high-poverty neighborhoods persist.

2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book: http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-2017kidscountdatabook.pdf

http://www.aecf.org/resources/2017-kids-count-data-book/

Published in Data & Technology

Kinship care families: New policy can guide pediatricians to address needs

Sarah H. Springer, M.D., FAAP
 
 

A growing body of evidence suggests that children who cannot live with their biological parents fare better overall when living with extended family than with nonrelated foster parents. Acknowledging the benefits of kinship care arrangements, federal laws and public policies increasingly favor placing children with family members rather than in nonrelative foster care.

Despite overall better outcomes, families providing kinship care endure many hardships, and the children experience many of the same adversities as children in traditional foster care.

A new AAP policy statement from the Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care outlines the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of these children and families, and offers strategies for pediatricians to help them to thrive. The policy, Needs of Kinship Care Families and Pediatric Practice, is available at https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-0099 and will be published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

As many as 3% of U.S. children live in kinship care arrangements.

Because placement with a kinship caregiver often is sudden and unplanned, caregivers frequently are unprepared to meet the needs of the children and are unaware of available supports. Furthermore, caregivers may not have legal authority to advocate or make decisions for a child, complicating health care and educational decisions. Caregivers frequently have their own financial and health burdens, and often are asked to care for sibling groups, multiplying the stresses.

Pediatricians can help by recognizing these families in the office setting and addressing their needs.

Among the recommendations in the policy are the following:

  • Children may need more frequent visits to address mental health, developmental and educational needs, similar to children in traditional nonrelative foster care. These needs are more common and often more complicated than for children who live with their biologic parents.
  • Families may need information about supports and help accessing legal, health insurance and financial assistance programs.
  • Consent and confidentiality roles may need to be specifically defined.

The policy statement provides information to help pediatricians learn more about resources available in their own states and communities, and how to connect families to those resources.

Advocacy opportunities also are reviewed in the policy, such as working with policymakers and others to eliminate barriers so children can be placed with kin, when appropriate, and ensuring funding to support provision of care and health and social services.

The pediatrician’s role in meeting the health needs of children in kinship care is especially important because most of the families are not connected to child welfare or other formal services.

Dr. Springer, a lead author of the policy, is a member and former chair of the AAP Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care. She also chaired the former Task Force on Foster Care.

The Complete Engaging Fathers Podcast Series Now Available!

Children with a caring father figure in their lives are at less risk for behavioral problems, substance use, teen pregnancy, and incarceration than their peers who lack positive paternal involvement.  Learn how you can engage fathers and paternal family members in your everyday casework and improve outcomes for the children and families you serve in our new 3-part podcast series, Engaging FathersEngaging Fathers explores partnerships between child welfare agencies and community fatherhood organizations that work toward engaging fathers and paternal-side family members. Including fathers and paternal family members in casework effectively doubles a child's family resources. Listen to professionals from child welfare agencies and fatherhood organizations discuss why it's so important to have a father in a child's life and learn about steps that child welfare agencies can take to partner with community fatherhood organizations to improve father engagement.

The Engaging Fathers podcast series features valuable insights and perspectives from fatherhood engagement experts with the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, a faith-based nonprofit organization; Daddy University, a Philadelphia-based male parenting education company; and the Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action, a community change organization aimed at strengthening families:

Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway Podcast Series page today for these and other conversations that span the child welfare continuum.

Published in Home Page

Toolkit to Support Child Welfare Agencies in Serving LGBTQ Children, Youth, and Families

As the culture and laws related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals have become more inclusive in recent years, an increasing number of LGBTQ people are self-disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (i.e., “coming out”) during childhood or adolescence. Additionally, the number of LGBTQ individuals coming forward to serve as temporary or permanent caregivers to children and youth in foster care has increased.

This toolkit is designed to help States and territories adapt their policies and practices to meet the growing needs of LGBTQ children, youth, and families. It provides links to knowledge and skill building resources, including articles, videos, tools, training curricula, tip sheets, information briefs, websites, and other products. Resources are divided into the five categories. 

Access the website with resources, click here.

Published in Best Practices

Creating LGBTQ Affirming Agencies Video and Guide

The Creating LGBTQ Affirming Agencies video and guide builds State and territorial capacity to create culturally inclusive environments within child welfare agencies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals. Creating a culturally inclusive environment means developing a welcoming, culturally sensitive, supportive, and affirming agency for all people—regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Culturally inclusive child welfare agencies provide children, youth, and families with opportunities to: 

  • See themselves mirrored in the agency’s art and photos
  • Feel visible instead of invisible
  • Fill out forms inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Receive respectful treatment from support staff, frontline staff, training staff, and supervisory staff

The Creating LGBTQ Affirming Agencies Video Guide (PDF - 219 KB) helps public child welfare agencies understand the purpose of and context for the Creating LGBTQ Affirming Agencies video and how the video can be used to support LGBTQ children, youth, and families who are involved in the child welfare system. It also includes additional resources as well as discussion questions that agencies may use to facilitate presentation of the video.

This video illustrates two versions of one couple's experience with an agency: The first version shows an agency that does not demonstrate a culturally-inclusive environment, while the second version shows an agency that does.

Video Link

Published in Best Practices
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES REVIEWS: How Judges, Court Administrators and Attorneys Should Be Involved 
 
The Children’s Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families conducts Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) in all States periodically to ensure conformity with Federal child welfare requirements, to gauge the experiences of children, youth, and families receiving State child welfare services, and to assist States in helping children families achieve positive outcomes.
 
The first two rounds of the CFSR were completed in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia between 2001 and 2010, and the third round will take place between 2015 and 2018. www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/monitoring/child-family-services-reviews/round3
 
This paper provides:
•An introduction to CFSRs,
•An explanation of why CFSRs are important to maintaining the momentum of court improvement efforts, and
•Specific suggestions for how courts can become involved in CFSRs.

Click to read the full document.

 
This year’s Resource Guide continues to reflect the theme of the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect’s 20th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, "Building Community, Building Hope," which was held in Washington, DC, in August 2016. Going forward, the Resource Guide will be produced biannually to align with OCAN’s biannual national conference.
 
This guide is a joint product of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, and the FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention. This annual Resource Guide is one of the Children’s Bureau’s most anticipated publications, offering trusted information, strategies, and resources to help communities support and strengthen families and promote the well-being of children and youth. Its contents are informed by input from some of our National Child Abuse Prevention Partners, as well as our colleagues on the Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect. Child abuse and neglect is a national issue that affects us all. The consequences of child abuse and neglect ripple across the lifespan, negatively impacting a child’s chances to succeed in school, work, and relationships. The Administration on Children, Youth and Families supports the promotion of meaningful and measurable results in social and emotional well-being, and we continue to support evidence-based and trauma-informed services and practices to achieve positive outcomes for the children, families, and communities we serve.
 
The 2016/2017 Resource Guide plays an important role in these efforts—offering support to service providers as they work with parents, caregivers, and children to prevent child maltreatment and promote social and emotional well-being. To do so, the Resource Guide focuses on protective factors that build on family strengths and promote optimal child and youth development. Information about protective factors is augmented with tools and strategies that help providers integrate the factors into community programs and systems. Agencies, policymakers, advocates, service providers, and parents alike will find resources in this guide to help them promote these important elements within their families and communities. 
 
Effective early prevention efforts are less costly to our nation and to individuals than trying to fix the adverse effects of child maltreatment. We hope this Resource Guide is helpful to you in your efforts to prevent child abuse and promote well-being. We thank you for participating in this important effort and for the work you do each day to build promising futures for our nation’s children and families.
 
Elaine Voces Stedt, M.S.W.
Director
Office on Child Abuse and Neglect
Children’s Bureau
Administration on Children, Youth and Families
Administration for Children and Families,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
 
 
 

A Guide for Child Protective Services Staff - Protecting Children with Disabilities from Abuse and Neglect

Authors

  • Scott J. Modell, Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner, Department of Children’s Services, State of Tennessee
  • Marcie Davis, M.S., Director, Underserved Populations, New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc.
  • Carla Aaron, M.S.S.W., Executive Director, Office of Child Safety, Department of Children’s Services, State of Tennessee
  • Irma Buchanan, M.S.S.W., Director of Investigations, Office of Child Safety, Department of Children’s Services, State of Tennessee

In 2011, the average annual rate of violent victimization for children with disabilities was more than twice the rate among children without disabilities. Serious violent victimization for children with disabilities was more than three times than that for children without disabilities (Truman & Planty, 2012). In the U.S., victimization is increasing for individuals with disabilities. Average annual rates from 2009-2011 tell a story. Children with intellectual disabilities had the highest rate of violent victimization from 2009 to 2011.

Among children with intellectual disabilities, the average annual rate of serious violent victimization doubled from 2009 to 2011. The average annual rate of serious violent victimization against individuals with self-care disabilities more than tripled from 2009 to 2011. The average annual rate of serious violent victimization against individuals with multiple disability types was double compared to individuals with one disability type (a net result of four times the victimization than persons without disabilities) (Harrell, 2011; Harrell, 2012). Data meta-analysis (Spencer et al., 2005; Sullivan
& Knutson, 2000) indicates that children with intellectual disabilities are:

  • 2.9 - 3.7 times as likely to have been neglected
  • 3.4 - 3.8 times as likely to be emotionally abused
  • 3.8 - 5.3 times as likely to be physically abused
  • 4.0 - 6.4 times as likely to be sexually abused

Almost fifty percent of people with developmental disabilities who are victims of sexual abuse will experience 10 or more abusive incidents (Valenti-Hein & Schwartz, 1995). According to a study involving the sexual abuse of persons with disabilities, almost eighty percent were sexually assaulted on more than one occasion and fifty percent of those experienced more than 10 victimizations (Sobsey, & Doe, 1991). People with disabilities are more likely to experience severe abuse over longer durations with multiple incidences and multiple abusers (Schaller & Fieberg, 1998; Young et al.,
1997). 

Child abuse normally occurs in the framework of a relationship between a child and an adult, or when the adult is a caregiver. Abuse or neglect is more likely to occur if the child and the caregiver exhibit certain risk factors. If there is a lack of protective factors to intervene with the risk factors present in their lives, then that family is at a greater risk of child abuse.

Read the full document. Click on the attached file.

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