Children's Voice July/August 2007

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Eye on CWLA

Q&A Guide Makes Applying for New Federal Grants Easier

A new resource guide developed by CWLA and other groups helps answer common questions about applying for grants under the new Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006.

The guide is intended to stimulate organizations and agencies to begin planning and forming regional partnerships so they will be well prepared to apply for grants under the act. The Q&A includes essential information on the types of activities supported by these new funds, and eligibility and application requirements.

Other groups that contributed to the guide include the American Public Human Services Association, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Children's Defense Fund, the Legal Action Center, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights.

The Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006, which reauthorized the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program, targets $145 million over five years for competitive grants for substance abuse prevention and treatment activities for children who are in out-of-home care or are at risk of placement in care as a result of a parent's or other caregiver's methamphetamine or other substance abuse.

Responding to research that quality prevention and intervention can have a positive effect on families, the grants will be awarded to regional collaborative partnerships of public and private agencies and programs and services providing activities designed to increase children's safety and well-being.

Coming Soon: Mid-Atlantic Region Training Conference

Hundreds of CWLA members and friends in the Mid-Atlantic region will gather just a few blocks from Baltimore's bustling Inner Harbor this fall for a training conference that will focus on the current climate for America's most vulnerable children, families, and communities.

"Our goal is to raise expectations and move practice, policy, and social issues forward," says CWLA Mid-Atlantic Region Director Cassaundra Rainey. "Participants can expect an inspiring and engaging experience."

The conference, Crisis in Child Welfare: Strengthening Public Policy and Practice, will take place at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel, September 24-26. Invited guest speakers include William Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs; Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown; Maryland U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings; New York State First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer; and the Reverend Alfonso Wyatt, Vice President for the Fund for the City of New York.

Planned workshop topics include
  • traumatized youth in child welfare--what practitioners need to know and do;
  • children separated from families across international borders;
  • supervising and training family reunification staff;
  • changing the system--a shift to family-centered, evidence-based practice; and
  • poverty on the brain--using neuroscience to empower resilience in children.

Mark Your Calendar

CWLA is holding a joint conference with the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, October 10-12, in Houston. The conference, Strengthening Alliances for Our Children's Future, will bring together child welfare providers and other human service professionals to learn from one another and network.

Conference workshops will address a broad spectrum of clinical and administrative issues within organizations serving children and families in Texas and throughout CWLA's 11-state Mountain-Plains region. View more information.

After Disaster, New Web Tool Helps Locate Children

When Hurricane Katrina hit, John McInturf, Director of Child Welfare Programs at the Office of Community Services, Louisiana Department of Social Services, developed a simple database, updated daily, to help caseworkers locate children separated from their families.

This Katrina Database evolved in the weeks and months following the storm, helping reconnect children with social workers, caregivers, and birth families. The database enabled users to enter multiple addresses for children and became the primary tool to record the search results for displaced foster children after the storm.

"I was able to report to the governor and the federal government twice a week the number of children located and the number of children still missing," McInturf recalls.

Investigations of missing children could be easily tracked and updated using the database. If a caseworker talked to a neighbor about where a child was last seen, for example, that information was put into the database and viewed by everyone working on the case. "It was a place you could deposit that information so that you didn't have people running down the same clues," said McInturf.

Now, the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT), housed at CWLA, is working with McInturf to create a more complex, web-based database using the same concept, called Reconnecting Families. McInturf hopes that because the Reconnecting Families database is a full design, rather than the piecemeal database originally designed after the hurricane, it will give agencies a complete tool to prepare for any situation. He says Reconnecting Families is important because even though most agencies have database systems that track children, the limits of those systems are pushed during disasters because they don't allow room for all of the information recorded during the search process.

A full demonstration of the database will be available this July on the NRC-CWDT website. Caseworkers or agencies can go online to become familiar with the Reconnecting Families demo. Then, in the event of a natural disaster, agencies may contact CWLA--call or email Julie Ohm Chang, Senior Child Welfare Data Specialist at NRC-CWDT, at 703/263-2024 or johm@cwla.org--to use the database to track and locate missing children.

When using the database, agencies have two options. They can either use it through NRC-CWDT's secure website, or they can use a code to put Reconnecting Families on their own website. Agencies can then upload their data directly into the Reconnecting Families program. And because it's a real-time database, only the most up-to-date information will be shown. As a preventative measure, agencies may put the database on their own website at any time so they'll be prepared if disaster strikes.

The Reconnecting Families database will be demonstrated at the 10th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference in Washington, DC, July 18-20. For information about the conference, visit the NRC-CWDT website and click on Conferences.


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