Child Welfare for the Twenty-first Century

Child Welfare for the Twenty-first Century: A Handbook of Practices, Policies, and Programs

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 784
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  • Book Info
    Child Welfare for the Twenty-first Century
    Book Description:

    This up-to-date and comprehensive resource by leaders in child welfare is the first book to reflect the impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997. The text serves as a single-source reference for a wide array of professionals who work in children, youth, and family services in the United States-policymakers, social workers, psychologists, educators, attorneys, guardians ad litem, and family court judges& mdash;and as a text for students of child welfare practice and policy.

    Features include:

    * Organized around ASFA's guiding principles of well-being, safety, and permanency

    * Focus on evidence-based "best practices"

    * Case examples integrated throughout

    * First book to include data from the first round of National Child and Family Service Reviews

    Topics discussed include the latest on prevention of child abuse and neglect and child protective services; risk and resilience in child development; engaging families; connecting families with public and community resources; health and mental health care needs of children and adolescents; domestic violence; substance abuse in the family; family preservation services; family support services and the integration of family-centered practices in child welfare; gay and lesbian adolescents and their families; children with disabilities; and runaway and homeless youth. The contributors also explore issues pertaining to foster care and adoption, including a focus on permanency planning for children and youth and the need to provide services that are individualized and culturally and spiritually responsive to clients. A review of salient systemic issues in the field of children, youth, and family services completes this collection.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51116-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    The passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 (P.L. 105-89) marked the culmination of several decades of reform in the child welfare field. This legislation reinforces and clarifies the intent of the Child Welfare and Adoption Assistance Act (P.L. 96-272), which was enacted into law in 1980 due to growing concern that children and youth were being “lost” in foster care. The 1980 act reflected the belief that through the provision of family-centered services and permanency planning, the future for these children and youth would be more appropriate and positive. ASFA builds on earlier laws and...

  6. Historical Evolution of Child Welfare Services
    (pp. 10-46)

    The major forces shaping the provision of child welfare services in this country—the size and composition of the population at large and the child population at risk; social, economic, and technological demands on families; prevailing ideologies regarding the proper relationships among children, parents, church, and state; dominant views about the causes of poverty, illness, and crime; and the political influence of different interest groups—have all shifted significantly since early colonial days. Yet many of the issues that plague the child welfare field today reflect the unresolved tensions and debates of the past. These tensions include:

    Parents’ rights vs....

    • Overview
      (pp. 49-54)

      Child welfare has traditionally been concerned with the safety and permanency of children. However, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA; P.L. 105-89) mandates that specific and focused attention be given to the well-being of children and youth. However, without doubt, well-being is the most ambiguous of the ASFA trinity of safety, permanency, and well-being. Although safety is given prominence in ASFA legislation and language, we focus on child and adolescent well-being issues near the start of this volume. Philosophically, we believe that without adequate attention to well-being, there is a weakening of the foundation for both safety...

    • Risk and Resilience in Child Development: Principles and Strategies of Practice
      (pp. 55-71)

      In his poignant memoir and award-winning screenplay, Finding Fish, Antwone Fisher (2001) skillfully expresses the hurt, disappointment, and longing that many children in foster care feel, knowing that they may never reunite with their biological families. Adapted into film by actor/director Denzel Washington and co-produced by Fisher himself, Finding Fish is an account of an African American boy’s journey through foster care and his success at surmounting incredible odds. Discussing his motivation to write the memoir, Fisher (2004:3) remarks, “I wanted to tell my story because . . . I was told that I could not do it. It reminded...

    • Engagement in Children, Youth, and Family Services: Current Research and Promising Approaches
      (pp. 72-86)

      Engaging clients is the most fundamental step in the helping process, a key prerequisite for client change. Yet for all its importance, we know very little about how, when, or why it happens, and how it may be related to further change processes.

      Recent pressures hasten our need to know the answers to some of these questions in the field of child welfare. The 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (P.L. 105-89) has shortened the timeline workers have to achieve family reunification with the families of children who have been placed in out-of-home care. Findings from the recent federal Child...

    • Assessment of Children, Youth, and Families in the Child Welfare System
      (pp. 87-101)

      This chapter defines and describes an approach to comprehensive, familycentered assessment in child welfare. It identifies the elements in the domains of safety; risk; parental, caregiver, and environmental protective capacity; and child well-being that encompass the assessment of families—including children and youth—in the child welfare system. In addition, the chapter sets forth the expected outcomes and key decisions at each stage of the casework process and offers practice guidelines that agencies can follow to plan and implement a comprehensive, family-centered assessment.

      Widespread agreement exists that the public child welfare system must produce more satisfactory outcomes for children and...

    • Community Family Support Meetings: Connecting Families, Public Child Welfare, and Community Resources
      (pp. 102-117)

      In this chapter, we examine supportive child welfare practice through the lens of one promising approach, the Community Family Support Meeting (CFSM). This emergent intervention uses participatory family decision-making methods to connect families with informal community resources and community-based social service professionals at times of crisis and transition. It thus provides a useful example of a practice method that adapts principles and perspectives drawn from community-based family support services for use within the mandate and realities of contemporary child welfare practice. The pilot project we describe here was developed in the context of an existing partnership between a state child...

    • Engaging Families and Communities: The Use of Family Team Conferences to Promote Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being in Child Welfare Services
      (pp. 118-128)

      New York City’s public child welfare agency underwent a comprehensive reform in 1996. Renamed the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the agency published Protecting the children of New York: A plan of action (1996), an innovative strategic plan that implemented progressive changes in core areas of child protection and family permanency.

      The plan described a “mechanism [which] will promote a partnership of each community with ACS to secure the safety and well-being of every child brought to ACS’ attention” (Administration for Children’s Services 1996:111). The underlying intent of the mechanism concerned remediation for the lack of an “organized process for...

    • Healthcare Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care
      (pp. 129-147)

      Insuring that the healthcare needs of children and youth in the child welfare system are met is the responsibility of many, including their families, the child welfare agency, their out-of-home caregivers, the healthcare system, the mental health system, and the court system. Children and youth’s health outcomes as well as their chances for having permanent, safe, and secure homes can be improved with access to a comprehensive healthcare system and adequate support for their families. In this chapter, we use the term “comprehensive healthcare” to refer to strategies and services for meeting the physical, dental, mental, emotional, and/or developmental needs...

    • Child and Adolescent Mental Health
      (pp. 148-172)

      Lexy is the single parent of Patti, 14, Julie, 11, and Tommy, 8. Tommy has pervasive developmental disorder and requires 24-hour-a-day special care. Each morning, Lexy gets up at 5 A.M. to begin preparing for her day. She throws a load of wash into the washing machine and feeds the cats before she showers and dresses, hoping against hope that Tommy will not wake up until she finishes putting on her makeup. The moment Tommy awakens, the turmoil begins. He calls out for her and if she does not appear immediately, he begins a high-pitched wail that quickly awakens Patti...

    • Children with Disabilities in the Child Welfare System
      (pp. 173-184)

      On a continuum of vulnerability, children are indeed a vulnerable population. When a child or adolescent has a disability, whether diagnosed at the time of birth or later, the level of vulnerability is increased. Depending on the severity of the disability and the family environment, a variety of services may be required to insure a quality life for the child. In a functional, healthy family, a net of safety and support is developed for the child. The bond of parent to child is the foundation for creating and sustaining the net of safety, enabling the child to form an attachment...

    • Educational Needs of Youth in Foster Care
      (pp. 185-204)

      Approximately 20,000 youths aged 18 to 21 emancipate or age out of foster care annually (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1999). Over a decade ago, the Panel on High-Risk Youth of the National Research Council’s Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (1993) determined that adolescents involved with the child welfare system were at high risk of educational failure and other deleterious outcomes. Despite the delivery of independent living program (ILP) services to more youths in foster care following the passage of the Title IV-E Independent Living Initiative of 1986 (P.L. 99-272), research findings continued to indicate...

    • A University Program to Serve Youth in the School Setting: The Hunter College Liberty Partnership
      (pp. 205-211)

      Schools are increasingly acknowledged as a natural point of entry for service provision to students and their families because they reach all youth and convey no stigma. Social workers operating on-site at schools can develop preventive services for students and influence the environment of the school itself, opportunities seldom offered in other settings. In this chapter, I describe a program, the Hunter College Liberty Partnership program (HCLPP), which is a comprehensive educational and social service program created in 1988. Funded by the State Education Department of New York, it is one of more than 50 Liberty Partnership programs in the...

    • Co-Constructing Adolescence for Gay and Lesbian Youth and Their Families
      (pp. 212-227)

      Coming of age can be a difficult and heart-wrenching process for gay and lesbian young people because so much of their time and emotional energy is dominated by trying to manage the hostile social environment and the fears and repercussions of coming-out to (or being “found out” by) family and peers. Despite the increased exposure of gay and lesbian issues in the media, the portrayal of gay and lesbian lives as a normative variance of our human experience is often overshadowed by the disparaging imagery attached to homosexuality. For adolescents who are just realizing their gay and lesbian affectional and...

    • Runaway and Homeless Youth: Policy and Services
      (pp. 228-245)

      In as much as services for runaway and homeless youth fall outside of the domain of traditionally defined child welfare services (Fitzgerald 1996), runaway and homeless youth have always been present in all U.S. populations. Although the labels used to describe them have changed, social reformers, child advocates, jurists, historians, and others have documented their existence over the centuries (Brace 1872; Mayhew 1861; Miller 1991; Riis 1892a,b; Rothman 1991; Staller 1999). In the mid-nineteenth century, they were called “waifs,” “orphans,” “half-orphans,” “temporarily homeless,” “outcasts,” “maladjusted,” “destitute,” “indigent,” “wayward,” “wanderers,” “incorrigibles,” “child street vendors,” “newsies,” “little laborers,” “morally depraved,” “fallen,” and...

    • Spiritually Sensitive Practice with Children, Youth, and Families
      (pp. 246-262)

      At the beginning of the twenty-first century in America, we find ourselves living in a highly complex, rapidly changing, and increasingly multicultural society. The literature on spirituality and social work practice strongly suggests that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. Kilpatrick (1999) describes this shift as characterized by “secular spirituality” (the quest for meaning outside of organized religion), globalization, and spiritual pluralism. Frame (2003) talks about the move from modernism toward postmodernism and social constructivism, in which truth is relative and there are no absolutes. Sherwood (1998) also acknowledges the importance that postmodernism places on “meaning making”...

    • Overview
      (pp. 265-269)

      Underscored by the mandate that “the safety of children is the paramount concern that must guide all child welfare services,” the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 (P.L. 105-89:1145) affirmed that child welfare agencies have a primary responsibility for insuring that children and youth are safe from abuse and neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2000).

      The abuse and neglect of children and youth pose a grave hazard to their overall health and well-being, with both immediate and life-long physical, psychological, and social consequences. The presence of child abuse and neglect constitutes the...

    • Prevention of Physical Child Abuse and Neglect
      (pp. 270-289)

      The physical abuse and neglect of children pose a grave threat to their overall health and well-being, with both immediate and longer-term biological, psychological, and social consequences. The presence of child abuse and neglect constitutes the primary reason that most children encounter the child welfare services system in the United States. As traditionally constituted, child protective services (CPS) aim to protect children who have been identified as abused or neglected. However, a more recent and growing movement in the United States is represented by strategies and programs that aim to prevent child abuse before it has the chance to occur,...

    • Child Protective Services
      (pp. 290-301)

      The passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 (P.L. 105-89) affirmed that child welfare agencies have a primary responsibility for insuring that children and youth are safe from abuse and neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2000). The Child Protective Services (CPS) program, a core program in all child welfare agencies, leads efforts to insure child safety in collaboration with community agencies. More broadly, CPS “refers to a highly specialized set of laws, funding mechanisms, and agencies that together constitute the government’s response to reports of child abuse and neglect” (Waldfogel 1998a:105). The basis...

    • Risk Assessment in Child Welfare: Challenges and Opportunities
      (pp. 302-318)

      Child welfare staff members make many decisions based on judgments. One concerns risk assessment: will this parent abuse or reabuse his or her child in the near future? What is the probability that she or he will do so? Risk assessment requires the integration of various kinds of data (e.g., self-report, observation, agency protocol) that differ in their accuracy, complexity, and subsequent value when making key decisions. Risk assessment is subject to a host of errors, including overestimating or underestimating the true probability of risk to a child. Such errors may result in failing to protect children from harm or...

    • Overview of Family Preservation
      (pp. 319-334)

      “Family preservation” is a widely used term in services to children and families, and it represents both a goal of services (preserving the connection between children and their parents and extended family), and also a specific form of services, often called “intensive family preservation services,” (IFPS). The distinction between the goal of family preservation and the specific means by which to achieve it is an important one; agencies and practitioners can agree on the goal while employing different methods to preserve family relationships.

      Family preservation services should not be confused with family support services, but they often are. Family support...

    • Substance Abuse Issues in the Family
      (pp. 335-348)

      The abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs is the number one health problem in the United States, costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually and affecting millions of families (Schneider Institute 2001). In this chapter, I focus on the impact of alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse on four subpopulations within the family: (1) AOD abusing parents, (2) pregnant AOD-addicted mothers and their offspring, (3) children of AOD-abusing parents, and (4) adolescent AOD abusers. For each group, demographic patterns and risk factors are outlined. Where applicable, I summarize protective factors and child welfare policy related to substance abuse. Assessment guidelines,...

    • Family Reunification Practice with Parents Who Abuse Drugs
      (pp. 349-354)

      Historically, family reunification practice in the United States and other countries, particularly Australia, has been based on the premise that children in foster or residential care should either be returned to their birth families as quickly as possible or placed permanently with their kin or another permanent family. This either-or orientation has been criticized as too simplistic and not in the best interests of the child (Warsh, Pine, & Maluccio 1996). Consequently, in the field as well as in the professional literature, there has been considerable rethinking of family reunification, with emphasis on a flexible approach to working with children...

    • Domestic Violence in Child Welfare
      (pp. 355-372)

      The overlap of domestic violence with child abuse and the concern about the impact of domestic violence on the lives of children are not new concerns. Over the past 25 years, researchers, child advocates, battered women advocates, and policymakers have grappled with how best to keep families safe while protecting the adult and child victims of violence. Questions left unanswered surround who should be held accountable for the exposure to domestic violence—the mother, the usual care giver who is unable to protect her children, or the father, most often the abuser of the mother but frequently an invisible member...

    • Overview
      (pp. 375-377)

      With the passage of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act over two decades ago and the more recent enactment of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, permanency planning has served as the broad practice and legal umbrella for the provision of the continuum of child welfare services. Building on the knowledge derived from a number of demonstration and research projects (see Gambrill & Stein 1994; Pecora, Whitaker, Maluccio, Barth, & Plotnick 2000), permanency planning involves a mix of family centered, child-focused, and culturally relevant philosophies, management and program components, and practice strategies designed to help children and...

    • Defining and Achieving Family Reunification
      (pp. 378-391)

      In this chapter, we focus on an important aspect of child welfare practice—family reunification. The chapter begins with national statistics on the number of children in foster care in the United States, and presents a brief overview of the policy context of family reunification. The discussion outlines a broader definition of positive outcomes in family reunification and provides information on the risk and protective factors of families working toward reunification. Promising research-based practice approaches, the skills and values needed for effective practice in family reunification, and ethical aspects of practice are discussed. Case examples are provided throughout to illustrate...

    • Refining the Practice of Family Reunification: Mining” Successful Foster Care Case Records of Substance-Abusing Families
      (pp. 392-404)

      In this chapter, we demonstrate how a qualitative, clinical data-mining approach to practice-based research can contribute to knowledge development in foster care practice. More particularly, findings concerning substance-abusing families are extracted from a broader retrospective study of families mandated into care for reasons of neglect, domestic violence, or substance abuse. The larger study surfaces, refines, and illustrates relationships between factors that precipitate placement and differential casework practices with children, families, and foster parents that are associated with positive reunification. This chapter focuses on successful reunification practice with families affected by substance abuse.

      Substance abuse is a factor in two-thirds of...

    • Evolution of Private Guardianship as a Child Welfare Resource
      (pp. 405-422)

      The right of every child to guardianship of the person (Smith 1955), either natural guardianship by birth or adoption, or legally appointed guardianship by the courts (Smith 1955; Weissman 1964), was first promulgated by child welfare professionals in the 1950s. The impetus was the discovery that many dependent and neglected children and child beneficiaries of federal cash assistance programs—veteran’s pensions, survivor benefits, and aid to dependent children—lacked the protection of either a natural or legal guardian to safeguard the child’s interests, make important decisions in the minor’s life, and maintain a personal relationship with the child (Breckinridge &...

    • Customary Adoption as a Resource for American Indian and Alaska Native Children
      (pp. 423-431)

      The issue of adoption of American Indian children has a long and complicated history fraught with trauma for Native Americans and their communities (Duran & Duran 1995; Locust 1998; Robin, Rasmussen, & Gonzalez-Santin 1999). Before the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), American Indian children were removed from their homes by the hundreds of thousands by child welfare professionals and agencies that believed American Indian homes were generally unfit. Widespread poverty and social problems on reservations were not addressed but were cited as reasons for the wholesale removal of children to non-Indian homes. Cultural differences also...

    • Overview of Adoption
      (pp. 432-451)

      According to the 2000 Census (U.S. Census Bureau 2003), 2.5% of all children in the United States are connected to a family through adoption. Thus there are more than 2 million adopted children. There are virtually no regional differences in the percentage of children adopted, with the exception of Alaska (which has a higher percentage), attributed to informal adoption practices that are common among Native American groups (see the chapter by Cross and Fox).

      Adoption involves three major groups—the adoption triad of birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees—in a unique legal, social, and emotional arrangement. Regulating relationships among...

    • Adoption Disruption: Rates, Correlates, and Service Needs
      (pp. 452-468)

      Over the years, there have been widespread changes in the policies, practices, and attitudes toward foster child adoption in the United States. One of the more noticeable changes in recent years has been in the volume of adoptions. According to federal estimates, the number of adoptions of children in public out-of-home care between 1983 and 1995 remained quite flat, between 17,000 and 20,000 (Maza 2000). Since then, the numbers have increased considerably in response to various federal legislative initiatives. For example, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 mandated permanency planning for all children in state custody. Courts...

    • Birth Mothers Whose Parental Rights Are Terminated: Implications for Services
      (pp. 469-481)

      Birth mothers who do not have custody of their children have been in large part either overlooked or downplayed in the child welfare literature. Women who relinquished their biological child for adoption were perceived as having made a mistake and were joined in a collective societal effort to forget the “mistake” and move on with their lives. As special needs adoptions of older children began to replace traditional infant adoptions, consideration was given to whether an adoption would be open to contact with the birth parent or closed to such contact, but with control often in the hands of the...

    • Epiphany: An Adoptee and Birth Mother’s Reunion Story
      (pp. 482-487)

      With the adoption of my 8-week-old daughter in 1977, I was ecstatic. Growing up as the oldest of nine children, I had always loved children and looked forward to having my own. Yet by the age of 22, I had already had two miscarriages and was unable to have more children. The opportunity to mother an adopted child was a great gift to me.

      I remember so many things about the adoption. For one thing, it almost did not happen. We (my first husband and I) had been residents of Indianapolis, Indiana, when we initially applied for adoption in 1975....

    • Facilitating Permanency for Youth: The Overuse of Long-Term Foster Care and the Appropriate Use of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement as Options for Youth in Foster Care
      (pp. 488-503)

      Seventeen-year-old Hector has been in foster care since he was 8. His mother was a substance abuser, his father deceased. At age 9, upon entering the foster care system, Hector was placed in a foster home with Mrs. Ruiz, a single mother with grown children. Things went well in that home. Hector occasionally visited his birth mother, but his interactions with her were marred by her promise to “get and stay clean,” a promise that she was unable to keep. Hector’s permanency goal was reunification with a concurrent plan for adoption. Mrs. Ruiz had indicated that if Hector became freed...

    • Foster Care Today: Overview of Family Foster Care
      (pp. 504-517)

      Foster care is a complex service. It serves children who have experienced abuse or neglect, their biological parents and families, and their foster parents. Children in foster care may live with unrelated foster parents, relatives, or families who plan to adopt them, or in group homes or residential treatment centers. Because foster care is designed as a temporary service that responds to crises in the lives of children and their families, it is expected that children who enter care will either return to their parents as soon as possible, or be provided with safe, stable, and loving families through placement...

    • Kinship Care: Preservation of the Extended Family
      (pp. 518-535)

      Kinship foster care is the placement of children who are in state custody in the homes of their relatives (by birth, marriage, or adoption) or in the homes of other close family associates, such as godparents or fictive kin. Both in the United States and internationally, use of kinship foster homes for child placement has attracted considerable professional interest, particularly since about 1980 (Child Welfare League of America 2000; Greeff 1999; Hegar & Scannapieco 1999; Ryburn 1998). In the United States, the relatively high proportion of foster children who are placed with their kin by the state is part of...

    • Sibling Issues in Child Welfare Practice
      (pp. 536-547)

      Surprising controversies arise over the meaning of the word “sibling.” Rooted in an archaic word for “kin,” sibling most literally means “little kinfolk,” and it originally included such relatives as cousins, as well as brothers and sisters. With its first recorded use in 1000 C.E., it is among the oldest of English words (see the Oxford English Dictionary). In contemporary usage, siblings share one or both parents by birth or adoption. However, the operational definition of siblings for research purposes has proved a challenge (Staff & Fein 1993; see also Hipple & Haflich 1993). When should researchers consider half-siblings, stepsiblings,...

    • Visits: Critical to the Well-Being and Permanency of Children and Youth in Care
      (pp. 548-557)

      Frequent visiting between children and youth in care and their parents consistently has been found to be associated with children’s enhanced well-being while in care, the outcomes of placement (particularly family reunification), and decreased length of stay in care. However, despite the wealth of available research and other information concerning the importance of visiting as a component of placement services, many children are not provided frequent visits with their families. A close look at state policies regulating visiting practices reveal that they vary widely, often providing no or limited guidance to those who plan and implement visits. Another measure of...

    • Residential Services for Children and Youth in Out-of-Home Care: A Critical Link in the Continuum of Care
      (pp. 558-572)

      In this chapter, we provide a comprehensive picture and a historical overview of residential services, as well as a review of the empirical findings regarding the outcomes of residential services. We also profile characteristics of children and youth in residential care, highlight case studies of children that have benefited from residential services, and outline promising practices of some model residential facilities. Finally, we address the challenges that lie ahead as residential services continue to serve increasingly acute populations of children, drawing on limited funds.

      Residential services are an important component in the continuum of child welfare services. The primary purpose...

    • Promoting Youth Development and Independent Living Services for Youth in Foster Care
      (pp. 573-582)

      Over the past 20 years, there have been significant efforts to promote a positive youth development approach across many youth services disciplines, including foster care. Efforts in the child welfare and foster care arenas have focused on strengthening services to and improving the outcomes of young people preparing for the transition to adulthood. Despite these efforts, the outcomes experienced by young people leaving the foster care system between the ages of 18 and 21 continue to be challenging and disappointing to child welfare practitioners, policymakers, and communities as a whole (Courtney, Piliavin, Grogan-Kaylor, & Nesmith 1998; McMillen & Tucker 1998;...

    • Post-Permanency Services
      (pp. 583-596)

      Although permanency planning and achieving permanency have been the focus of child welfare since the early 1980s, post-permanency planning—sustaining permanency—has received less attention. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) heightened focus on permanency. Although it places emphasis on speedier discharges of children and youth from foster care and accelerated planning related to termination of parental rights and adoption, it does not address sustaining permanency. Yet there is evidence that permanency is not simply a placement event but rather a process that implicates a range of issues related to child and family well-being. Of critical importance in this...

    • Overview
      (pp. 599-607)

      Facilitating an agenda of well-being, safety, and permanency requires that child welfare systems and the professionals who work in them institutionalize safety-focused, family-centered, and community-based approaches as the foundation of service delivery. Timely, quality services require policy, fiscal, and organizational cultures that promote and encourage effective practice with and on behalf of children, youth, and families.

      To support the institutionalization of quality services, several components of an agency’s infrastructure, such as its mission, goals, policies, and procedures, will need to be aligned with current practice standards as well as federal and state policy. Consideration must also be given to appropriate...

    • Placement Stability in Foster Care
      (pp. 608-622)

      Permanency is a central aim of the child welfare system. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 and more recently, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997, emphasize the idea that every child should have a permanent home. In this chapter, I explore a phenomenon in child welfare that might be considered the antithesis of permanence: placement instability, which occurs when children and youth experience a series of homes or facilities during their time in foster care.

      Placement instability was first identified in studies examining the child welfare system in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s (Fanshel...

    • Overrepresentation of Children and Youth of Color in Foster Care
      (pp. 623-634)
      RUTH G. McROY

      Overrepresentation (also termed “disproportionality”) refers to the current situation in which particular racial/ethnic groups of children are represented in foster care at a higher or lower percentage than their representation in the general population. Disproportionality refers both to the overrepresentation of children of color in foster care and to the disparate outcomes they experience while in foster care.

      Children of color, belonging to various cultural, ethnic, and racial communities (primarily African American, Hispanic, and Native American) are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system and frequently experience disparate and inequitable service provision. The overrepresentation of children of color in child...

    • African American Fathers and Their Involvement in the Child Welfare System
      (pp. 635-654)
      DAVID PATE Jr.

      There is a dearth of information on the involvement of fathers in the child welfare system (O’Donnell 1999). Slight attention has been paid to the issue in the academic and general literatures (National Child Welfare Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice 2002; Pate 2002).

      A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted that states have done poorly in their child welfare programs. The majority of states has failed in attempts to locate and involve fathers (Pate 2003). A study at the Urban Institute examined the intersection of father involvement and child welfare in the states. One...

    • Immigrant Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System: Immigration Status and Special Needs in Permanency Planning
      (pp. 655-664)

      Rebecca was 14 years old when she was sent from Jamaica to live in New York with her mother’s sister in Brooklyn. Within 3 months of her arrival, her aunt’s live-in boyfriend began to sexually abuse her. When her aunt discovered what was going on, the fight between her and her boyfriend brought the police and child welfare authorities. Rebecca was placed in a group home where she stayed until she was discharged at the age of 18 years. During her 4 years in the care of the state, she received an array of services, including independent living skills training....

    • Foster Parent Recruitment, Development, Support, and Retention: Strategies for the Twenty-First Century
      (pp. 665-686)

      Child welfare literature dating back for more than 150 years documents the need and search for foster parents (McGowan 1983). Originally sought for dependent, neglected, and orphaned children, in more recent times, foster parents have been needed to provide care for children separated from their parents because of the tragedies of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional maltreatment (National Commission on Family Foster Care 1991). Even though the literature has consistently focused more on recruitment than on retention, an adequate supply of foster parents—so that children could be placed by choice and not chance—has never been documented....

    • Role of the Legal and Judicial System for Children, Youth, and Families in Foster Care
      (pp. 687-706)

      Court systems and child welfare legislation are indispensable components of child welfare practice (Hardin 1985, 1998). Without a doubt, social workers, attorneys, judges, guardians ad litem, court-ordered special advocate (CASA) volunteers, and others involved in the legal and judicial system are key actors in promoting systemic child welfare reform. Without laws authorizing the agency, police, and courts to intervene on behalf of abused and neglected children, society would be powerless to become involved in child protection.

      Juvenile and family courts, as well as tribal and many general trial courts, have jurisdiction over cases involving child abuse and neglect. Only children...

    • Child and Family Services Reviews: An Agenda for Changing Practice
      (pp. 707-718)

      In 1994, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop regulations for reviewing state child and family service programs administered under Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. Dissatisfaction among states and the federal government with prior federal reviews led, at least in part, to the passage of the legislation. Although prior review processes had been effective in holding states accountable for meeting procedural requirements associated with the foster care program, they were less successful in insuring positive outcomes for the children and families served by state child welfare agencies, especially those outside the...

    • Strategic Planning for Child Welfare Agencies
      (pp. 719-727)

      To achieve outcomes for children and families professionals in the field of child welfare must have a vision of what they hope to achieve and a strategy to guide the way. But organizing work to achieve selected outcomes is difficult with competing, and often changing, demands. Frequently there is a lack of direction—a lack of agreement or understanding—as to the desired outcomes. Contradictions exist between what is targeted in practice and what is targeted by management and supervision. Similarly, the systems that support the work—information, training, and services—appear to be focused in different directions (Edwards, Yankey,...

    • Accreditation of Child Welfare Organizations
      (pp. 728-740)

      Accreditation is a well-established self-study and review process that can pinpoint strengths and areas of needed improvement in an organization’s governance, operations, and services for public and private social service and behavioral healthcare providers. Agencies that pursue accreditation are prompted to rigorously plan for optimal use of resources, upgrade core conditions, enhance services, reduce preventable untoward events, and improve organizational performance and outcomes.

      There are different approaches to accreditation, including variations in the elements of practice that are reviewed, how a self-assessment is developed, and how site visits are conducted. In this chapter, I do not compare and contrast accreditation...

    (pp. 741-742)
  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 743-746)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 747-764)