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Join Us to Lead Change for Children

Join Us to Lead Change for Children CWLA's next national conference, Making Children a Priority: Leading Change, will be held February 26-29, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City. Visit for the latest details, including links to register for the conference and reserve your room at the hotel. We have many exciting opportunities on the horizon this year, including a close collaboration with our counterparts at the Child Welfare League of Canada. This year we're also bringing back live tweeting at the conference. Follow @CWLAUpdates on Twitter and join the discussion with #CWLAinDC. Send questions about the conference to, and if you're interested in exhibiting, contact Karen Dunn at

Evaluating the Evaluation Tool

Evaluating the Evaluation Tool Early this summer, CWLA submitted comments to the Children's Bureau on federal monitoring of child and family service programs, currently done through Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). The Children's Bureau issued the call for comments and announced a series of consultation meetings earlier this year; the office also provided several key questions around which CWLA and other respondents framed their suggestions. Several member agency representatives helped CWLA finalize the comments, including Kathleen Belanger, Stephen F. Austin State University School of Social Work; Frank Crawford, the Children's Home Society of North Carolina, Inc.; Donna Pressma, The Children's Home Society of New Jersey; Sharon Ringler, Saint Francis Community Services, Inc.; and Penny Wyman, Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies. Read the comments at

CWLA Board Appointments

CWLA recently named five officers and several committee chairs to its board of directors for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, many of whom represent member agencies. The five officers are:

  • Board Chair Joe Costa, CEO of Hillsides, a Pasadena-based multiservice children's charity. Costa served as vice chair last year and is a member of the Executive Committee, Governance Committee, Audit Committee, and Membership Committee. He is the Western Region representative on the board. See "One on One" on page 38 for questions and answers with Costa.
  • Vice Chair Julie Sweeney-Springwater, director of the New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors. She served as CWLA board chair last year and is ex-official on all board standing committees. She represents the New England Region.
  • Vice Chair Brenda Donald, vice president of the Center for Effective Family Services and Systems at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She is the former secretary for the Department of Human Resources for the State of Maryland. She served on CWLA's Governance Committee.
  • Secretary Tamar Abrams, principal of the Washington, DC-based Abrams Communications and a long-time child advocate.
  • Treasurer Howard Shiffman, CEO of Denver-based Purchasing Partners of America. This is his second year as treasurer. He also served as a member of the Executive Committee and Membership Committee.

In addition to the five officers, CWLA named four committee chairs: Audit--Larry Liederman, controller, Ignite Game Technologies; Resource Development--C.T. O'Donnell, president and CEO, O'Donnell's Strategy & Results; Membership--Todd Landry, executive director, Lena Pope Home, Inc.; and Governance--Joan Poliak, a long-time leader in the child services field.

What Do You Think?

CWLA is conducting a survey to garner opinions from members and nonmembers about our publications and benefits. The survey should not take more than 2 minutes, and several respondents will win a free CWLA pin for their participation. The results will have a real impact, helping us determine the future direction of CWLA publications. Please take the survey yourself at and share the web address with colleagues and friends who might be willing to share their perspectives.

Impact Statements

CWLA CEO Christine James-Brown periodically contributes opinion pieces to the Huffington Post, and her writing appears in the "HuffPost Impact" section with other articles trying to achieve social change. Find all of her articles at christinejamesbrown. Excerpts from recent articles are below.

Death Toll Mounts

"As numerous headlines and the data on child abuse fatalities suggest, these victims may represent the early stages of a tsunami of child traumas and deaths.... We can start rewriting the headlines and avert further catastrophes. First though, we as a nation--parents, social workers, police, clergy, neighbors, business owners, and relatives--must become outraged."

Caring for Our Caylees

Caylee Anthony

"The real lesson is that more emphasis and spending must be put into child abuse prevention programs--such as parenting education and home visiting efforts that support and teach parents to be the best parents they can be.... What we need--which is something CWLA and other industry and government leaders are focused on--is to find ways to connect the different systems, so that children who are struggling get a seamless set of services that will protect them and set them on a good course."

Identity Crisis

"In child welfare, we've seen some success over the past few years in reducing the number of children in the foster care system due to hard work and progressive legislation such as the Fostering Connections Act--a landmark bill that still requires appropriations to succeed. I fear that the strides we've made are about to come undone--due in part to the economic stress and the severity of these budget cuts."

Collaborating on Prevention

In June, CWLA joined the two-day "Network for Action" meeting with the Office of Child Abuse and Neglect and the Family Resource Information, Education, and Network Development Services National Resource Center (FRIENDS NRC) for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Violence Prevention's Knowledge to Action Child Maltreatment Prevention Consortium Leadership Group. These and other groups gathered in Alexandria, Virginia, to develop a shared vision, engage in shared action, and strengthen networks at the state and federal levels. Grantees under Title I and Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, along with Children's Justice Act and numerous other child abuse and neglect prevention-related grant programs, joined parent leaders, service providers, researchers, and advocates to learn about opportunities for collaboration.

The emphasis on connections was leveraged through break-out strategic projects and state-specific discussion sessions. CWLA led one of the 12 strategic projects to work towards a common definition of "prevention of child abuse and neglect" for a new edition of our Standards of Excellence on prevention services. Participants will contribute to a white paper that will inform this new edition as it is developed. See CWLAStandards for more on the full set of Standards.

Several federal leaders joined the meeting to talk about ongoing work towards collaboration. Represented agencies included the Department of Defense, Head Start, Family and Youth Services, Maternal and Child Health, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families' Commissioner Bryan Samuels gave a keynote address. He delivered a call to action for greater collaboration across the continuum of child abuse and neglect prevention and child welfare services to tend to the social and emotional well-being by increasing protective factors for all children before risk, at-risk, and after maltreatment.

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