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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Recently in foster care Category

This blog post was written by Joan Riebel, LICSW, Executive Director of Family Alternatives in Minnesota. Family Alternatives is a licensed foster care and adoption agency.

Teens.jpgAndrea Brubaker's blog post on San Pasqual Academy caused me to share our experiences as well. For any child, being removed from her family is a traumatic experience, regardless of how well that family did or did not care for her. Family Alternatives has begun to address how kids "make sense of the situation" by providing programming and by developing new protocols around our social work practices. In the fall of 2009 we implemented Creating Ongoing Relationships Effectively (CORE), which has helped us address the socio-emotional needs of older youth in foster care who are nearing transition into adulthood. Evaluated by Chapin Hall, University of Chicago, it was found to have statistically significant impact on several key outcomes regarding supportive relationships.

CORE employs a holistic approach to developing and enhancing trusting and supportive relationships between youth and adults that will be lasting, particularly through their transitional years. With CORE we have learned what it takes to turn around the system's failure to help young people in care develop caring relationships with each other, sharing experiences and offering supports. The components of our CORE programming are designed to enhance youth decision-making and relationship building skills. We have found that these experiences, which are both fun filled and therapy based, empower these emerging adults to feel capable and competent in taking charge of their own lives.

Since CORE's inception, over 88% of our youth in care have maintained their placement and nearly 93% of our eligible youth have graduated from high school--dramatically higher than both local and national averages. Over 85% of those graduates have been accepted into post high school educational experiences, many in four year colleges. Again, this is significantly higher than both local and national averages. These youth have all identified adult mentors who will support them and guide them as they transition to adult living. Most of them maintain their connection with their foster family.

We do this by ensuring that we have foster families who are well trained and are committed to helping youth cope with their grief, loss and trauma. We do this by developing our staff, and by continuing to offer them opportunities to learn new ways to help young people be successful. We do this by offering CORE programming: programming that emphasizes youth empowerment, giving young people more control over the decisions that affect their lives, and acknowledging, often for the first time in their experience, that this is their life and we are there to support them. These opportunities enable youth learn about decision-making and to build lasting and healthy relationships with people who can, and want to, be there for them for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Achieving Permanency for Youth Based in the Community

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This post is written by the Stability, Permanency, and Adoption MSW Intern, Andrea Brubaker.

As an alternative design to placing children in foster care in permanent families, the non-profit group home San Pasqual Academy near San Diego, CA offers a place for youth in foster care to live, attend high school, learn job skills, and be a member of a community.

The Academy has seen many successes, such as a 90% graduation rate, which is twice the statewide average for children in foster care. Accepted students at San Pasqual Academy range in age from 14-18 and must have no previous record of violence or substance addiction. They must also be in good academic standing.

The Academy, modeled after a youth village in Haifa, Israel, aims to create an alternative to family reunification and conventions of contemporary foster care. San Pasqual Academy has shown that positive outcomes for children who have gone through the foster care system can be achieved through peer and mentor support in a community based model.

This article highlights an interesting difference between traditional practice that puts connecting youth with a permanent family first and using a group home setting to extend permanency connections for youth as they age and grow out of the system.

To read more on this model and research on San Pasqual Academy go to: View the Academy's website:


The Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition in St. Louis, Missouri got inspired by the show Extreme Makeovers and thought, why not "extreme recruitment" for youth in foster care?

Thus, Extreme Recruitment was created. In Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a house is build in a week through the efforts of professionals and volunteers working together to build a house for a family in need. Inspired, Melanie Scheetz, Executive Director of Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, thought professionals and volunteers could work together to quickly find permanence for childen in foster care.

The Extreme Recruitment model focuses on a 12-20 week intensive plan to place children considered "hard to place" - children with special needs, older children and youth (10-18 years), children of color and sibling groups.

So far almost 70% of the youth involved in the Extreme Recruitment program in 2012 were matched with a permanent family. If you are interested in learning more about Extreme Recruitment, you can download their Toolbox and learn more about how Extreme Recruitment is done at their website.

You can also learn more by reading this feature in Time Magazine and watch this video below.

Ra'Shede Hageman, defensive tackle for the University of Minnesota Gophers football team, knows about strength and resilience - and not just on the football field. After being removed from his mother, Ra'Shede and his brother were placed in foster care. After twelve foster homes, Ra'Shede had a natural distrust for people.

4 gal ufot0042513.jpg [Photo by Jerry Holt]

Then he met Eric and Jill - the couple who would end up his adoptive parents. The couple, both attorneys, are white. Hageman is black. Like many other transracially adopted people, Hageman had his share of identity struggles. As stated in the Star Tribune article:

Hageman wanted to fit in seamlessly with a crowd. He was self-conscious about his size and about the skin color of his adoptive family. He harbored anger over the traumatic years in the past. At a young age, he concocted lies when strangers were faced with the truth.

Over time, and with the support of his parents and family and coaches, Hageman began to feel his differences actually served to be his assets. Today Hageman is succeeding as an athlete and is looking forward to his future.

To read more about Hageman check out the featured story on the Star Tribune.

In our last blog post we highlighted a film about a family, the Wilson's, and the director's commentary about the cycle of violence, poverty, drugs and interaction with the child welfare system intergenerationally and how difficult it is to break that cycle.

Today we'd like to let you know about some of the other stories in the Kids at Risk series for Crosscut. In July the publication kicked off a series titled, The Long Way Home: Inside Foster Care. The series looks in-depth at the state of Washington's child welfare system and the children and parents caught up in the cycle. Kathryn Hunt, whose film No Place Like Home was discussed in the last blog post, made another film about a Seattle family involved in foster care. Take This Heart features three boys who, despite the abuse they endured in their home and the loving and caring foster parent who cared for them, only wanted to be back with their parents.

This first part in the series lays out the problems - the numbers of children taken into custody by the state because of abuse and neglect; how long they stay in out of home care; and the factors that make some children more vulnerable than others.

According to Crosscult, the series will "look at the people, the programs, the policies and philosophies and, most importantly, the kids and families that the system was invented to help: What's working? What's not working? How does the system help families stay together? How does it create healthy homes away from home for those kids whose families fall apart? "Normalize" a foster kid's life? (It shouldn't take 48 hours and a judge's order to go on a sleepover.) What puts kids "at risk?" And what is "at-risk" anyway?"

Read more here.

Telling the story of children in foster care through film

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Filmmkaer Kathryn Hunt is interested in telling the stories of people on the margins. In this piece for Crosscut, Hunt writes that the people in her films "were tangled up with three social institutions that rarely touch the lucky rest of us: foster care, criminal justice (courts and prisons), and what we used to call welfare and are now supposed to call something else, but mostly still think of as welfare. These institutions are raw, inescapable realities for the poor. The mostly well-meaning workers in those places could humiliate and deny their clients resources by simply following protocols, or fail to keep their children safe or, at worst, tear families and loved ones apart, however necessary that might appear to others."


[Photo Credit: James Nicoloro]

Hunt tells the story of the Wilson family - mother Lori, and her three children, in No Place Like Home. Central to the film is Barbara who in 1995, the year the film was made, was 10 years old. The film shows the cycle of poverty, abuse, neglect - Barbara herself was sexually abused at a young age, spiraled into drugs and poverty and lost a child to the child welfare system.

Read Hunt's article for Crosscut, who features stories about vulnerable and at-risk children and youth .

For more about Crosscut's Kids At Risk, click here.

Former foster alum brings personal story to off-broadway

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Actor, playwright and composer Patrick Burns brings his personal story of resilience and tragedy to the stage. In "From Foster Care to Fabulous" Burns brings the audience along with him through four foster families he lived with as a teenager.

You can watch a trailer for his show below:

Learn more about Patrick Burns on facebook.

Adoption and school issues

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With the start of a new school year, there are many times when adopted children may be faced with challenges. These challenges may be everything from dealing with assignments such as creating a family tree, or bringing in a baby picture to class, or science projects that involve assumed biological-relatedness (see here for an example).

For adopted and foster children with IEP's or learning disabilities, there may be special challenges as well. This blog post will hopefully offer a variety of school-related resources for adoptive and foster parents.

First, the Child Welfare Information Gateway has several resources including articles you can download on topics such as:

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There are also several fact sheets from Minnesota Adoption Resource Network including specific grade level information (scroll down to the header of School Issues/Education).

[Uncredited photo from Governing Magazine]

On August 13, 2013, Jonathan Walters looks at the myths and challenges of kinship care for children in the child welfare system for Governing magazine.

In Agencies Taking a Second Look at Kinship Care, Walters relates a commonly uttered phrase when caseworkers hesitate to place children with relatives, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

But Walters challenges this belief. In addition, Walters points out that children experience less trauma when placed with people they know. Walters points out that there are many policy challenges to kinship care, including licensing, reimbursement or subsidies, and services that are available. Many states are now creating policies that heavily focus on placing children with relatives, even, as some argue, whe it goes against the child's "best interests."

To read the article, click here for the full story.


Foster Focus Magazine is currently featuring a photo and short descriptive gallery of former foster alum's thoughts about what how it felt to be in foster care. Foster Focus Magazine is the only monthly magazine that is solely focused on the issues around foster care. Owner and Editor Chris Chmielewski, himself a former foster alum, founded the magazine in 2011.

Larry Adams, a former foster alum, writes in his introduction to the series,

Our childhood is almost impossible to trace. Our losses are etched upon our face and within our eyes, pain for which no penance can atone. How can we be forced to move and move from place to place, surrendering the love we must embrace? We are enigma tangled up in a mystery. We are the lost puzzle pieces swept under the rug. We are a missing link in a chain of life. We have no roots. We are tumbleweed blown in the wind calling home where ever the breeze takes us. We are a chameleon changing colors to blend into our surroundings.

Contributors to the series feature 34 adults from various walks of life and with varying experiences. The series puts a face on the experience and quickly gets to the core emotions that those with the experience have felt.

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To see all of the profiles on Foster Focus Magazine's website, click on Foster Focus Magazine - What Care Feels Like.


Writer Cris Beam's new book, "To The End of June: Stories from Foster Care" offers in-depth stories of foster children and foster parents. Beam, a foster parent, spent several years with foster families, social workers, former foster children and other professionals who work with foster children.

In an interview with Publisher's Weekly, Beam states,

We have many studies about foster kids, but almost none about foster parents. Some are fantastic. The parents who talked to me, who come to group trainings, are the better ones. But I heard complaints from foster kids: "They locked me in the basement," "They stepped on my hands," [accounts of] molestation. Surveys reveal incredible abuse. Many foster parents are just okay.

Beam has an MFA and teaches at Columbia University, New York University and at Bayview Women's Correctional Facility. For more on Beam, click here for her website.

To read an interview with Salon's Laura Miller, click here.

You can also listen to Beam talk with WNYC station in New York abouther book.

Regina Calcaterra spent time in foster care, and in 1980, emanicipated herself at the age of 14. In her book, "Etched in Sand," Calcaterra describes her chlidhood of abuse and neglect and advocates for adoption, not aging out of foster care.

In an interview with Caroline Linton for Women in the World, Calcaterra shares,

Now we're going to fast-forward thirtysomething years later, and they're doing the exact same thing. What they're doing is for kids who are aging out of foster care, they try to teach them how to live independently on their own at the age of 18 or 21. It's because kids are pushed out of care at 18 or 21 based on what state they're in or based on what it is they're doing. In some states, if a foster youth will go to vocational training or college, they'll keep them in foster care until they're 21, but then they still cut them off when they're 21. All that means is that from 18 to 21, they're still getting the Medicaid card and they're still getting a couple hundred dollars a month to pay their rent and that's it.


Etched in Sand is Calcaterra's memoir of her story as a child living with abuse, only to find themselves in a foster care system that was unable to meet their needs.

To view a video about Calcaterra's memoir, click here.

Calcaterra currently serves as Executive Director of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption in New York. She is also a board member of You Gotta Believe, an organization based in New York that advocates for moving children and youth in foster care into adoptive homes.

Special series on foster care

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KLEW-TV in Washington state created a three part series on foster care. The series starts with a personal story of one youth's experience bouncing around foster care and eventual stay in a residential facility.

In Part 2 Melissa shares how she ended up in the system as a foster child, and the broken promises foster families made to her.

Part 3 follows Melissa's transition from residential to a foster family. In this clip, Melissa expresses her feelings about making yet another transition.

The costs of doing "nothing"

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The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative has created an infographic aimed at educating the public on the costs of "doing nothing" to prevent youth from aging out of foster care.

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In an op-ed in the Huffington Post, Executive Director Gary Stangler wrote, "for every young person who ages out of foster care, taxpayers and communities pay $300,000 in social costs like public assistance, incarceration, and lost wages to a community over that person's lifetime. Do the math and you can conservatively estimate that this problem incurs almost $8 billion in social costs to the United States every year."

This PSA from Jim Casey's Success Beyond 18 Initiative, illustrates what happens to foster youth when they are forced to "age out."

Jim Casey Initiative Success Beyond 18 PSA from Jim Casey Initiative on Vimeo.

You can follow the conversation on twitter and facebook. For more information about the Success Beyond 18 Initiative, check out their website.

Camp To Belong is a special summer camp. Along with swimming, hiking, and other fun summer activities, the children who attend get to participate in something many of us take for granted - they get to do these activities with their brothers and sisters who live in other foster or adoptive homes.

Camp To Belong was started by Lynn Price who herself was separated from her sister when they were placed in separate foster homes. Price wanted to create a place where children separated from siblings, through no fault of their own, could maintain their relationship even if they didn't have the opportunity to live together.

This story featuring the camp was aired a few days ago on NBC news.

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Camp To Belong is currently in ten states. I have long thought Minnesota should have one as well. How would having a Camp To Belong or a similar venue for reuniting siblings separated through foster care and adoption impact how we practice permanency in our state?


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A couple of weeks ago, the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare held its annual spring conference and the subject of this year's conference was the intersection of disabilities and child welfare.

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One of our speakers was Lupe Ortiz-Tovar, who along with her colleague Clay Fink, presented information on the National Resource Center for Youth Development's Making Healthy Choices: A Guide on Psychotropic Medications for Youth in Foster Care. This is a fantastic, youth-centric publication that I could see being a really helpful tool for workers or foster parents or adoptive parents to do along with a teenager who is currently taking psychotropic medications. I would encourage workers and agencies that work with this population to order your free copy of the guide!

The guide is available in English and Spanish.

This guest post was written by Bahjo Mahamud.

Phyllis Korkki wrote the article Filling up an Empty Nest, In the New York Times press. It was published in May 14 of 2013. This articles is written to awaken households and the our society that is never too late to adopt children and especially age should never be a factor on why you can't raise children who need a loving and caring parents.

Gawboy who is 60 along with her husband Jim who is 76 is taking care of children ranging from 8 to 19 year olds. They have always thought more retired people ought to adopt kids instead of playing gold. The article shares with us other retirees who adopted kids for many different reasons. Some parents had empty-nests who apparently didn't have their fill of child-rearing the first time, others are caring for older blood-related relative children who were unable to be cared for and others who just have the desire to give it a go. But Gawboy says, people "should guard against overly inflated expectations" that they expect kids to be grateful or that they should be grateful to have loving parents or the immediate loyalty." Because those are all wrong reasons to be adopting children.

While many retirees all adopt children for different reasons whether it is to fill up that empty nest or to do for the joy of raising children they all receive mutual benefits. Like the Gowboy's family, who live in a farm in Tower Minn., they said they get the help they need and ask all children to do 20 minutes a day of weeding in their one acre-garden as they benefit from that extra hand. They eat their fresh food from their garden, raise farm animals, and hunt and fish which is both necessary survival skills and work habits for the children. Despite the lack encouragements and support from family and friends they still have the need to do more as they live their life in different order than other retirees she said.

This article is so inspirational and motivating for all types of people to consider to adopt despite their age young or old and it think that's one of the strong strength of the this article.

A limitation is the idea that "it is easier said than done," and we all know raising children is not that easy and requires a lot, especially being financially stable. The family did not touch much on that and it would be more helpful to the readers if they talked or shared one experience at least.

I believe this article did a great job in promoting retire couples to consider adoption and have changed my thinking about the myth of older people not having the energy children require to raise children. This has being the tradition for so many years and know I believe that as long as adults are physically and emotionally fit and ready for children than they can do better job than younger adults.

You can read the article here.

Looking at the assets of older adoptive parents

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Photo: Derek Montgomery for The New York Times

Today the New York Times published a story by reporter Phyllis Korkki about older adults who are choosing to open their homes to children instead of "retiring."

A Minnesota family, Rebecca and Jim Gawboy, are featured. Rebecca is a retired community organizer and Jim is a retired game warden. The couple are currently actively parenting 12 children.

This article challenges perceptions about the capacity of older parents when it comes to adopting. Instead of perpetuating myths about older adoptive parents, this article frames older parents as experienced, and suited to parenting children because of their wisdom and life experiences. This article also provides a warm photo gallery of the Gawboy family.

As Korkki notes,

"No organization or federal agency keeps statistics on the ages of adoptive parents, so it is hard to estimate their numbers. But executives at several adoption-related organization said they had definitely seen heightened interest among older adults. An informational Web site set up by Adoptive Families magazine has a special discussion forum for older adults with more than 500 members."

In addition to featuring older parent adoptions in a positive light, the article nicely (even if inadvertently) shows an Ojibwe family that has adopted Ojibwe children. American Indian children are disproportionately in out of home care in Minnesota (as in many other states) and in discussions about permanency there is a common misperception that American Indian families do not adopt.

To read the article about the Gawboy family, click here.

Opening up foster "cold cases"

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This guest blog post was written by Linda Gross.

MichelleBarclay3 300.jpg Photo of Michelle Barclay, Cold Case manager in Georgia

Youth Today recently published an article about a program in Georgia where "cold" foster care cases are being reopened to consider adoption options for children that have been otherwise left alone for multiple years. The project began a few years ago, and is managed by an attorney named Michelle Barclay who works under Georgia's Committee on Justice for Children.

The article serves to provide insight into the long-term experiences of foster care youth and resurfaces myths supporting the passive allowance of youth living and aging-out of foster care. One such myth is that during the child's initial case, all that could be done, was done. While ideally this would be true and could be assumed, given tight timeframes, limited budgets and the occasional bad worker, it could easily be that the child has never truly had the child welfare system work intensively on his or her behalf to find a new family for them to build permanence with. The second myth is that once all options are exhausted in the search for a permanent place for the child, they are exhausted for life. An important example of this are kin who at the time of the child's first need for placements, may have been under life circumstances that didn't allow them to feel they could take on caring for the child. However, several years later a more stable life situation combined with a child closer-aged to self-sufficiency and independence, could result in kin able to open their homes to another person.


The article also brings to light the interesting collaboration between child protection and the hire of private investigators for the purpose of family finding. While several agencies have begun incorporating more formal family finding models, the use of investigators for the purpose of finding additional kin to broaden placement options, this is a collaboration we can only hope grows. In 2006, a 60 Minutes broadcast entitled Lost and Found featured Kevin Campbell, an expert on family finding. The episode demonstrated his field's ability to contribute to the connectedness these youth have, with one two-hour search providing enough for one young woman to have a virtual depiction of her own family tree.

Bringing these lost youth, discounted to becoming foster-care children for life, into new and resurged prospects for permanency is a true demonstration of hope and potential for the future of America's next generations.

To read the article at Youth Today click here.

To view Lesley Stahl discussing her 60-minutes feature, Lost and Found, click here.

This post was guest written by Brian Magruder.

MV5BMTc3MDcxMDMwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzAzNzE2._V1._SY314_CR2,0,214,314_.jpg Photo from IMDb.

The article I found is titled Jason's Story: 'All You Need Is Love' and it was written by actress Rhea Perlman. This article is about a man Perlman describes as a man in his 30s who had grown up in the Los Angeles County foster care system. What Pearlman describes is that this man's story demonstrated the importance of finding permanent homes for the children in the American foster care system that are eligible for adoption.

Jason described that from ages 11 to 17 he was placed in foster home, with three foster brothers. Living in this foster home setting was terrorizing for Jason in different ways than living with his schizophrenic mother. He described a very restrictive lifestyle that allowed him to go to school but no afterschool activities. He stated that he and the other foster children were not allowed to sit on the furniture and ate their meals on the floor. Jason described dinners of hot dog and grits for weeks at a time and not getting well-balanced meals.

Although social workers were reportedly supposed to visit Jason on a monthly basis, he saw workers about twice a year and commented that it was always a different worker. Jason also described difficulties in expressing what was really going on in the foster home as the child welfare worker would always talk to him in front of the provider and he never felt safe talking about the realities of his life in foster home. Jason would've likely continued living unpleasantly in the foster home, but a friend of his from school contacting social services. After his friend called social services someone finally came and talked to Jason alone. After he discussed openly what had been occurring in his foster home placement, he was moved and the provider's license was revoked.

Jason's experiences in the Los Angeles County foster care system, unfortunately, continue to be an experience for children placed in the American foster care system. I think Ms. Perlman makes a great point in the beginning of the article in which she emphasizes the urgency of finding permanent homes for the more than 100,000 children in the foster care system that are eligible for adoption. Pearlman described that things have changed in the Los Angeles County foster care system since Jason was there as a child. Perlman went on to describe, however, that the fundamental experience of growing into adulthood without a permanent connection has not.

Jason described a difficult childhood growing up in the foster care system. This system seemed to lack permanent options for him. As he described some of the struggles which carried with him into adulthood, we can see how important it is to address attachment issues with our foster care youth.

I see the article having strengths in that it identifies current problems and issues facing the American foster care system. The importance of establishing permanent family connections instead of long-term foster care is the main emphasis of the article. I think a limitation of the article is that it doesn't discuss possible solutions and ways of improving the system.

To read the article in full, click here.

Experiencing the Joy and Grief of Fostering to Adopt

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This guest blog post was written by Tina Graber.

Saying Goodbye to the Foster Child I Fell in Love With

r-JIYER-large570.jpeg [Photo by Jiyer for Huffington Post]

The Huffington Post posted an article written by Jiyer on January 15, 2013 as part of the series "30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days". The article is written by a woman who shares her and her husband's both joyful and painful personal experience as parents in a foster to adopt, or concurrent planning program.

The article is a realistic portrayal of many families participating in foster to adopt programs across the United States. Jiyer describes the emotional ups and downs consistent with many parents who have chosen the difficult job of assisting families with reunification while at the same time preparing to adopt the child if it does not work. Concurrent planning is an important tool when considering the best interest of the child; however, it is essential to consider the experiences and struggles of the resource parents in order to support them as well.

It is important for families interested in foster to adopt to have realistic expectations before agreeing to care for a child. A common myth about concurrent planning is that parents will eventually be able to adopt the child they are fostering. Although there are many cases where the child can be adopted, that is not always the case. In reality, the goal for many foster children is reunification with their biological parents and if they are able to make the changes necessary, many children are returned home. Through Jiyer's experience she shows the emotions and struggle that many resource families go through before they are eventually able to adopt a child, who many times may not be the first child placed in their home.

It is important for resource families to be aware of the reality that they may not be able to adopt the first child placed in their home. They may experience significant grief and loss if the child is returned to the parent's care. This is why it is important, as Jiyer demonstrated, for resource families to develop a support system and coping strategies as they take on this significant role.

Many resource families will have conflicting feelings throughout the process because the roles of the job can often feel conflicting. Jiyer's words demonstrate this so well, "But I was also torn. I was rooting for Rayna [biological mother to Nina], yet I was growing so attached to Nina -- little Nina, the first child we got to hold and love, the child who came to us during peak bonding months in her life and who bonded so closely with us."

It can also be a deeply rewarding experience for foster parents to make a positive connection with a child that could potentially last a lifetime, even if they are not able to adopt. It is also possible and in fact encouraged by the Minnesota Department of Human Services that resource parents partner with birth parents to support them in parenting. Through Jiyer's words, we are able to see the power of intentional human relationships, all for the love of a child.

For more information:

For the whole 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days series, click here.

Jiyer. (2013, January 14). Saying goodbye to the foster child I feel in love with. Huffington Post. Link to article here.

Minnesota Department of Human Services. Practice guide for concurrent permanency planning.

A look at permanency planning challenges in the U.K.

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This guest blog post was written by Jessica Hansen.


Planning for permanency in adoption can be a challenging process not only in the United States, but also in other parts of the globe. Judy Selwyn, author of The Challenges in Planning for Permanency, is the Director of the Hadley Center for Adoption and Foster Care Studies at the University of Bristol in England. Selwyn discusses that in England, permanency planning became a major focus of concern as children started drifting into the care system without plans of permanent homes or relationships

Selwyn gives insight to a very important issue regarding youth in the care system: the importance of children's relationships. Very early on in the United Kingdom (UK), permanency planning became one and the same with adoption and the focus on a child's relationships was replaced with the importance of a placement in general. Services in the UK for birth families and for children in the system started to dwindle. Children were spending far too much time drifting through the system and not enough time in the permanent care of secure, healthy placements.

Selwyn states that in 2002, the Adoption and Children Act stressed the importance of permanency planning, reducing delay in decision making and securing better outcomes for children through the timely planning of a permanent placement secured by legal order. This act also reinforced the importance of relationships and long-term support from adults to help children thrive in school, gain self-esteem and have a greater out-look on life. Selwyn does a great job explaining that the challenge of permanency planning is not to find a placement, but to ensure that every child and young person has lifelong connections to people who will continue to offer positive relationships and support.

Selwyn also gives some reasons why children are not connected through the foster care system. She makes the point that older children are harder to adopt out, but those children are still able to make strong connections with healthy, reliable adults that help to foster children's growth into adolescence or young adulthood even without permanency. One limitation I discovered while reading this article is that although Selwyn focuses on children's current relationships, she does not go into much detail about how to build relationships with children who lack a presence of these relationships. I think she could have identified how adults can make it a point when working with or supporting children in foster care, to maintain and continue to build these relationships on their own and also by connecting these children to other healthy relationships or mentoring programs that can facilitate this process.

Overall, I think this article does a great job stating the importance of stable, healthy relationships with children in the foster care system. I found it written very clear within the article that the reality is, not every child will be adopted, but if these same children have safe, secure relationships with adults in their support networks, children can build a safety net with these social supports for their transition into adulthood.

To read more, go to this link or you can read the journal here:

Selwyn, J. (2010). The Challenges in Planning for Permanency. Adoption & Fostering, 34(3), 32-37.

Transitioning youth: Policies and outcomes

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This guest post was written by Amanda Talan.


In a recent article in Children and Youth Services Review, Tonia Scott asserts that young people who emancipate from or age out of the foster care system need increased federal and state assistance. Scott assesses four federal policies aimed at lessening the hardships faced by these young adults and offers recommendations for better support and policies.
In her article, "Transitioning youth: Policies and outcomes," Scott provides readers with a clear picture of the turmoil within the child welfare system. She gives thorough descriptions of the issues encountered by young people during their foster care experiences and reviews numerous articles about how they fare when they transition from care.

The review compares outcomes before and after the 1999 passage of the Foster Care Independence Act (FCIA), a federal policy that increased overall funding and housing and health care resources for youth who transition out of care. The review suggests that this policy does not serve as an adequate support system for this population. Scott writes that the articles in review found no improvement in education, employment, finances and housing. The articles also found no decline in criminal involvement, substance use and pregnancy or improvements in physical and mental health status.

Scott notes that although major policies have provided funding and services for youth who transition out of the foster system, the support is not available for all in need. Scott also discusses the correlation between the foster care experience and transition into adulthood, and believes that better social connections and self-sufficiency during care will result in a successful transition.

At the same time, the article fails to take into account how economic and social conditions have changed in the years since the FCIA went into effect, making a comparison between then and now difficult. Scott also mentions concern about whether participants in the studies she reviewed represent the population in question. Despite these limitations, Scott's review provides a context for further discussion of policy efficacy and methods to reach more youth transitioning or transitioned from care.
The article defies myths that regard foster care as a positive foundation for transition into adulthood and federal policies as adequate supports for transitioning and transitioned youth. Scott demonstrates that most youth will experience numerous foster placements and aren't encouraged and/or allowed to have strong social and intimate relations, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities and money management skills while in care. These restrictions are devastating to youth who are suddenly expected to have educational, employment and housing security with little or no help from federal or state agencies.
Moreover, federal policies are problematic in a variety of ways. The number of emancipated youth has increased since 1999, but no funding adjustment has accommodated this change. Most significantly, the young adults most in need do not receive federal and state assistances due to eligibility guidelines (lack of education and/or employment.) To change this dire situation, Scott encourages the foster care system to
nourish social connections that youths can maintain during transitions out of care, accessible informational for each young adult and "basic food, shelter and healthcare" for youths who leave foster care without a permanent home.

Review of the new ABC Family show about a foster family

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This guest blog post was written by Courtney Knoll.

ABC Family recently started airing promos for their upcoming series, produced by Jennifer Lopez, "The Fosters," set to air in June. It was highlighted this on the website BuzzFeed. Featuring a "multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms," the show is already creating a stir of backlash. The trailer asserts, "It's not where you come from, it's where you belong," and highlights a few short moments that bring to light some tension within fostering, such as developing trust amongst foster parents/siblings and the desire to reconnect with biological parents.

It appears the show will wrestle with the definitions of family and what constitutes family, a topic crucial in supporting foster youth with identity and a sense of belonging. "The Fosters" are not only unique because of the blended nature of the family, but also because the parents are two lesbian women, bringing to light that LGBT folks are equally equipped to parent and parent well. (See the 3/5/13 posting of this blog).

The primary voice in opposition to the show is a group that calls themselves "One Million Moms," who are a group of Christian women trying to protect their children from the influences of media. In the case of "The Fosters," they claim
"While foster care and adoption is a wonderful thing and the Bible does teach us to help orphans, this program is attempting to redefine marriage and family by having two moms raise these children together" (see full statement here).

Defining family is proving an ever increasing topic in the modern day, but is especially pertinent to youth in the foster care system where the people they consider to be "family" might not conform to everyday norms and typical definitions. As we continue to wrestle with gay marriage, it is becoming clear that adoption by same-sex couples is an intertwined conversation, since adoption can be one of the most feasible ways for LGBT couples to build their families. For youth in care, it maybe be potentially healing or affirming to see more atypical families glorified in the media. However, the risk of the show is the potential that it could perpetuate stereotypes of foster youth and also, of LGBT families. Several comments on Jennifer's website as well as on the show's Facebook Page, One particular post stood out on JLO's website of a former foster youth who hopes the show will show the diversity of foster youth. She said,

"I myself was a foster kid and hate how tv shows portray us foster kids to be, not all the kids are bad and shoot careworkers and the system is not as nice as they pretend to be..."

We will have to wait until June to find out how JLO and the show's writers will present family and foster youth. Hopefully, the power of the media will bring a positive, accurate light to foster care and adoption!

Here's a sneak peek at the trailer!

This guest post was written by Teresa King.


On February 28th, 2013 posted an article titled Support Safe Housing for All Youth Aging Out of Foster Care written by Jim Theofelis. Theofelis is a guest contributor for King and Executive Director of The Mockingbird Society. The Mockingbird Society's website states that their mission is to advocate for systems reform based on the personal experiences of children, youth, and families impacted by the foster care system.

The article was written in support of Washington state proposed legislation titled Extended Foster Care HB 1302/SB 5405. If passed, the legislation would extend housing support and benefits to youth aging out of foster care who are not able or not ready for an education track to continue to receive benefits. Youth benefiting from this legislation would include those who have significant barriers to employment or secondary education due to cognitive or physical disabilities and those who are working part time but still unable to afford full independence.

Theofelis provided support for the legislation by utilizing data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) and by including the evaluation results of a 2006 Washington state pilot program titled Foster Care to 21. The pilot program allowed up to 150 youth to remain in foster care to age 21 to pursue their post secondary education. Not only did the youth participating in the program continue their education they also steered clear of negative behaviors attributed to many youth who are literally pushed out of foster care and forced to be on their own. Furthermore Theofelis states that the youth who participated in the pilot program not only realized greater academic achievement but also gained valuable work experience and were able to begin successful transition to health adulthood. Lastly he states that for every Washington tax dollar invested in this service the community received a return on investment of $1.35.

A significant strength of the article is that it offers evidence that extending benefits to youth aging out of foster care yields not only fiscal benefits but also societal benefits. Investing in youth now helps to ensure less future dependence on public assistance as well as potential involvement with the criminal justice system should youth aging out of foster care turn to crime as a means of supporting themselves. Although the article lacks the exact content or precise language used in the legislation; based upon what the author provides I believe legislation such as Washington state's Extended Foster Care HB 1302/SB 5405 offers youth aging out of foster care a voice as well as the promoting socially responsible decision making. Most of the youth in foster care had no voice, or choice in whatever circumstances found them in foster care in the first place.

The article promotes that youth should have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they would like to pursue an education, employment or what direction they would like for their futures. Finally - after years of having guardians or courts make decisions for them, they would not be empowered to make decisions for themselves. The opportunity to guaranteed stability while making choices about their future is, in my opinion pursuing social justice for youth who may not have previously experienced justice.

You can read the article here.

This guest post was written by Tracy Neil.

la-oe-bass-roybal-allard-immigration-20130211-001.jpeg (Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images / February 8, 2013)

The Los Angeles Times ran an article on February 11, 2013 that was written by Karen Bass and Lucille Roybal-Allard that are both members of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Care. This article brought attention to the issue of what happens to immigrant children when their parents are detained or deported due to federal immigrations enforcement. The article goes on to talk about how immigrant parents or guardians, once arrested are usually not given time to make arrangements for their children. With no one to look after them, these children then enter the foster care system. Due to the distance between where the parents are held and where custody hearings for their children take place, parents often do not have a say in what happens to their children and trying to remain in contact with their children is very difficult. If the parents are released, they face a difficult time trying to work a case plan showing they are capable of meeting the health and welfare needs of their children as they do not qualify for most services that would be provided to assist them and they cannot get a job due to their immigration status. These issues often lead toward the permanent loss of their parental rights. If the parent is deported, the odds of getting their children back are even less and requires the parents to get the support of consulate and have the consulate advocate on their behalf. Often times the judge or social workers feel it is in the child's best interest to remain in foster care in the United States rather than return to the country their parents were sent back to. Last year, the Help Separated Families Act was introduced to Congress by Roybal-Allard and this year Representative Bass will help co-sponsor and reintroduce the act to the upcoming Congress. This act would make it "more difficult to terminate parent's rights based only on their immigration would also allow the children to be placed in the best home for them regardless of the immigration status of the potential guardian" (Bass & Roybal-Allard, 2013).

This article was very well written in regards to explaining the issue very clearly for those who are not familiar with foster care or immigration. It brought to light a very real problem in our country that needs attention but that many readers have probably never thought about nor heard of. However, I felt that more specific information explaining the Help Separated Families Act was left out; leading someone with no foster care experience to think this act is going to solve the issue. The article did not address the issue that some of these children grow up in foster care and upon them aging out of the system; they are deported just as their parents were. If these children are not deported upon aging out of foster care and they do not become U.S. citizens for some reason prior to aging out, they face the same obstacles their parents did in regards to finding a job, getting medical insurance and they cannot apply for financial aid to attend college all due to their immigration status. If they do seek to become a citizen after age 18, how do they maneuver through the system and pay the fees associated with gaining citizenship in addition to trying to keep a roof over their head and food on the table? These are all questions that these children and the system will face, and hopefully as this act moves forward these issues will be addressed.

To read more see the entire article here.

This guest post was written by Brittany Kellerman.

FOSTER-1-articleLarge.jpeg [Photo: Mark Holm for the NYT]

The New York Times published an article on January 26, 2013 entitled "Focus on Preserving Heritage Can Limit Foster Care for Indians" by Dan Frosch. The article discusses the impact that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 continues to have today on Native American children and families. It highlights the fact that Native American children are highly overrepresented in child welfare systems around the country, including in Minnesota. It also points out the extreme shortage of licensed Indian foster families in particular states, such as in New Mexico, where in Bernalillo County there are 65 Indian children in state custody, but only 5 Indian foster homes. This discrepancy leads Native American children waiting in shelters for significant amounts of time while searching for relatives or native foster homes and in many cases ultimately placing the children in non-native foster homes.

While the article provides important facts around disparities that are beneficial to dispelling myths, it does not dig deep into why these disparities continue to exist. It is however quick to point to the poverty and the substance abuse endemic in American Indian communities as being the reasons for low rates of Native foster homes, while the issues of institutional racism and historical trauma are simply skimmed over.

As an example of a case where ICWA impacts the outcomes for native children, the article discusses a highly publicized case of Baby Veronica. In this case, a judge ordered a white couple to return a 27-month-old girl they raised since birth to her biological Indian father. In this case, the father was estranged from the mother and was unaware that his daughter was going to be put up for adoption. The facts of the case demonstrate that the father engaged in seeking custody as soon as he was notified of the request for adoption. The decision to return the child to her father was based upon the child's tribal status and the ruling that the birth mother tried to conceal the father's tribal affiliation.

The case of Baby Veronica, while governed by ICWA in this case due to the father's tribal affiliation, brings up questions around all fathers' parental rights that were not addressed in the article. If this case were involving a non-native father, would the child be returned to the biological father? If a biological father is willing/able to provide a loving home for the child, it only seems right to keep the child connected to their biological roots. The case of Baby Veronica will be held before the Supreme Court in April 2013 and the court will be asked to consider the constitutionality of ICWA.

In summary, ICWA has made a significant impact on the Native American population by keeping many children connected to their heritage. Clearly, Native American families continue to face significant challenges and discrimination in their interactions with child welfare agencies and cases such as Baby Veronica's demonstrate a continued need for additional protection for Native families.

For more information on the Baby Veronica case, click here.

Use of psychotropic medication for youth in foster care

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This guest blog post was written by Abdifateh Ahmed.

Review of Tufts University, Health Sciences (2010, September 24). Psychotropic medication and youth in foster care report. ScienceDaily.


In summary the article gives us insights on the subject of the use of medication for treating behavioral and mental health tribulations in foster care children. The article further, talks about how we should use medications as a help for the relief of child and not offered as an alternative to deal with children's behavior and issues without considering or attempting non-medication options first. The article mentions the study that depicts a high psychotropic medication use amongst youth which doubled up over the decades and also further mentions foster children to be more likely on multiple medications "ranging from 13-52% than those in the general youth population 4%". Psychotropic drugs that were prescribed include those used to treat ADHD, anxiety, depression and psychosis. There is a national approach to this issue and States are stepping up to take action on the problem of over medicated children since Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act was signed into law in 2008.


  • The article is balanced, fair and thoughtfully written to educate readers on the issues of overmedication or prescription of psychotropic medication for the children in foster care system.
  • The writer uses statistical evidences to support his augments in order to fairly convince his audiences.
  • The article mentions elements of federal law and state policies that were enacted as a result this subject.
  • Informed decision making and appropriate medication monitoring for children in foster care by the agencies in collaboration with system were emphasized.


  • The language of the article is tailored for the most learned reader and not the for all ordinary readers, for example scientific word like "psychotropic" and the use abbreviations like ADHD is not easy for every reader to understand and in general it is fair to say that this is a scholastic article meant for research purpose.
  • The writer does not sound to be an active for this subject, neither he didn't use an activist language that could invoke my attention, he sounded to be more sensitive to the topic which I don't appreciate! I will love to hear phrase like "our children are at stake and overmedicated while in the hands of the system".

In a nut-shell, the writer seems to be having a lot of experience as regards to multi-disciplinary knowledge and background both in child welfare, medical and policy issues. He neither mentions his support for adoption nor dispels the over-medication of youth in foster care.


Tufts University, Health Sciences (2010, September 24). Psychotropic medication and youth in foster care report. ScienceDaily. Link here.

Two sides of an adoption battle

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This guest blog post was written by Ryan Lewsander.

Right now the Minnesota Supreme Court is tasked with making a tragic choice: who will they rip two children away from, their prospective adoptive family, or their biological grandmother and extended family in Georgia? The sad drama of this case is documented compellingly in Olivia LaVecchia's City Pages article "Split the Baby: Two sides of an adoption battle" published on January 13th, 2013.


The story begins in October 2009 when Javille "Angel" Sutton gave birth to a baby girl, Princess, born with cocaine in her system. Hennepin County Child Protection Services (HCCPS) responded by placing the four-day old infant with foster parents Liv and Steven Grosser in Plymouth, Minnesota. Upon learning that her granddaughter was in the system, Dorothy Dunning, of Mississippi called HCCPS on December 2nd, 2009 and expressed that she wanted Princess with her. In April 2010, HCCPS sent Mississippi an Interstate Compact in the Placement of Children (MICPC) to approve Dorothy Dunning's home as a placement for Princess. This process was bungled, and after a year and a half HCCPS withdrew its' MICPC and told the Grosser's to move forward with their plans to adopt Princess and her baby sister, Hannah. Not long after that, Mississippi sent a completed home study of Dorothy Dunning to Minnesota, and in March 2011 HCCPS reversed itself and supported Dorothy's claim for the children in court. Now the Minnesota Supreme Court will decide the fate of the children after hearing the case this January.

Lavecchia's article does a good job of presenting the details of the timeline of the case, and the injustices done to both the Grosser family and Dorothy Dunning. The complexity of this contested adoption depicted in the article enables the reader to feel empathy for all parties in the case, as is appropriate. What's more, the article does not shy away from illuminating an important element of the dispute: race. The Grosser family is a White suburban family and Steven, the father, works as a Corporate Financial Officer. Dorothy Dunning is African-American who cleans homes professionally and whose son's crack addiction was a reason for the children's removal upon birth. The article provokes the reader to think about how race should be considered in cases of permanency. More specifically, it challenges many readers to wrestle with their prejudice that white affluent families are better caregivers for their children than poor black families, and should therefore be privileged in these kinds of disputes. A key question this article provokes is how would this case be different if Dorothy Dunning was white and middle-class and the Grosser family was black and working-class?

The article also hits on the widespread perception of permanency in child welfare as a confusing mess, and excessively bureaucratic. In this case, it appears that HCCPS made major mistakes by not searching out Dorothy Dunning as an option for the children, and by encouraging the Grosser family to adopt only oppose it three months later. Not to be outdone, Mississippi demonstrated extreme incompetence by taking a year and a half to complete a home study to approve Dorothy Dunning as a fit placement for the children. It is these kinds of mistakes that lead people to believe that the system does more harm than good for vulnerable children.

To read the article in full, click here.

Finding permanency for teens in foster care

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If you missed it, Ampersand Families, a local agency in Minnesota, made an appearance on KFAI's Morning Blend show in February to discuss finding permanency for older youth in care - the teens. Ampersand Families focuses on recruitment and placement for this population. You can hear Jen Braun, co-founder and co-executive officer at Ampersand, discuss permanency for teen here.

Ampersand Families also produced two videos featuring the words and thoughts of youth in foster care. These two videos, called "We Interrupt..." below are powerful.

Supporting foster youth parents

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teen pregnancy.jpg

California Senator Leland Yee is sponsoring a bill that would help support foster youth who are parents in the state. The bill would help foster youth raising children with resources to help them stay in school, provide needed parenting and child care.

In the Pleasanton Weekly, Leland states that "parenting and pregnant youth are 200% more likely" to leave school without earning a high school diploma or GED and that impacts their ability to find work that enables them to provide financial stability for their children.

About 30% of pregnant and parenting youth experience a second pregnancy while still in foster care.

Photo recreation of "baby announcement" goes viral

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Among the losses that youth in foster care experience are those that most of us take for granted. For example, baby photos.

Schools and even work places often have planned activities that ask people to bring in baby photos. Sometimes it's for a "guessing game" and sometimes just to share your early life. For youth who have been in foster care or adopted from foster care or an institution, baby photos may not exist. They may have never been taken or they may have been lost during a move.

One family re-created the "baby announcement" for their 13-year old son adopted from foster care as a way to humorously and lovingly provide that milestone for a child that had lost so much.


The Higgins family posted the photo-announcement to the adoptive mom's facebook page where it quickly went viral. According to the Higgins family, it was the childrens' idea. 13-year old Latrell mentioned that he never had a birth announdement and one of his sisters jokingly suggested they re-create the event.

While most viewers have been supportive, there has been some criticism. Some adult adoptees and birth/first parents have voiced their concern that re-creating a baby announcement erases Latrell's birth family, the way amended birth certificates effectively position an adoption as a false "new" birth history. Others worried that at 13-years old, Latrell would not be prepared for such a public display of his personal situation. Some suggest an "adoption announcement" would still show the "claiming" and family integration without erasing Latrell's birth history.

The recreation of a baby announcement highlights how complex feelings about adoption can be for the many people involved.

To read more:

From the Daily Mail: "My not-so-little newborn': Mother's unlikely photo shoot of adopted son, 13, wh ohad no baby photos of his own.

The Broad Side: Missing baby photos and missing childhoods: Foster care in America

Huffington Post: Kelli Higgins, adoptive mom, creates viral birth announcement spoof.

Ressurrection Graves: Adoptive mom exploits foster child with "newborn" photo shoot.

Documentary about former foster youth changing the system

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A wonderful resource for those interested in youth aging out of the foster care system, the documentary From Place to Place follows two young adults, Mandy and Raif, as they share their lives and travel to Washington DC to advocate for system change.

View the trailer:

Their story is also documented in this article featured on the National Foster Youth Action Network.


Prevention Action, an online news publication on issues related to improving child development and health around the world, published an article, "Stressed welfare systems impede evidence-based support for foster children" last week.

According to the article, a collaborative effort by rsearchers in the US and UK found that while several strong evidence-based interventions have been found to improve well-being for children and youth in out-of-home care, that these interventions are not being implemented because of system challenges.

The report cited several evidence-based interventions, including:
- Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC)
- Multidimentional Treatment Foste Care for Preschoolers
- Bucharest Early Intervention Project
- Incredible Years Parenting Program
- Keeping Foster Parents Trained and Supported (KEEP)
- Middle School Success (MSS)
- Fostering Individualized Assistance Program

These promising interventions were all found through rigorous research to have improved the well-being of children and youth in foster care, yet according to the authors, were not implemented because of the challenges of the child welfare system - including high case loads, staff retention issues, and a system that has to respond to immediate crises and high stress situations.

The authors state that child well-being should be the focus - as a strong priority on well-being leads to greater outcomes regarding safety and permanency.

For the article, click here.


[Photo by Catherine Green for LA Weekly]

The LA Weekly published a story last Thursday about the story of one young man struggling to find his way after aging out of the system, and a family that has informally offered resources and support.

This story deftly describes the many ways in which young adults aging out of the foster care system fall between the cracks and that even the best and brightest struggle on their own without the famiy their peers rely on for support.

Kevin, the young man in this story, has survived a lot and has a lot of resiliency. Kevin was particularly dedicated to learning, understanding that post-high school education is key to making it on his own. Even so, he struggles.

This article provided an important view into the daily life and challenges that unfortuntately too many youth and young adults in the U.S. face. Kevin is likely to make it, thanks in part to the support from the Campbells. Many others are not as lucky.

To read the article, click here.

What happens when adoption fails?

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Two weeks ago the City Limits newspaper published a series by Rachel Blustain on what she termed, "broken adoptions" - that is, adoption dissolutions.

adopt2.jpgPhoto by Marc Fader for City Limits.

The numbers of how many adoptions fail is a tough statistic to obtain, in part because many adoption dissolutions occur years afer an adoption has been finalized; families move, they may not seek help, and the agencies that facilitate the adoption do not always know when the adoption is dissolved. In addition, there is no centralized mechanism for obtaining adoption data.

The series began with the story, "Growing Concerns over Broken Adoptions" in which featured one young woman who was adopted at age 7, only to be abandoned and put back into the foster care system by her adoptive mother at age 13.

The difficulty in obtaining solid numbers about adoption dissolutions is the focus of the second article, "Adoption Numbers in Question." Social service agencies that serve children report that anywhere from 5 to 25% of the kids they serve involve adopted children re-entering out-of-home care.

The third article, "From an Option to a Mandate" explores what happens when adoption is the permanency emphasis without the needed post-adoption services to support the families.

In "Solutions to Broken Adoptions May Lie in "Gray" Areas," a discussion of a different conceptualization to permanency is introduced - one that is flexible, allows children to stay connected with biological family in one way or another, and focusing on the needs of the child rather than agencies, workers and parents.

Finally, the story of one child, S.D., and her attorney who advocated against her adoption, is told in "One Foster Child's Choice: Not to be Adopted." I found the most compelling statement in this piece to be the last paragraph.

When Zimmerman went to court to argue against adoption for S.D., he had no fantasy of a happily ever after. "It was not a slam dunk," he recalls. Still, Zimmerman says, when he convinced the judge to let S.D. remain in foster care for the remainder of her childhood, he felt that he had done the best he could for his client as an individual, not as a permanency statistic.

Using social media to connect foster youth with relatives

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An interesting story came out earlier in the week about using social media sites such as Facebook to connect foster youth with relatives.

We typically hear stories about the problems associated with social media use among foster youth. In this story however, it is not a foster youth - or a biological parent - that is using Facebook to connect, it is the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services!

So far workers have searched Facebook for 80 families. From KHAS-TV in Nebraska, watch the video for more information.

A webinar on engaging families around kinship care is available from the Florida's Center for the Advancement of Child Welfare Practice. This video could be helpful for practitioners looking for stragegies when working with families to provide kinship care. This video was created in 2008.

Jack Levine and Ron Morris developed this video training. They discuss differences in family structures, the development of a family engagement plan, working with families and the need for professionals to advocate for comprehensive services.

You can access the video here.

Building social capital for youth in foster care

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Earlier this month we discussed social media and adopted and foster youth. While social media is often discussed as a concern regarding the ways in which youth use it, what isn't always as talked about is how it is part of a youth's overall social capital and why social capital is an important area that young people, particularly those in care, need help with.

The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative recently released their Issue Brief #2 on Social Capital: Building Quality Networks for Young People in Foster Care and it is available at this link.

Social capital is very important for youth in foster care, who typically lose connections with important friends, family and other people through the transitory nature of being in foster care. According to the issue brief, social capital is made up of a person's reciprocal and mutual social relationships.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for social capital.jpg

Social capital has several dimensions, including the number of relationships, the quality of those relationships and the resources that are available as a result of these relationships. Think of the saying often used about getting a job - "it's who you know."

For youth who do not experience foster care, the modeling of social relationships and the ability to see how social networking happens in different contexts is demonstrated in family and in the community. For youth in care who experience multiple transitions, it may be more difficult to see examples of long-term, caring, reciprocal, trusting relationships extended over time. In fact, our system once discouraged foster care adoption or allowing foster parents to get too attached to the youth in their care.

This issue brief outlines a few practical ways to help foster social capital experiences for foster youth, including helping to make school stability a priority, supporting sibling relationships, engaging with birth family as much as safely possible, maintaining involvement with the child's community and neighborhood and supporting the development of positive peer relationships.


An article for The Republic and published late November highlighted the challenges that some adoptive families face that lead to a diruption or dissolution of an adoption.

The article highlighted one family whose adopted child struggled with mental health and behavioral issues so extreme, the family felt they had no other options but to "return him" to the system.

However, it is not just adoptive parents adopting from foster care who make these decisions. From famous adoptive parents like Joyce Maynard who announced this year she had dissolved the adoption of two Ethiopian adopted siblings to the case that made international news, Torry Hansen's "return" via sending her Russian born adopted child to Russia alone on a plane, adoptive parents often struggle to find quality and effective services for their children and themselves. Some parents, such as the ones in the The Republic article, "return" the child in order to get services that they could not access on their own.

With an increase in foster care adoptions in the U.S., the need for services will also need to increase in order to support these chlidren, many of whom have experienced a significant amount of abuse, neglect and trauma. With no way of tracking national disruptions and dissolutions for all adopted children, the scope of the issue is difficult to know. For the families who struggle, however, the impact of the lack of services is devastating.

The Republic article asks, "Who helps when adoptions unravel?" Another question we need to ask is "what can we do to prevent disruptions and dissolutions to begin with?"

What are your thoughts?

For adopted youth - staying safe online

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Online social networking sites allow youth in foster care and adoption to connect with others who have shared their experiences. However negotiating social relationships - online ones included - can still be tricky. Youth can can be at risk, and for foster and adopted youth, issues such as who to trust, what to share, and understanding good boundaries in relationships all have online social networking implications as well in person-to-person interactions.

The National Adoption Month 2012 website by the Children's Bureau offers some great resources for youth to help them be safe while on social networking sites. Here are some great resources:

  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers an English and Spanish version of their NSTeens resource of videos and comics aimed to help tweens navigate the internet.
  • Social has a guide for safe and responsible social networking
  • Social Media Safety, created by the Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development, is a guide for youth
Resources for social workers, foster and adoptive parents and others working with foster and adopted youth:
  • The state of Oregon has created an "Internet Usage Greement for Youth In Care and Foster Parents" that might be a helfpul guide for other parents and caregivers.
  • Kids that have been adopted might use the internet to find birth family. This guide from the Child Welfare Information Gateway discusses using social media as a tool for finding birth family.
  • Dale Fitch from the University of Missouri wrote "Youth in Foster Care and Social Media: A Framework for Developing Privacy Guidelines" in the Journal of Technology in Human Services. For an article about Dr. Fitch, see this article in the Univesity of Missori News Bureau.
  • From the Foster Kids Own Story blog - Foster Care's Social Media Problem.

Today's National Adoption Month post is aimed at foster youth. Although adoption is often presented as being about the best interests of the child, in reality the child or youth in foster care has very little say or input about their own permanency planning. Social workers, Guardian ad litems or CASA workers, judges and foster and prospective adoptive parents often appear to be talking about your permanency plans without actually asking you what you want or how permanency is going to impact your future.


If you are a case worker, foster parent, prospective adoptive parent, GAL or CASA, and you are reading this post, you should be aware of these resources and offer them to the youth you are working with.

If you are a youth and you are reading this post, these resources might be interesting and helpful to you and you could use these as a starting point for discussion with your social workers, GAL/CASA or others in your life.

Permanency is about YOU and your future, and that is why you need to know what all the things your social workers or other people in your life are saying when they talk about permanency and adoption.

Here are some resources for you, to help you understand more about permanency and adoption:

To start, here is a video of foster youth, parents and social workers sharing their experiences

Here is a video developed for the 2011 Summit on Youth Permanency on the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation website. The youth featured in this video talk about what permanency and family means for them.

The Children's Bureau's National Adoption Month website has a page of resources dedicated just for youth in foster care. Check out the resources on their page.

Other resources:

Minnesota families celebrate adoption

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On Sunday, November 4th over 400 families participated in the Circus of the Heart, a joint effort of the MN Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Adoption Resource Network.

According to the Star Tribune, the event was created to celebrate the adoption of 540 children from foster care in 2011.

Commissioner Lucinda Jesson opened the event on Sunday, acknowledging that the state's efforts to increase foster care adoption has made a significant difference for the children in Minnesota. MN DHS spokesperson Beth Voight remarked that in the fifteen years since Circus of the Heart has been educating and celebrating foster care adoption that the numbers of children waiting for adoption has dramatically decreased from 800 in 1997 to just over 350 today.

Click here for the full story.

National Adoption Month 2012

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It's National Adoption Month time again. Since President Clinton expanded National Adoption Week to National Adoption Month in 1995, National Adoption Month has been an effort to bring attention to the children and youth in foster care in need of adoption.

Throughout this month we will be highlighting stories about foster care adoption and bring attention to helpful resources for families and professionals.

For today's post we share a message from the Children's Bureau about National Adoption Month initiative - helping states use social media as a tool for recruiting parents for children and youth in foster care.

On the Children's Bureau's National Adoption Month website you will find a host of resources. Follow along to the AdoptUSKids twitter feed, watch videos, share their widgets on Adoption in the Digital Age and make use of the many resources available for youth, parents and professionals.

The 2012 Centennial Adoption Excellence Awards

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The Children's Bureau just released their 2012 Centennial Adoption Excellence Awards. The report is available <"">here.

Awardees include agencies, organizations and individuals that have contributed to the adoption of children and youth from foster care. The program goes back to the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. The awards were presented on october 10 in Washington, DC.

One of the individuals listed this year is Natalie Lyons, who helped coordinate the webinar on adoption competency certificate programs that we at CASCW participated in last December with the National Resource Center on Adoption. A full description of Ms. Lyons' career is included in this pdf.

Past award winners are available on the Children's Bureau site.

One of the ways adoptive families are supported are through the adoption tax credit. The adoption tax credit, first enacted in 1997 as a means to help offset the costs incurred to adopt children from foster care, the tax credit has since become available for all types of adoptions. However, the tax credit is soon about to expire.

So far the tax credit has never been successfully legislated to be permanent. The tax credit has been extended several times and along with the extensions or renewals, has included changes over the years.

House Bill H.R. 4373, which has bipartisan support, aims to renew the adoption tax credit, and even more significantly make the tax credit permanent, a flat rate for special needs adoption and inclusive for all types of adoption; however with the upcoming elections it is unlikely that Congress will review it until after the elections. The Senate version is S. 3616 and like the House bill, has bipartisan support. If the propsed bills do not pass, then the credit will be reduced to $6,000 for a limited number of special needs adoptions.

For more information about the Adoption Tax credit, see the following resources:

North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
Save the Adoption Tax Credit (NACAC)
IRS Adoption Benefits FAQ
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute

This morning NPRran a story, Helping Foster Kids Even After Adoption, about the types of post-adoption supports that families that adopt from foster care often need.

image001[1].jpgOne of the interviewees on this show is Debbie Riley, our partner at the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE). CASE's Training on Adoption Competency curricuum is the basis for our Permanency and Adoption Competency Certificate program.
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You can hear the podcast below, or click here to access it on the NPR site.

NPR Post-adoption support.mp3

For more information on our Permanency and Adoption Competency Certificate program, click here.

Hear Me Now - the 2012 CCAI Foster Youth Internship Report

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The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Foster Youth Internship Report, Hear Me Now, has just been released.

The Foster Youth Internship program, created in 2003, provides opportunities for formerly fostered young adults to become congressional interns, where they learn about policies and the legislative process on foster care and adoption. The Foster Youth Internship program enables formerly fostered young adults to learn how to get their voices and policy recommendations heard. As part of the program, interns produce a policy report that they present at a congressional hearing.


The 2012 report, titled Hear Me Now, includes the most recent cohort's policy recommendations. The chapters and authors are:

  • Preventing Crossover from Foster Care into the Criminal Justice System / R.J. Sloke
  • Educating Congress: The Value of Investing in Post-Secondary Education for Foster Youth / Maurissa Sorensen
  • Age of Accountability / Tawny Spinelli
  • Care for Youth in Care: The Need for High-Quality Foster Parents / Ashley Lepse
  • Transitional Foster Youth, Post-Secondary Education, & Mentor Programs / Michael Duvall
  • Life's Transitions Do Not Occur Overnight / Briana Dovi
  • Foster Youth for Sale / Talitha James
  • An Information Database for Foster Youth / Marchelle Roberts
  • Putting Home Back in Group Home / James Williams
  • Leaving No Indian Child Behind / Daryle Conquering Bear
  • Having Options Provides Empowerment / Cristina Miranda
  • Lifelong Connections: You Determine My Fate / Dashun Jackson
  • A Pill for Every Problem: Overmedication and Lack of Mental Health Services among Foster Youth / Cassandra Cook

Executive Director Kathleen Strottman writes in this year's forward,

"For far too long we have let the voices of those in care go unheard...It has been my experience that the voices of foster care alumni are the ones we should be listening to more than any others. When they speak, things actually stand a chance of getting better. Not because their stories remind us of how far we have yet to go, but because their ingenuity and passion for making a difference show us just how far we can reach."
Listening to those who have been in care - the children that were in foster homes, institutions, and adopted - should be a top priority for any organization or agency that takes the title "child welfare" seriously. For all the lip service given about "the best interests of the child," it is the rare child welfare organization that asks those that were the children about their experiences or, even more rarely, what needs to be done better.

According to the CCAI website:

  • 100 former foster youth have used this experience as a foundation to go on and pursue a variety of distinguished careers
  • 60 Members of Congress have heard the voice of former foster youth and are now educated about issues affecting their lives
  • 10 Congressional briefings have provided firsthand knowledge to policymakers
  • 125 policy recommendations have been presented to policymakers
  • 37% of FYIs have gone on to pursue graduate, law, and doctoral degrees
  • 47% of FYIS enter careers in social service

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

You can download a PDF of the report from the CCAI blog here.

Thumbnail image for 00262697.jpgAs the recent AFCARS figures show, approximately 22% of the children in the U.S. waiting for adoption are Hispanic (of all races). According to a recent report by the Casey Latino Leadership Group, the number of children in care more than doubled over the past 20 years, and issues such as deportation laws are a factor in this increased number of Latino children in care.

More on Latino children in the child welfare system and the recruitment efforts for Latino foster and adoptive parents, are as follows.

The Children's Bureau released a new Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report for 2011 (October 1-September 30, 2011). According to the report:

  • In 2011, there was a continued trend toward fewer childrThumbnail image for 00202032.jpgen waiting for adoption (104,236 children, down from 109,456 in 2010 and from 133,682 in 2007).
  • During the reporting period, parental rights were terminated for 61,361 children.
  • The mean age for children waiting for adoption was 8 years, and their mean age when they entered foster care was 5 years.
  • 23% of the children were in relative foster homes, and 54% were in non-relative foster homes.
  • 12% of the children were in pre-adoptive homes.
  • 9% of the children were in a group home or institution.
  • 40% of the children waiting for adoption were white, 28% Black or African American, 22% Hispanic of any race, 6% two or more races and 2% American Indian/Alaskan Native.
  • 53% of the children were boys and 47% were girls.
  • The mean time these children had been in care was 23.6 years.

Download a PDF of the report here or go to the Statistics and Research page of the ACF website.

For many children in foster care or those adopted from foster care, being separated from one or more sibling is unfortunately a common experience. Although the sibling relationship is the longest relationship any person will have to another family member, about 70% of the children in foster care also have another sibling in care. Because of many barriers, these siblings are often placed in separate homes. Some children lose contact with their siblings and never have the chance to develop a relationship.

Resources such as Camp To Belong and Camp Connect (featured in this article) are one way that child welfare professionals and adoptive and foster parents can support sibling relationships.

Camp To Belong

Camp Connect

For more information on best practices with sibling groups in foster care and adoption, the following resources may be helpful.

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MN Adopt is offering a training on August 6, 2012 on Working with the Mind-Body Connection: Understanding Stress and Trauma in Adopted and Foster Youth. The training will be presented by Lora Matz, LICSW.

From the description:

Increased levels of anxiety, depression and hopelessness are being seen in children from all socio-economic conditions, cultures and family life. Stress-related stomachaches and headaches in children of all ages are being reported as the number one health concern for children by physicians today. The principals and practices of Mind-Body skills are easily learned and empowering. Lora Matz offers Mind-Body skills that not only increase self-confidence, resilience and self-regulation but contribute to decreased disruptive behaviors often seen in children who have trauma histories. Participants will gain insight on how to talk to children of different ages about the stress response and how it impacts the body and emotions.

Lora Matz, LICSW is an internationally known health and wellness expert in the practices of Integrative Medicine. She currently serves as Clinical Education Specialist of Prairie Care and has a rich background as a psychotherapist, lecturer, writer and consultant in the areas of mind-body medicine and transpersonal development. Lora has many years of experience working with both children and adults in the areas of trauma and stress reduction strategies. She has served as Associate Director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington D.C. and supervised the team who worked with the children who were on the school bus when the I-35W bridge collapsed. Addtionally, she has worked with adoptees and foster children as a foster mother, psychotherapist with both children and adults who have been adopted and their families. She also has worked as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor with individuals struggling with issues related to failed adoptions.

For more information on this or other trainings, contact MN Adopt at: or

612-861-7112 (fax)
866-303-6276 (toll free)

New foster care legislation in Minnesota, part 2

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On Monday, we highlighted some of the changes to the foster care statutes that were passed in the 2012 legislative session in Minnesota. This post will continue the focus on the foster care changes that were made.

Thumbnail image for 90x60-05.jpgMany of the changes impact relatives. Changes to the law regarding relative search include:

  • The court may now order an agency to reopen its search for relatives at any time during the juvenile protection proceedings.
  • Previously, it was required that paternity for the father had to have been adjudicated in order for paternal relatives to be included in a relative search. That requirement has been eliminated.
  • The new law now allows for internet or other electronic means of identifying and locating relatives.
  • Agencies may now ask a child in an age appropriate manner who they consider to be family.
The agencies must document their efforts to locate relatives within three months of the child's placement into foster care, and the report must include documentation of the agency's efforts to:
  • Identify maternal and paternal relatives,
  • Engage with relatives to provide support for a child and family, and
  • The agency must document its decisions regarding relative placements.

Strengthened policies regarding working and engaging with relatives include:

  • Amending language to require placement consideration with relatives any time a child moves from, or is returned to, foster care;
  • Clarifying the agency's responsibility to engage with relatives who respond to a notice of a child in care. This section now includes activities that may be considered "participation in the care and planning for a child" including:
  • Relatives must be notified that they have the right to be notified of any court hearings and that they have an opportunity to be heard by the court.
  • Agencies must do one of the following at the permanent placement hearing:
  • Send notice to relatives,
  • Ask the court to modify the requirement to send notice to relatives, or
  • Ask the court to relieve the requirement to send notice to relatives.

Placement decisions based on the best interest of the child:
One of the requirements for placing children for foster care and adoption is that the placement is based on the best interest factors (previously eight, now ten). The amended law now requires this same requirement for any placement into a permanent legal and physical custody home.

The court must now review and determine findings regarding the agency's competence in:

  • Conducting diligent efforts regarding relative search,
  • Conducting individualized determination of the child's needs, and
  • Assessing a home that is best able to meet the needs of the child.

Other major changes:

  • A court may no longer order a child into long-term foster care.
  • Eliminates the option for a private agency to be appointed guardian for a child whose parents are deceased.
  • The option to separate guardianship and legal custody has been eliminated. Previously a court had the ability to grant one person or agency guardianship and another person or agency legal custody.
  • Foster parents may no longer be appointed guardian for a non-adopted foster child age 14 years or older.
  • The commissioner is no longer guardian of a child past the age of 18 years. If a youth 18 or older continues or re-enters foster care, the social service agency has legal responsibility for the child.

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One of the practice issues that has been rarely talked about in academic, research or policy arenas that impact children that have been institutionalized or in foster care is the issue of eating behaviors.

It is quite common for children who have been neglected or for those who have experienced food insecurity, institutionalization in foreign countries or housing instability to have learned survival skills related to eating that may be difficult for foster and adoptive caregivers to manage.

Eating issues may be manifested in overeating, extreme pickiness, undereating, and hoarding. In addition, ideas about mealtimes may be very different for children who have had to learn to fight for food, were given limited options for food, or were not part of families or settings that had rules about eating (such as sitting at a table together, etc.).

Sometimes foster and adoptive caregivers end up inadvertently adding to the stress a child may have about food and mealtimes because they expect the child to understand that now food availability is no longer an issue or because meal time is expected (from the caregiver's view) to be a time of family sharing. Children that have experienced food insecurity or institutionalized meal times will not automatically understand the change, emotionally or behaviorally, once they move to a stable family setting.

Several years ago based on experiences as a case worker, I searched for research or practice guidance around this issue. At the time there was very little available. I finally wrote an article for Minnesota Adoption Resource Network (MARN) about this issue (click here for article), and I was excited to see that MN Adopt will be hosting a training on this topic on July 17, 2012.

From the training description:

Nurturing Feeding: Promoting Recovery from Eating Issues in Traumatized Children with Elizabeth Jackson, MS, RD, LD in Bloomington, MN

Children who have come from foster care or orphanages often have serious issues around found. This might take on the form of stealing or hoarding food, refusing to eat certain foods or developing a clinical eating disorder. Elizabeth Jackson provides participants a deeper look into food issues from infancy to adolescence. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Feeding during infancy and its impact on development of attachment patterns
  • Research on how trauma and neglect at all ages impact a child's eating habits and growth
  • Overview of Satter's Division of Responsibility that defines the optimal feeding relationship between adult caregivers and children of all ages
  • Treatment options for children and youth with habitual habits of hoarding and stealing food and eating disorders
Elizabeth Jackson, MS, RD, LD is an outpatient dietitian at Melrose Institute in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a large, multidisciplinary eating disorder treatment facility with five levels of care. In January 2008, Elizabeth published her findings from years of successful group treatment of compulsive eating in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. She relocated to Minnesota in 2001 after 19 years in private practice in Michigan specializing in eating disorders and treatment of child feeding and eating issues. Elizabeth also developed curriculum and taught for eight years on eating disorders at Central Michigan University. Additionally, from 2002-2010, she was a clinical faculty member with the Ellyn Satter Institute, speaking and conducting workshops on child feeding and weight regulation throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For more information on this or other trainings, contact MN Adopt at: or

612-861-7112 (fax)
866-303-6276 (toll free)

MN ADOPT logo.jpg

CW360-CEEDCover.gif Last week, the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare published a special edition of CW360° on using a develomental approach to child welfare practice. The publication, created in collaboration with the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED), is an incredible resource for anyone working in the areas of adoption and permanency.

Understanding child development is integral to child welfare practice, in particular for children and youth that are involved in adoption and permanency. Foster care and adoption workers, as well as foster, adoptive, and kinship/relative caregivers must understand the impact of early experiences of abuse, neglect, trauma, stress, multiple placements and institutionalization have on a child's development and how that affects children and youth's permanency outcomes.

This special issue of CW360° includes perspectives from child welfare workers, foster parents, judges, researchers, and policy experts. Topics include: higlighting innovative programs for parents and children; what foster parents need to meet the developmental needs of children in their care; influencing public policy to include child development; current research; and collaboration among child welfare, education, public health, child development and mental health arenas.

For a copy of this issue of CW360°, click here.

For past issues of CW360° including special issues on:
2009 Permanency or Aging Out: Adolescents in the Child Welfare System and 2010 Promoting Placement Stability
visit our CW360° page at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare.

Adoption Tax Credit Awareness day

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The North American Council on Adoptable Children has created a helpful information sheet to declare today, Monday, February 13, 2012, Adoption Tax Credit Awareness Day.

The adoption tax credit was first implemented in 2003 as a tool to help adoptive parents that had adopted children with special needs from the foster care system. For more information on the adoption tax credit, NACAC has put together a host of resources available on their website to help families navigate the complicated process of filing for the tax credit.

For more information, please see the NACAC website here and download the flyer here.

A case in Norway involving the removal of two Indian children from their parents sparked controversy and allegations of racial and cultural bias. According to the articles, the children's grandparents expressed a desire to care fo the children and accused the Norwegian government of preferring to keep the children in foster care until their 18th birthdays. However, according to MSN News, Norway agreed to place the children in the custody of their uncle.

Over the past few days, several articles have reported this story about an Indian family living in Norway whose children were placed in foster care, sparking accusations of racial and cultural prejudice.

According to The Telegraph article that was published today, Norway has accused the parents of over-feeding their children and allowing them to co-sleep. Norweigan social workers also claim the children's mother suffers from depression,

BBAW4Y_2118435b.jpg[Photo by Alamy]

According to the children's grandparents, the allegations that led to the removal of the children are culturally-accepted ways of child-rearing in their culture, where it is common practice for mothers to "push food into their toddler's mouths" and where "children often sleep in their parents' bed until they are six or seven."

In The Telegraph, the head of the Child Welfare Services is quoted as saying, "I most strongly deny that this case in any way is based on cultural prejudice or misinterpretation. I am unable to give any comments regarding the particular grounds in this case because of our duty of confidentiality."

According to the article, Norwegian officials have determined the children will remain in foster care in Norway until they are 18 years old. The family is pushing for the children to be cared for by their grandparents, but according to the article, Indian officials are getting involved.

Read the article in full here.

Another article on this story: Reunite Indian Kids with Parents, Delhi Urges Oslo

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:

In Ontario, Canada, working parents who participate in foster-to adopt programs can participate in parental leave benefits. The Star online reports that even if the child is reunified with birth parents, the foster parent can receive parental leave benefits if they were willing to adopt the chils had reunification not been successful. In the past, foster-to-adopt families were only eligible to request parental leave benefits after they began the adoption process. To read the article, click here.

Children in New Jersey's foster care system will benefit from improved services as a result of a Silbermann Foundation grant awarded to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) School of Nursing. From the article: "We are very excited to branch out into the field of child welfare nursing. It is our great hope that the curriculum developed at the UMDNJ-School of Nursing will attract qualified nurses to this important subspecialty. It is also our aspiration that this curriculum becomes the national standard in teaching and attracting nurses to this extremely important field," said M. Steven Silbermann, spokesperson for the Rosanne H. Silbermann Foundation, a non-profit charitable family foundation established by the late Rosanne H. Silbermann in 1998 that supports medical, educational and religious organizations." To read more click here.

Writer Dr. Suzanne Babbel, PhD., has written part two of a series, The Foster Care System and Its Victims. In Part I, Dr. Babbel describes what happens when a child is reported to have been abused. In Part II, Dr. Babbel describes how foster care can harm more than help an already vulnerable child. Both articles are available on the Psychology Today website.

In The Huffington Post, Kelly Kennedy writes about how several states are changing the way they consider recruiting foster parents. From the article, "Most jurisdictions end up being in a reactive mode because they don't have enough fosters parents so they're just focused on getting people into the fold instead of making sure standards for parents are elevated," said David Sanders, an executive vice president at Casey Family Programs, an advocacy organization in Seattle." The new focus is on recruiting foster parents that consider their job "parenting," such as Maritza Moreno who told the Huffington Post, who says a parent wouldn't rely on having the county worker take the foster child to doctor's appointments. Morento says foster children "really need a parent, not a caregiver." To read the whole article, click 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:

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.

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.


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.