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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

December 2011 Archives

Weekly news round-up

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Each Friday on the Stability, Permanency and Adoption blog we will provide a selection of news from the past week that you may have missed.

Today's news round up:

An article published in Pediatrics by Jones et al (2011) assesses the impact of missing or altered birth and medical information on internationally adopted children's health care in the United States. Among the chief concerns mentioned in the report is the tendency to alter the birth certificate once the child is in the United States based on American pediatric assessments, which doesn't always allow for time for the child to "catch-up" on developmental delays that result from pre-adoptive experiences. MedPage Today describes the report here. To read the article abstract, click here.

The Arizona Daily Star published an interesting article on how family courts struggle to respond to "changing definitions of family." From the article, ""We're redefining what constitutes a family," said McGeorge School of Law professor Larry Levine, an expert on sexual orientation and the law. "It's a whole new way of thinking about this." Read the full article here.

A perennial discussion in child welfare permanency is whether children are better off in relative placements or in a foster home where they have formed attachments to their foster parents. The Tampa Bay Times published an article that discusses one family's story and the tensions between two families when case workers do not do a diligent family search for placement. Read the article here.

Weekly news round-up

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Each Friday on the Stability, Permanency and Adoption blog we will provide a selection of news from the past week that you may have missed.

Today's news round up:

A new research center in Michigan will address the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren. The National Research Center for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren is the result of a collaboration between Western Michigan University and Georgia State University. According to Linda Dannison, Chair of Western Michigan University's Family and consumer Sciences, "Having a center devoted to better understanding and influencing policy and practices in order to facilitate people's awareness will have a more positive impact on the lives of children." For more information on the center, click here or visit the center's website here.

The boy removed from his mother's care due to his obesity is being placed in relative care. The Washington Post reports that the 9-year old will be placed in his uncle's care. According to the Post article, "The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio joined the case on the boy's behalf and said he should be with his family. 'We think it's a fundamental liberty for a child to be brought up in his home among family and friends,' said the ACLU's James Hardiman." Read the story here.

The Child Welfare League of America and Lambda Legal released a practice guide for state and local child welfare agencies working with LGBTQ youth in child welfare settings. According to the article, ACYF commissioner Bryan Samuels is quoted, "These guidelines provide practical examples of practices that every child welfare agency can use to better meet the needs of the LGBTQ youth in their care." For the article, click here.

The Washington Post reported that the Virgina Board of Social Services has ruled that state-licensed adoption agencies can discriminate against LGBTQ prospective adoptive parents based solely on their sexual orientation. Read the full story here.

According to the Associated Press, the Bureau of Indian Affairs will hold a summit in South Dakota to address concerns that the state is not in compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The state claims the NPR report which reported the great disparities in a three-part series this past fall is inaccurate. You can read the full article here.

In New Jersey, Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D) has introduced a bill requiring adoptive parents to raise their adopted child in the faith or religion of their biological parents. From the New Jersey Jewish Standard, Marc Stern, Associate General Counsel for the American Jewish Committee stated, "It is traumatic enough to pull kids out of a home, and if you have kids who are Sabbath-observant and eat kosher food, and you put them in with the family who is up next on the DYFS list, you are adding to the trauma," he said. The bill has received some support from Jewish, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic communities.
You can read the entire article here.

Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption videos

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Last night the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption aired its 13th Annual A Home for the Holidays with host Martina McBride and guests Mary J. Blige, Justin Bieber, Gavid DeGraw, One Republic and Christina Perri. Each year this special highlights stories about foster care adoption.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has created several moving videos about its programs including the Wendy's Wonderful Kids program.

Here are some of the foundation's videos.

Resources and information on the Adoption Tax Credit

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We're making a change - our weekly news round-ups will now be on Fridays. Instead, today I'd like to highlight information and resources about the Adoption Tax Credit available to families that adopt.

As the end of 2011 fast approaches, adoptive parents may not be aware of the adoption tax credit they are eligible to claim if they finalized an adoption during the year. According to the IRS adoptive parents who finalize an adoption in 2011 may be eligible to claim up to $13,170 for qualified expenses [for more detailed information, click here]. The IRS also provides several resource guides including an Adoption Tax Credit FAQ and an instruction guide available as a downloadable pdf here.

For families that adopted prior to 2011, the tax credit policies have changed. The North American Council on Adoptable Children offers helpful guides for adoptive parents and professionals and they can be found on their website here.

fanciershawl_250x.jpgA controversial ruling by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding an Indian Child Welfare Act case has been brought to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee Nation is asking the U.S. Supremem Court to determine whether the tribe has the jurisdiction to define their members regarding Indian Child Welfare Act cases.

As this MPR news story (originally aired November 30, 2011) reports, American Indian children have high rates of removal and are much more likely to be placed into out-of-home care. In Minnesota, that rate is 14 times higher than white children. The Indian Child Welfare Act was created to give tribes jurisdiction over the placement of their children. Prior to the enactment of ICWA, American Indian children were placed in non-Native foster and adoptive homes and boarding schools where the goal was to strip them of their culture. Today, many of those who experienced these placements are speaking out, as in this article, The Adoption Era, defined: Native Americans expose a forgotten period in their history.

The question raised by the Cherokee Nation is whether the courts violated ICWA because of the Cherokee Nation Citizenship Act that grants tribal membership to all infants up to 240 days after birth. The 10th Circuit Court ruled that ICWA does not apply to the Cherokee Nation Citizenship Act because by definition, an Indian child under ICWA must be already enrolled in the tribe and in this particular case the child's mother was not an enrolled memeber of the Cherokee tribune until after the placement.

For the full article, Supreme Court Approached on ICWA Issue, click here.

You can also listen to the NPR story by reporter Sasha Aslanian below:

or at the MPR website.

For more resources on Indian child welfare and the Indian Child Welfare Act, here are some resources:

Youth in foster care: A report on teen parents

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643881_30290496.jpgAccording to a report from Chlid Trends released on December 9, 2011, youth in foster care have an increased risk of having a child as teen parent. These young parents experience many challenges and often, outcomes for these youth and their children are poor.

Teen Parents in Foster Care: Risk Factors and Outcomes for Teens and Their Children identify several risk factors these youth experience that may contribute to their becoming a teen parent, including:

  • raised in a single parent home
  • chaotic home environment
  • poverty
  • exposure to abuse and/or neglect
  • low academic performance
  • poor school engagement
  • risky sexual behavior
The research study also includes several recommendations particularly focused on creating ways to better understand this population, particularly the teen parents and their children. For the report, click here.



The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare is pleased to announce that we will be co-presenting a webinar for the National Resource Center for Adoption tomorrow, Wednesday December 14th at 1pm CST/ 2pm EST.

Traci LaLiberte, Executive Director of CASCW and JaeRan Kim, Coordinator of the Permanency and Adoption Competency Certificate will join Christeen Borsheim, Director of Child Safety and Permanency Division at the MN Department of Human Services and Debbie Riley, CEO of the Center for Adoption Support and Education.

Meeting Description:
Adoptive parents, adopted persons and adoption researchers consistently tell us the mental health needs of adopted children and youth often go unmet, largely because there are too few adoption competent mental health professionals.

Recognizing that clinicians need quality adoption competent training, the Center for
Adoption Support and Education developed a 78 hour curriculum and case consultation process designed to provide practitioners with the knowledge and skills they need to provide quality mental health services for adopted persons, birth and kinship families, prospective adoptive parents and adoptive families.

Following a rigorous pilot test, the training is currently being replicated in three communities -- one of which is the State of Minnesota which has demonstrated stellar leadership in committing resources to ensuring that adopted children and adoptive families in both urban and rural areas of the state are served by adoption
competent clinicians. This webinar highlights the Minnesota program and the state leaders and university partners who have worked to develop, fund and fully implement this training and greatly expand the state's mental health treatment capacity.
This webinar is hosted by Natalie Lyons, Director, National Resource Center for Adoption.

To register or learn more about the webinar, click here.

Weekly news round-up

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Each Monday on the Stability, Permanency and Adoption blog we will provide a selection of news from the past week that you may have missed.

Today's news round up:

A Home for the Holidays, the annual televised special sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption highlighting foster care adoption is schdeduled to air December 21, 2011 on CBS. This year's show includes performances by Judstin Bieber, Mary J. Blige, One Republic, Christina Perri and host Martina McBride. Also schedule to appear include actor Katherine Heigl and Denise Richards. For more information visit their website (click here).

State halts international adoptions for family with 14 children. A couple in Joliet IL is fighting to adopt special needs children. According to the couple, their adoption agency has told the family has reached the limit of children a private family can be licensed to provide foster care, a requirement the family needs to adopt. Read the full story here.

A report on foster youth, Meeting Needs, Improving Outcomes for youth in Long-Term Care, was released this past week. This report by the Carsey Institute examined the outcomes of 727 children and followed up on these children four years after entering out-of-home care. The findings were particularly troubling for older youth. For example, only 5% of older children 15-18 years at the four year follow up had been adopted, while 61% of children 3-5 years found an adoptive placement. Youth 15-18 had high levels of emotional and behavioral problems and only 11 states offered extended care to age 21 for youth in foster care. You can download the report here.

Upcoming adoption conference: New Worlds of Adoption

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Save the date! The Rudd Adoption Research Program at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst Department of Psychology holds an annual conference. This year's conference, New Worlds of Adoption: Navigating the Teen Years, will be co-hosted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

Minnesota has several connections with this year's conference. The Rudd Chair is Dr. Hal Grotevant, former faculty member of the Family Social Science program at the University of Minnesota, and this year's keynote speaker is Dr. Megan Gunnar, esteemed Regents Professor at the U of MN and Director of the Institute of Child Development. Dr. Dana Johnson of the International Adoption Clinic will also be presenting.


For a list of conference presenters, click here. The conference will be held March 30, 2012 at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. There is still time to submit a poster, the deadline for submission is January 17, 2012. Click here for information on how to submit a poster.

Overmedicating children and youth in foster care

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Last Friday night, Diane Sawyer and ABC World News reported on a year-long investigation by the Government Accounting Office that found that children and youth in foster care - even infants as young as a year old - were over-prescribed psychiatric medications or inappropriately receiving psychiatric medication for conditions that did not exist. In addition, the GAO report asserts that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not done enough to to protect the overmedication of children and youth in foster care.

The GAO report findings are startling. Compared to their non-foster care counterparts:

  • Overall, children and youth in foster care are 9 times more likley to receive psychiatric medications in which there was no FDA-recommended dosage for their age
  • Babies less than one year old in foster care were two times more likely to be prescribed psychiatric medication
  • Children in foster care in Texas were 53 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications
  • In Michigan, children in foster care are 15 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications
  • In Massachusetts, children were 19 times more likley to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications
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Read the full article here.

ABC's resource page on organizations advocating for children and youth in foster care is available here.

Weekly news round-up

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Each Monday on the Stability, Permanency and Adoption blog we will provide a selection of news from the past week that you may have missed.

Today's news round up:

From the Chillicothe Gazette, New Private Adoption Agency Focuses on Teen Demographic. "Sojourners, a youth development organization that serves children in foster care with the hopes of providing them with the tools they need to be successful after they turn 18, found an adoption program to be a perfect fit." Read the article in full here.

American Indian Children in Minnesota Disproportionately Placed in Foster Care. From the Twin Cities Daily Planet. [A 2010 MN Department of Human Services] study found that American Indian children were more than eight times as likely to be subject of a neglect report...The report also found that American Indian children were placed in out of home care in 2008 at a rate "more than twice that of any other group, and [were] more than 12 times more likely than a white child to spend time in placement." Read the full article here.

One of the biggest news stories last week was about the Ohio 8-year old removed from CPS because child welfare workers determined his mother was medically neglecting her son's health due to extreme obesity. Several news outlets published the AP story including the San Francisco Chronicle.

Diane Sawyer did a special ABC World News Tonight investigative report on children in foster care and psychotropic medication. "ABC News was given exclusive access to the GAO report, which capped off a nationwide yearlong investigation by ABC News on the overuse of the most powerful mind-altering drugs on many of the country's nearly 425,000 foster children. The GAO's report, based on a two-year-long investigation, looked at five states -- Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas. Thousands of foster children were being prescribed psychiatric medications at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in these five states alone. And hundreds of foster children received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken together." The story that accompanies the show is available here.

A state by state guide to standby guardianship

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Standby guardianship is the transfer of legal guardianship of a child to a specifically designated person under certain circumstances and conditions. The original laws were designed to enable parents with disabilities or terminal medical conditions to provide a plan for their children upon their death or inability to provide care.

In most cases, in a standby guardianship provision, the parent's rights are not terminated, nor does the parent relinquish all of their legal authority over the child or children in the case of a parent whose transfer of guardianship is due to a disabling condition. However, there are a few states in which a standby guardian is given full authority.

For a helpful guide on standby guardianship, the Child Welfare Information Gateway has published a guide. You can read the full guide on the Child Welfare Information Gateway webpage or download a copy of the guide here


World AIDS Day

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Cross-posted from the Child Welfare Policy Blog.

World AIDS Day 2011 provides some glimmers of hope for children with HIV/AIDS worldwide. HIV and AIDS related deaths for children under age 15 have dropped 10 percent since 2005 and the number of newly infected children has dropped by 24 percent in the same time period. Still, nearly 10 percent of the globe's orphans have been left without a family due to HIV/AIDS.

What does this have to do with adoption?

Read more here.