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New Partnership with USA Swimming

CWLA recently announced a new partnership with USA Swimming, the national governing body for swimming in the United States. "As a youth sports organization, we recognized the importance of obtaining concentrated input from independent experts in the field of child welfare," said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming's Executive Director. "After meeting with the CWLA and reviewing the long and istinguished history of the organization, we are confident that we have the best people helping us with our ongoing efforts to serve our membership."

The partnership is designed to make certain that safeguards, policies, guidelines, and resources are developed and reviewed with the assistance and consultation of independent experts. CWLA will work with USA Swimming to conduct an annual audit of its policies and programming to see that the program remains consistent with industry best practices. Among its specific charges, CWLA will: assist USA Swimming in the development of policies and guidelines for coach-athlete interaction; evaluate and comment on USA Swimming's Code of Conduct; work with USA Swimming's leadership team to keep athlete protection as a top priority for the organization; and recommend resources and strategies surrounding education for USA Swimming members.

For more, including an outline of USA Swimming's seven-point plan for maintaining a safe and positive environment, read the press release at www.cwla.org/newsevents/news2010621usaswim.htm.

On the Web

Sidebar

Over the next several months, CWLA will be sharing videos from founding members who submitted material for the last national conference, which celebrated our 90th anniversary. In June, the featured video was from Children's Aid Society in Homewood, Alabama. In July, it is Children's Home Aid of Chicago, and in August CWLA is showcasing Wingspan from Cleveland, Ohio. Visit CWLA's homepage at WWW.CWLA.ORG for a link to the videos from the rotating buttons on the left of the page. At the conference gala, we shared a special anniversary video. Visit http://www.cwla.org/whowhat/90thvideo.htm to see it.

Voice Article Nominated for Award

"Homeless in America," a story from the July/August 2009 issue of Children's Voice by Editor in Chief Emily Shenk, was recently nominated for a David Pike Excellence in Journalism Award. These awards, given by Street Sense, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, recognize coverage of homelessness in the metropolitan Washington area. Street Sense also publishes a biweekly newspaper, largely written and distributed by the homeless in the area. If you missed the article, read it online at http://www.cwla.org/voice/0907homeless.htm.

Merger for Member Agencies

Sidebar

Two CWLA member agencies from North Carolina, Children's Home Society and Youth Homes Inc., along with a third agency--Family Life Council, of Greensboro--merged late last year in an effort to provide streamlined, statewide services for children and families. Children's Home Society (CHS), which was founded in 1902 and was one of CWLA's founding agencies 18 years later, is the surviving legal entity, with Youth Homes and Family Life Council operating as divisions of CHS.

Together, the three agencies served more than 12,000 clients annually, and each has a variety of programs but special expertise. Family Life Council focuses on parenting education and teen pregnancy prevention; Youth Homes promotes stability through foster care and family preservation services for at-risk populations; and CHS's strength is permanency through adoption, foster care, and family support. According to a joint press release from the agencies, this merger was not born of financial necessity, but actually gives the agencies a chance to be more effective and grow geographically. They will also take advantage of shared resources to build more in-depth evaluation and quality assurance systems.

Frank Crawford, formerly the executive director of Youth Homes and now an executive vice president under the new structure, said in an e-mail that having two CWLA members in the merger made the process more efficient in many ways.

Improve Outcomes Through CWLA's Benchmarking Project

CWLA's member agencies have asked for help to improve outcomes performance. The research on this topic is clear: The way to improve outcomes is through improved employee engagement. Download a summary of studies at www.cwla.org/benchmarking/employeeengagement.pdf. Accordingly, CWLA has partnered with the University of Texas at Austin to use their employee engagement survey, the results of which can be used to improve organizational performance both with positively engaging staff and achieving outcomes.

CWLA is offering the opportunity for both public and private agencies that provide direct services to children and families involved in child welfare and juvenile justice systems as part of their client population to participate in this survey. Participating agencies will receive compiled data, allowing for comparisons with the rest of the field, and state-level data will be available with enough participation. CWLA is hoping to finalize a list of participants by December 1. For more detailed information, download the project factsheet at http://www.cwla.org/benchmarking/benchmarkingfactsheet.pdf. Contact Project Director Jeff Bormaster (JBormaster@cwla.org) for more information.

CWLA Surveys Members on Economy

In response to media inquiries about the impact of the recession on child welfare agencies, CWLA offered member agencies a chance to participate in a short survey and provide anecdotal evidence about the economy's impact on service delivery. Although only a fraction of the membership responded to the survey, all of those who did said the economy has had an impact--responses were split between "some impact" and "significant impact." A slight majority of respondents said they'd seen an increase in demand for services, while nearly three-quarters expected the economy would make it harder to deliver services next year.

In optional feedback sections, respondents mentioned laying off staff and closing programs, with more difficult choices ahead as agencies struggled with cuts in state funding, government contracts, grants, and philanthropic donations. "I believe we would have seen a significant increase in the need for services," said one survey participant, "but families who have lost insurance or can no longer budget for co-pays have dropped out." Another was thankful to still be operating a prevention program with a core group despite state budget cuts: "We closed at least 350 at-risk families. Our board made the commitment to keep a small team alive with 175 cases using board-designated funding." Another epitomized the sense of uncertainty evident in many comments: "No priorities set for what to fund--just across-the-board state cuts which weakens all systems. No more safety net."

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

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