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Social Work Child Welfare
by
Jill Duerr Berrick, Colleen Henry

Introduction

The field of child welfare encompasses a range of family challenges and service responses. Traditional child welfare services are typically enacted in response to concerns about child maltreatment and signal significant family problems relating to neglect, child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, or other related family issues. In the United States, almost one million children were identified as victims of child maltreatment in 2008 following more than three million child-maltreatment reports to social service agencies. Service responses include prevention-oriented services, in-home services, or out-of-home care (e.g., foster care, kinship care, group care, etc.). For children separated from their parents, federal mandates require child welfare workers and the courts to identify permanency options so that the child can be raised in a healthy, committed family. Reunification with parents is the preferred permanency option, but other permanency opportunities may be pursued such as adoption or legal guardianship. For older youth, exits from care may eventuate in “independent living” following emancipation from care. Post-permanency services are growing in availability for many children and families. Although a large body of literature identifies the characteristics of children and families served by the child welfare system and system-level outputs, less is known about the outcomes associated with child welfare services, an area of inquiry ripe for significant research.

Introductory Works

The history of the child welfare system in the United States typically begins with a part-story part-legend of “Mary Ellen,” a little girl of New York City, saved from her savage parents in 1874 by a “sweet faced missionary” and the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals. These accounts, though fact based, are too simplistic, they mix fact with fantasy, and they have contributed to the decades-long debates in the field between “child saving’ and “family support.” Costin, et al. 1996, now growing dated in sections, offers an excellent examination of historical fact relating to the origins of the child welfare system, along with a thought-provoking analysis of the Mary Ellen story. The book offers important insights into the politics surrounding child welfare policy development over a century of history. Lindsey 2004, now in its second edition, provides an extremely thorough review of child welfare history and child welfare policy. This work stands out for its close assessment of the role of family poverty as a contributor to maltreatment. Finally, Meyers 2006 can be distinguished from other history books for its differentiation between types of maltreatment, including physical and sexual abuse.

  • Costin, L. B., H. J. Karger, and D. Stoesz. 1996. The politics of child abuse in America. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Offers a broad overview of the history of child welfare. The text relies upon original sources and includes a critical examination of the developments in the field up to the mid-1990s.

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  • Lindsey, D. 2004. The welfare of children. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A historical text with an emphasis on the role of family poverty and its contribution to maltreatment. The book offers an alternative approach to child welfare services with an emphasis on poverty-reduction schemes for low-income families.

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  • Meyers, J. E. B. 2006. Child protection in America: Past, present, and future. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Offers a glimpse into some of the influential individuals who helped to shape early child welfare services. The book emphasizes child physical and sexual abuse and also includes historical information pertaining to the juvenile justice system.

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Textbooks

Child welfare textbooks typically cover several, though not all topics. Some, like Crosson-Tower 2007, are focused more on assessment and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Others, like Crosson-Tower 2006, attempt to tackle a range of issues relating to social work practice, from maltreatment diagnosis, to out-of-home care services, to adoption. And still others examine policy-related topics rather than practice; see, for example, Pecora, et al. 2009. Among practice texts, Samantrai, et al. 2003 and Everett, et al. 2004 are newer books that focus on culturally sensitive practice.

  • Brown, V. 2001. Child welfare case studies. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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    A range of case examples is included to engage the reader in considering how to work with families facing multiple challenges. The book encourages readers to develop assessment skills; case-planning skills; and engagement, referral, practice, and termination skills.

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  • Crosson-Tower, C. 2006. Exploring child welfare: A practice perspective. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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    Reviews the range of child welfare services from family-support services, to child- maltreatment prevention, to temporary and permanent substitute-care providers. The fourth edition includes new information on welfare reform and its potential implications for child and family services.

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  • Crosson-Tower, C. 2007. Understanding child abuse and neglect. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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    Textbook is accompanied by an online “myhelpingkit series” that includes videos, news clippings, flash cards, and other related materials useful to undergraduate students new to child welfare. The book is updated regularly (this is the 7th edition).

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  • Everett, J. E., S. Chipungu, and B. Leashore, eds. 2004. Child welfare revisited: An Afri-centric perspective. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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    A collection of chapters examining the unique experience of African American families in the United States. The book outlines the ways in which the traditional child welfare system has engaged in racist practices and gives practice strategies for combating institutional racism in the child welfare system.

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  • Pecora, P., J. Whittaker, A. Maluccio, R. P. Barth, and D. DePanfilis. 2009. 3d ed. The child welfare challenge: Policy, practice, and research. Modern Applications of Social Work. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction.

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    Covers topics as wide-ranging as policy, practice, and research. An excellent introductory text for students attempting to acquire a fundamental grasp of the system of services that support vulnerable children and families.

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  • Samantrai, K., Lisa Gebo, and Caroline Concilla. 2003. Culturally competent public child welfare practice. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.

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    This book combines an understanding of child maltreatment and child welfare services, with an examination of policy, theory, and practice with special emphasis on work with communities of color.

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Manuals and Guides

A series of manuals is available to help child welfare professionals standardize services for families, particularly regarding assessment of maltreatment, collecting evidence, working with courts, and working with allied professionals. These manuals are used less by the research community and more by the community of professionals and—in some instances—students preparing for careers in child welfare. For example, Brittain and Hunt 2004, Macdonald 2001, and Talley 2005 focus primarily on the “front end” of the system—those professional activities related to identifying maltreatment, recognizing maltreatment severity, and assessing risk. Meadow, et al. 2007 is similarly focused, although it is more applicable to medical professionals than to social workers; and Myers, et al. 2002 is applicable to a range of professionals, including those in health, mental health, and law. Some manuals are targeted to social workers but look at the case from the “front end” through the “back end” of services (see, for example, DePanfilis and Salus 2003 and Dubowitz and DePanfilis 2000).

  • Brittain, C. R., and D. E. Hunt. 2004. Helping in the child protective services: A competency-based handbook. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Designed for social workers in public child welfare. This book provides an overview of decision making within the child welfare system, risk assessment, child maltreatment types, forensic evaluation, and intervention.

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  • DePanfilis, D., and M. K. Salus. 2003. Child protective services: A guide for caseworkers. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect.

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    CD-ROM format. This guide outlines the roles and responsibilities of social workers in public child-welfare systems in the United States. A glossary of common child welfare terms, a list of national child welfare resources, and toll-free telephone numbers for reporting child maltreatment in the states are included.

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  • Dubowitz, H., and D. DePanfilis. 2000. Handbook for child protection practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    An interdisciplinary guide, the book is structured to follow a case of child maltreatment through the public child welfare system.

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  • Howe, D. 2005. Child abuse and neglect: Attachment, development, and intervention. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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    This work describes how child maltreatment may impact children’s relationships with caregivers.

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  • Macdonald, G. 2001. Effective interventions for child abuse and neglect: Factors associated with child maltreatment. Chichester, UK: John Wiley.

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    A review of existing research in the field of child welfare and guidance to social workers on how to incorporate new knowledge into practice. The author explores risk-assessment tools, factors associated with child maltreatment, case-planning methods, and evidence-based interventions.

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  • Meadow, R., J. Mok, and D. Rosenberg. 2007. ABC of child protection. ABC Series. Oxford: Blackwell.

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    The fourth edition, this book was developed for the United Kingdom but is also applicable to US audiences. The book focuses on detection and recognition of child maltreatment, with a special focus on the role of medical professionals.

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  • Myers, J. E. B., L. Berliner, J. Briere, C. T. Hendrix, T. A. Reid, and C. A. Jenny, eds. 2002. The APSAC handbook on child maltreatment. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Designed for a range of professionals in child protection, including those in medicine, mental health, and law. The material in this text covers physical and sexual abuse, forms of neglect, and psychological maltreatment.

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  • Talley, P. F. 2005. Handbook for the treatment of abused and neglected children. New York: Haworth Social Work Practice, Haworth Reference.

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    This text offers practical advice about how to work with children and families in difficult situations. Each chapter focuses on a unique topic and is followed by a case vignette for discussion.

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Journals

A rapidly increasing number of journals is available, including materials on child welfare. The most prominent child welfare–specific journals include Children and Youth Services Review, Child Welfare, and the newly formed Journal of Public Child Welfare. Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal is primarily a research journal affiliated with the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Child Maltreatment is a research journal designed to serve an interdisciplinary audience. Journal of Child and Family Studies is an international journal with a broad perspective on child and adolescent well-being, with an emphasis on mental health. In Child and Family Social Work, there is a large emphasis on child protection work in the United Kingdom, but the journal has editorial representatives based in the United States and includes articles from around the world, including the United States.

Centers and Institutions

A wide range of centers and institutions are accessible via the Internet, some focusing on unique aspects of the child welfare system; others are more broadly concerned with child well-being and development. Here we divide these resources into university-affiliated research centers, federally funded resource centers, clearinghouses, international sites, and advocacy organizations.

Academic Institutions

Most of the university-based centers listed here conduct research on child welfare–related issues, including child maltreatment, child welfare services, and children’s outcomes relating to child welfare. Some are more broadly concerned with child well-being in a larger context (e.g., Jordan Institute for Families at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Crimes against Children Research Center). Universities disseminate their findings through websites, peer-reviewed publications, policy briefs, and public presentations. The list is not intended to be exhaustive, as many universities and schools of social work house research centers dedicated to child welfare. Some of the more prominent university-based research centers, however, are listed here. The University of California, Berkeley, Child Welfare Research Center was established in 1990 and since then has conducted a wide range of studies on child welfare, many including the use of administrative data from the largest public child-welfare system in the country. The Chapin Hall Center for Children is considered the premier institute for child welfare research. It has a close affiliation with the University of Chicago, though it is not formally connected. At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne, the Children and Family Research Center conducts a good deal of research in close collaboration with the state child welfare agency in Illinois and (like the Child Welfare Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley) represents a close university–public agency partnership. The newest research center listed here, Partners for Our Children, represents not only a thriving university–public agency partnership but also includes a close collaboration with the philanthropic community.

Federally Funded Clearinghouses

The US Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau sponsors a number of resource centers designed to improve practice, disseminate new research, and provide technical assistance to states, tribes, and public and nonprofit agencies in child welfare. All of the federally funded research centers and their central areas of expertise are listed.

Other Clearinghouses

In addition to the federally funded clearinghouses, some other clearinghouses exist at the state level (California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare Practice, established by the California Department of Social Services) and at the international level (Campbell Collaborative), which highlight child-welfare research findings from various rigorously designed studies.

  • California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare Practice.

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    Provides information on a range of topics in child welfare (e.g., reunification, neglect intervention, placement stabilization) and identifies specific programs within each topic area that have been studied for their effectiveness. Readers are provided a general description of the practice, a summary of the research findings, and direct links to papers and peer-reviewed articles that offer more detailed information.

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    • Campbell Collaborative.

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      This is a key international source for social work and social-welfare efficacy and effectiveness information. All research presented on the website has met rigorous methodological standards and is designed to provide researchers, policy makers, and practitioners with critical reviews of current research.

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      Advocacy Organizations

      A number of advocacy and membership organizations have developed important web-based and print resources to inform child welfare reform. Some of these are more practice oriented (though not exclusively), such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Child Welfare League of America, the Greenbook Initiative, and the National Association of Counsel for Children. Others are more policy oriented (although again not exclusively), such as the Children’s Defense Fund. And one operating foundation, Casey Family Programs, is the largest foundation dedicated to improving foster care in the United States and is increasingly active on the national policy level.

      Firsthand Accounts

      The research literature on child welfare is growing rapidly; this complex system of policies and programs, however, affects highly vulnerable children and birth parents profoundly. Other actors in the system, including children, foster caregivers, kin caregivers, and social workers, for example, have important perspectives to share on the challenges associated with their roles and experiences in the system. Students and researchers must have some understanding of the lived experiences of these actors to make sense of statistical research on these systems. Chapman, et al. 2004; Bridge 2008; and Fox and Berrick 2007 all pertain to the lived experiences of children served in out-of-home care. Crosson-Tower 2002 and Parent 1996 offer insight into the experiences of child welfare workers. Harrison 2003 highlights the daily lives of foster parents. And Berrick 2008 offers some perspective on birth parents’ experiences of the child welfare system.

      International Comparison

      International comparisons of child welfare are difficult due to widely varying definitions of maltreatment, diverse community constructs across countries, and unique sociopolitical contexts. Nevertheless, some work is emerging that attempts to compare social problems and responses. Some texts have a largely European flavor, like Gilbert 1997, while others cover wider geographic territory (Schwartz-Kenney, et al. 2001), including developing countries (Frost 2005).

      • Frost, N., ed. 2005. Child welfare: Major themes in health and social welfare. London: Routledge.

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        A collection of papers examining child welfare programs in the developed and developing world. State and nongovernmental programs ranging from child protection to child nutrition are examined.

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      • Gilbert, N., ed. 1997. Combating child abuse: International perspectives and trends. Child Welfare. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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        Although somewhat dated, this volume examines child protection systems across nine western European and North American countries.

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      • McAuley, C., P. J. Pecora, and W. E. Rose, eds. 2006. Enhancing the well-being of children and families through effective interventions: International evidence for practice. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley.

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        Compares research findings across a range of child welfare program areas primarily utilizing research from the United Kingdom and the United States. Separate chapters summarize the findings for each of the two countries separately.

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      • Schwartz-Kenney, B., M. McCauley, and M. Epstein, eds. 2001. Child abuse: A global view. A World View of Social Issues. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

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        A review of child maltreatment in sixteen countries. Country-specific case studies offer a picture of child maltreatment within a social, cultural, and economic context.

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      Policy

      Most textbooks have sections on child welfare policy. In addition, a few books have been published focusing narrowly on describing past and current child welfare policy (Jenson and Fraser 2006). Lindsey 2004) focuses on poverty and other child welfare policy issues. Pecora, et al. 2009 (see Textbooks) focuses on policy and program-design issues for each of the major programs in child welfare. Fred Wulczyn and Richard P. Barth have written dozens of articles on child welfare policy. Wulczyn has for many years studied trends in administrative data, and Barth was one of the principal researchers on the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW). Their book, Wulczyn, et al. 2005, coauthored with other prominent scholars, uses a rich array of data to argue that attention to policy is crucial. Articles on child welfare policy typically respond to particular policies rather than child welfare policy as a whole. The Government Accountability Office produces a wide range of papers on various topics relating to child welfare policy, largely in response to congressional requests.

      • Government Accountability Office.

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        A resource on a range of policy issues relating to child welfare. Some of the more recent topics include child welfare and juvenile justice, federal oversight and the IV-B program, statewide data systems, and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

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        • Jenson, J. M., and M. W. Fraser. 2006. Social policy for children and families: A risk and resilience perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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          This book includes one (leading) chapter on child welfare. The rest of the volume is dedicated to a range of other policies relevant to a child welfare population, including children’s mental health policy, health policy, disabilities, substance abuse, and education.

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        • Lindsey, D. 2004. The welfare of children. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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          Lindsey’s comprehensive book offers an overview of child welfare history and programs in the United States and Canada. He critically examines mandatory maltreatment reporting policies in the United States and argues against such policies. He further suggests reforms that promote financial stability and sufficiency for families, thereby reducing the likelihood of maltreatment and maltreatment-related services.

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        • Wulczyn, Fred, R. P. Barth, Y. T. Yuan, B. J. Harden, and J. Landsberk. 2005. Beyond common sense: Child welfare, child well-being, and the evidence for policy reform. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction.

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          A dense read filled with data regarding the population served by child welfare, the system response, and outcomes for children and youth.

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        Adoption and Safe Families Act Policy Analyses

        Although the number of federal policies on child welfare could probably be counted in the dozens, a few stand out for their recency and scope. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 (P.L. 105-89) set out clear priorities for child welfare agencies to attend to children’s safety, permanency, and well-being. Large-scale reforms have obliged many jurisdictions to develop risk-assessment strategies for measuring child safety (among a number of other reforms) and a number of activities to promote permanency. The three articles listed here—D’Andrade and Berrick 2006, Kernan and Lansford 2004, and Gordon 1999)—assess various aspects of the strong permanency provisions of the ASFA. Urban Institute 2009 offers a review of several aspects of ASFA twelve years after the law’s enactment.

        • D’Andrade, A., and J. D. Berrick. 2006. When policy meets practice: The untested effects of permanency reforms in child welfare. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 33.1: 31–52.

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          An examination of reunification bypass provisions in the Adoption and Safe Families Act.

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        • Gordon, R. M. 1999. Drifting through Byzantium: The promise and failure of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, 83 Minn. L. Rev. 637, 655. Minnesota Law Review 83.3: 637–702.

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          An analysis of ASFA with particular attention to shortened time frames for reunification and termination of parental rights proceedings.

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        • Kernan, E., and J. E. Lansford. 2004. Providing for the best interests of the child? The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 25.5: 523–539.

          DOI: 10.1016/j.appdev.2004.08.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An analysis of ASFA from a developmental perspective, with special emphasis on children’s needs for well-being.

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        • Testa, Mark F., and John Poertner, eds. 2010. Fostering accountability: Using evidence to guide and improve child welfare policy. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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          With the help of five contributors, provides a perspective of measuring agency performance and accounting to the public. The book is organized around a results-oriented accountability (ROA) framework with which the authors seek to strengthen the validity of child welfare knowledge and to improve the integrity of child welfare policy and practice by reducing agency risks to the best interests of children.

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        • Urban Institute. 2009. Intentions and results: A look back at the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Washington, DC: Urban Institute and Center for the Study of Social Policy.

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          A compendium of papers examining ASFA twelve years following its passage, including outcomes, experiences of birth parents and youth, judicial perspectives, and impacts on special populations (e.g., substance-involved families, parents with mental illness, and immigrant children).

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        Child Maltreatment

        There is a large body of empirical research examining the scope and consequences of child maltreatment. Less is known about effective treatment interventions, but even this literature base is expanding rapidly (see, for example, Chaffin and Friedrich 2004). The most recent national study to examine the incidence of child maltreatment, the National Incidence Study-4 (Sedlak, et al. 2010), showed a significant decline in the overall incidence of maltreatment and especially significant declines in child sexual abuse. Other authors had reached similar conclusions regarding sexual abuse earlier in the decade (Finkelhor 2008, Finkelhor and Jones 2006). The incidence study can be differentiated from other national studies examining official child maltreatment reporting to public child welfare agencies, which continue to show increases in reporting over time (US Department of Health and Human Services 2010). Those interested in accessing the datasets used for the studies listed in this article, or other large-scale studies of child maltreatment, can access them through the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect.

        Neglect

        It is generally acknowledged that child neglect is far more prevalent than either physical or sexual abuse but that it has received considerably less attention in the research literature, and efforts to prevent and treat neglect have been slower to develop. H. Dubowitz’s work (Dubowitz 2005, Dubowitz 1999) to compile what is known about this topic in terms of its scope, consequences, and treatment is notable. In many states, child neglect represents well over half of all reports for maltreatment, and it is especially prevalent for children under the age of five. Some evidence suggests that outcomes for children associated with child neglect are generally worse than they are for physical or sexual abuse, affecting physical and cognitive development (Tyler, et al. 2006).

        • Dubowitz, H., ed. 1999. Neglected children: Research, practice, and policy. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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          A collection of research papers on the scope of child neglect, causes, and consequences.

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        • Dubowitz, H., ed. 2005. Special issue: Child Maltreatment 10.2.

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          This special issue includes a range of papers attending to issues associated with neglect prevention and intervention.

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        • Tyler, S., K. Allison, and A. Winsler. 2006. Child neglect: Developmental consequences, intervention, and policy implications. Child and Youth Care Forum 35.1: 1–20.

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          A thorough review of risk factors, prevalence, and outcomes associated with neglect. Although a description of some interventions is included, the authors suggest that these interventions largely fall under the category of “promising” and that further work to develop evidence-based family support programs is needed.

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        Physical Abuse

        According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems, about 10 percent of all reports for maltreatment in 2007 were for physical abuse. Although this represents a smaller proportion of the maltreated population, the risks to children who suffer physical abuse can be substantial, including future violent behavior (see Lansford, et al. 2007), severe injury, and death. In contrast to research findings in the area of child neglect, some evidence suggests that physical abuse may be prevented and treated (Klevens and Whitaker 2007).

        • Klevens, J., and D. J. Whitaker. 2007. Primary prevention of child physical abuse and neglect: Gaps and promising directions. Child Maltreatment 12.4: 364–377.

          DOI: 10.1177/1077559507305995Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A review of promising approaches to prevent child maltreatment with recommendations for stronger research efforts to confirm their effectiveness.

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        • Lansford, J., S. Miller-Johnson, L. J. Berlin, K. A. Dodge, J. E. Bates, and G. S. Petit. 2007. Early physical abuse and later violent delinquency: A prospective longitudinal study. Child Maltreatment 12.3: 233–245.

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          Findings suggest that physical abuse during the first five years of life increases the likelihood that adolescents and young adults will experience a range of adverse outcomes.

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        Sexual Abuse

        Similar to child physical abuse, sexual abuse reports account for about one in ten child maltreatment reports to public child welfare agencies. The dynamics surrounding child sexual abuse are rather different from other forms of maltreatment—perpetrators are more likely to be male and victims more likely female. Recent research is helping to identify risk factors associated with perpetrator behavior (see, for example, Whitaker, et al. 2007). Conte 2002 reviews what is known about child sexual abuse with an emphasis on the judicial system’s response to this social problem, whereas Fontes 1995 takes a more anthropological perspective on the issue.

        • Conte, J. R., ed. 2002. Critical issues in child sexual abuse: Historical, legal, and psychological perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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          An edited volume principally focused on issues relating to prosecution, expert testimony, recovered memory, and treatment.

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        • Fontes, L. A., ed. 1995. Sexual abuse in nine northern American cultures: Treatment and prevention. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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          An edited volume focusing on sexual abuse perspectives in nine diverse cultures.

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        • Whitaker, D. J., B. Le, R. K. Hanson, C. K. Baker, P. M. McMahon, G. Ryan, A. Klein, and D. D. Rice. 2007. Risk factors for the perpetration of child sexual abuse: A review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect 32.5: 529–548.

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          A review of scores of studies to identify risk factors associated with child sexual offenders versus non–sex offenders and sexual offenders versus the entire population of adults. Family factors and social and emotional skills appear to predict sexual-offender behaviors.

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        In-home services

        Turning from the problem of child maltreatment including examining its scope and consequences, the following sections review in more detail some of the child welfare service system responses to maltreatment. Social work tradition dictates a heavy emphasis on serving children in the context of their families whenever possible. As such, the typical child welfare response to child maltreatment is to attend to family needs within the home. Large-scale efforts in the 1990s focused on what was termed “family preservation” services—relatively short-term, intensive services to protect children within the context of their home life. These programs, while supporting families in certain respects, were not effective in protecting children from future maltreatment. Researchers at the University of Chicago have conducted the most rigorous research on family preservation programs (Schuerman, et al. 1994) and show no effect on placement prevention or on maltreatment prevention. In a later study, Littell and Schuerman 2002 reviews what is known about intensive family preservation services and attempts to parse out treatment effects for subgroups. Programs with greater fidelity to a specific model (i.e., Homebuilders) may also show some effects (Nelson, et al. 2009). Not all interventions in this area are as intensive as family preservation services. Other programs may be home based or center based, but the large majority of programs designed to prevent maltreatment show very modest to no effect (MacLeod and Nelson 2000, Lee, et al. 2008).

        • Lee, S., S. Aos, and M. Miller. 2008. Evidence-based programs to prevent children from entering and remaining in the child welfare system: Benefits and costs for Washington. Document No. 08-07-3901. Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

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          This report presents findings of a systematic review of evidence regarding the effectiveness of child welfare intervention and prevention programs, along with an estimate of the costs and benefits of implementing effective programs. The review concludes that there appear to be potential monetary benefits associated with utilization of evidence-based programs.

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        • Littell, J. H., and J. R. Schuerman. 2002. What works best for whom? A closer look at intensive family preservation services. Children and Youth Services Review 24.9–10: 673–699.

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          An attempt to reexamine data from the Illinois Family Preservation study to determine better whether effects could be found for subgroups of families.

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        • MacLeod, J., and G. Nelson. 2000. Programs for the promotion of family wellness and the prevention of child maltreatment: A meta-analytic review. Child Abuse and Neglect 24.9: 1127–1149.

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          A meta-analysis of more than fifty in-home service programs designed to prevent child maltreatment. Findings suggest very modest effects at best.

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        • Nelson, K., B. Walters, D. Schweitzer, B. J. Blythe, and P. J. Pecora. 2009. A ten-year review of family preservation research: Building the evidence base. Seattle, WA: Casey Family Programs.

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          This review considers evidence regarding effectiveness of programs to prevent out-of-home placement of children involved in the child welfare system. While there is evidence that preservation programs can be effective, the report identifies the challenges of targeting services to the right families, maintaining treatment fidelity, and evaluating outcomes.

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        • Schuerman, J. R., T. L. Rzipnicki, and J. H. Littell. 1994. Putting families first: An experiment in family preservation. Modern Applications of Social Work. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

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          A detailed description of the largest study of in-home family preservation services. The studied relied on random assignment to condition and showed no effects on placement prevention.

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        Out-of-home care

        Some children cannot remain safely with their families and must be separated from their parents. The large majority of children placed in out-of-home care live with nonrelatives in foster care (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). The quality of conventional foster care ranges substantially; treatment foster care, wherein caregivers are more thoroughly trained and supported, results in better child welfare outcomes (see Fisher, et al. 2006). But outcomes, overall, seem to suggest that foster care may be protective for children and may offer benefits children might otherwise miss if they had remained with their birth families (see Lawrence, et al. 2006; Pecora, et al. 2009).

        • Fisher, P. A., M. R. Gunnar, M. Dozier, J. Bruce, and K. C. Pears. 2006. Effects of therapeutic interventions for foster children on behavioral problems, caregiver attachment, and stress regulatory neural systems. Annals of the New York Academy of Science 1094.1: 215–225.

          DOI: 10.1196/annals.1376.023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Positive effects are shown on children’s well-being when caregivers participate in innovative training and support programs.

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        • Lawrence, C. R., E. A. Carlson, and B. Egeland. 2006. The impact of foster care on development. Development and Pychopathology 18.1: 57–76.

          DOI: 10.1017/S0954579406060044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Shows poor outcomes for children placed in out-of-home care compared to children who sustained maltreatment but were left in the homes of their parents (the authors do not control for the severity of the maltreatment).

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        • Pecora, P. J., R. C. Kessler, J. Williams, A. C. Downs, D. J. English, J. White, and K. O’Brien. 2009. What works in family foster care? Key components of success from the Northwest foster care alumni study. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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          This book examines former foster youth many years following their foster care experience to better understand health, mental health, educational, and other adult outcomes. Findings from the study suggest that investments in high-quality foster care reap benefits in the long term.

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        • US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, Children’s Bureau. 2008. AFCARS Report #16: Preliminary FY 2008 estimates as of October 2009.

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          Updated annually, the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report documents the number of children in out-of-home care in the United States, including the type of placement in which they receive care.

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        Foster Care

        For approximately one-half of the children who are placed in nonrelative foster care, surprisingly little is known about their caregiving settings. There are no state reporting requirements to describe the characteristics of foster parents, nor is there even a count of the number of foster parents providing care in the United States. Barth, et al. 2008 is a national study of children involved with the child welfare system. That research resulted in findings relating to children’s care providers that help us understand caregiver characteristics. But all care is not the same. Dozier and Linhiem 2006 shows that caregivers’ commitment to the children in their care improves child welfare outcomes relating to placement stability. And Taussig, et al. 2001 helps to untangle the effects of foster care on children’s well-being. Comparing children who remained in foster care with those who returned to their birth parents, that study sheds light on the important protective effects afforded by foster care.

        • Barth, R., R. Green, M. Webb, A. Wall, C. Gibbons, and C. Craig. 2008. Characteristics of out-of-home caregiving environments provided under child welfare services. Child Welfare 87.3: 5–39.

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          Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being, the authors review the principal types of placements for children in out-of-home care and their characteristics and quality.

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        • Dozier, M., and O. Lindhiem. 2006. This is my child: Differences among foster parents in commitment to their young children. Child Maltreatment 11.4: 338–345.

          DOI: 10.1177/1077559506291263Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Analysis of foster parents suggests that the fewer the number of children cared for over time and the age of the child at placement predict foster parents’ commitment to children and stability of placement.

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        • Taussig, H. N., R. B. Clyman, and J. Landsverk. 2001. Children who return home from foster care: A 6-year prospective study of behavioral health outcomes in adolescence. Pediatrics 108.1: 1–7.

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          A comparison of children returned home to children remaining in foster care. The authors find children who remain in foster care better skilled in internalizing and externalizing problems.

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        • Webb, M. B., K. Dowd, B. Jones-Harden, J. Landsverk, and M. Testa, eds. 2010. Child welfare and child well-being: New perspectives from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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          The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW) is the largest national study of children and families touched by the child welfare system. Conducted in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the study follows families reported to the child welfare system, some of whom are served and others who are assessed as not needing services. This edited volume offers a compendium of papers on the results from this study, examining child and family characteristics, services, and short-term outcomes.

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        Kinship Care

        Since the 1990s, kinship foster care has rapidly grown to dominate much of child welfare practice. The introduction of kin was spurred, in part, by the Supreme Court decision Miller v. Youakim (1979), which required federal financial participation toward some kinship payments. Other factors driving growth included new emphases on family-based child welfare services, along with declining rolls of traditional foster parents. The inclusion of kin into the foster care system has raised many questions of policy and practice as the child welfare community attempts to determine whether kin should be considered more as foster caregivers or more as family—each perspective drives a different approach. Crumbley and Little 1997 offers important insights into child welfare practice with kin, suggesting that the family aspects of kinship foster care should not be ignored. Geen 2003 is more policy focused as the author attempts to clarify the policy decisions that can and should be clarified in the case of kin. Finally, Mark Testa has conducted good deal of work on the unique permanency challenges associated with kinship foster care. His work to develop foster care and permanency services that reflect a kind of hybrid approach to care (Testa, et al. 2010, Testa and Slack 2002) is most widely considered.

        • Crumbley, J., and R. Little. 1997. Relatives raising children: An overview of kinship care. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.

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          Reviews the family dynamics often present in kinship arrangements and offers practice considerations for staff working with kin.

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        • Geen, R., ed. 2003. Kinship care: Making the most of a valuable resource. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

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          An overview of kinship care in the United States, including the characteristics of children and caregivers, their service needs, and policy considerations for service supports.

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        • Testa, M., C. Bruhn, and J. Helton. 2010. Comparative safety, stability, and continuity of children’s placements in formal and informal substitute care. In Child welfare and child well-being: New perspectives from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being. Edited by M. B. Webb, K. Dowd, B. Harden, J. Landsverk, and M. Testa, 159–192. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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          A review of the strengths and weaknesses of kinship arrangements and the likely benefits and disadvantages that may accrue to children residing in these homes.

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        • Testa, M. F., and K. S. Slack. 2002. The gift of kinship foster care. Children and Youth Services Review 24.1–2: 79–108.

          DOI: 10.1016/S0190-7409(01)00169-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A review of the theoretical underpinnings supporting public support for kinship care.

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        Permanency

        “Permanency” is a term used in child welfare to suggest a child’s opportunity for a lifetime legal and affective relationship with an adult caregiver. In most instances, children achieve permanency with their parent or parents following birth. For children who may be separated from their parents, achieving permanency may require additional efforts, either to return children to their birth parents through reunification, to develop new relationships with adoptive parents, or—in some cases—to support legal guardianship relationships with foster or kin caregivers. Federal law has encouraged the development of a permanency framework in child welfare practice since the late 1990s. Since that time, many child welfare administrators have attempted to reposition their agencies and retrain their staff to adopt permanency practices. One of the most commonly adopted practices to pursue permanency is concurrent planning (D’Andrade, et al. 2006) —a strategy that supports reunification simultaneous to pursuing an alternative permanency placement. Berrick 2008 (see Firsthand Accounts) also suggests reformulations in policy and practice to more aggressively pursue permanency for children early on in the case.

        • D’Andrade, A., L. Frame, and J. D. Berrick. 2006. Concurrent planning in public child welfare agencies: Oxymoron or work in progress? Children and Youth Services Review 28:78–95.

          DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2005.02.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A study examining implementation of concurrent planning across six public agencies. The authors argue that agencies must have increased resources, political will, and leadership to accomplish this important change in practice.

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        • Kerman, B., A. N. Maluccio, and M. Freundlich, eds. 2009. Achieving permanence for older children and youth in foster care. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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          This edited volume provides a rich examination of issues and evidence related to all aspects of permanency for older children in foster care. The topics include outcomes for older foster children and youth exiting care, reform efforts to promote permanency, and interventions and practices for meeting the needs of these children.

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        Reunification

        Approximately one-half of the children who are separated from their parents are reunified. Most return home within about six months. Some characteristics of children and their parents suggest a higher likelihood of reunification (Wells and Guo 1999), but little is known about the service components that are most effective in returning children to their parents expeditiously. Smith 2003 offers an unsettling perspective on the role of parental compliance with case plans and its import in driving permanency decisions. Once children reunify, it is especially important that they remain safely in their homes. Reentry to care is a significant issue for somewhere between 15 percent to 30 percent of reunified children. Effective permanency through reunification must therefore be achieved through a combination of safe reunification without a reentry to care.

        • Rzepnicki, T. L., J. R. Schuerman, and R. P. Johnson. 1997. Facing uncertainty: Reuniting high risk families. In Child Welfare Research Review. Vol. 2. Edited by J. D. Berrick, R. Barth, and N. Gilbert. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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          A study involving over one thousand families receiving intensive reunification services and a comparison group receiving conventional services. Families were relatively new to child welfare, had children under the age of thirteen, and had children in care for six months or less. Findings from the study suggest a 40 percent greater rate of reunification for families participating in the specialized program, though reentry rates remained high.

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        • Smith, B. 2003. How parental drug use and drug treatment compliance relate to family reunification. Child Welfare 82.3: 335–366.

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          A study examining parents’ compliance with drug treatment and its effects on reunification decisions, regardless of parents’ behaviors and parenting practices toward their children.

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        • Walton, E. 1998. In-home family-focused reunification: A six-year follow-up of a successful experiment. Social Work Research 22.4: 205–214.

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          This paper reports the results of one of the only randomized controlled trials on the effects of intensive services on reunification outcomes. Findings from the study showed both short- and long-term positive effects in promoting higher rates of reunification. Small sample sizes limit the generalizability of the findings, but the study results are provocative nonetheless.

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        • Wells, K., and S. Guo. 1999. Reunification and reentry of foster children. Children and Youth Services Review 21.4: 273–294.

          DOI: 10.1016/S0190-7409(99)00021-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An examination of the characteristics of children and parents who are most and least likely to achieve reunification.

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        Adoption

        Many children who cannot return to their birth parents are adopted into new families. Adoption has long been considered the second-best alternative for children following reunification in part because research indicates that outcomes for children following adoption are generally more positive than outcomes for children who remain in long-term foster care (Triseliotis 2002). Although there are public costs associated with adoption, it also appears that the costs are lower than serving children through the foster care system (Barth, et al. 2006). Adoption has received considerable policy support since the late 1990s, and it is evident that the numbers of children adopted out of foster care has risen substantially (Wulczyn, et al. 2006). With renewed emphasis on adoption, state and local jurisdictions are working diligently to recruit adults willing to serve as children’s new parents. It appears that there is widespread interest in adoption among the American public (Macomber, et al. 2005), though there is still much to be learned about the substantial mismatch between the numbers of adults indicating an interest in adoption and those who follow through.

        • Barth, R. P., C. K. Lee, J. Wildfire, and S. Gao. 2006. A comparison of the governmental costs of long-term foster care and adoption. Social Services Review 80.1: 127–158.

          DOI: 10.1086/499339Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An analysis of childhood costs associated with foster care and adoption, arguing that in addition to the socio-emotional benefits afforded by adoption, the fiscal costs are reduced with adoption as well.

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        • Macomber, J. E., E. Zielewski, K. Chambers, and R. Geen. 2005. Foster care adoption in the United States: An analysis of interest in adoption and a review of state recruitment strategies. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

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          An attempt to discern the number and types of parents interested and potentially willing to adopt children from foster care, with calls for changes in adoption policy and practice to support adults’ latent interests. Available online.

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        • Triseliotis, J. 2002. Long-term foster care or adoption? The evidence examined. Child and Family Social Work 7.1: 23–33.

          DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2206.2002.00224.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A fairly comprehensive review of the long-term benefits that accrue to children following foster care or adoption; the author argues for policy and practice changes to support higher rates of adoption for children.

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        • Wulczyn, F., L. Chen, and K. B. Hislop. 2006. Adoption dynamics and the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Social Service Review 80.4: 584–608.

          DOI: 10.1086/508558Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An examination of the ballooning number of children receiving adoption subsidies since the late 1990s, with implications for state and federal funding in the area of substitute care support.

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        Legal Guardianship

        Legal guardianship received scant attention in child welfare literature and was practiced infrequently until the late 1990s, when policy makers and practitioners were seeking alternative permanency arrangements for children placed with kin. Relatives were, in some cases, reluctant to adopt their kin (Testa 2001, Testa 2004). The practice of placing children with legal guardians has expanded considerably in recent years as states have experimented with the viability of this permanency opportunity. In 2008 the federal government passed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (P.L. 110–351), allowing federal subsidies to kinship guardianship payments. To usher in this new practice paradigm, Mark Testa has conducted several studies that examine the durability and safety of kinship guardianships (Testa 2002); his work has been highly influential in assuring practitioners and policy makers about the importance of legal guardianship for many children.

        Preparation for Adulthood

        Some children do not attain permanence and therefore exit the child welfare system to “emancipation” when they reach the age of majority (eighteen or nineteen in some states; twenty-one in others). Until recently, states only received federal support for foster care payments until children reached age eighteen; with the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act, states can elect to serve youth to age twenty-one with federal financial participation. Studies of youths’ transitions out of foster care and into adulthood have been sobering. Overall, youth experience very high rates of adverse outcomes, including homelessness, incarceration, pregnancy, public assistance, and unemployment. Courtney, et al. 2001 was most influential in chronicling the challenges young adults experience as they leave the child welfare system. M. E. Courtney’s work comparing outcomes for youth ages nineteen to twenty-one lacking foster care support with those for youth remaining in foster care helped to shape the field’s understanding about the importance of extended, voluntary care beyond age eighteen (Courtney, et al. 2010). Other researchers have compared the outcomes of young adults leaving foster care to other young adults, matched on a number of relevant variables. Berzin 2008 indicates that outcomes for transition-age youth are not markedly dissimilar from the outcomes for youth growing up in significantly disadvantaged families.

        • Berzin, S. C. 2008. Difficulties in the transition to adulthood: Using propensity scoring to understand what makes foster youth vulnerable. Social Service Review 82.2: 171–196.

          DOI: 10.1086/588417Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An examination of young adult outcomes for former foster youth compared to those of a matched sample of youth with similar background characteristics but no foster care experience.

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        • Courtney, M. E., A. Dworsky, J. S. Lee, M. Raap. 2010. Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth. Chicago: Chapin Hall Center for Children.

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          The most comprehensive study, to date, on the short- and long-term outcomes for former foster youth up to age twenty-four. Available online.

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        • Courtney, M. E., I. Piliavin, A. Grogan-Kayler, and A. Nesmith. 2001. Foster youth transitions to adulthood: A longitudinal view of youth leaving care. Child Welfare 80.6: 685–718.

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          The largest study of former foster youth aged out of foster care and followed through young adulthood. The study examines outcomes in areas such as educational attainment, employment, criminal justice involvement, and public assistance utilization.

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        • Kessler, R. C., P. J. Pecora, J. Williams, E. Hiripi, K. O’Brien, D. English, J. White, J. R. Zerbe, A. C. Downs, R. Plotnick, I. Hwang, and N. A. Sampson. 2008. The effects of enhanced foster care on the long-term physical and mental health of foster care alumni. Archives in General Psychiatry 65.6: 625–633.

          DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.65.6.625Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A study of former foster youth ages twenty to forty-nine from thirteen states. Using a quasi-experimental design, the authors compare the effects of public foster care and nonprofit-provided care.

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        Special Populations and Problems in Child Welfare

        Children and families involved with the child welfare system often are challenged with other difficulties beyond the maltreatment that signaled their need for support. In a nationwide study of children reported for maltreatment and investigated by the child welfare agency, more than one-quarter of parents were actively abusing alcohol (29 percent), more than one-third were actively using drugs (37 percent), about one-third (34 percent) had been arrested recently, more than one-third (36 percent) had a serious mental health problem, and one-quarter of parents were in relationships with active intimate partner violence, and almost half of caregivers (47 percent) regularly had trouble paying for basic necessities. Research is beginning to examine the scope and consequences for children living in multiply challenged families, and new service designs are being developed to address these complex family circumstances.

        Intimate Partner Violence

        Recent evidence suggests that child maltreatment often co-occurs in families also affected by intimate partner violence. Research on this topic largely concerns documentation of the scope of the problem (Eisikovits, et al. 2008b; Kelleher, et al. 2005), with developing information about the effects of domestic violence on children (Eisikovits, et al. 2008a). As research on this important topic continues, we can expect to see more information regarding effective interventions to prevent and treat children (see Schechter and Edleson 1999).

        • Eisikovits, Z., P. Grauwiler, L. G. Mills, and Z. Winstok, eds. 2008a. Special issue: Recent trends in intimate violence: Theory and intervention, volume 2. Children and Youth Services Review 30.6.

          DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2008.01.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A collection of articles regarding interpersonal violence written by scholars from the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom. The articles in this special issue examine the interpersonal and social meanings of violence, the effects of childhood exposure to family and sexual violence on later interpersonal relationships, and how public systems can best serve victims and perpetrators of violence.

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        • Eisikovits, Z., Z. Winstok, P. Grauwiler, and L. G. Mills, eds. 2008b. Special issue: Recent trends in intimate violence: Theory and intervention, volume 1. Children and Youth Services Review 30.3.

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          The first of two special issues on intimate violence, the selected articles explore the theoretical assumptions and empirical evidence regarding family violence in the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

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        • Jaffe, P. G., L. L. Baker, and A. J. Cunningham, eds. 2004. Protecting children from domestic violence: Strategies for community intervention. New York: Guilford.

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          This edited work explores the prevalence and treatment of children’s exposure to domestic violence. The book tackles controversial issues, such as the classification of child exposure to domestic violence as child maltreatment; offers suggestions on case planning for families experiencing domestic violence; and calls for reforms in individual and system responses to family violence.

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        • Kelleher, K. J., R. P. Barth, and J. L. Edelson, eds. 2005. Co-occurring child maltreatment and domestic violence: A national perspective on a local problem. Children and Youth Services Review 27.11: 1243–1258.

          DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2005.04.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A collection of six papers examining the incidence of family violence and the co-occurrence of family violence and child maltreatment.

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        • Schechter, S., and J. L. Edleson. 1999. Effective intervention in domestic violence and child maltreatment cases: Guidelines for policy and practice. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

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          This guide, commonly referred to as the “Greenbook,” was developed in collaboration with child protective organizations, domestic violence agencies, and the juvenile courts. It offers communities and public organizations a framework for responding to family violence and provides specific recommendations for service providers and judicial officers. Following the title, the subtitle continues, Recommendations from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Family Violence Department.

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        Incarcerated Parents

        With the rapid increase in female incarceration nationwide, it is now widely recognized that many children of female prisoners are left to the care of the foster and kinship system. Important issues arise concerning children’s access to their parents for visitation, parents’ capacity to meet reunification time frames when they are unable to engage in services or when their expected prison time exceeds federal standards for permanency (Hayward and DePanfilis 2007). The developing literature at this point largely focuses on understanding the scope and nature of the problem (Bernstein 2005; Johnson and Waldfogel 2002; Johnson and Waldfogel 2004).

        • Bernstein, N. 2005. All alone in the world: Children of the incarcerated. New York: New Press.

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          A journalistic investigation into the experiences of children of incarcerated parents. Relying on interviews with incarcerated parents, children and family members of the incarcerated, caretakers, and criminal justice officials, the author examines the impact of parental arrest, sentencing, imprisonment, and social reentry on children and families.

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        • Hayward, R. A., and D. DePanfilis. 2007. Foster children with an incarcerated parent: Predictors of reunification. Children and Youth Services Review 29.10: 1320–1334.

          DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2007.05.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Relying on data from the Adoption and Foster Care Administrative Reporting System, the authors explore the impact of parental incarceration on family reunification.

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        • Johnson, E. I., and J. Waldfogel. 2002. Parental incarceration: Recent trends and implications for child welfare. Social Service Review 76.3: 460–479.

          DOI: 10.1086/341184Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          The authors use data from the 1986 and 1991 Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities and the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities to examine living arrangements of children with incarcerated parents.

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        • Johnson, E. I., and J. Waldfogel. 2004. Children of incarcerated parents: Multiple risks and children’s living arrangements. In Imprisoning America: The social effects of mass incarceration. Edited by M. Pattillo, D. Weiman, and Bruce Western, 97–131. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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          Using data from the US Department of Justice, the authors examine the living arrangements of children with incarcerated parents. In addition, the authors highlight socio-emotional risks to this young population and offer policy suggestions.

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        Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Youth

        It is widely recognized that children and youth served by the child welfare system are a diverse population. In recent years, recognition of the unique concerns and challenges facing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) youth has emerged (Mallon 1998, Mallon 2006). A very small but growing literature is beginning to address the needs of LGBTQ youth in care (Special Issue: LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare 2006); little is known at this time either about the numbers of youth or about evidence-based programs that best address their needs.

        • Special issue: LGBTQ youth in child welfare. 2006. Child Welfare Journal 85.2.

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          This collection of thirteen papers highlights model practices and programs for work with LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system. The majority of papers focus on youth challenges and issues; some papers focus on the special supports that may be needed for LGBTQ foster parents and other caregivers.

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        • Mallon, G. P. 1998. We don’t exactly get the welcome wagon: The experiences of gay and lesbian adolescents in child welfare systems. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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          In this award-winning book, over a four-year period the author interviews gay and lesbian youth involved in the child welfare system in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto. Through personal narratives, the author paints portraits of unmet needs, adolescent challenges, and the resilience of this population.

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        • Mallon, G. P. 2006. Lesbian and gay foster and adoptive parents: Recruiting, assessing, and supporting an untapped resource for children and youth in America’s child welfare system. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.

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          This book examines common perceptions and misperceptions of gay and lesbian adults along with a review of the evidence on gay and lesbian parenting outcomes. It suggests that gay and lesbian adults can provide important foster and adoptive services to children and that special strategies can be employed to recruit and support these important caregivers.

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        Racial and Ethnic Disproportionality

        A long-standing feature of the child welfare system is the overrepresentation of children of color—most notably African Americans and Native Americans. Renewed attention to this issue is now emerging, and researchers are attempting to disentangle causal influences. Some authors largely place responsibility for the disproportionate representation of African American children in out-of-home care on racially biased policies and practices of child welfare workers (Roberts 2002). Other research paints a portrait that is more complicated and nuanced, implicating possible bias along with disproportionate need (Courtney and Skyles 2003, Derezotes, et al. 2004). Efforts to develop culturally responsive practice that is evidence-based is still in its infancy (see Wells and Briggs 2009) but is currently being pursued by researchers and practitioners.

        • Courtney, M. E., and A. Skyles, eds. 2003. Special issue: The overrepresentation of children of color in the child welfare system. Children and Youth Services Review 25.5–6: 355–507.

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          This journal issue includes a range of papers reviewing racial disproportionality in child welfare from child maltreatment reporting, to decision making at investigation, to foster-care placement, reunification, and adoption. Most articles describe the phenomenon; some examine possible causal explanations.

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        • Derezotes, E. M., J. Poertner, and M. F. Testa, eds. 2004. Race matters in child welfare: The overrepresentation of African American children in the system. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.

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          This compilation of papers examines the evidence base for understanding racial and ethnic disproportionality in child welfare. Each article meticulously reviews data from unique data sources to try to untangle the effects of disproportionate need among certain racial and ethnic groups, the effects of racial/ethnic bias among professionals working with children and families, and other factors.

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        • Roberts, D. 2002. Shattered bonds: The color of child welfare. New York: Basic Civitas Books.

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          This author argues that the child welfare system and the professionals who work in it are racially biased. She suggests that child welfare professionals unduly separate African American children from their parents when Caucasian children in similar circumstances are routinely kept with their families.

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        • Wells, S., and H. Briggs, eds. 2009. Special issue: Evidence-based practice in child welfare in the context of cultural competency. Children and Youth Services Review 31.11.

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          A compendium of papers focused on what is (now) known about evidence-based practices that are culturally competent and relevant. Many of the papers include calls for greater attention and action for the research community in partnership with the practitioner community, along with an acknowledgment that much remains to be learned in the field.

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        Substance-Involved Families

        Some evidence indicates that parental substance abuse is implicated in child maltreatment in one-third to two-thirds of cases. This close connection suggests important challenges for child welfare agencies attempting to serve families and improve parents’ care for their children. Much of the research on this topic currently focuses on understanding the scope and nature of the problem, the challenges of engagement and successful completion of substance abuse services (Choi and Ryan 2006; Marsh, et al. 2006; Smith 2003), and effects of substance exposure on children (Berger and Waldfogel 2000). Research that identifies evidence-based practices to address the problem has not yet fully emerged.

        • Berger, L. M., and J. Waldfogel. 2000. Prenatal cocaine exposure: Long-run effects and policy implications. Social Service Review 74.1: 28–54.

          DOI: 10.1086/514472Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Study follows a matched sample of infants cocaine exposed and not exposed to determine long-term (three-year) contact with child welfare services. Study findings suggest that cocaine exposure may indicate heightened developmental risk but may not be an appropriate indicator of future child maltreatment.

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        • Choi, S., and J. P. Ryan. 2006. Completing substance abuse treatment in child welfare: The role of co-occurring problems and primary drug of choice. Child Maltreatment 11.4: 313–325.

          DOI: 10.1177/1077559506292607Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Research suggests that substance abuse treatment compliance is an important predictor of reunification. This study examined treatment-compliance rates and parental characteristics associated with treatment completion among a sample of child welfare–involved alcohol and other drug (AOD) clients.

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        • Marsh, J. C., J. P. Ryan, S. Choi, and M. F. Testa. 2006. Integrated services for families with multiple problems: Obstacles to family reunification. Children and Youth Services Review 28.9: 1074–1087.

          DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2005.10.012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This paper provides detail on one of the Title IV-E Waiver demonstration projects that included random assignment to condition for substance-involved parents whose children were removed to out-of-home care. Findings from the study suggest that interdisciplinary assessment and service delivery may be important to the achievement of reunification.

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        • Smith, B. D. 2003. How parental drug use and drug treatment compliance relate to family reunification. Child Welfare 82.3: 335–365.

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          In this study, the author examines the timing of reunification for substance-involved families in the child welfare system. Findings indicate that compliance with drug treatment services is a strong predictor of reunification, even in those cases where drug use persists and where parenting practices have not appreciably changed.

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        Welfare/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

        Evidence from the National Incidence Studies persistently shows a strong correlation between family poverty and maltreatment. But research evidence suggests that family poverty neither solely causes maltreatment, nor is it the only reason for child welfare involvement (Barth, et al. 2006). In light of the long-standing connection between family poverty and child maltreatment, reforms to the US welfare system in 1996 renewed public concern that increasing poverty might further disadvantage vulnerable families and push greater numbers of children into the child welfare system. Research on this topic focuses on individual- and state-level impacts of families’ welfare use on subsequent child maltreatment and child welfare involvement (Ovwigho, et al. 2003; Slack, et al. 2007).

        • Barth, R. P., J. Wildfire, and R. Green. 2006. Placement into foster care and the interplay of urbanicity, child behavior problems, and poverty. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 76.3: 358–366.

          DOI: 10.1037/0002-9432.76.3.358Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This paper does not focus on welfare reform, per se, but instead focuses on the interplay between family poverty and child maltreatment, targeting the associated behaviors of maltreating parents that put children at risk for child maltreatment.

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        • Ovwigho, P., K. Leavitt, and C. Born. 2003. Risk factors for child abuse and neglect among former TANF families: Do later leavers experience greater risk? Children and Youth Services Review 25.1–2: 139–163.

          DOI: 10.1016/S0190-7409(02)00269-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This paper examines predictors of child welfare involvement for families leaving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The paper provides an overview of others’ research on this issue in the aftermath of welfare reform and indicates that the greatest predictor of future child welfare involvement is past involvement.

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        • Slack, K. S., K. Magnuson, and L. M. Berger, eds. 2007. Special issue: How are low-income children and families faring a decade after welfare reform? Evidence from five non-experimental panel studies. Children and Youth Services Review 29.6.

          DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2006.12.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This journal issue includes several papers examining child well-being in the context of welfare reform. One paper specifically examines the relationship between TANF and child welfare involvement.

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        LAST MODIFIED: 05/25/2011

        DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195389678-0011

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