This federally funded report is intended to provide advocates with a common set of tools and message with which to bring about greater political and programmatic priority for strengthening the social services workforce. The toolkit is research based, solutions-focused, and includes lessons from behavioral science and original research on the most effective ways to communicate to policy and decision-makers. It outlines the relevance of advocacy and communications, and highlights concrete steps for the social services workforce Ambassadors, practitioners, and researchers to develop their own context-specific advocacy plans. The toolkit begins with an explanation of the importance of advocacy and the methodology used to develop the toolkit. Chapter 2 reviews effective strategies to use when talking to policy and decision-makers, including: be personal, tell a story with data, provide incentives, highlight solutions, use loss aversion, and provide context. Key communication tools are also explained. Chapter 3 provides an overview of the most relevant advocacy opportunities for the field on the global level, focusing especially on health, violence against children, and migration. Chapter 4 reviews research findings on the best way to identify and research advocacy objectives. A step-by-step guide is provided for developing a specific advocacy plan and general narratives are provided for addressing violence against children, migration, and health challenges. In addition, tips are included for writing and pitching an op-ed, using social media, and developing infographics. 

Link to report

Title: Global Advocacy Toolkit for the Social Service Workforce. 
Published: 2017 
Available from: Global Social Service Workforce Alliance 
http://www.socialserviceworkforce.org 
1776 I St NW 
Washington, DC 20006

Published in Children's Justice Act

A new report completed by Child Trends, under contract to the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation at the Administration for Children and Families, examines Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (HMRE) programs. HMRE programs aim to help youth form healthy relationships and, eventually, healthy marriages (and avoid unhealthy ones) by improving their attitudes, knowledge, skills, and expectations around romantic relationships. This report builds on research that finds that young people's romantic relationships can influence their behaviors and experiences (both positive and negative) during adolescence and beyond.

The report finds that most HMRE programs target and reach diverse-and often disadvantaged-youth populations in a variety of settings. However, these reach more youth ages 14 to 17 than in the 18 to 24 age range, which leads the authors to recommend providing more programs targeted at older youth. Read more about the report's findings and recommendations at acf.hhs.gov.

 

The growing awareness of human trafficking in the United States and abroad requires government and human services agencies to reevaluate old policies and develop new ones for identifying and serving victims. Due to their potentially unstable living situations, physical distance from friends and family, traumatic experiences, and emotional vulnerability, children involved with child welfare are at risk for being targeted by traffickers who are actively seeking children1 to exploit. Therefore, it is imperative that child welfare agencies be at the forefront of the response to and prevention of human trafficking. Additionally, recent Federal legislation established new requirements for child welfare agencies related to identifying and serving minor victims of human trafficking.

1 For the purposes of this report, the term “children” includes youth. The term “youth” is used when source materials specifically reference that population.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE (in attached file)

Child welfare caseworkers can be an invaluable resource in helping communities respond to the human trafficking of children. Children involved with child welfare are at risk for being targeted by traffickers because of their potentially unstable living situations, physical distance from friends and family, traumatic experiences, and emotional vulnerability. Therefore, it is imperative that child welfare caseworkers be at the forefront of efforts to identify, respond to, and prevent human trafficking. This bulletin explores how caseworkers can identify and support children who have been victimized as well as children that are at greater risk for future victimization. It provides background information about the issue, strategies caseworkers can use to identify and support victims and potential victims, and tools and resources that can assist caseworkers.

READ THE FULL DOCUMENT

Determining if a Child is Safe

The basic and most important determination judges make in child in need of care cases is whether a child(ren) is safe. Critical safety decisions are made when removing a child and determining whether a child should return home. However, without a comprehensive decision-making structure and thorough inquiry, decisions can lead to over and under removal, leaving children unsafe or returning them home too quickly. 

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has implemented a research-based, structured safety assessment process designed to avoid these problems. It is the responsibility of all individuals involved in a case to understand the goal of child safety, the terminology used when discussing safety, and the type of information needed to make good decisions about child safety.

This bulletin was developed in 2016 by the Pelican Center for Children and Families with assistance from ABA Center for Children and the Law and the Pelican Center/Louisiana Child Welfare Training Academy Training and Education Committee members. Please download and share!

 

Published in Law and Best Practices

Kinship care families: New policy can guide pediatricians to address needs

Sarah H. Springer, M.D., FAAP
 
 

A growing body of evidence suggests that children who cannot live with their biological parents fare better overall when living with extended family than with nonrelated foster parents. Acknowledging the benefits of kinship care arrangements, federal laws and public policies increasingly favor placing children with family members rather than in nonrelative foster care.

Despite overall better outcomes, families providing kinship care endure many hardships, and the children experience many of the same adversities as children in traditional foster care.

A new AAP policy statement from the Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care outlines the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of these children and families, and offers strategies for pediatricians to help them to thrive. The policy, Needs of Kinship Care Families and Pediatric Practice, is available at https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-0099 and will be published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

As many as 3% of U.S. children live in kinship care arrangements.

Because placement with a kinship caregiver often is sudden and unplanned, caregivers frequently are unprepared to meet the needs of the children and are unaware of available supports. Furthermore, caregivers may not have legal authority to advocate or make decisions for a child, complicating health care and educational decisions. Caregivers frequently have their own financial and health burdens, and often are asked to care for sibling groups, multiplying the stresses.

Pediatricians can help by recognizing these families in the office setting and addressing their needs.

Among the recommendations in the policy are the following:

  • Children may need more frequent visits to address mental health, developmental and educational needs, similar to children in traditional nonrelative foster care. These needs are more common and often more complicated than for children who live with their biologic parents.
  • Families may need information about supports and help accessing legal, health insurance and financial assistance programs.
  • Consent and confidentiality roles may need to be specifically defined.

The policy statement provides information to help pediatricians learn more about resources available in their own states and communities, and how to connect families to those resources.

Advocacy opportunities also are reviewed in the policy, such as working with policymakers and others to eliminate barriers so children can be placed with kin, when appropriate, and ensuring funding to support provision of care and health and social services.

The pediatrician’s role in meeting the health needs of children in kinship care is especially important because most of the families are not connected to child welfare or other formal services.

Dr. Springer, a lead author of the policy, is a member and former chair of the AAP Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care. She also chaired the former Task Force on Foster Care.

The Complete Engaging Fathers Podcast Series Now Available!

Children with a caring father figure in their lives are at less risk for behavioral problems, substance use, teen pregnancy, and incarceration than their peers who lack positive paternal involvement.  Learn how you can engage fathers and paternal family members in your everyday casework and improve outcomes for the children and families you serve in our new 3-part podcast series, Engaging FathersEngaging Fathers explores partnerships between child welfare agencies and community fatherhood organizations that work toward engaging fathers and paternal-side family members. Including fathers and paternal family members in casework effectively doubles a child's family resources. Listen to professionals from child welfare agencies and fatherhood organizations discuss why it's so important to have a father in a child's life and learn about steps that child welfare agencies can take to partner with community fatherhood organizations to improve father engagement.

The Engaging Fathers podcast series features valuable insights and perspectives from fatherhood engagement experts with the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, a faith-based nonprofit organization; Daddy University, a Philadelphia-based male parenting education company; and the Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action, a community change organization aimed at strengthening families:

Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway Podcast Series page today for these and other conversations that span the child welfare continuum.

Published in Home Page

Toolkit to Support Child Welfare Agencies in Serving LGBTQ Children, Youth, and Families

As the culture and laws related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals have become more inclusive in recent years, an increasing number of LGBTQ people are self-disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (i.e., “coming out”) during childhood or adolescence. Additionally, the number of LGBTQ individuals coming forward to serve as temporary or permanent caregivers to children and youth in foster care has increased.

This toolkit is designed to help States and territories adapt their policies and practices to meet the growing needs of LGBTQ children, youth, and families. It provides links to knowledge and skill building resources, including articles, videos, tools, training curricula, tip sheets, information briefs, websites, and other products. Resources are divided into the five categories. 

Access the website with resources, click here.

Published in Best Practices
An Inclusive Approach to Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities
To move toward national policies that will, by extension, lead to better outcomes for youth with disabilities and others, the Federal Partners in Transition (FPT) Workgroup aims to embed equality, diversity, inclusion, and opportunity into its policy work. Doing so ensures our federal interagency strategy “removes disability from the special shelf ” and reflects the underlying spirit of civil rights laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act 2014 (WIOA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which promote the full inclusion, integration, and participation of youth and adults with disabilities. Transition provisions recently enacted by WIOA are consistent with the principles, goals and policy priorities identified in The 2020 Federal Youth Transition Plan: A Federal Interagency Strategy (2020 Plan).
 
To read the full report, click here.
Published in Children's Justice Act
Friday, 17 February 2017 16:42

The Crisis of Connection for Adolescent Boys

U.S. Office of Adolescent Health presents: TAG Talks

Video: "The Crisis of Connection for Adolescent Boys with Niobe Way

Niobe Way

NYU Professor Niobe Way explains how boys' intimate friendships in early and middle adolescence support their mental health. By late adolescence, many boys speak of losing these close male friendships and reveal feelings of loneliness and isolation. The webcast illuminates the dangers of assuming that boys don’t want or need close male friendships and the importance of fostering positive friendships that can help adolescent boys thrive. 

Published in Children's Justice Act
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