End Notes

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Dispatch From Abroad

Child-protection authorities in Wellington, New Zealand, have taken a quantum leap to ensure that agencies are working closely together to address the high level of child abuse and neglect in Wellington. The Wellington Police District accounts for about 12% of all child abuse investigations in New Zealand, with more than 8,000 family violence reports last year.

Koru House, Wellington's new $2.5 million state-of-the art multi-agency center is a major milestone in the government's commitment to providing an immediate and integrated response to investigations and caring for victims of child abuse. The center's multi-agency approach provides "one stop" access to specialized medical, forensic, and psychological services. According to Police Minister Judith Collins, now child abuse investigations can be coordinated and carried out in a supportive environment where children can interact with police and other professionals more comfortably. Collins says that having the child protection and family safety teams housed in the same building also means less travel for victims and better communication between agencies.

The center is a joint initiative between the Wellington Police Child Protection Team, Child, Youth, and Family, and the Hutt Valley District Health Board. Similar centers have already been set up in Auckland, Manukau, and Tauranga.

In a global response to child sexual abuse scandals, the Vatican is harnessing the power of the Internet to help safeguard children and the victims of molestation. In February 2012, the Vatican launched an online e-learning center during an international symposium in Rome. The symposium, Toward Healing and Renewal, focuses on the prevention of child abuse by clergy. Some 200 top experts on child sexual abuse, diocesan officials, and representatives of congregations from around the world will develop global guidelines on what the Catholic Church should do to prevent and respond to incidents of child abuse.

The e-learning center will work with medical institutions and universities to provide access to the latest research and resources on child abuse, best practices on prevention, and guidelines that are both globally accepted and within the criminal law. The center will also provide help and knowledge to those who have suffered abuse. The content is presented in different languages including French, German, Spanish, Italian, and English.

Speaking Out

"The Garden of Dreams is fantastic at giving kids, who this world considers underprivileged, opportunities to become the people that they were put here to be in the first place. Garden of Dreams doesn't look at these children as underprivileged, who need special treatment; they look at these kids as kids of purpose and destiny. They give kids chances to overcome their obstacles, regardless of their situation, whether it's foster care, or homelessness, or education and physical disabilities."

-- Darryl McDaniels, better known as part of the group Run-D.M.C., is a member of the Garden of Dreams Foundation's board of directors. The foundation was founded in 2006 to work with Madison Square Garden Company, the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers, and Radio City Music Hall. The foundation's events and activities provide children with unparalleled access to celebrities, athletes, and other inspirational figures. For more, visit www.gardenofdreamsfoundation.org.

"My biggest inspiration wasn't the award, it was doing something good for a cause that related to me and would get my whole troop involved.... When I came to my foster home, all I had was a plastic bag with a shirt. I didn't really own anything. When kids are going through tough times, they want to feel like they own something and have that security. The only way I could give kids that sense of security was through the care packages."

-- Edward Lyon, an 18-year-old Life Scout of Boy Scout Troop 183 in Little Neck, New York, was adopted from foster care. Together with his troop, he has collected more than $15,000 worth of items for children in foster care. The work earned Lyon the distinction of Eagle Scout, as well as a Child Advocacy Award from the Administration for Children's Services.

Tech Trends

Mindshare Technology, based in Tampa, Florida, is pioneering landmark technology aimed to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the risk assessment and high-stakes decisionmaking process in community-based care agencies across Florida. Mindshare's Child Welfare Detection Module manages and merges information from a broad spectrum of data infrastructures, making it a promising tool for collecting, coordinating, and collaborating on information from dozens of individuals across different jurisdictions, departments, and social services agencies. The analysis module measures the risks to children based on 15 critical factors, which are automatically analyzed for every single case, every day. The system's real-time dashboards and reminder notifications allow caseworkers to be kept abreast of required action items across their entire caseload--especially when certain areas of the case plan are out of compliance, late, or incorrect. For more information, visit www.mindshare-technology.com.

The Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice, and Research at the University of Pennsylvania recently unveiled a prototype for web-based technology that promises to revolutionize child welfare case management and ultimately improve the safety of children and caseworkers. The first of its kind in the nation, the Information Portability Project is a comprehensive information technology system that integrates three important aspects of technology: interoperability (sharing information across child- and family-serving systems of care), real-time access, and the portability of mobile technology. With the specially designed, hand held devices, caseworkers will have immediate, remote access to files and instant documentation, including the ability to take and upload photos and video from a caseworker's home visit. The digital devices also have a GPS-like system for tracking home visits and for increased safety for caseworkers.

The technology is being piloted in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Project collaborators hope to eventually replicate it in other Pennsylvania counties. Stewards of Change designed the system with high-tech partners, the Microsoft Corporation and Motorola.

Forestdale, Inc., a nonprofit that provides social services to families in New York City, is giving foster youth in college the opportunity to inspire other kids in foster care. Forestdale's new Student Ambassadors blog follows five former foster youth who will spend a year blogging about their college and campus experiences--everything from the college application process to choosing a major and handling social pressures. Their personal reflections are intended to inform youth in foster care about the benefits of a college education.

Thaina Mondesir, a Forestdale coordinator who oversees the blog, hopes that it will become an online network, especially for foster youth who making the transition from high school to college. The blog is part of Forestdale's Educational Excellence Initiative, funded by a grant from New Yorkers for Children. Visit the Student Ambassadors blog at collegeambassadors.tumblr.com.

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