Archive for May, 2010

5.18.10 May Is National Foster Care Month!

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

During May, organizations across the country observe National Foster Care Month by raising awareness about the 463,000 children and youth in foster care and the caring adults who make a difference in their lives. Social workers, foster parents, mentors, volunteers, and many others play an important role in helping children and youth build lasting connections and achieve permanency. Many of these adults offer services and supports to families to promote reunification or, when that isn’t possible, adoption, guardianship, or other permanent connections for children and youth.

This year, the theme of the National Foster Care Month website on Child Welfare Information Gateway is “Partnering With Families and Youth to Achieve Permanency.” Geared to child welfare and related professionals, the website includes information and resources from the Children’s Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network to help policymakers, administrators, managers, and caseworkers provide better permanency services for children and families involved with the child welfare system. The website also features stories of youth who have successfully achieved permanency, highlighting the importance of youth having lifelong connections to people who are important to them.

www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth

The National Foster Care Month website from Casey Family Programs and its partners offers a wealth of information and encourages the public to get involved in the lives of youth in foster care, including:

  • Statistics and data
  • A “Change a Lifetime Menu,” of positive things that people can do if they have a few minutes, hours, weeks, or more time to spare
  • The National Foster Care Month Toolkit, with ideas, tips, and easy-to-use templates to help organizations plan a National Foster Care Month campaign
  • A calendar of events
  • A newsroom for the media
  • Success stories from foster care alumni and people who are making a difference in the lives of youth in foster care

www.fostercaremonth.org

this article can be found at: http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=116&sectionid=2&articleid=2874&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ChildrensBureauExpressContent+%28CBX+RSS+Feed%29

5.14.10 Opinion Piece: Oregon thanks foster parents during National Foster Care Month

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Erinn Kelley-Siel • May 14, 2010

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to turn our attention to the children and youth in care and to honor the dedicated foster families, relatives, volunteers and child welfare professionals who get involved with children and young people to help change their lives for the better.

Last year in Oregon, more than 13,000 children spent at least one day in some kind of foster care because they could not remain safely at home with their parents, usually because of drug and alcohol abuse and/or domestic violence in their homes.

Children in foster care need safety and stability. In Oregon, we’re working to become the safest foster care system in the country.

The good news is we are getting closer to reaching that goal. Last year, our state’s financial supports for children in foster care increased, and the number of children in foster care who were abused by their foster parents declined by 32 percent. Placements with relatives increased by more than 20 percent, and the number of children who had two or fewer placements increased by 10 percent. In addition, 10 percent fewer children in Oregon spent time in foster care in 2009 compared to 2008.

These milestones of improvement could not have been reached without the great work of our staff, the commitment of foster and relative caregivers, quality services delivered by our partner providers and the support of communities across Oregon.

Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go to be sure that all children in Oregon are safe, well and connected to their families, their communities and their cultural identities.

Ideally, all families would have the support they need to safely parent and prepare their children for adulthood. Ideally, no child would need the government to keep them safe. However, keeping children safe and families stable are goals that child welfare cannot accomplish alone. We need the help and support of individuals and communities in every city and town in Oregon.

That’s where you come in. No matter how much time you have to give, each one of us has the power to do something positive that will change the life of a child or young person in foster care. Be a mentor or coach to parents who are struggling, or to a young person in foster care. Become a foster parent. Volunteer at one of our child welfare offices to transport children or parents to services or visitations. Give a foster parent or relative caregiver a break by providing respite child care. Tutor a young person in foster care and support their academic and lifelong success.

These are just a few of the many ways to have a positive effect on the life of a child in foster care. We need more everyday people to come forward because no child should be without a strong relationship with a caring adult to depend on. If you are already a foster parent or involved in the lives of children and families in your community, thank you. Our kids and families need your support and you can make a difference.

If you want to become involved in the lives of children and youth in foster care in your community, please call your local DHS office, e-mail us or visit our Web site.

Erinn Kelley-Siel is director of DHS Children, Adults and Families Division.

this article in its original form can be found at: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20100514/OPINION/5140309/1049

5.14.10 CASA for Children needs volunteers to look out for the interests of foster children

Friday, May 14th, 2010

By Washington County Reader Contributor

May 13, 2010, 2:15PM

Let’s begin with one hard, sad fact: Last year, 611 children in Washington County were victims of abuse or neglect.

They might have been physically abused or exploited sexually. They might have been endangered by domestic violence or by the use or manufacture of drugs in their home. The reasons are many and varied, but the problem in each case was the same: Children were hurt or in serious danger of harm, most of the time in their own homes.

On a statewide basis, nearly 75 percent of the time, the parents — mother, father or both — were the cause of the harm and the danger.

These sobering figures come from the Oregon Department of Human Services Child Welfare Data Book for fiscal year 2009, a publication containing cold numbers about real children.

While two-thirds of the children affected statewide remained in their own homes, hundreds of children still ended up in foster care with relatives or other foster families while their parents worked toward establishing a safe and stable home. In fact, in Washington County right now, nearly 1,000 children are in foster care.

Faced with such realities, children’s services workers and juvenile court judges need all the help available in seeking the long-range benefit for these children.

That is where CASA for Children enters the picture. CASA is a nonprofit organization whose name stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, a mouthful of a name that represents an important mission.

CASA recruits and trains volunteers who then are appointed by the court as special advocates (CASAs) to look out for the interests of foster children caught up in neglect and abuse.

The volunteers are men and women of all backgrounds, races and ethnicities, and they have one goal: to help get the children back with their parents or guardians, or, if that isn’t possible, with adoptive parents or with permanent foster parents.

To that end, they visit the children at least once a month, interview parties in the case and consult with people who provide services for the children and their parents. CASAs, often referred to as the eyes and ears of the court, use the information to make recommendations to the judge who will make the final decision in each case.

The CASA system in Oregon was born in 1985 from a state mandate as the federal government called for faster, more thoughtful resolutions for children in state custody. The first three volunteers in Washington County were sworn-in in August 1988. Today, Washington County has 94 volunteers. I am one of them. With the guidance of CASA supervisors based in Hillsboro, we serve about 200 children. But that leaves nearly 800 more children in foster care without the support of a volunteer.

They include a girl, not yet 10, whose parents are drug addicts and have engaged in domestic violence in front of the girl, who lags behind in school. They include a boy in his teens who has suffered emotional and physical abuse at the hands of parents who exhibit violent behavior and threats. The boy has a history of running away.

To support these and hundreds of other children, CASA needs more caring people to advocate for the interests of children in state custody, to bring another ray of hope to their lives. In addition to their compassion, volunteers are asked to devote 10 to 20 hours a month as they follow a case for one and a half to two years — a typical timeline — until it is resolved.

I invite you to look at the website for CASA in Washington and Multnomah counties to learn still more. If you are unable to volunteer your time, please consider making a donation to help train other volunteers.

For every person who signs on as a volunteer, a child’s troubled life brightens with new potential.

– Dan Hortsch is a former reporter for The Oregonian and volunteers for CASA in Washington County even though he lives in Portland.

this article in its original form can be found at: http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2010/05/casa_for_children_needs_volunteers_to_look_out_the_interests_of_foster_children.html

5.14.10 Presidential Proclamation-National Foster Care Month

Friday, May 14th, 2010

A PROCLAMATION

Nearly a half-million children and youth are in foster care in America, all entering the system through no fault of
their own. During National Foster Care Month, we recognize the promise of children and youth in foster care, as well as former foster youth. We also celebrate the professionals and foster parents who demonstrate the depth and kindness of the human heart.

Children and youth in foster care deserve the happiness and joy every child should experience through family life and a safe, loving home. Families provide children with unconditional love, stability, trust, and the support to grow into healthy, productive adults. Unfortunately, too many foster youth reach the age at which they must leave foster care and enter adulthood without the support of a permanent family.

Much work remains to reach the goal of permanence for every child, and my Administration has supported States that increased the number of children adopted out of foster care, providing over $35 million in 2009 through the Adoption Incentives program. We are also committed to meeting the developmental, educational, and health-related needs of children and youth in foster care. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a significant increase in funding for the Title IV-E adoption and foster care assistance program. States can use
these funds to ensure those placed in foster care will enter a safe and stable environment.

In addition, we are implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. This law promotes permanency and improved outcomes for foster youth through support for kinship care and adoption, support for older youth, direct access to Federal resources for Indian tribes, coordinated health benefits, improved educational stability and opportunities, and adoption incentives and assistance. Former foster youth will also benefit from the Affordable Care Act, which, beginning in 2014, will ensure Medicaid coverage for them in every State.

This month, caring foster parents and professionals across our Nation will celebrate the triumphs of children and
youth in foster care as they work to remove barriers to reaching a permanent family. Federal, State, and local government agencies, communities, and individuals all have a role to play as well. Together, we can ensure that young people in foster care have the opportunities and encouragement they need to realize their full potential.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2010 as National Foster Care Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor and support young people in foster care, and to recognize the committed adults who work on their behalf each day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA

this article in its orginal form can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-proclamation-national-foster-care-month

5.10.10 Child abuse agency receives $7,500 grant

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Published: May 01. 2010 4:00AM PST

The child crisis intervention and abuse prevention agency, MountainStar Family Relief Nursery, received a $7,500 grant from the PGE Foundation, according to a press release. The nursery, which specializes in providing support for children from high-risk families, will use the money to enroll 25 children in its Therapeutic Classroom Program. The children in the program, who are between 2 and 3 years old, will be provided with a safe environment where they can develop emotionally and socially. The goal is that the children will graduate from the program better equipped to succeed in preschool and kindergarten.

This is the fifth grant awarded to MountainStar Family Relief Nursery from the PGE Foundation.

This article can be found at: http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100501/NEWS0107/5010358/1002/NEWS01&nav_category=NEWS01

5.10.10 DHS Workers Struggle To Keep Up With Abuse Calls

Monday, May 10th, 2010

BY ROB MANNING

Portland, OR  January 15, 2010 10:09 a.m.

Child welfare officials have had to respond twice in recent weeks, when children have died from physical abuse.

In the case of teenager Jeanette Maples, multiple accusations of abuse had come to the Department of Human Services before she was killed.

In Sandy, authorities say that a 3-year-old girl died of physical and nutritional abuse.

****

Rob Manning visited a DHS call center recently to learn what happens when complaints of child abuse come in.

 If you call the hotline in Multnomah County and you don’t have a child abuse complaint, you may be referred elsewhere. But if you are reporting abuse or neglect, you’ll reach a screener, like Allison Wilson.

Allison Wilson: “OK, what’s a good phone number for you?”

The calls that OPB monitored on a recent evening came from mandatory reporters. Those are teachers, daycare workers, and other professionals who are required by law to report suspicions of abuse.

State officials say that three quarters of abuse complaints come from mandatory reporters.

This call relates to a four year-old at a Portland-area daycare, who reportedly said he’d been spanked with a belt.

Allison Wilson: “So the teacher was actually able to see if there were any injuries?”

The teacher saw no injuries, but didn’t undress the child. That wasn’t the only gap in information. Screeners say such gaps are typical.

Allison Wilson: “So we’re not quite sure who did the spanking. Do we know if this has happened before, or…? No previous reports, OK.”

Wilson checks her database, and sees the child in question is in the system. But she needs to do more research, and talk to a supervisor.

Allison Wilson: “Well I’ll get this written up, I’ll give you a call back, if it’s not tonight, if we don’t have a decision immediately, I’ll call you in the morning. Thanks, bye.”

Wilson has reached a preliminary conclusion – that field workers should check into this, and probably right away. She checks with supervisor, Ida Sanders.

Ida Sanders: “That sounds somewhat concerning to me. I think we might want to assign that one.”

Allison Wilson: “That’s what I was thinking!”

Ida Sanders: “So we’re in agreement.”

Allison: “Great minds! – yeah, I was thinking we’d want to do a 24.”

Twenty-four means 24-hour response. The only thing faster would be to go out right away with law enforcement. Of the calls that get referred to investigation in Multnomah County, about half are the 24-hour variety. The rest get five days.

Miriam Green: “It’s not saying wait five days – it’s saying you can triage your work for up to five days.”

That’s Miriam Green – the call center manager who supported Wilson’s five-day recommendation on a different call. That one related to a years-old accusation of sex abuse from a 12 year-old against her mother’s ex.

Miriam Green: “Her assumption is that there’s not going to be contact at least within the next 24 hours, and the field is going to have the opportunity to make some calls and get the lay of the land and make some decisions about a timely response.”

Officials say that response decisions have to weigh the value of going in “fast” versus going in “smart.”

But close to half of the calls that reached screeners don’t result in that debate. Screeners close them without investigation.

Lynn Davenport worked for child services in the 1990s. She reviewed hundreds of hours of child abuse calls as part of a research project. She found that some cases that she thought were suspicious were closed.

For instance, children she knew from her experience were wards of the state weren’t identified that way. And then there was this one.

Lynn Davenport: “Someone called and described how a family member whose child had died and said that the parent was admitting to having caused the child’s death, whereas it had been concluded in the initial investigation that the death was an accident. That was a call screened out because the police investigation was the final say in the matter.”

The law requires that supervisors review closed calls within five days. With well over 6000 closed calls in Multnomah County alone last year – that’s a tall order. But supervisors say that when there are well-publicized problems – for instance, when children known to DHS are killed – they agonize over closed cases even more.

Supervisor Bob Gibbs says the recent cases don’t change clear-cut decisions.

Bob Gibbs: “Um, some of those that are a little grayer, I don’t know. We also use each other, the screeners will use us more, as far as consulting with a supervisor. There’s several times, I’ve talked to the other supervisor about a ‘closed-at-screening’ I wasn’t comfortable with.”

Davenport says that in her research years ago, she found it far more likely that screeners would recommend too little, rather than too much, intervention.

The two calls Wilson got the other night went in two very different directions. The four year-old didn’t show any signs of injury, but there’ll still be some follow-up with the parents.

However, officials say the 12 year-old’s sex abuse allegation is headed toward a criminal investigation.

DHS workers like screener Allison Wilson say that cases can stick with them. Wilson says she hasn’t been close to a case where a kid died, but she has been haunted by cases where she’s wished she could’ve done more.

Allison Wilson: “One of my old co-workers referred to them as your ghosts. And everyone’s got some.” 

This article can be found at: http://news.opb.org/article/dhs-workers-struggle-keep-abuse-calls/

5.7.10 GUEST VIEWPOINT: Being a parent is a tough job, but help can bring success

Friday, May 7th, 2010
Register Guard
By Megan Shultz
Appeared in print: Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010
EDITOR’S NOTE: Fourth in a four-part series.
Some of most successful people I know are ecstatic if they have money in their bank account at the end of the month. You probably have never heard their names or their stories.
Some might not consider such people successes, but I guess it would depend on how you define success.
My definition is a personal one that is not found in Merriam Webster. I define success as “the achievement of an extraordinary goal.”
I consider the 206 Lane County children whose parents last year fought against all odds to change their lives, change their habits and learn new skills so that their children could be returned to their care as successful people.
They are fortunate to live in a community that cares about children and understands that parenting is a tough job — one that does not come naturally.
Our community is blessed to have agencies such as the Relief Nurseries, the Family Resource Centers, Birth To Three, Willamette Family Treatment and Healthy Start, to name a few, that have the exceptional staff and programs to intervene when parents reach out for help.
Success — which can involve acknowledging the isolation of parenting, understanding when the stress is overwhelming, facing a drug addiction, finding the strength to leave an abusive relationship or embracing new skills by accepting the help of others — takes an extraordinary effort.
Maya is a successful person. This 23-year-old mother of twins found herself caught in the chains of a meth addiction. She never knew her father.
Her mother was an addict, and Maya spent six years of her childhood moving in and out of foster care. By the time she was 17, she was pregnant and on a fast track toward a downward spiral.
Her newborn babies tested positive for meth, and a state caseworker was called to place the twins in foster care. This was a wake-up call for Maya, and she answered it.
The “troops” — that is, the court, the state Department of Human Services’ Child Welfare division, treatment providers, parent educators, a Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteer, medical providers and a dedicated set of foster parents — rallied around Maya and her twins.
This was not an easy journey. There were setbacks, tears and frustrations for all involved, but Maya persevered and kept focused. She beat all the odds and achieved her extraordinary goals.
Her children were returned to her care. She has been clean for three years and is now enrolled in college.
Success stories such as Maya’s require the achievement of extraordinary goals by more people than the parent alone.
Service organizations such as our local Rotary clubs, the Eugene Active 20-30 Club and the Junior League of Eugene have raised money and volunteered countless hours to support programs such as the ones Maya and her daughters accessed.
Year after year, the business community has stepped up to the plate to ensure local programs such as CASA, Kids’ FIRST, Relief Nursery and Healthy Start can work towards meeting the high demand for their services.
Local family foundations are helping to open more classroom slots, treatment beds and counseling services.
Thousands of people from our community have volunteered countless hours to lend a hand.
There are also many ways to help. Prevent Child Abuse America suggests:
Be a nurturing parent. Children need to know that they are special, loved and capable of following their dreams.
Help a friend, neighbor or relative. Being a parent isn’t easy. Offer a helping hand to give parents a much-needed break.
Help yourself. When the big and little problems of your everyday life pile up to the point you feel overwhelmed or out of control, take a break.
Learn what to do when your baby cries. It can be frustrating when your baby won’t stop crying. Never shake a baby. Shaking a child may result in severe injury or death. Call the Parent Helpline at 541-485-521.
Get involved. Ask community leaders, clergy, library and schools to develop and invest in services to meet the needs of children and families.
Volunteer with a local child abuse prevention program. For information about local volunteer opportunities, go to www.211Lane.org or call United Way 541-741-6000.
Report suspected abuse or neglect. If you have reason to believe a child has been, or may be, harmed call the local Child Welfare Office at 541-686-7555 or your local law enforcement unit.
Be a part of the solution. Be a part of the success. We can all do something. Our children are counting on us. Please choose to do something today.
Megan Shultz, has been the executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates since 2000. She is the former president of the Oregon CASA Director’s Network and recently chaired the Foster Care Safety Team for the Child Welfare Division of the Oregon Department of Human Services.

5.7.10 Finding Solutions: What Works and Why for Children and Families in Crisis

Friday, May 7th, 2010

A fascinating discussion can be heard on Oregon based radio show: OPB’s Think Out loud. This discussion occured on April 7th

AIR DATE: Wednesday, April 7th 2010
POSTED BY: ALLISON FROST

When Erica Quiding was growing up, she had no relationship with her biological mother. She was placed in the foster care system as an infant, and was adopted at age three. But then at ten-years-old, her adoptive parents decided they could not keep her, and she went back to foster care. She bounced around the system for years. By the time she was matched with volunteer Ann Harding as part of the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, Erica was a troubled 13-year-old. But she was also resilient. And with Ann Harding on her side, available day or night for phone calls and support, Erica made it out of the foster care system, graduated from high school and is by all accounts a success. She’s 24 now, taking classes at Portland Community College. She says she can’t imagine that she would be where she is today without Ann in her life.

Of course, not all children in crisis end up in foster care. And some child advocates say the direction to go is to provide help to families so kids can stay with their parents and avoid the separation that can be so devastating for children. Oregon has just passed a law to set up a system called Safe Families. It’s worked well in Illinois, providing a way for parents to get temporary relief from the pressures of parenting without losing custody of their kids. In Chicago, the program boasts that it’s helped reduce the number of kids in foster care from 50,000 to 15,000.

Have you ever needed help? What helped you? What could have helped you? What kind of a support network, if any, did you rely on?

Do you work with parents or children in crisis? What kind of help do you provide? What are the kinds of programs you think work for these families?

Please follow this link to listen to the program or read the discussion through the blog.

http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/finding-solutions-what-works-and-why-children-and-families-crisis/

5.7.10 Journal Issue: Preventing Child Maltreatment Volume 19 Number 2 Fall 2009

Friday, May 7th, 2010

by: Fred Wulczyn

Introduction

According to federal data, roughly 905,000 U.S. children were abused or neglected in 2006.1 A 2005 study by David Finkelhor and several colleagues cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 8.7 million of the nation’s children—about one in every seven—have been maltreated.2 A recent California study estimates that 38 percent of black children and 20 percent of white children will have had contact with the child welfare system (including maltreatment reports) by age seven.3 Not surprisingly, the effects of child abuse and neglect are far-reaching. In early childhood, maltreatment can impair brain development and regulatory functioning; later in childhood, maltreatment-related problems such as poor school performance, increased disruptive behaviors, and depression emerge; once maltreatment victims reach adulthood, they are more likely to abuse substances. These are just a few of the ways maltreatment affects the children involved (to say nothing of how it affects others in the family).  

The need for effective preventive programs is clear. The question is where to invest, on whose behalf, and when in the life cycle. Maltreatment involves children of all ages. In 2006, for example, 11 percent of the victims reported to state child welfare agencies were under the age of one. That same year, twelve- to fifteen-year-olds accounted for almost one in five victims. Because of the many different populations of children and youth at risk, interventions must be aligned with the unique developmental phase that each group represents: a one-size-fits-all solution will not accurately address the variety of issues these children present.  

Perpetrators of maltreatment also span a wide age range. According to National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System data, nearly 75 percent of all perpetrators were between the ages of twenty and thirty-nine, an exceptionally wide age band when viewed through the joint perspectives of life span development and intervention design.4 Although perpetrators tend to be parents (more than half are mothers), relatives abuse children, too. In the case of sexual abuse, relatives make up the single largest group—30 percent —of all perpetrators.  

Maltreatment is also linked with poverty and its associated burdens: single parenthood, social isolation, unemployment, poor education, and residential segregation among non-whites.5 That said, maltreatment is not restricted to poor communities; nor do all similarly poor communities have comparable rates of maltreatment.6 Among states reporting to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the average maltreatment rate in the ten states with the lowest poverty rates was 9.2 per thousand, compared with 13.3 per thousand in the states with highest poverty rates.7 In 2000, the maltreatment rate reported for white infants living in low-poverty counties (5.4 per thousand) exceeded the rates reported for all older white children living in high-poverty counties (2.8 per thousand to 4.9 per thousand).8  

My goal in this article is to show how data on the incidence and distribution of maltreatment might be used to strengthen prevention programs in the face of the myriad challenges —individual, family, and community—facing the child welfare system. Investing in prevention, broadly defined, involves at least three distinct problems. First, the nation’s child welfare system is highly diverse. State laws define the behaviors that constitute maltreatment, govern who must report maltreatment, and shape current investments in the service infrastructure.9 Moreover, local child welfare programs, whether public county programs or those within the private sector, operate in their own unique context and represent varying degrees of financial support. The notion that a single set of investments in prevention programs will have direct and unambiguous benefits, even within a single state, reaches well past what the available data tell us.

Second, it is not entirely clear where along the continuum of an individual child welfare case prevention programs ought to start. This problem has at least two dimensions. Inside the relatively narrow world of child protection, it is a given that prevention services should aim to prevent maltreatment in the first instance. Policy discussions inside the child welfare system, however, have engaged problems as diverse as preventing the use of foster care and preventing the problems faced by youth aging out of foster care. Prevention, it seems, depends on one’s position along the need-service trajectory. It is important to be clear about where along the continuum preventive services are targeted.

The third problem is that maltreatment affects children’s developmental trajectories in profound ways. Victims of child abuse—that is, cases when allegations of maltreatment are substantiated—may or may not receive child welfare services following the investigation. Either way, the available data suggest that children touched by the child welfare system face substantial cognitive, social, and behavioral deficits.10 Prevention programs offer a chance to minimize the effects of maltreatment on the developing child, but many, if not most, jurisdictions lack the infrastructure to do so within the traditional child welfare system. Creating preventive service capacity that minimizes developmental effects will stretch the system well beyond its current policy, practice, and financial boundaries.

What then do the data say about maltreatment and how can the data be used to promote strategic allocation of preventive service programs? In the first instance, the data must be aligned with experts’ views of the causes of maltreatment. As a general matter, scholars recognize that “no single risk factor or set of risk factors [has] emerged as providing a necessary or sufficient cause of maltreatment.” 11 In response, they have developed transactional theories that weigh the interplay between the individual (parent and child), the family, and the environmental context in which people grow and develop.12 Second, it is helpful to understand recent trends in maltreatment and patterns of state variation. As noted, states differ significantly both in the number of maltreatment reports in general and in how the number of reports changes over time. The pattern of these variations yields useful insights about what an increase in preventive service investments might accomplish, given where the investments are made.

With regard to where to invest and on whose behalf, I present two views of the available data. The first view, based on the fact that maltreatment rates are highest during certain periods of children’s lives, considers developmental influences on the risk profile. In part, the link between age and maltreatment reflects the institutional context of children’s lives (for example, reports of physical abuse increase when children enter school). More important, however, the data reveal bi-directional influences rooted in what a child needs and what a parent can give as children pass through childhood. Inasmuch as these influences are present in a variety of contexts and in a variety of populations, the findings represent the kind of durable patterns one can use to plan and implement preventive service programs.

The second view considers social context and speaks directly to the contribution of poverty in explaining why some places—states, counties, or neighborhoods—have higher rates of maltreatment. Embedded in this discussion is the issue of race and ethnicity and the fact that children of color are much more likely than white children to be reported to child welfare agencies. The issue of social context also highlights an important policy and practice choice. On the one hand, prevention interventions must target specific risks given a theory of why parents maltreat. On the other hand, investments should go to communities where maltreatment is most common, relatively speaking. The choices are not mutually exclusive: interventions in high-risk neighborhoods have to draw on a theory that explicitly addresses the causes of maltreatment within both the family and the community context.

In the final section of the article, I turn the focus to maltreatment recurrence—that is, to allegations of maltreatment that follow a prior allegation. In this context I highlight substance abuse, because children whose substantiated maltreatment is related to substance abuse are much more likely to experience recurrence than are children investigated for other reasons. Detailing the influence of substance abuse here offers an opportunity to see how it fits within the broader discussion.

the remainder of this fascianting article can be found at:

http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=71&articleid=511&sectionid=3475

5.7.10 GUEST VIEWPOINT Network of advocates, volunteers help abused children

Friday, May 7th, 2010
Register Guard
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third part of a four-part series.
By Sharri Da Silva
Appeared in print: Wednesday, April 21, 2010, page A7
If a civilization can be judged by how it takes care of its most vulnerable members, it follows that preventing child abuse must be a community effort — one in which all hands are joined to protect endangered children.
Preventing child abuse is key to the development of healthy children, families and communities. In Lane County, we excel at working together to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children. April, Child Abuse Prevention Month, is a time to celebrate these efforts.
If you’ve lived in Lane County for more than a few months, it will come as no surprise that at the core of child abuse prevention efforts is a small but committed army of volunteers.
The Lane County Commission on Children and Families is a 21-member volunteer advisory group appointed by the Board of County Commissioners.
The commission is made up of professionals, lay citizens and young people (ages 14 to 24). This diverse group provides a wealth of expertise, raises issues, brainstorms solutions and keeps the focus on the most important thing of all — the wellness of all Lane County children, youth and families.
The Early Childhood Planning Team, an advisory body to the Commission on Children and Families, is another volunteer committee. The team’s goal is to identify and build community collaboration and mutual support systems to improve the well-being of children from birth to age 6. This team helps the local Commission on Children and Families set policy, plan and recommend program priorities.
Community partnerships in our county have proved instrumental in bringing critical services to children and families and have been forged by the work of these two groups.
For example, this year, a collaborative effort between Head Start of Lane County, Relief Nursery, Parkside Community Childcare and Willamette Family Treatment has made Early Head Start services possible for 48 infants and toddlers in Lane County.
These new classrooms provide developmentally appropriate environments for children while their parents are working, going to school or receiving job training. Reducing barriers to adequate employment is directly linked to a reduction in the likelihood of child abuse.
Though Lane County is rich in resources that support children and families, many of these programs have had to reduce their services due to budget shortfalls and an economic climate that has affected donations. If you have not yet done so, join others by volunteering your time or making donations to support children and families in your neighborhoods. There are many opportunities to offer a helping hand.
For example, Relief Nursery provides such critical services as therapeutic early childhood classrooms, respite care, counseling, drug and alcohol peer support, home visitation, parent education and crisis intervention, all of which are proven to reduce child abuse.
What better way to help children than to offer families hope while at the same time providing the support they need to be successful?
The Relief Nursery helps more than 1,100 children and families each year and depends upon more than 100 volunteers. Family Relief Nursery in Cottage Grove serves children and families in south Lane and north Douglas counties.
The Kids’ FIRST Center of Lane County helps lessen the trauma experienced by child victims of abuse who are going through the judicial process. The center provides a warm, child-friendly setting where children can be interviewed, receive medical exams and testify before Lane County’s special grand jury for child abuse cases. The center eliminates the need to shuffle a child through police stations, doctor’s offices and courtrooms, sparing the child fear and trauma often associated with these experiences.
Kids FIRST provides referrals to agencies that can meet the legal, financial, physical and mental health needs of child victims and their nonoffending family members. The center also informs and educates families about the criminal justice process and keeps each family updated on the status of their case. Other services include domestic violence witness intervention and educational support groups for caregivers of children who have been sexually abused.
Healthy Start/Healthy Families is another child abuse prevention program — a collaboration between the Commission on Children and Families, Relief Nursery, Birth To Three and Early Childhood Cares. Each year, 200 first-time parents receive home visits by professional family support workers who offer information on parenting, child development, health and safety.
Court Appointed Special Advocates provides a powerful voice for abused and neglected children in Lane County. Every day, abused and neglected children are removed from their homes and placed into substitute care because their parents cannot or will not protect them. The advocates give abused and neglected children a voice. They are volunteers who help find these children safe, permanent homes. Employing the skills of 160 volunteers, CASA of Lane County serves nearly 400 children each year.
Children are truly our most vulnerable citizens. Join the army of volunteers who are building a better future for the children of Lane County — and a better future for us all.
Sharri da Silva, executive director of programs at Relief Nursery, is a member of the Lane County Commission on Children and Families and chairwoman of the Lane County Early Childhood Planning Team.

this article can be found at: http://special.registerguard.com/turin/2010/apr/21/network-of-advocates-volunteers-help-abused-children/