Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
The Child Welfare Outcomes Reports are created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) to meet requirements of section 203(a) of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA). 1 ASFA amended section 479A of the Social Security Act (the Act) to require an annual report that assesses State performance in operating child protection and child welfare programs under titles IV-B and IV-E of the Act. Child Welfare Outcomes 1998 was the first report created in the Child Welfare Outcomes series of reports. The present report, Child Welfare Outcomes 2007–2010, is the eleventh report since the series’ inception.
CONTEXTUAL FACTORS The Child Welfare Outcomes Report presents data on child welfare-related contextual factors relevant to understanding and interpreting State performance on the outcome measures. 2 Below is a summary of fiscal year (FY) 2010 data for these contextual factors.
Characteristics of child victims
• In 2010, 754,000 children were confirmed to be victims of maltreatment. The overall national child victim rate was 10.0 child victims per 1,000 children in the population. 5 State child victim rates varied dramatically, ranging from 1.3 child victims per 1,000 children to 24.6 child victims per 1,000 children.
• The national child victim rate decreased from 10.4 child victims per 1,000 children in the population in FY 2007 to 10.0 in FY 2010. This is a continuation of a long-term, downward trend in the child victimization rate that began in the early 1990s.
Foster care information overview
• Nationally, there were approximately 415,000 children in foster care on the last day of FY 2010. During that year, an estimated 250,000 children entered foster care, and 248,000 children exited foster care. Among the States, the foster care entry rate ranged from 1.4 children per 1,000 to 7.5 children per 1,000 in a State’s population.
• Between FY 2002 and 2010, the number of children in care on the last day of the FY decreased by 22 percent. While currently it is not possible to determine the cause of the decrease in the number of children in foster care using the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) database, several States have made deliberate efforts to safely reduce the number of children in care through various programmatic and policy initiatives.
• Nationally, 213,000 children exited foster care to a permanent home in 2010 (i.e., were discharged to reunification, adoption, or legal guardianship). Of these 213,000 children, 145,000 were discharged to reunification; 52,000 were discharged to adoption; and 16,000 were discharged to legal guardianship. In addition, 27,000 children were emancipated from foster care in 2010. There were approximately 7,000 children who exited care for reasons other than permanency or emancipation, such as transfer to another agency or to another State.
• Approximately 107,000 children were waiting for adoption in 2010.
Selecting and Working With a Therapist Skilled in Adoption
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
Members of adoptive families may need professional help when concerns arise, and professionals skilled in adoption issues often can prevent concerns from becoming more serious problems. An appropriate therapist will understand that although the adoptive family is often not the source of the child’s problems, it is within the context of the family relationships that the child will begin to heal.
Adoption Disruption and Dissolution
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
A small percentage of adoptions disrupt (end before finalization) or are dissolved (ended after finalization). This factsheet looks at the statistics for adoption disruption and dissolution, examines the associated factors, and reviews trends. Factors associated with the child, family, and agency are explored.
Religious Attendance of Child Welfare-Involved Caregivers and Youth (PDF)
Source: Children and Family Research Center
Research has shown that both caregivers’ and children’s attendance at religious services are associated with improved outcomes for disadvantaged youth, 1 but few studies have examined the role of religion in child welfare populations and no studies have presented national data on religious participation of children involved in child welfare. Religious practice could be an important factor in helping children cope with the trauma, loss, and anxiety associated with child maltreatment, and religious communities often provide material and social support for caregivers and youth. On the other hand, some religious beliefs may negatively affect youth’s well-being (for example a gay youth placed in a conservative Christian foster home). Furthermore, religious dissimilarity in families has been connected to negative outcomes for youth in the general population 2 and foster youth may have religious backgrounds that differ from their foster families. While other aspects of foster home placement such as caregiver race and proximity to the home of origin have been given ample attention, religious attendance among foster youth and their foster care providers remains unexplored. This brief examines religious attendance 3 among youth and caregivers involved in the child welfare system and the relationship between caregiver attendance and youth attendance.
Locating and engaging youth after they leave foster care (PDF)
Source: Urban Institute
+ States are required to collect data on youth aging out of foster care and provide them to the National Youth in Transition Database.
+ Youth aging out of foster care are difficult to trace, being highly mobile and even experiencing bouts of homelessness. Those most difficult to find are most likely in need of services.
+ For states to successfully locate youth who have left foster care, they must plan ahead, employ a large set of tracking methods, establish rapport with the youth,
and connect with youths’ families.
Concurrent planning is an approach that seeks to eliminate delays in attaining permanent families for children in the foster care system. Concurrent planning involves considering all reasonable options for permanency at the earliest possible point following a child’s entry into foster care and concurrently pursuing those options that will best serve the child’s needs. Typically the primary plan is reunification with the child’s family of origin. In concurrent planning, an alternative permanency goal (e.g., adoption) is pursued at the same time rather than being pursued sequentially after reunification has been ruled out.
Strategies For Recruiting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families
Strategies For Recruiting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families (PDF)
Source: National Resource Center for Adoption, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, and the National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUSKids
Recruiting and retaining enough qualified foster, adoptive, and kinship parents is a challenge facing nearly every jurisdiction in the United States. States, Tribes, and Territories constantly seek resources and creative strategies for recruiting prospective parents who can meet the needs of children and youth in foster care. They continually look for ways to improve the placement stability for children who need foster care placements and to achieve permanence for children who cannot return to their birth families.
Approximately 408,000 children are currently in foster care in the United States. These children have diverse needs; therefore, child welfare agencies need to have a diverse pool of foster parents who can provide temporary, loving care for the children as they await permanency. Of those 408,000 children in foster care, 107,000 are waiting to be adopted. These children have been in foster care for an average of 37 months. In addition to the children still waiting for a permanent family, nearly 28,000 youth aged out of foster care in 2010 without a permanent family connection. All of these children—and the children who will enter foster care in the years to come—deserve our best efforts to recruit and retain prospective foster and adoptive parents who will provide them with the love, stability, and safety that they need.
For jurisdictions that continue to face challenges in recruiting and retaining enough qualified foster and adoptive parents, looking to previously untapped or underutilized groups of prospective parents—including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adults—may be a key step in providing placement stability and permanency to children in foster care.
Helping Your Foster Child Transition to Your Adopted Child
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
This factsheet summarizes how foster/adoptive parents can help their child make the emotional adjustment to being an adopted child. Children and youth may not clearly comprehend the difference between being a foster child versus being an adopted child in the same family. This factsheet provides specific steps parents can take to help children understand these changes along with helpful resources.
See also: Foster Parents Considering Adoption
This factsheet summarizes State laws and policies for approving prospective adoptive homes. The process includes an assessment or home study of the prospective adoptive parent or parents, preparation of the prospective parents, gathering information about the family to better match the parent and child, and evaluating the fitness of the adoptive family.
New GAO Reports and TestimoniesSource: Government Accountability Office
1. Background Investigations: Office of Personnel Management Needs to Improve Transparency of Its Pricing and Seek Cost Savings. GAO-12-197, February 28.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588946.pdf
2. Foster Care Program: Improved Processes Needed to Estimate Improper Payments and Evaluate Related Corrective Actions. GAO-12-312, March 7.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589115.pdf
1. NASA: Significant Challenges Remain for Access, Use, and Sustainment of the International Space Station by Cristina T. Chaplain, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. GAO-12-587T, March 28.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589667.pdf
2. Improper Payments: Remaining Challenges and Strategies for Governmentwide Reduction Efforts by Beryl H. Davis, director, financial management and assurance, before the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, House Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-12-573T, March 28.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589682.pdf
Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections (PDF)
Source: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
While openness has become common practice in domestic adoptions in this country (Vandivere, et al., 2009), it is an alien concept for many seeking to adopt, as well as for their friends, families and others with whom they interact in their professional and personal lives. In fact, the first national survey on public attitudes related to adoption, published by the Adoption Institute in 1997, found considerable ambivalence in the general public toward even a moderate level of openness; only 16 percent of respondents, for example, approved of birthmothers in most adoptions occasionally sending cards or letters to adoptive families, with others saying it was okay in some (40%) or very few (23%) cases. According to the adoption professionals who responded to a new survey – described in this report – understanding of the realities of openness in adoptions today is an area in which considerable progress is needed.
Since the practice of openness took hold in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s, adoption professionals, researchers and the affected parties themselves have identified many benefits for birth families, adopted children and adoptive parents. Some challenges have been documented as well, including ones stemming from early misunderstandings or conflicting expectations. It is critically important for adoption professionals, as well as members of birth and adoptive families, to understand openness and the factors that are important for shaping effective open adoption relationships, not only in making decisions related to openness before child placement, but also in navigating open relationships over time.
This report is the first in a series the Institute plans to publish that will address the phenomenon of openness in domestic infant adoptions. It summarizes research knowledge on the topic and presents findings from a survey of 100 infant adoption programs in the U.S. regarding their practices around openness and the qualities that facilitate successful open adoption relationships. The institute is also in the final stages of preparing a related curriculum for preadoptive parents and expectant parents considering adoptive placement for their children.
Searching for Birth Relatives
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
This factsheet provides guidance to adopted persons and birth families on the search process and information access, as well as resources for further help in conducting a successful search. This factsheet is designed to address the concerns of both adopted persons who are searching for birth parents or other birth relatives, as well as birth parents (both mothers and fathers) who want to locate a child who was adopted. While not a complete “how to” guide to searching, this factsheet provides information on the different types of searches, issues that might arise during searching, and additional resources.
Ensuring Appropriate Psychotropic Medication Usage for Children in Foster Care (PDF)
source: Texans Care for Children
Often, children coming into the foster care system have been exposed to poverty, substance abuse, inadequate healthcare, family violence, and other factors that impact their social and emotional development. Such exposure and maltreatment can have a direct impact on the brain development of the children entering foster care. i Placement in foster care itself is associated with increased stress levels in children, many of whom struggle to manage their emotions and social behavior. Many times, those working with foster children interpret such behavior as a sign of severe mental health disorders. This leads to the prescription and administration of psychotropic medications, ii which are drugs that affect mood, behavior, or mental functioning. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in late 2011 that children in foster care in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas were prescribed psychotropic medications 2.7 to 4.5 times more often than children who were not in foster care, with children in the Texas foster care system being the most likely to receive these medications. iii Similarly, a recent lawsuit, brought by the New York‐based organization Children’s Rights, alleges that Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) inappropriately places children in its permanent managing conservatorship on psychotropic medications that further damage their odds of and put them at risk of never finding a permanent home. iv Texas can do a better job of ensuring children and youth in foster care receive the care they need to improve their overall well‐being and recover from the experiences that led them into foster care in the first place.
In 2008, there were over 400,000 adopted CSHCN, representing 39 percent of all adopted children. Previous analyses based on the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NSCSHCN),have shown that adopted CSHCN are more likely than the broader population of all CSHCN to be identified as CSHCN on the basis of elevated need for services; physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy; behavioral, developmental, and/or emotional problems requiring treatment or counseling; or limitation inactivity (but not on the basis of elevated prescription medication use). Additionally, they are more likely than the general population of CSHCN to meet multiple screening criteria (Bramlett & Radel, 2008). Almost half of adopted CSHCN were adopted from foster care, one in three was adopted from private domestic sources, and the remaining CSHCN were adopted internationally; see Figure1. Survey findings indicate that the majority of adopted CSHCN have parents who are satisfied with their adoption experience and their relationship with their child,and also perceive their child as having a positive view of adoption. Differences do emerge across adoption types, including variation in the types of services received after adoption and need for additional services.
There is no single source for the total number of children adopted in the United States, and no straightforward way to determine the total number of adoptions, even when multiple data sources are used. This report gives best estimates of the numbers of children adopted in each of the States for 2007 and 2008 and uses these numbers to estimate the composition and trends of all adoptions in the United States. Data for this report were collected primarily by the following sources: State courts, State bureaus of vital records, the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Station Fire: Forest Service’s Response Offers Potential Lessons for Future Wildland Fire Management. GAO-12-155, December 16.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587074.pdf
2. Recovery Act: Progress and Challenges in Spending Weatherization Funds. GAO-12-195, December 16.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587063.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/587106
3. Medicaid: Health Opportunity Accounts Demonstration Program. GAO-12-221R, December 16.
+ Reissued Product
1. Foster Children: HHS Guidance Could Help States Improve Oversight of Psychotropic Prescriptions. GAO-12-201, December 14.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/586907.pdf