CWLA Program Operations
CWLA's Adoption Program has undergone dramatic changes since CWLA was founded in 1920 in order to keep up with the constantly changing field. Today's adoption field is marked by such changes as far greater openness in infant adoption, greater awareness of the need to protect children adopted across national boundaries, and greater emphasis on promptly finding adoptive families for children in foster care who cannot return to their birth families.
- Baby Abandonment
CWLA's Baby Abandonment Program was established to assess the increased incidence of baby abandonment nationwide, to gather information on its root causes, and to issue recommendations for reform of policy and practice. Since the program's formation, CWLA has published a monograph that is intended to inform the decision-making of community leaders, child welfare agencies, and legislators. It poses a set of questions that every advocate should ask in responding to baby abandonment, describes baby abandonment, examines the existing data, discusses the challenges to moving forward, and makes recommendations for responding to those challenges.
- Behavior Support and Intervention
CWLA, in collaboration with the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, serves as the Coordinating Center for a three-year project designed to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion procedures with children receiving services in five demonstration sites across the country. The Coordinating Center for Best Practice in Behavior Support and Interventions has developed a monograph, "Promising Practices and Successful Strategies for Reducing the Use of Restraint and Seclusion." The monograph was developed to help facilities begin the process of reducing and eventually eliminating the use of restraint and seclusion.
- Behavioral Health
The Behavioral Health Division was created in 2001 to provide national leadership in the advancement of policy, programs, and practices that address behavioral health issues in children and families known to the child welfare system. In a recent membership survey, CWLA members cited the behavioral health needs of children and their families as the primary challenge confronting agencies today. As a result, the division was created to assist CWLA members with addressing the intensity and severity of these problems and is composed of an Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) unit and a Mental Health unit. In addition, the division spearheads CWLA's efforts around Community Building and Family Involvement.
- Child Care and Development
CWLA and its National Child Care and Development Advisory Committee, established in 1986, are committed to improving the quality of child care and development services for all children but with a special emphasis on children in the child welfare system. To accomplish this objective, CWLA has been setting standards and improving practice since its formation in 1920. It has also looked at the role child care and development services can play in preventing child abuse and neglect. CWLA has also been prominent in advocating for better federal policies and adequate funding to ensure a comprehensive child care and development delivery system that is accessible and affordable to all parents and that is of high quality.
- Child Protection
The Child Protection Program of CWLA believes that keeping children safe from child abuse and neglect should always be the first goal of any child protective services response. The best ways to ensure that children are safe from all forms of maltreatment are comprehensive, community based approaches to protecting children and supporting and strengthening families. As a collective, public and private agencies, in collaboration with individual citizens and community entities, can prevent and remedy child maltreatment, achieve child safety and promote child and family well-being.
- Domestic Violence
This CWLA Program is working to raise awareness of the concerns of children exposed to violence and to improve programs and services that are available to provide social, emotional, and material supports to children and their mothers. We know that when children are exposed to domestic violence there is a potential for harm when children are witnesses to battering behavior, injured in a violent episode, and/or directly maltreated, For many children, the trauma can be evidenced by an array of symptoms including but not limited to withdrawal, anxiety, fearfulness, depression, sleeplessness, aggression and delinquency. Fortunately, we also know that some children have strong family and community supports that can help to lessen the impact of the harm they have experienced. Still others will need skilled assistance in addressing issues of domestic violence and safety. CWLA believes that the safety, permanence and well-being of children is directly linked to the safety and well-being of their battered mothers. Whenever safe to do so, children should remain in the care of their non-offending parent and services should be that support the safety of both the children and that parent.
- Children with Incarcerated Parents
In September 2001, the CWLA received a three-year cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to create the federal Resource Center for Children of Prisoners. CWLA will be operating the Resource Center for Children of Prisoners in collaboration with NIC and with our partners, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) and the American Correctional Association (ACA). The Resource Center's ultimate goal is to improve the quality of information available about children with incarcerated parents and to develop resources that will help create better outcomes for these children and their families.
- Cultural Competence
The Division of Cultural Competence is responsible for the development and implementation of cultural competence program principles, goals, operational objectives and activities for CWLA staff and member agencies. The Division conducts cultural competence assessments, develops curriculum, and provides resources and training supports when necessary or when requested by CWLA staff, member agencies, and the Board of Directors.
- Family Foster Care
Like the Adoption Program, CWLA's Family Foster Care Program has undergone many changes and taken on many initiatives since CWLA was established in 1920. Recently, in partnership with the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning, CWLA is continuing Renewing Our Commitment to Permanency for Children, a multi-year project to help agencies achieve timely and best permanency outcomes for children in family foster care. Additionally, CWLA is involved on the national level in advocating for vouchers for youth aging out of the foster care system.
- Family Preservation and Permanency Planning
CWLA is been committed to building a system of services to support and strengthen families with children. Our agenda focused on developing services that enable families to stay together, to successfully reunite, and to make decisions that will assure family continuity and permanency for children. To promote this family-centered agenda, CWLA has assisted agencies in developing family preservation and family support programs, provided consultation and training to agencies across the country on family-centered practice in out-of-home care, and developed family-centered resources.
- Health Care
CWLA is committed to the goal of accessible, affordable, and comprehensive health care for all children and families. Universal health care for all Americans, including non-citizens and undocumented immigrants, must remain our ultimate objective.
CWLA's National Task Force on HIV Infection in Children, Adolescents, and Families continues to play a prominent role in shaping the CWLA's agenda in this area. Through its leadership, important resources have been developed to assist families living with HIV/AIDS and the child welfare professionals serving them. CWLA's HIV/AIDS initiative has also included the development of two workbooks for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
- Housing and Homelessness
The Housing and Homelessness Department provides child welfare agencies with the tools necessary to assist families, youth and children in the child welfare system access and maintain safe, permanent, affordable homes. Housing and Homelessness works with communities to set up partnerships between housing providers (public and private) and child welfare agencies. CWLA is the leading national advocate and trainer for HUD's Family Unification Program (FUP), which provides Housing Choice Vouchers to young people aging out of the foster care system and families whose children have been placed, or are at risk of placement, in foster care primarily because the family lacks adequate housing.
- Juvenile Justice Division
CWLA's Juvenile Justice Division was established in July 2000 through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The objective of the award included "supporting the education of CWLA members and other affiliates in the field on the connection between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and the need for an integrated approach to programs and services; and reducing the incidence of juvenile delinquency nationwide and reducing the reliance on incarceration for accused or adjudicated delinquent youth." Since its establishment, the Juvenile Justice Division has worked diligently to meet and surpass these goals and expectations. Our partnerships with state and local jurisdictions continue to expand.
- Kinship Care
As the number of children in kinship care increases, child welfare agencies are seeking policies, programs and practice guidance to help develop and implement effective kinship care policies and programs. Child welfare agencies are taking a new look at the nature of kinship care, the role of kinship care as a child welfare service, and the relationship among kinship care family preservation and out-of-home care. CWLA's Kinship Care Division provides consultation, training, and technical assistance to agencies, organizes the National Kinship Care Conference, convenes the National Kinship Care Advisory Committee, creates Kinship Care Standards of Excellence, conduct research projects, publishes reports, and pushes for bold systematic changes on Capitol Hill.
- LGBTQ Initiative
CWLA, in partnership with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. is working to build the capacity of the child welfare system to deal equitably and constructively with young people, family members, and employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning their sexual orientation (LGBTQ), with particular emphasis on those making transition to adulthood. This initiative, entitled, "Fostering Transitions: CWLA/Lambda Joint Initiative to Support LGBTQ Youth and Adults Involved with the Child Welfare System" is funded through a grant from the Andrus Family Fund.
- The National Data Analysis System
The National Data Analysis System (NDAS) is a part of CWLA's National Center for Research, Data and Technology. The NDAS puts child welfare data and statistics at the fingertips of Internet users, and adheres to rigorous data quality standards. NDAS also promotes discussion around state and federal data issues in an effort to promote effective integration of research, policy and practice. NDAS is the most comprehensive collection of child welfare data available.
- National Council of Latino Executives
Under the direction of Elba Montalvo, Executive Director of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, the National Council of Latino Executives (CLE) was created. The CLE, which serves as an advisory group to CWLA, first convened in April 11, 1994 in Washington, DC. Today, with a membership of over 100 Latino experts in the field of child welfare, the role of CLE is to provide access to and participation in policymaking with respect to addressing the specific condition of Latino children and families.
- Creating Parenting-Rich Communities Initiative
CWLA will build on its six years of successful partnership with The Prudential Foundation to launch a new three-year, three-phase initiative to strengthen the ability of parents to raise children from birth through young adulthood by building parenting-rich communities. In these communities, all parents and caregivers have the information, skills and resources they need to help their children thrive. The League will gather and refine tools to identify the strengths and needs of parents, and assist neighborhoods in selecting effective ways to build parent supports and become parenting-rich. But why invest the time and energy to support parents? In a national public awareness and education campaign, CWLA will answer this question for community residents, human service professionals, legislators and decision-makers and the media.
- Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents
The Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents Program of CWLA serves as a resource and advocate for 30 Florence Crittenton agencies in the United States, in addition to other CWLA member agencies that provide adolescent pregnancy prevention and teen parenting services. Adolescent pregnancy prevention, pregnancy services, adoption, and family and individual counseling exemplify some of the services Florence Crittenton agencies provide today. The ASPPP actively engages in research regarding the latest trends in teen pregnancy and prevention, and new issues surrounding the adolescent population.
- Prudential Positive Parenting
The Prudential Positive Parenting program offers a free 12-session parenting education curriculum, "Teaching Parents of Young Children" to child care, Head Start, and other early childhood programs. The goal is to provide parents with information and resources to make their job as parents more effective and more fun.
- Research and Evaluation
CWLA's Research and Evaluation staff is dedicated to supporting and maintaining the organization's role as a leader in child welfare research. We achieve this goal by generating and disseminating empirically based knowledge to inform and promote best policies and practices on behalf of children, families, and communities. CWLA strives to tune its research to ever-changing economic, political, and social contexts, policies, and programs, and to enhance its research capacity at national, state, tribal, and local levels. To that end, research activities include identifying accurate indicators of child and family well-being as well as improving data collection and management on issues related to children, families, the workforce, and other topics of concern to CWLA's members.
- Research to Practice Initiative (R2P)
CWLA developed the Research to Practice (R2P) Initiative to respond to an intensified focus on evidence-based practice and to bring added value to its national role in protecting children and youth, supporting families, and strengthening communities. CWLA is implementing R2P through combining several well established, related capabilities: to conduct and evaluate research, to disseminate information through a variety of media, to engage in interactive communication with people throughout the United States, and to provide direct consultation and development services. In 2001 the National Center for Research and Data (NCRD) was created to coordinate all research, evaluation, and data units of CWLA. The NCRD structure allows for greater collaboration among the research units, including Research to Practice.
- Residential Group Care
Residential group care encompasses a broad array of settings and services for children with pronounced special needs, many of whom have severe emotional, behavior, or physical conditions that require intense, on-site therapy. CWLA's Residential Group Care Division works to ensure that all children and families are provided with quality residential service-whether the setting be an apartment, a campus-based group home, an emergency shelter, a secure setting, a mother and infant program, an emergency diagnostic shelter, or a specialized program.
- Child Welfare Standards
The CWLA Office of Child Welfare Standards provides goals for the continuing improvement of services for children and families. They represent those practices considered to be most desirable in providing child and family services. The 12 volumes of Standards include Standards of Management and Governance of Child Welfare Agencies and 11 volumes of program related standards. The standards are complemented by a series of best practice products, including Practice Guidelines and Tool Boxes, to enhance application of the standards in critical areas of child welfare practice.
- Walker Trieschman Center for Professional Development
In 1998, the Albert E. Trieschman Center, renowned for its staff development and training courses for line staff and supervisors, became a division of CWLA. Now known as the Walker Trieschman Center, it coordinates and manages CWLA's professional development activities. Through the Walker Trieschman Center, CWLA demonstrates its ongoing commitment to serving professional staff in child welfare agencies nationwide.
- Workforce Development Initiative
Since 1999, the Walker Trieschman Center has led CWLA's efforts to seek solutions for the workforce shortage in the child welfare field, and currently houses the organization's Workforce Development Initiative. This initiative is guided and supported by a National Advisory Committee and is building the field's capacity to comprehensively address immediate and long-term workforce issues. These efforts have included linking all of the program areas and other CWLA initiatives that directly or indirectly involve the workforce.
- Youth Services & Positive Youth Development
CWLA is managing a four-year grant from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund to promote the positive development of youths in out-of-home care and help them move toward a self-sufficient and productive adulthood. CWLA provides training, technical assistance and financial support to five member agencies participating in the project.
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