Susan Delle Shaffette

By Madeline Streilein

The 5th edition of the US Human Rights Network’s Human Rights Status Report  was released on January 15, 2018 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). The report was drafted “in order to highlight the issues that Dr. King organized around and issues that grassroots leaders in the U.S. continue to fight for, namely racial, economic and climate justice,” says US Human Rights Network Executive Director Colette Pichon Battle. “2017 saw a record number of climate disruptions and corporate attacks on natural resources that continue to uncover the thinly veiled structural discrimination faced by Indigenous, Black and poor communities across the country,” Battle continued in the introduction of the report.

Read the report

Published January 2018

Combat Trafficking: Native Youth Toolkit on Human Trafficking.
Administration for Children and Families, Office of Trafficking in Persons. Administration for Native Americans.
2017
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2018/01/combating-trafficking-native-youth-toolkit-on-human-trafficking

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/otip/native_youth_toolkit_on_human_trafficking.pdf

The beginnings of Fetal and Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) date back to the mid-1980s, when concern over high infant mortality rates intensified nationwide. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) conceptualized Infant Mortality Review (IMR), the forerunner of FIMR, as a promising method to improve understanding of local factors contributing to infant mortality and to motivate community response. FIMR is a community-based, action-oriented process to review fetal and infant deaths and make recommendations to spark systemic changes to prevent future similar deaths. Most FIMR teams operate at the local level (usually the county) to examine medical, nonmedical, and systems-related factors and circumstances contributing to fetal and infant deaths. Among the various types of fatality reviews, the FIMR approach is unique because cases are deidentified; they may include a family interview to determine the family’s perspective on factors that may have contributed to the infant’s life and death; and many of the teams have a Community Action Team (CAT) that, after completion of the review, works to take the case review team’s recommendations to action. From the very beginning, the FIMR model strongly emphasized the importance of a communitybased two tiered process that promoted the use of separate groups to carry out an analytic function and a subsequent action function. The Community Review Team has the role of reviewing cases and drafting recommendations, while the Community Action Team helps to disseminate findings, and facilitates implementation of recommended policies and interventions.

Read the full report, click here.  (https://www.ncfrp.org/wp-content/uploads/NCRPCD-Docs/FIMRinUS_2016.pdf)

Addendum to the Report on the Status of Fetal and Infant Mortality Review in the United States, 2016.
National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention.
2017
https://www.ncfrp.org/wp-content/uploads/NCRPCD-Docs/FIMR-FindingsToAction.pdf

I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, the Old, and What We Can Achieve Together, the new report from Generations United and The Eisner Foundation, highlights national examples of pioneers reuniting the generations and making their communities better places to live.

It includes a new public opinion survey on how Americans of all ages feel about the young and the old uniting. Taking inspiration from the survey findings and featured organizations, the report highlights inventive, intergenerational solutions and actionable ways to harness the benefits of connecting generations. They include:

  • Lobby your local government to make age integration a core value
  • Call on organizations that serve the young to collaborate with those that serve the old
  • Challenge your local board of education to integrate elders into every school
  • Urge local foundation to support intergenerational programs

Generations United and The Eisner Foundation © 2017

Download the Executive Summary
Download the Background Paper
Download the Infographic
Watch the Press Club Event Recording
Catch the Highlights in our Storify

This report begins with an overview of the FY2017 federal child welfare funding. It then includes a discussion of how annual funding levels are determined for child welfare programs, and briefly discusses the effect of sequestration on that child welfare funding. The remainder, and largest part, of the report provides descriptions of each federal child welfare program, including its purpose and recent (FY2013-FY2017) funding levels. The review indicates that for FY2017, an estimated $8.9 billion in federal support is available for child welfare purposes. The largest share of this federal child welfare funding is provided for support of children in foster care, and for ongoing assistance to children who leave foster care for new permanent families. The federal cost was estimated at $7.5 billion in FY2016 and, as of the July 2017 mid-session budget review, was expected to be $7.8 billion in FY2017. Federal funding for all other child welfare activities remained at $1.1 billion in FY2017, which was the same level provided in FY2016. Nearly all federal child welfare dollars (97%) were provided to State, tribal, or territorial child welfare agencies (via formula grants or as federal reimbursement for a part of all eligible program costs). The remaining federal child welfare dollars (3%) are provided to a variety of eligible public or private entities, primarily on a competitive basis. This money supports research, evaluation, technical assistance, and demonstration projects to expand knowledge of, and improve, child welfare practice and policy. Federally supported programs are described that are authorized under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the Victims of Child Abuse Act, and other programs. 21 tables and 136 references. 

Link to report

Title: Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding. August 2017. 
Published: 2017 
Available from: Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service 
http://loc.gov/crsinfo/ 
101 Independence Avenue, SE 
Washington, DC 20540-7500

This paper reviews factors that impact the likelihood that a permanent placement will be attained for a child in care. It begins with a review of system-level factors that act as barriers to permanency, including problems in recruiting and retaining prospective foster and adoptive families, high caseloads and turnover among child welfare workers, inadequate resources to assist families, and an overcrowded court system. Case-level factors that may inhibit a child’s likelihood of obtaining a permanent home are then reviewed and include a prior removal history, placement stability, initial placement, and reason for removal. Finally, the paper reviews child and family level factors that impact permanency outcomes, including demographic characteristics (e.g., gender, age, race/ ethnicity), physical and mental disabilities, and parental substance use and mental health. Programs and initiatives that have been implemented to support positive permanency outcomes are then highlighted, as well as key federal legislation related to improving permanency outcomes. The need for increased research to identify successful strategies to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families is emphasized. 19 references. 

Link to Report

Title: Achieving Permanency for Children in Care: Barriers and Future Directions. 
Author(s): Madden, Elissa E.;Aguiniga, Donna M. 
Published: 2017 
Available from: Upbring (formerly Lutheran Social Services of the South) 
https://www.upbring.org/ 
8305 Cross Park Drive 
Austin, TX 78754 

This report shares the findings of an audit of the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) oversight of Louisiana’s Foster Care Program. The evaluation generally included fiscal years 2012 through 2016 and identified the following issues: DCFS faces significant challenges in performing its required duties, including low staffing levels, high caseloads, frequent turnover of staff, retention of foster parents, and ineffective data systems; DCFS did not always ensure that non-certified foster care providers received required criminal background checks; DCFS allowed nine certified providers with prior valid cases of abuse or neglect to care for foster children during fiscal years 2012 to 2016 without obtaining the required waivers; DCFS management does not have a formal process to ensure that caseworkers assessed the safety of children placed with 68 non-certified providers, as required by policy; State regulations require DCFS to expunge certain valid cases of abuse or neglect from the State Central Registry, which means the cases are not available for caseworkers to consider prior to placing children with providers; DCFS did not always ensure that children in foster care received services to address their physical and behavioral health needs; during fiscal year 2016, 17.9% of foster children in care for less than 12 months had three or more placements, compared to the national median of 14.4%; and DCFS’s performance declined or the percentages of areas needing improvement increased statewide from fiscal years 2014 to 2016 in 7 out of 18 areas evaluated on the Continuous Quality Improvement that related to foster care. Recommendations for improving services are made and the response of DCFS is provided. 

Link to Report

Title: Oversight of the Foster Care Program, Department of Children and Family Services [Louisiana]. Performance Audit. 2017. 
Published: 2017 
Available from: Louisiana Legislative Auditor 
https://www.lla.la.gov/ 
1600 North Third Street 
Post Office Box 94397 
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9397 

This federally funded report is intended to provide advocates with a common set of tools and message with which to bring about greater political and programmatic priority for strengthening the social services workforce. The toolkit is research based, solutions-focused, and includes lessons from behavioral science and original research on the most effective ways to communicate to policy and decision-makers. It outlines the relevance of advocacy and communications, and highlights concrete steps for the social services workforce Ambassadors, practitioners, and researchers to develop their own context-specific advocacy plans. The toolkit begins with an explanation of the importance of advocacy and the methodology used to develop the toolkit. Chapter 2 reviews effective strategies to use when talking to policy and decision-makers, including: be personal, tell a story with data, provide incentives, highlight solutions, use loss aversion, and provide context. Key communication tools are also explained. Chapter 3 provides an overview of the most relevant advocacy opportunities for the field on the global level, focusing especially on health, violence against children, and migration. Chapter 4 reviews research findings on the best way to identify and research advocacy objectives. A step-by-step guide is provided for developing a specific advocacy plan and general narratives are provided for addressing violence against children, migration, and health challenges. In addition, tips are included for writing and pitching an op-ed, using social media, and developing infographics. 

Link to report

Title: Global Advocacy Toolkit for the Social Service Workforce. 
Published: 2017 
Available from: Global Social Service Workforce Alliance 
http://www.socialserviceworkforce.org 
1776 I St NW 
Washington, DC 20006

This fact sheet summarizes the findings of an audit of the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) oversight of Louisiana’s Foster Care Program. The evaluation generally included fiscal years 2012 through 2016 and identified the following issues: DCFS faces significant challenges in performing its required duties, including low staffing levels, high caseloads, frequent turnover of staff, retention of foster parents, and ineffective data systems; DCFS did not always ensure that non-certified foster care providers received required criminal background checks; DCFS allowed nine certified providers with prior valid cases of abuse or neglect to care for foster children during fiscal years 2012 to 2016 without obtaining the required waivers; DCFS management does not have a formal process to ensure that caseworkers assessed the safety of children placed with 68 non-certified providers, as required by policy; State regulations require DCFS to expunge certain valid cases of abuse or neglect from the State Central Registry, which means the cases are not available for caseworkers to consider prior to placing children with providers; DCFS did not always ensure that children in foster care received services to address their physical and behavioral health needs; during fiscal year 2016, 17.9% of foster children in care for less than 12 months had three or more placements, compared to the national median of 14.4%; and DCFS’s performance declined or the percentages of areas needing improvement increased statewide from fiscal years 2014 to 2016 in 7 out of 18 areas evaluated on the Continuous Quality Improvement that related to foster care.

Link to Factsheet

Louisiana Legislative Auditor 
https://www.lla.la.gov/ 
1600 North Third Street 
Post Office Box 94397 
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9397 

 The 20th in a series, this report presents a set of 41 key indicators that measure important aspects of children's lives. It draws on various overarching frameworks to identify seven major domains that characterize the well-being of a child and that influence the likelihood that a child will grow to be a well-educated, economically secure, productive, and healthy adult. The seven domains are family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. This year’s report contains a special feature that uses teacher- and student-reported data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS-K:2011) 3rd-grade collection to describe student victimization of peers at school. Findings from the report indicate: there were 73.6 million children ages 0-17 in the United States in 2016, 1.2 million more than in 2000; in 2016, 69% of children lived with two parents, 23% lived with only their mothers, 4% lived only with their fathers, and 4% lived without a parent in the household; between 1980 and 2015, the percentage of all births to unmarried women increased by 22% to 40%; in 2016, 22% of children were native-born children with at least one foreign-born parent; between 1980 and 2015, the birth rate among adolescents declined from 22 per 1,000 to 10 per 1,000; there were 24.3 maltreated children per 1,000 children under age 1 in 2015, more than twice the rate of any other age group; 20% of children lived in poverty in 2015; only 5% of children in 2015 were without health insurance; and in the spring of 2014, about 6% of 3rd-graders were identified as perpetrators of peer victimization. 173 references and numerous tables and figures. 

Printable version (PDF): https://www.childstats.gov/pdf/ac2017/ac_17.pdf

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