Children's Voice Jan/Feb 2008

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CWLA Short Takes

New for the Field

CWLA and American Humane have jointly published the National Study on Differential Response, featuring national survey results that show great variation in state and county implementation of the approach.

Differential response is also referred to as dual track, multiple track, or alternative response. The approach allows child protective services to respond differently to accepted reports of child abuse and neglect based on factors that include type and severity of the alleged maltreatment, number and sources of previous reports, and willingness of the family to participate in services.

Download the publication from American Humane.

Speaking Out

"We commend Congressman Rangel for his leadership on this critical issue in our nation's child welfare system. We hope this report will build momentum toward a solution to this challenge that must include legislation that would extend Title IV-E funding to kinship families."

-- CWLA President and CEO Christine James-Brown in a statement praising Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) for requesting the Government Accountability Office report on the high rate of African American children entering and remaining in foster care. Rangel, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, released the groundbreaking new report last summer on racial disproportionality in foster care in the United States and called for federal assistance to find these children permanent homes.

Data Crunching

In 2005, 17.3% of child victims of abuse and neglect had a reported disability. Of child victims with a reported disability, 18.3% had been diagnosed with a behavior problem.

Find this and other related information at the website for the National Data Analysis System (NDAS), a free online service started in 1999 by CWLA and sponsoring states.

For Your Bookshelf

The September/October 2007 issue of CWLA's Child Welfare journal is a special issue devoted to children's mental health. Readers are provided with present policy, program, and practice innovations, as well as contemporary research to effectively address mental health issues for children and families in the child welfare system.

If you haven't already received a copy, you can order it online, or visit the book exhibit during CWLA's National Conference, February 25-27, in Washington, DC. A workshop based on articles in the special issue will take place on the last day of the conference. Presenters will include Richard Thompson with the Juvenile Protective Association, Judith Silver with the Starting Young Program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Sheryl Dicker, formerly with the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, the Chadwick Center for Children and Families, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Upcoming Conferences

FEBRUARY 25-27: CWLA National Conference Children 2008
A Call for Action -- Leading the Nation for Children and Families
Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC

SEPTEMBER 15-17: 2008 Western Region Training Conference
It Takes Courage and Compassion to Serve Children and Families: Tools for Competence and Confidence
Hilton Hotel, Portland, Oregon

Dates and locations subject to change. For more information on the CWLA calendar, including conference registration, hotels, programs, and contacts, visit CWLA's website at www.cwla.org/conferences, or contact CWLA's conference registrar at register@cwla.org or 703/412-2439.

Donation Benefits Young Readers

Even though CWLA's Child and Family Press is no longer in operation, thousands more children from Baltimore to Oklahoma have had an opportunity to enjoy two of CWLA's most loved children's book titles.

To clear excess inventory, CWLA donated more than 31,000 copies of A Pocket Full of Kisses and The Whistling Tree, both by Audrey Penn, to worthy charities. Baltimore Reads, a nonprofit organization, distributed 5,000 copies of A Pocket Full of Kisses to city teachers and children from low-income families. First Book, a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, distributed more than 27,000 copies of A Pocket Full of Kisses and The Whistling Tree to tribal children in Kansas, Minnesota, and Oklahoma by networking through the National Indian Child Care Association (NICCA).

"We appreciate them," says Barb Fabre, with White Earth Child Care in Ogema, Minnesota. "Everybody loves books."

Conference Kudos

For more than a decade, CWLA has hosted yearly meetings of the nation's state child welfare directors and commissioners. Convened in relaxed and informal settings, the Commissioner's Roundtables foster open discussion about the critical issues facing children and families in the states.

The 2007 Commissioner's Roundtable, in Tucson, Arizona, and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, featured sessions on evidence-based practice, how the Child and Family Service Reviews and Program Improvement Plans are changing frontline practice, and the impact of federal policy and political changes on the child welfare system. Commissioners tell CWLA there is no other meeting like the annual roundtable; indeed, participants in the 2007 session produced many post-roundtable kudos:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend the Commissioners' Roundtable. As [a] child welfare director… I found the meeting invaluable, both in the panel presentations and discussions and in the opportunities for networking with my peers from across the country.

As always, this is my personal favorite meeting that I attend each year…I thought all the topics and sessions flowed well and had good participation.

I appreciate all of CWLA's efforts in planning and organizing this event. It is those efforts that make it such a success.

News from the Hill

Supporting Foster Care Finance Reform

CWLA cosponsored and arranged a congressional briefing in Washington last October highlighting a new report, Hitting the MARC: Establishing Foster Care Minimum Adequate Rates for Children. CWLA served on the advisory board for the report's authors, Children's Rights, the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and the National Foster Parent Association.

The report calculates the real expenses of caring for a child in foster care and recommends foster care rates for the states and the District of Columbia, which each set their own rates. Hitting the MARC demonstrates that rates of support for children in foster care are far below what is necessary to provide basic care for children in care in nearly every state. According to the report, foster care rates would have to increase almost 40% nationwide, on average, to provide basic care.

The national average of the foster care MARC is $629 per month for 2-year-olds, $721 per month for 9-year-olds, and $790 per month for 16-year-olds, compared with the current national average rates of $488 per month, $509 per month, and $568 per month respectively.

The foster care MARC is calculated by analyzing typical expenditures by families on their children; identifying and adding additional costs particular to children in foster care, who have needs and behaviors resulting from the trauma they have experienced that generate additional costs; and applying a geographic cost-of-living adjustment.

"CWLA has long contended that the entire child welfare system has been under-funded, from front-end prevention services to support for children in foster care," says John Sciamanna, CWLA's Codirector of Government Affairs. "Two years ago, CWLA published Ten Years of Leaving Foster Children Behind: A Long Decline in Federal Support for Children in Foster Care, documenting how as a result of an outdated eligibility requirement, only 45% of children in care were eligible for federal support, resulting in pressure on state child welfare systems, including foster care."

To download Hitting the MARC and state fact sheets, visit www.childrensrights.org. Download the updated CWLA report, Eleven Years of Leaving Foster Children Behind.


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