Children's Voice July/August 2009

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Furniture Concepts

Furniture Concepts

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End Notes

Research Report

Children placed with family members instead of with foster parents tend to do better in terms of behavioral development and mental health functioning, and the placements are safer and more stable. These findings are from an international systematic review by Colorado State University's School of Social Work, which also shows that children in traditional foster care may access more beneficial services. The study analyzed 62 previous research studies, primarily from the United States, but also some from Norway, Israel, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Australia.

Worldwide, the number of children removed from the home and placed with relatives has rapidly increased during the last 15 years. However, little research has been done to compare the two options. This study finds children in traditional foster homes access mental health services more often and are more likely to ultimately be adopted, while children in kinship care are less likely to reenter out-of-home care or have a disrupted placement.

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Children are feeling the effects of the ongoing global recession. The Foundation for Child Development's 2009 Child Well-Being Index Annual Release and Special Focus Report finds that there has been an "especially severe" impact on low income children of color. According to the report, all the economic advancements that have been made with regards to American children since the 1970s will be undone by the current recession. The report uses 28 key indicators of child well-being; of those criteria, the child poverty rate, the rate of children with health insurance, and the rate of overweight children are among the areas that will see the most negative impact. Visit www.fcd-us.org/ resources/resources_show. htm?doc_id=906348 to view the report.


Health Beat

Child welfare officials in Florida have found discrepancies about the number of foster care children who are being prescribed psychiatric drugs. According to the Miami Herald, 13% of the state's foster children are currently being prescribed medicines such as the antipsychotic Abilify and Adderall, a drug prescribed to maintain ADHD. This number is higher by one-third than that in the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) database.

The study was prompted by the death of Gabriel Myers, a 7-year-old boy who hanged himself in April while taking psychiatric drugs. DCF, a CWLA member, commissioned the report, which stated that children as young as 6 years old were given the mind-altering drugs, although the largest age group with prescriptions are 13-17. The Herald says the report concluded that in many of the cases, neither a judge nor a parent gave consent for the prescription, violating a four-year-old law. The report also notes that many psychiatric drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for prescription to children.

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The New York Times reports that as the number of children suffering from kidney stones increases, doctors are considering the average child's diet, among other factors, as the potential cause. Children 5 years old and up have been seen in hospitals across the country for kidney stone treatment. Doctors at the University of Wisconsin's pediatric kidney stone clinic, and other experts nationwide, say that diets with lots of salt and little water have led to the increase. If the current trend keeps up, doctors fear that what was once a disease for middle-aged people may become a problem for people of all ages. The link between child obesity and kidney stones has also been considered. While many doctors agree that most of the risk of developing kidney stones lies in diet and lifestyle, some argue that genetics plays a role as well.


Ready Resources

The IFPS ToolKit, a guide to intensive family preservation services (IFPS), was recently released by the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN). The year 2009 marks the 35th anniversary of the first IFPS program, the original model of which is known as HOMEBUILDERS.

NFPN was established in 1992 to provide training and technical assistance for IFPS programs nationwide, and the group held a summit last October to share the most recent knowledge about these programs. Representatives from the public child welfare agencies in 18 states attended; 16 had already established IFPS programs, and 2 were planning to start programs. Growing out of the summit, the new IFPS ToolKit is a comprehensive resource guide for the development and maintenance of strong and effective IFPS services. The ToolKit includes a definition and history of IFPS, as well as benefits, standards, performance measures, federal funding sources, payment structure for contractors, latest research, step-down services, evaluation measures, success stories, and resources for IFPS. There is also information on IFPS as it applies to reunification services, including a proposed model for Intensive Family Reunification Services. Visit www.nfpn.org/ preservation/toolkit to download the PDF ToolKit.

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Joining the national effort to keep foster care temporary, the Child Welfare Information Gateway celebrated National Foster Care Month in May by highlighting resources from Children's Bureau-funded projects and organizations. These are available online at www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/resources.cfm. Topics include sibling issues in foster care and adoption, placement of children with relatives, and criminal background checks for prospective foster and adoptive parents. The website also includes studies done by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning as well as the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development.


Dispatch From Abroad



The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in Ireland recently completed a nine-year investigation, which reveals that many officials within the Catholic Church knew of physical and sexual abuse incidents occurring in several Irish Catholic institutions. A 60-year period was observed in the investigation, and in all, more than 2,000 people came forth and reported abuse, from a total of 35,000 who had been placed in reformatories, industrial schools, and workhouses between the 1930s and 1990s. Some of the victims attended a press conference held by the Commission to announce the publication of the report, and expressed anger that the concluding investigative report will not be used to prosecute the accused clergy. The Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order, sued to protect the names of several of its members involved in the scandal, and therefore, none of the victims' or abusers' names are featured in the report. The report is available from www.childabusecommission.ie.

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Progress on India's State Children Commission has been stalled as supporters of the commission await appointment of a commission chair and committee members, according to the Times of India. In the country, where 44% of the population is children, the formation of the commission was strongly supported. Funds were put forward and offices were set up, but so far the commission has not officially begun work on addressing child welfare issues. State officials, including the director of the department of women and child welfare, say the commission is a crucial part of the state's government that needs to be implemented in order to "ensure that children rights are not violated."

To comment on this story, e-mail voice@cwla.org.


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