Volume 94, Number 2 & Number 3: Improving the Use and Usefulness of Research Evidence
This two-part special issue considers how research is used in child welfare and provides examples of organizational strategies, structures, and alliances that embed research use in organizations’ efforts to promote the well-being of children, youth, and families. Policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers have different responsibilities and prioritize different activities; these differences contribute to gaps between what is known by researchers and the knowledge used by public child welfare leaders, administrators, and supervisors. The articles in this double issue speak to the ongoing, important work of those involved in child welfare research, and the successes and challenges they experience
This special issue examines the critical problem of housing instability within the context of child welfare. Home ownership reduces the transmission of intergenerational poverty; promotes educational attainment; and increases parental and family satisfaction, happiness, and well-being. With the publication of this issue, we hope to draw further attention to America’s affordable housing crisis, making clear and candid links between housing stability and child well-being. Most importantly, we hope to assist researchers, child welfare professionals, and policy-makers in finding concrete solutions and practical information on how to develop the partnerships necessary to provide for the housing needs of children and families.
This two-volume special issue highlights the advancements made since the release of CWLA’s 2001 special issue of Child Welfare which put a spotlight on parental substance use disorders among families in child welfare, including those involved with dependency courts. CWLA with the support of the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) have compiled the lessons from many of those efforts into this two-part special issue of Child Welfare. Guest editors Nancy K. Young, PhD, and Julie Collins, LCSW, have produced a must-read two-volume set for anyone interested in the most up-to-date research on programs and practices working for these families.
In 2007, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351) now, more commonly known as Fostering Connections, passed through Congress to become law. One year later, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Children’s Bureau (CB), made available competitive grant funds authorized by this legislation. The Act provides matching 36-month grants to state, local, or tribal child welfare agencies and private nonprofits to help children who are in or are at risk of entering into foster care reconnect with family members. Twenty-four grantees were funded in the first cycle of funding in 2009. Funded projects implemented one or a combination of program areas: kinship navigator, family-finding, family group decision-making (FGDM), and residential family treatment. As demonstration projects, grantees installed, tested, and evaluated at local levels new and unique approaches to delivering services to children. Grantees developed programs as identifiable sites that others seeking to implement services for similar populations could look to for guidance, insight, and replication. This special issue of Child Welfare highlights several of these projects.
There is a need for leadership of, and support for, Indian child welfare concerns and efforts. Organizations like the NRC for Tribes, about which Cathryn Potter writes in the penultimate article of this collection; and the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), of which Terry Cross serves as executive director, reflect that concern and support. It is our hope that this special issue provides a collection of articles that offers our readership a unique perspective on contemporary child welfare research, policies, and practices with Indian communities.
In May 2009, the Children’s Bureau hosted the National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit in Washington, DC. The purpose of this three-day summit was to explore the current state of evaluation practice in the field of child welfare and to promote cohesive, strategic, and sound approaches for evaluating child welfare systems, projects, and programs. The summit provided a forum to discuss dynamic tensions in the field, such as those between theory and practice, rigor and flexibility, fidelity and adaptability, and evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence. This issue of Child Welfare journal focuses on Child Welfare Evaluation.
The articles in this special issue of Child Welfare present diverse perspectives on family engagement and expand the definition of family engagement beyond the worker-client dyad, shifting the focus to the larger family and the service or policy setting. It is edited by several of the leading voices in the area of family engagement in the United States (Joan Pennell and Gale Burford), the United Kingdom (Kate Morris), and Australia (Marie Connolly). The article findings point to the benefits of family engagement in child welfare and also to its dangers when implemented without adequate supports and resources. It is my hope that the dialogue about this important area of policy and practice moves forward in continuing to connect children and youth with their families.
Perhaps no other child-serving systems encounter a higher percentage of children with a trauma history than the child welfare system. Almost by definition, children served by child welfare have experienced at least one major traumatic event, and many have long and complex trauma histories. Children in the child welfare system, especially those in foster care, have a higher prevalence of mental health problems than the general population. Abuse and neglect often occur with concurrent exposure to domestic violence, substance abuse, and community violence. These children also often face the additional stressors of removal from the home, multiple placements in out-of-home care (foster homes, shelters, group homes, residential treatment facilities, kinship placements), and different schools and peer groups. Research shows that exposure to trauma can increase the risk of experiencing multiple types of trauma, known as polyvictimization or complex trauma, with increased likelihood of adverse traumatic symptoms. This special issue is devoted to addressing the effect of child traumatic stress on children, families, operations, and staff within child welfare.
Recognizing the importance of disseminating quality research and promoting policy and effective practice methods, Child Welfare devotes this special issue to residential care and treatment services. This issue brings together an array of articles from national and international practitioners, researchers, government officials, and academics. This collection of articles spans a range of topics and issues. Each article critically examines an aspect of residential care services for children, with the intent of strengthening and adding to the body of knowledge. The guest editors of this special issue—Lloyd Bullard, Larry W. Owens, Louise Richmond, and Floyd Alwon—have taken great care to cluster the issues under four general categories: broad macro policy issues, program models of practice in residential care, specific residential care program issues, and findings of three residential care outcome studies.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child protects children, preserves and strengthens families, and is unquestionably improving the lives of children. It is time for the United States to join the global community and ratify this crucially important treaty— for the sake of our own children and children worldwide.